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The Importance of Role Models

Role models are highly important for us psychologically, helping to guide us


through life during our development, to make important decisions that affect the
outcome of our lives, and to help us find happiness in later life.
When we are growing up we look to our role models for inspiration and use this as
a blueprint for how we should behave when were older. This is likely a survival
function designed to help us to mimic the traits of those successful members of
our society and thereby help us to be successful too. At the same time in later life
its thought that our happiness is very much based on our perception of how our
life should or could be and the gap between that and how it is in reality. In other
words its striving for that same kind of success and achieving it that brings us
happiness or otherwise when were older. This is called actualization by
Goldstein.
As such then, having the correct role model will ensure that we learn to be
successful and adaptive in later life, and that we are happy when we are older
having achieved that aim. Its very important to get the right one then for
yourself, and to provide one for your children.
Of course the most obvious role models for any child are the parents, followed by
other immediate family and teachers. This is why its so important in these roles
to provide a good role model as children will be imitating your behaviour. That
means that if you smoke, you can expect your child to take up smoking either now
or later in life. If you swear meanwhile they too will swear, you are their blue print
for living.
At the same time though they will find other role models elsewhere as they grow
older, just as you probably have different role models today. This is even more the
case if you or they are somehow lacking in immediate role models. For example a
child whose Father has died is going to be missing a big male role model in their
life and as a result you can expect them to be particularly impressionable by
other males. If you or someone you know is in this situation then you need to
make sure that those males are the correct ones.
When we look elsewhere for role models we are spoiled for choice. We have our
peers be they work or school colleagues, we have characters from the media

comics, films, books, the music industry, sports and all of these can become a
big influence on us and the way we present ourselves. This might mean they
affect us in a minor way leading us to alter the clothes we wear and our habits, or
in a major way, leading us to make important considerations in our career or love
life that make us closer to our idols, or changing our views on politics or religion.
If youre choosing a role model for yourself or for a child then, its important to
make sure that they have good morals and dont indulge in self-destructive
behaviour. A good role model should be someone hard working, creative, free
thinking and moral. While you cant choose role models for your children as such,
you can make sure that they are exposed to a better selection to choose from. For
example encouraging your child to read Superman rather than The Punisher
(who murders his enemies and has a general bad attitude) might have a good
impact on the way they turn out. Similarly if you find that theyre hanging around
in what you deem to be the wrong crowd then these can serve as bad role
models. To solve this problem, try introducing them to other groups and
encouraging them to mingle more while keeping them at home more nights they
want to go off with their wrong group. Meanwhile if you find that your life is
currently not going the way you want it to and you are growing distant from your
friends and family, then look at your own priorities and who your current
influences are.
At the same time though a role model must be fairly similar to yourself. This is
one reason why Superman can make a slightly unfortunate role model. Fictional
characters such as Superman make great role models, particularly for
impressionable children, as they wont start behaving unusually or getting
attacked in the press. This means they can maintain their veneer of perfection
unlike any real heroes. The downside of this fact however is that it means you
wont ever be able to achieve that level of perfection. Someone wanting to be like
Superman is never going to fly and theyll find its not always possible to tell the
truth in every situation ala Christopher Reeves Superman. This gulf can then lead
to a sense of hopelessness and depression.
It doesnt have to be Superman either even a cover model can be a bad role
model if they make you feel bad about your own body image. If it means you
strive to improve yourself then great, but if it leaves you depressed and defeated

then this is not a suitable role model. A role model should be someone with
similar skills and assets to yourself, but a bit further along in life where youd like
to be at their age. If youre overweight but a genius then, try choosing an
overweight genius as a role model whos successful and morally upstanding.
Meanwhile if youre disabled, Christopher Reeves or Stephen Hawking could be
great influences and might also help you to get through any difficulties again
being a blueprint. For a blueprint to be effective it needs to be relevant
At the same time though its important not to put role models on a pedestal. If
theyre human and real then they need to be recognised as such. Everyone makes
mistakes and so to follow anyone blindly is a mistake. Recognise that this is a
guide for you and not someone you have to follow exactly. One good way to
prevent this from being a problem is to have multiple role models. This way if one
of them does something you dont agree with then youll still have others you can
look to. At the same time it can be sensible to have different role models for
different areas of your life.



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