Most people have a place in their mind, heart and life that they would rather not have exposed to public view. As humans, it is normal to have habits, needs, desires and behaviors that you keep to yourself or share only with those closest to you. These are the sacred, sometimes secret things, not necessarily bad things, but things the average human considers private and personal.
However, when you are considered by the public to be a public person, these things become fuel for public judgment and criticism. They become things that those who do not know you can use to ridicule and condemn you. They may be things that the average person would do every day. But when a public person engages in the same behavior, the sacred, secret and normal morphs into scandal.
When you are considered a public person, human weakness means you can be discredited, even when the weakness has nothing to do with what made you public. As a public person your personal challenges can be reported and discussed publicly as malicious intentions. Your choices and decisions are used to validate public opinion of your worth and worthiness. Your mistakes and missteps are elevated to offenses that fuel the public’s outcry for punishment, which is often debated long after it is necessary or productive.
When you are a public person, your every intention is suspect; your every move is criticized, your very personage is subject to attack and debasement and, in the midst of it all, you are expected to feel good about yourself and the people who made and keep you public. These scenarios have been exasperated and exaggerated with the expansion of social media and reality television.
When you are a public person, whether by choice or circumstance, there is a pedestal that is thrust beneath your feet. As a public person, it is considered your responsibility to stay on that pedestal and meet the demands, requirements and expectations of pedestal living. After all, you are a public person! A celebrity! You know that people are looking at you, following you, hanging onto your every word and wishing secretly to be you and have some of what they think you have, even if you don’t have it or deserve it.
When you are unaware or unconcerned of what the demands are, how to meet the requirements or who has created the expectations, you can expect a hard and fast fall. Staying on the pedestal is a matter of making everyone happy, following the trends of public opinions and meeting the expectations of others.
These are the same issues that give rise to personal psychological and emotional issues for the average person. However, as a public person, you cannot be average or normal. Your humanness is elevated to a level of perfectionism and divinity that even Christ’s disciples would have difficulty meeting.
In the midst of it all, you are still growing and healing and evolving within yourself as you endeavor to become better at who you are and what you do.
As a public person your personal healing process becomes the basis for public judgment. Issues from childhood, relationship choices and financial decisions garner headlines and magazine covers. Whether you attempt to explain what you are learning or explain away what you have done, the public gets to weigh in on what you could have, should have, must have done and what you need to do next.
Your personal growth process can make the people uncomfortable and suspicious even when it is a reflection of their own. Your personal process of evolution will be scrutinized and criticized particularly if your motives are not clear or considered agreeable by those who have made and keep you public. Those who have done exactly what you did when no one was looking.
When you are a public person you better have friends who won’t betray you, a mental health professional who cannot be bought and a spiritual foundation that supports you in seeing beyond the ways of the world and expectations of others.
In other words, you will need to be able to get chewed up, spit out and emerge whole – – wearing the right thing, in the right size. That’s where God comes in. God is the Source that puts the Teflon on a public person’s soul. God supports a public person to grow within; beyond and above judgment, attack, criticism and speculation into the realms of a finely and divinely tuned “character.”
When you are a public person you must have something higher than the public pedestal and stronger than public opinion to stand on. Just ask Charlie Sheen who did not have that and Robert Downey, Jr. who does. When a public person has a solid spiritual base and understanding, what they do and how they do it is perceived as a lesson, warning, a cautionary tale that strengthens the individual, regardless of public opinion or agreement.
Former president Bill Clinton probably knows this better than anyone else. A public person with a personal relationship with the God of their understanding knows how to process public opinion and attack from a deeper and higher perspective. They look for their own lessons. They know how to apply what they are learning and are able to rebound from public disgrace. They use what they have learned to help themselves and others. They move through public judgment, criticism and attack to the next level of their personal growth and development with elegance and grace, knowing that some of the public will remain skeptical and critical.
When you are a public person who gets the lesson for yourself, within yourself, criticism motivates you to be better and learn faster. I sense that Michael Clarke Duncan’s fiance, Omarosa, might agree with me on that point.
Most important of all, when you are a public person there comes a moment when you must decide if what you do in public is your purpose and passion, your calling, your ministry, a way to use your life for a higher purpose and to serve the public in some way. Or, if what you do publicly is an ego-driven attempt to be recognized, noticed and propped up for public accolades.
In either case, what you do publicly will be corrected secretly by the Creator of your life. Your willingness to heal and grow and evolve as an individual will determine how you respond to the public regardless of how the public responds to you.
About Iyanla Vanzant:
Iyanla Vanzant is the best-selling author of five books on self-empowerment, personal growth and spiritual healing, with the most recent book being Peace from Broken Pieces. As the founder and executive director of the Inner Visions Spiritual Life Maintenance Network, she conducts workshops, seminars and lectures nationally. Drawing from her own experiences of family dysfunction, abuse, and poverty, Iyanla encourages us all to look at ourselves, laugh at ourselves and then take the necessary steps to heal ourselves. Her practical message is based on the principles of universal law, self-determination and the power of Spirit. You can learn more about her work at www.innervisionsworldwide.com.
Iyanla has recently appeared several times during Oprah’s Lifeclass webcast segments. You can view the classes here: http://www.oprah.com/oprahs-lifeclass/oprahs-lifeclass.html She also recently appeared on Super Soul Sunday with Oprah, speaking about what she had to go through to get to where she is now. You can view these segments here: http://www.oprah.com/own-super-soul-sunday/Full-Episode-Oprah-and-Iyanla-Vanzant-Soul-to-Soul-Part-1-Video
Iyanla has a new show, set to appear on the Oprah Winfrey Network September 15, 2012, called “Iyanla, Fix My Life!”. To learn more about it and apply to be on Iyanla’s show and have her help you, please visit http://www.oprah.com/ownshow/index.html?team_type=HarpoStudios