Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Michael Jackson: A Life of Triumph and Tragedy

I'm sure we're on information overload with all of the media coverage of Michael Jackson's tragic death, but there's a fascination that people have all over the world with the "king of pop." He's another example of a celebrity that couldn't make a successful life for himself. He had it all but had nothing.

The media has tried to understand what went wrong with such potential for a quality life. I ask how he could have succeeded? Celebrity life takes a strong inner-core and ability to find serenity with one's self to deal with the fragility of fame. If your self-esteem is dependent on what others think of you and you're a sensitive person, you're at the effect of others' approval and love. Unfortunately, Michael's core of self-love and his sense of himself was always dependent on what the world thought of him.

He came into this world whole but his self-esteem was chipped away by his father whose message was "you're not good enough." Your nose is too big; you have to strive to be better; and your life is not your own to make." The hole inside him was so deep and the external world so threatening that he tried to fill it as best he could. Not being familiar with that currency that really matters for fulfilling a sense of self-accepatance and self-love, he sought the most obvious currency. His excessive shopping sprees are very characteristic of someone who is trying to fill a void and feel full. So, he both sought and rejected the rewards of fame as the money never filled the void. When he gave it away to others and saw their joy, he was most fulfilled.

What I find most triumphant in his life and what I would describe as one of his greatest achievements was his ability to father as well as he did. That was a remarkable feat as he had no role model to emulate and no innate sense of what it felt like to be loved by his father. Yet, he succeeded in giving enough love to his children that they felt cared for and loved unconditionally. His daughter gave him the ultimate reward for a life well-lived; she told the world how loved she felt by him. His children will have the potential to make healthy lives for themselves with core self-esteem and empowerment to take on this often times cruel world of celebrity as that will be their destiny. So he may not have been able to make a serene life for himself but he succeeded in filling his children's lives with a solid foundation. Unfortunately, he won't be around to see his great work fulfilled.

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