The real reason why you wish you were someone else

“Want to watch a movie tonight,” Kelly asked as we prepped the kids for bed.

“Sure, what is it?” I responded back.

THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY,” she answered.

I’ll admit it, I’m not a movie buff. Often I don’t even know what’s out or what’s coming out. And the movies I do see are mostly by accident. But…when I do watch one, I tend to take a deep dive. I consume it, digest it, and apply it in life and work.

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty was no exception. As I watched Walter (played by Ben Stiller) I saw an interesting phenomenon, one I see every day in conversation and social media comments:

MOST OF US WISH WE WERE SOMEONE ELSE

How did I pick up on it so quickly? Because 7 years ago that was me:

  • I studied a particular guy.
  • I followed a particular guy.
  • I wanted to be a particular guy?

More on that in a moment, but today looking back I realize:

Wishing you were someone else kinda defeats the purpose of God creating you. (Share on Twitter |Facebook|Google+| LinkedIn)

Eventually, I broke out of my 3 year pursuit of trying to be somebody else. When I did, life began to change…mostly because I did. I think we slip into this dangerous and debilitating habit for 3 main reasons:

1. We think changing our life is too difficult

The problem is we know ourselves too well. After all, we’ve been in our own skin our entire lives. We let our past patterns, failures, and tendencies sabotage our future. We bury this hurt, until something in life confronts it. Perhaps seeing an old friend, attending a reunion, or compiling a resume.

Walter confronted his boring life when he needed to fill out his profile for a dating service. Nobody “winks” at him, because he’s uninteresting and dull. When brought to his attention he had a choice. And you do too. (Watch the clip below.)

2. We imagine being someone else is easier

A fantasy is just that—imaginary. Because it’s not real, someone else’s life often looks easier. What we see is only a small part. Sure some people seem to have a cool life, but do they really?

I remember seeing the inside world of one of the top speaker’s in my industry. I thought his life was amazing, until I saw the price he paid. Hundreds of days away from loved ones, every year, for decades on end. Hotels, flights, and restaurants get old quickly. I suddenly appreciated my life—and my loved ones–much more.

3. We cope with our pain by escaping the present

Toward the end of the movie, Walter zones out much less. He finally shows—filled up, in his own life. He no longer needs to cope with the pain of his boring life. He creates a life of adventure by running to the pain instead of trying to escape it.

What about you? Are you trying to escape the pain of the present?

Counselors call it dissociation. Most people never heard of it, and yet many suffer from it:

DISSOCIATION: It involves a detachment from reality. In mild cases, dissociation can be regarded as a coping mechanism or defense mechanisms in seeking to master, minimize or tolerate stress – including boredom or conflict.

I share more about Walter, my personal struggle with dissociation, and how to reclaim a place in your life again. All the goodies are found in the IGNITING SOULS PODCAST episode 30:

The real reason why we wish we were someone else

Listen below or on iTunes or Audioboom.

  • Great points and topic for discussion! I think we often believe the grass is greener on the other side, we only see the good stuff, not all the long days of work and the sacrifices those we “wish we could be” deal with. I haven’t watched the movie yet but I hear it’s great.

    • Yep @ckragius:disqus…it is a fantastic movie. I think you’ll love it.