Admiring vs Idolizing: Which One is Good for You?

It’s fascinating that pretty much everyone often looks up to someone of influence, such as celebrities, athletes, or political figures. A big part of that might be how people consume highly accessible content on social media daily, seeing posts about movies, music, games, beauty products, sports tournaments, news, and so much more.

Public figures often show their achievements and good qualities, making them easier to admire. The two-way interaction between influencers and audiences in social media also gives people the illusion that they can relate to influencers.

However, people, especially impressionable teenagers, tend to idolize celebrities excessively, often because they only see the polished, positive aspects of their lives on social media. Whether it’s their luxurious lifestyles or unrealistic beauty, people strive to imitate these admired figures, often leading to drawbacks like creating unrealistic standards or even following bad lifestyles. 

The question is, is it always bad to idolize or admire celebrities and aspire to be them? Is there any way to idolize or admire these celebrities healthily? You need to know that idolizing and admiring are two different ways to look up to someone. Knowing the difference between them can help identify which practice is healthier for promoting happiness.

A deep dive into admiration vs. idolization

Admiration and idolization both stem from similar terms, that is, to look up to someone in a great respect. However, both terms have different meanings and opposite impacts on individuals’ happiness and well-being. 


Admiration is a sentiment of respect and approval. It is mostly about feeling a deep sense of awe towards personal figures due to their admirable qualities or accomplishments. Admiration occurs when you greatly respect and look up to someone or something because you find them impressive.

Admiration is a powerful social feeling that often centers on another person. It makes you curious to learn more about the person you admire and deepen your connection with them. You see and acknowledge positive qualities that sometimes they don’t even realize themselves.

It’s not solely about admiring famous figures, either. It can also be about admiring someone you know, such as your mentor or leader. 

Admiring famous figures can have benefits, such as promoting inspiration, motivation, and personal growth because it focuses on another person’s good qualities.


Famous figures can easily be a source of inspiration. Seeing them excel in various fields, such as arts, sports, or politics, can inspire you to choose the passion you want to pursue.


Celebrity admiration can also be a powerful source of motivation. Their great achievements in their respective fields and the way they thrive despite adversities in life can motivate you to not give up whatever you are working on. 

Personal growth

Admiring famous figures can facilitate your personal growth by emulating their achievements or success stories and learning the values they hold on to. You can cultivate these characteristics within yourself for your personal growth and development.

Admiration does not only focus on other people; you can also admire yourself.

Self-admiration is a form of self-love. It is a feeling of a strong sense of pride in oneself and one’s deeds. Self-admiration involves recognizing your own worth, abilities, and achievements, but not to the extent of being excessive. Self-admiration is important for your mental well-being and personal development because it can help you to feel confident.


Idolization refers to the act of admiring, adoring, or worshiping someone or something to an excessive degree. It’s a form of admiration as well, only that it is more exaggerated and somewhat obsessive. It involves placing individuals or objects on a pedestal, attributing them with qualities of perfection or superiority that may not accurately reflect their true nature.

It’s related to the term “idolatrous,” often used in a religious or moral context to describe the worship of idols or the excessive reverence for something or someone as if it were a deity.

In a broader sense, idolatrous behavior is described as excessive devotion or adoration of anything, such as celebrities, material possessions, or ideologies, to the extent that it becomes detrimental to one’s well-being or relationships. 

In the context of idolizing celebrities, when individuals find themselves drawn to these standards, they often perceive celebrities as superior to them. This perception of superiority can make individuals construct high standards for their idols, believing that their idols are flawless beings who are free from errors. 

Idolizing celebrities leads individuals to not only emulate their good qualities but also want to have their innate qualities to the point that they want to be exactly like their idols. 

The excessive degree of idolizing celebrities has negative psychological impacts, mostly relating to feelings of inadequacy, loss of personal identity, and disappointment.

Feelings of inadequacy

Idolization often involves idealizing famous figures beyond reality, leading to comparisons that make individuals feel inadequate. When you perceive your idols as perfect, you might not help but compare yourself with them, resulting in feelings of inferiority and self-doubt. 

Individuals who keep comparing themselves to idols can put unrealistic beauty standards on themselves, which may result in disappointment in their natural physical appearance, and go to extreme ways by undergoing plastic surgery, which is very common in South Korea

Loss of personal identity

Excessive idolization can blur the lines between your own identity and your idols’. In the efforts to be like them, you may lose sight of your own values, interests, and sense of self. This loss of personal identity erodes your authenticity and hinders your growth and fulfillment.


Unrealistic expectations associated with idolizing can set you up for disappointment. When your idols inevitably fall short of the idealized image you’ve constructed, whether through willful mistakes or simply being human, you can feel disillusionment and emotional distress. 

Admiration vs. idolization. Which one should you have?

In comparing healthy admiration to idolization, it’s clear that the former is preferable.

Healthy admiration encourages you to recognize and appreciate admirable qualities in others while maintaining a realistic perspective on their abilities and limitations. It’s beneficial as a source of inspiration and motivation for personal growth without fostering unrealistic expectations or emotional dependency. 

On the other hand, idolization can have negative consequences for self-esteem and well-being due to its unrealistic and often unhealthy nature. When you look up to an individual to the point that you will go far to be exactly like them, get into unhealthy fights on social media, or spend money beyond your means, then it’s idolatrous, and you should be very wary of this imbalance.

In summary, while it’s natural to admire and look up to others, it’s important to do so in a healthy and balanced way. Recognizing and appreciating the admirable qualities of celebrities or role models without idolizing them, you can derive inspiration and motivation for personal growth while maintaining a realistic perspective on yourself and your abilities.

Practical tips for healthy admiration

While admiration can be a natural response to the achievements and charisma of famous figures, it’s crucial to keep the admiration on a normal level to avoid the pitfalls of idolization.

By fostering critical thinking, diversifying role models, focusing on personal growth, and using social media ethically, you can cultivate a healthy relationship with admiration that promotes authenticity, self-awareness, and mental well-being. You can apply these practical insights and tips for achieving this balance.

Foster critical thinking

Critical thinking is a key skill involving analyzing, evaluating, and interpreting information to make rational conclusions. With this, you can evaluate famous figures objectively.

 You must recognize your idol’s strengths and limitations and understand that nobody is perfect. You can develop a more balanced perspective for healthy admiration by applying critical thinking to your admiration.

There are four steps to foster critical thinking for celebrity admiration.

  1. Identify the admiration. Recognize the admirable traits or actions of the famous figure and consider what specifically draws you to admire them while being mindful of biases simultaneously.
  2. Gather information. Collect information about the figure from various sources, including their background, achievements, and impact, while ensuring credibility and adequacy.
  3. Analyze and evaluate. Break down and assess the information you gathered by analyzing its relevance, accuracy, and the figure’s overall influence.
  4. Reflect on your choice. Continuously evaluate your role model’s qualities by considering both their positive aspects and any potential shortcomings, to keep the admiration healthy.

Read more: The Art of Critical Thinking: Techniques for Mastering the Skill 

Diversify role models

Actively examine the traits and behaviors of figures you admire through role model comparison. By comparing the qualities and values of different famous figures, you can choose which qualities resonate with you the most.

This practice broadens your perspective of who to admire and allows you to construct a more nuanced and multifaceted understanding of excellence and success. 

Focus on personal growth

Shift the focus from only comparing oneself to idols to prioritizing personal growth and self-improvement. You can set realistic goals for admiring based on your own values and aspirations rather than only focusing on celebrities’ physical attributes and lavish lifestyles.

Read more: Embracing Personal Growth Initiatives for Self-Improvement 

You also need to emphasize the importance of self-acceptance and self-admiration by celebrating your own progress and achievements from the goals.

Use social media ethically

It’s also essential to use social media ethically as a tool for inspiration and connection rather than for comparing and seeking validation. Curate your social media feeds mindfully by following accounts that promote positivity, authenticity, and personal growth.

By engaging with content that aligns with your values and aspirations, you can utilize social media as a platform for healthy admiration and making meaningful connections with others.

Read more: A Guide to Responsible Social Media Usage for Improved Well-being 

In conclusion 

In a world where idolizing public figures is natural, it’s important to understand the difference between admiration and idolization. While admiration involves respecting someone’s qualities or achievements, idolization often goes too far.

When done healthily, admiration inspires, motivates, and fosters personal growth. It encourages individuals to learn from admirable qualities in others without losing sight of their own values and goals. However, idolization can be detrimental, creating feelings of inadequacy, loss of personal identity, and disappointment.

To admire your adored figures without excessively worshiping them, you can cultivate healthy admiration by fostering critical thinking, diversifying role models, and focusing on personal growth. 

Strive to admire others in a balanced and constructive manner, focusing on your growth and well-being.

If you would like to see more resources on admiration, check out the Happiness Science Labs. The lab uses the research of the Institute for Life Management Science Labs to produce courses, certifications, podcasts, videos, and other tools. Visit the Happiness Science Labs today.

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