Dr. Seth Meyers, Clinical Psychologist

Dr. Seth Meyers, Clinical Psychologist

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Why You Shouldn’t Watch…The Royal Wedding

Am I the only one in America who is more than a little tired of the incessant television coverage of the April 29th royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton? Come on, I couldn't possibly be! Honestly, it’s a testament to the in-your-face coverage of the event that I even know Ms. Middleton’s first and last name. Simply put, I don’t follow the lives of the royals, and I’ll tell you why that is.

But first, I must explain that I work hard as a therapist to convince people that it isn’t healthy to idealize anyone or to put others on a pedestal. The reason? Idealizing anyone is poison for your self-esteem because every time you idealize someone, you automatically devalue yourself. In other words, you can’t put someone on a pedestal without feeling worse about yourself afterward. The reality is that too many men and women fall victim to idealizing others whom they don’t know – members of Britain ’s royal family included.

If you are royal follower, hear a snippet on the news about the forthcoming wedding, and find your ears straining to catch every last detail, I’m sorry to say that you are, in fact, idealizing the royals. If you weren’t, you wouldn't be interested in any events related to them. As the watchers of the royal wedding perch themselves in front of the television to watch the wedding on the 29th, they will inevitably feel enamored by the spectacle: a crowd of thousands, infinite security, and William and Kate, shining like two human jewels, at the center of it all. The coverage, of course, will mention the most scintillating details: the clothing, the reception location, and the finest foods that would put any celebrity chef to shame.

How, I ask, could watching such a wedding – again, featuring people you’ve never met - make you feel good or better about your own life? How is spending time following the lives of others more fortunate than you any good for your self-esteem and your overall life satisfaction?

I believe that the world is a better, more dynamic place when its inhabitants are happy and fulfilled, and so I want you to feel good about yourself and the life you’re living. To do so, I want you to avoid spending time tracking the lives of others who are more fortunate than you may be. After all, psychology studies show that people tend to feel worse when they compare themselves to others who are more fortunate, and they tend to feel better when comparing themselves to others who are less fortunate.

Aside from my strong conviction that attraction to all things royal makes its followers feel worse about their own lives, I have one additional problem with following and looking up to the royals: Royal families – William and Kate included - haven’t actually earned their position through hard work! Why should we be terribly interested in the lives of individuals who, by birthright, are simply born into wealth and fame? At least with prominent politicians in America , for example, they have to campaign a little!

The endless media attention on the forthcoming royal wedding serves as an important reminder of what we do – and also should – value in others. Personally, I have nothing against the members of any royal family. Conversely, they don’t top my list of Most-Respected-People-Ever. Ultimately, we all must be careful about whom we admire and respect. At the end of the day, the people most deserving of your respect and admiration are those who have earned it through years of hard work. And keep in mind that some of the most inspiring individuals can be found in some of the least assuming places.

Finally, watching the royal wedding could be an upsetting experience if you look at it in context with the large world. Doesn't such a showcase serve as a disturbing reminder of just how unfair life really is: how some are born into gold-plated cribs, while others languish in poverty and despair? When you see this event in context, and consider the millions of dollars that go into such a function, it takes the fun - and idealization - out of the whole experience.

PLUS: In Dr. Seth's new book, Dr. Seth's Love Prescription: Find the Love You Deserve (available at Amazon.com or in stores at Borders and Barnes and Noble), he shows you how to stop repeating bad patterns in your romantic relationships. If you or someone you know keeps going for the wrong types of people and seems stuck on this awful hamster wheel, pick up a copy of Dr. Seth's Love Prescription today.

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