I just read that another celebrity died of an apparent drug overdose. Corey Haim was a former child star in the films License to Drive and The Lost Boys. That last movie was prophetic. He was a lost boy who became a lost man. He died at age 38.
He’s just one of many celebrities that appear in the headlines regularly. Brittany Murphy, Michael Jackson, Anna Nicole Smith. We shake our heads, not completely surprised that these talented, troubled people left this world far too young. There are many others alive but headed down paths of self-destruction. I’m sure you can think of a few celebrity names off the top of your head. If they are lucky, something or someone will save them. But living in celebrity land makes it nearly impossible to be healthy and whole.
So what’s the deal with these celebrities who seem to have it all? In my opinion, it’s emptiness. The fame, the money, and beauty offer temporary gratification. Some follow up with drugs, weird behavior, and mental disorders. But eventually the rubber meets the road. They can no longer fill the black holes, the empty places in their lives.
Do you have empty places? Are there areas of your life where you feel unfulfilled, unloved, or not respected and appreciated? What are you doing to fill the emptiness? Sometimes we fill it with work and over-achieving. Sometimes it’s money, power and material things. Too often it is self-destructive behavior — eating or drinking too much, self-medicating, and unhealthy relationships.
If you see yourself here, I’d like to offer some thoughts on beginning to fill your emptiness and live from authentic joy:
1. Take a good, hard look at yourself. Sit down now with paper and pen and write down any actions or behaviors that are not serving you or that might be destructive or meaningless. Be brutal about this list. You can’t be in denial if you want to make things better.
2. Find the holes. Look at each behavior and ask yourself, “Why do I need this?” Then dig deeper. Ask yourself, “What empty hole am I trying to fill with this behavior?” This may take some time. Ask the questions over and over, and write down anything that comes to mind. It could be something small, like not feeling appreciated enough by your boss or friend. Or it could be a larger issue that permeates your life, like low self-esteem.
3. Pick one and take action. If you have more than one empty hole, pick the one that is causing the most distress or the worst destructive reactions in you. Now, write down everything that might fill that hole. Maybe it’s finding love in your life. Maybe it’s losing weight. Maybe it’s learning to accept yourself or stop pleasing others. Write them down, even if you fear you can’t achieve them.
4. What gives you sustained fulfillment? Now look at your life and think about what brings you real joy, satisfaction and meaning, not just temporarily, but all the time. Look at events now and in the past. Was it creativity, altruism, kindness to others, serving, teaching? Write these down.
5. Create a plan. Now take some steps to heal the hole and fill it. Look at the empty hole you selected and write down some action steps you can take to begin changing the behavior. Write everything you can think of, but start with small steps. Make the plan easy in the beginning. Taking action will motivate you to continue. Next, look at what has brought you genuine fulfillment in the past. How can you incorporate more of that in your life? Again, write down as many actions as possible and start with small steps. Taking these actions will start filling the hole.
6. Get help if necessary. If you’ve got some big holes to fill, please seek help from a counselor or coach. You can feel overwhelmed and out-of-control, and that’s when useless actions degenerate into self-destructive behaviors. Don’t let that happen. Getting help is a fearless, positive, self-supporting step.