To idolize someone is to admire or revere someone excessively. Obviously “excessive” is a matter of perception. It is subjective. One person would feel that putting pictures of someone on your wall (like nearly every teenager does with their favorite celebrity) is excessive admiration. One might feel like that is a perfectly healthy form of appreciation. To admire something and to deeply respect something and to appreciate something is healthy. But there are some key ways that idolization can and does turn negative.
The first is that if you idolize someone, you are actually more attached to what they represent for you. You are attached to an image you have of them in your mind because it fulfills some need of yours. I like to call this “Santa Clause Complex”. For example, when you idolize a spiritual teacher, you imagine them to always be loving or never be angry or to live in a certain house or eat certain foods. If they deviate in any way from that image you have in your mind, you decide they are not what you thought they were. And perhaps you needed to know they were that certain way so you could have hope in humanity. In that moment, you didn’t just feel as if you were mistaken in terms of who they really are vs. who you thought they were, you also lost your hope in humanity. You will then blame them for that disappointment. To understand more about this, watch my video titled: Overlay (what prevents you from having a real relationship).
The second place where idolization turns negative is where the human ego begins to compare. Our tendency to compare ourselves to others makes idolization downright dangerous.
When we idolize something, we very quickly compare ourselves to whatever we idolize and feel inferior to it. The human ego cannot handle this and so it begins a very subconscious strategy to try to gain equality and more, to become better than the person it currently feels inferior to.
Let’s take a deep dive into the psychology of idolization. Attraction to anything implies that there is a polarity present, just like the negative and positive charge between magnets. We are attracted to whatever we are not. If you haven’t done so already, I encourage you to stop this video and watch my video titled “Fragmentation, The Worldwide Disease”. This video will make the concept of internal polarization make sense.
If we are deeply attracted to something, like we are to an extreme when we idolize someone, that person is the external mirror of a part of us that we have cut ourselves off from and suppressed. If we idolize the other person, we have woefully cut that part of ourselves off from our conscious awareness.
For example, many parents shame their children for being self centered when they perform for their parents or other people specifically for attention. This can easily cause a child to cut off from and suppress the part of them that wants to be a performer and be the center of attention. They did not want to get rid of this part of themselves. They woefully cut off from it. But their being wants desperately to be whole and so there is that subconscious drive to re-own that part of themselves. They may then be hopelessly attracted to and idolize a pop star. The worship of that pop star actually is an externalized way of loving that part of them that is a performer and that loves to be the center of attention, which they learned was not ok about themselves. It is essentially a love affair with the part of us we learned was forbidden to love within ourselves and therefore forbidden to be.
By getting close to them, you are actually getting closer to the part you have disowned within yourself. This naturally makes the extreme attraction/adoration towards them decrease because the internal polarity (separation between the part of you that you are identified with and the part you woefully disowned which they are an external representation of) is not as extreme. This also makes you feel less like they are on a pedestal. This feels like relief. The closer you can get to them, the more this perception of inequality and idolization goes away. You feel elevated in terms of personal significance. But if this process happens subconsciously, meaning that you feel these feelings but aren’t conceptualizing of why, this is a recipe for disaster.
At some level, you feel that internal limit that is preventing you from being like that person you idolize. You feel ENVY. You feel they have something (or many things) that you can’t have. Idolization is just envy in disguise if it involves intense admiration for what someone wants for themselves. You feel inferior in a multitude of different ways. You feel like they are higher and up on a pedestal to you and that is too uncomfortable to stand. So you will find any way you can to knock them off of that pedestal or try to get on a bigger pedestal yourself. To understand more about this, watch my video titled: Jealousy and Envy, How to Deal With It.
The minute that they say or do something to make you feel like you have lost that significance or feel inferior again to them in any way, even if it is totally indirect, like someone else making you feel like they are superior, you will feel hurt by them and you will now begin to compete for equality and more than that, either try to knock them off of your conceptual pedestal or compete for a higher conceptual pedestal than you put them on. This dynamic happened over and over in history when a king would be overthrown by someone who he considered to be a close friend and esteemed member of his court. A great example of this dynamic if you want to see it, happens between Tristan and Melot in the movie Tristan and Isolde.
One of the biggest ways that the human ego competes is through moral superiority. If you can’t find a way to be better than someone in terms of success or excellence, you will try to find a way that you are better than they are in terms of character. You will want to find fault with them. The entire multi billion-dollar tabloid business exists because of this. Your ego gets a boost and you feel superior to the stars if you see their scandals and faults.
If people feel they can’t gain significance and a sense of equality or superiority in any other way, they will gain significance and a sense of superiority through opposition. They will turn from a fan into a hater. Think about it. No one cared about or even knew who John Wilkes booth was until the day he killed the president. People who feel they can gain personal significance and achievement will not waste any of their personal energy trying to gain significance or a sense of equality or self worth through pulling people down. Hate acts as a mask for the personal insecurity. It elevates the hater past the hated. It gives purpose to people and identity. Then, the human ego seeks to be validated in that positioning. This is why one hater turns into two and three and four. The more validation they get for their hate, the more they can avoid the insecurities and ego wounding, including the feeling of inferiority. They can feel superior and feel empowered instead of powerless next to the person they have turned against. The hate will only stop when the hater faces what is underneath the hate, including his or her own insecurities.
What most people don’t realize when they are idolizing someone or being idolized is that the admiration and reverence is completely conditional. For example, it is conditional upon the object of the admiration and reverence living up to an image that the other has in their head. Or it is conditional upon meeting a need the other has. Or it is conditional upon making sure nothing ever triggers the feeling of inferiority or insecurities the other has. It is conditional upon conditions that no person could ever meet. For this reason, in Hollywood it is often said that the people to be the most afraid of are your biggest fans.
For someone to turn from a fan into a hater, they have to perceive that they have been caused some kind of pain. Hatred is after all a cover emotion for hurt. But that’s just the thing. That hurt could be direct or indirect. It could be intentional or completely unintentional. If someone feels insecure about their looks and you look how they wish they looked, that will cause them to feel pain. If someone needs to feel significant and special to you and you don’t answer the e-mail they sent you, that will cause them to feel pain. If you say no to something they wanted you to say yes to, that will cause them pain. If you don’t believe in vaccines and a person believes that makes you a threat to their wellbeing, that will cause them to feel pain. When you get successful, it makes people feel less successful, that causes them pain. When you are beautiful, it makes people feel less desirable, that causes them pain. When you get rich, it makes people feel poor, that causes them pain. When you get famous, it causes people to feel insignificant. That causes them pain. This is why no one has haters like the successful, beautiful, rich and famous.
It is not possible to ensure that you wont cause someone pain. All you can do is your best to try not to cause other people pain without hurting yourself to do so. And you’re powerless about whether people can face that pain and resolve it or whether they will choose to avoid it by turning against you to try to escape those feelings.
To steer clear of the dark side of idolization, you must re-own and integrate the aspects within yourself that are being reflected to you in this mirror hologram called life, as that external person that you idolize. To steer clear of hate, you must face your pain, especially your insecurities, and find a direct way to resolve that wounding as opposed to turning against the person who you perceived caused that hurt.