Are You As Superficial As I Am?
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I’ve got to confess something to you.
I very nearly didn’t share this ‘thing’, because it’s up there with one of my worst character flaws.
But, then I remembered that if I’m STILL doing this thing (despite working so hard not to), it’s highly likely you are, too – at least, to some degree.
Coveting the grass on my neighbour’s side of the fence.
Yup: JEALOUSY. Horrible, wince-inducing, soul-sucking jealousy.
It’s not just any type of jealousy, mind you; I’m no longer jealous of friends who are getting engaged, hitched – or even exchanging on their first property.
Nowadays, my jealousy seems to be reserved for one particular ‘type’ of friend (or acquaintance):
The type that has a similar career to mine, and is killing it – whether that’s through launching brilliant books, sell-out events or gaining a whole lot of media attention and followers.
In other words, friends who seem to be doing much better than I am.
(“Hi, my name is Persia and I’m an overachieving perfectionist and addicted to success. HELP?”)
OK, now I’m going to get reeeeeally honest with you (even though you’ll probably think I’m the most superficial person in the world…)
Last year, when mine and my friend Joey’s book ‘The Inner Fix’ came out, we were extremely fortunate to attract a lot of press for it, including features in The Times, The Telegraph, Vogue, You & ES magazines, to name a few.
For one of the features, we got to do a swanky photoshoot in a studio with a whole team of people whose sole purpose was to make us look good (I even got to wear the most exquisite pair of Jimmy Choo heels – or Manolos – can’t remember exactly, I’m crap with shoe brands - but I do know that Carrie Bradshaw would’ve loved ‘em).
I won’t lie to you, I bloody loved the attention:
Friends I hadn’t seen in years would message to tell me how great I seemed to be doing.
Every now and then, companies and brands would send us complimentary tickets to events or give us free products.
When I went to speak at Bestival, they’d arranged a VIP glamping experience (complete with jam-packed goody bags) for my boyfriend and I.
I felt really quite important at times, frankly.
Back in my days as an actress, I spent a lot of time dreaming of having the press and success we got to enjoy with Addictive Daughter (much of the time, my acting jobs could barely cover my bus ride home).
There was one problem, though, with this ‘success’ I was experiencing with Addictive Daughter:
In many respects, it seemed to be totally in conflict with what my ‘self-help’ work was actually about:
Focusing on the ‘insides’ instead of the ‘outsides’ – on how things feel, not how they look.
One of the reasons I’d given up acting was that I hated the way that appearances (both physical and behavioural) were often considered to be more important and valuable than talent, hard work and who you were as a person on the inside.
This wasn’t always the case, but it certainly felt like it to me throughout my 5 year acting career.
When Joey and I decided to step back from Addictive Daughter at the end of last summer, having both felt intuitively called to pursue our own individual passions in work, I had a very superficial thought:
It’s gonna take me aaages to attract this level of success on my own.
Clearly, I was totally missing the point for a brief moment there.
But, don’t we all at times?
We can so easily get side-tracked and distracted by all the shiny pretty things in life that we totally forget that the joy they bring us is usually fleeting (at best).
I know from experience that appearing in the press or seeing your book on a shelf in Waterstones feels AMAZING – for all of ten seconds.
Then, before you know it you’re back on the phone to your publicist, asking if there are any fresh media leads, or if Oprah’s people have called yet (you’re no one in the self-help world until Oprah calls, or so I'm told).
As Joey and I share in ‘The Inner Fix’:
“We live in a world that fetishizes the outer notions of beauty, fame and fortune, valuing such attributes far more than internal ones such as kindness, honesty and compassion.
Everyday, we’re bombarded with the same message:
That our worth is determined by our perceived value in the social marketplace. Followers and fans are our equity, and having more of them means we are winning.”
So, can you blame any of us for sometimes feeling like we need to be plastered all over every magazine in Christendom to feel like what we do (and who we are) matters?
The other day, though, I got smacked back to reality (and sanity – praise be).
I received the following text from one of my love-coaching clients:
“MAJOR thank you. For everything. I am so fucking happy and have been in total surrender to love for the first time… it feels so real and conscious and gets deeper every day – can’t believe it could ever feel this good.”
This client, like me, had had a messy and complex romantic history, and today finds herself in the happiest, healthiest relationship she’s ever experienced.
When we started working together, she didn’t care a HOOT whether or not I’d been in a magazine or newspaper article, she’d just really resonated with my story in ‘The Inner Fix’ and wanted me to help her get what I got in my love life by doing what I did.
That text has really helped me to re-evaluate why I do the work I do:
Because I love helping people attract the love they desire and deserve.
And I’m really good at it – I can see that from the results I help people achieve.
So, whilst there’s no harm in wanting to attract some press to help spread a positive message I truly believe in, it’s crucial I – we – remember that any time one goes looking for external validation to feel more ‘successful’ - whether that’s through getting more social media followers, more money, more press or anything similar - we’ll only feel good for a moment, before we’re looking for the next hit.
Because it will never, ever be enough. Never.
(Ask any alcoholic - when I did they told me that “one’s too many, a thousand is not enough” – worth remembering, that one.)
But, - and I'm aware how cliche this sounds - the feeling I get from making a difference in someone’s life - however small? Well, that’s a drug that keeps on a-giving - without the vicious comedown.
If nothing else, I hope this blog reminds you that it’s ok to be blind-sided by jealousy when a friend gets something you want. It really is.
You don’t need to stay there:
Force yourself to reach out and congratulate your friend as soon as possible, because it’s far easier to act yourself into a new way of thinking than it is to think yourself into a new way of acting (learned that one from an alcoholic, too).
The fact is, one of these days, it’ll be you who’s the one getting engaged/ hitched/ promoted/ a book deal – and you’ll no doubt want people to celebrate with and be happy for you, too.
You get what you give in this life, so give generously and give with your whole heart; it’s the most selfish, unselfish thing you can do for Future You.
I’D LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU:
Have you ever gotten all green-eyed over a friend’s successes or happy news? How did you respond – did you bitch and detach from them, or did you reach out and congratulate them, despite your jealousy? (Don’t feel bad – I’ve done both. Lots.)
All my love,
P.S. If reading this has made you wonder whether I could help you get the love life you desire (and deserve), book a complimentary coaching call with me by emailing email@example.com - I’d love to get to know you :)