What does it mean to live vicariously?

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In this blog we will discuss what it means to live vicariously?

We will also discuss whether this form of lifestyle is healthy, if not- what are the consequences of living vicariously. 

We will also briefly touch upon what the signs of living variously are and what can one do to change. 

What does it mean to live vicariously?

Living vicariously means to experience life through someone else’s experiences rather than your own experience that comes about by engaging with life by one’s self. 

When one lives vicariously, they live their experience through someones elses rather thank them taking part of their own lives and though this can be a way to empathise with someone else- celebrate with others for their own experiences- it can be an unhealthy thing when the lines between your life and theirs begin to blur.

Some ways that an individual is living vicariously through someone else include:

  • You watch other people live your dreams instead of reaching them yourself.
  • You spend lots of time on social media wishing you had what others have.
  • You dictate what interests others take part in.
  • You encourage others to take chances you won’t.
  • You seek celebrity gossip.
  • You binge watch TV.
  • You become interested in characters from television, movies, or books.
  • You fantasise about being someone else. (betterhelp)

When an individual lives vicariously through other people, they immerse themselves in the lives of others- in terms of emotionally and mentally- taking their experiences and accomplishments as your own and not theirs. 

It allows you to live and celebrate achievements without the risk of failures or setbacks and it also allows you to live lifestyles that you cannot have or you do not strive towards.

While it allows you to live many lives, experience many new things, it can take you away from things that are part of your reality. 

Individuals who live vicariously often tend to feel empty and unfulfilled when they are alone with themselves and this is often a result of them neglecting their own lives, their own dreams, and their own abilities for someone else’s.

What are some negative consequences of living vicariously?

Here are some negative ways in which living life vicariously affect you:

We Become Dependent

When we live vicariously through other people- be it our friends, family, or a celebrity as well- we become too dependent on other people to feel happy and fulfilled in life,

We begin to base our sense of accomplishment and our own validations on that of other people. We take too much precedence over someone else’s choices and their own sense of happiness that we no longer experience life independently. 

So when your child fails, you feel like a failure. Or when your friend succeeds in life we tend to feel successful but once that is removed, we feel like we have done nothing with our lives, which might be the case for some people who have lived life too vicariously for too long. 

We Ignore  our own abilities

When you become obsessed over someone else’s life, their own milestones and successes or their own experiences, we forget and neglect our own experiences that we have had in our lives. 

This can include us neglecting our own positive assets, our abilities and strengths and our own achievements. 

We become so focused on other individuals abilities and their achievements that we forget to hone our own strengths, celebrate our own achievements and finally we end up feeling empty and we feel like we have lost our way in life. 

We Develop Excuses

When we live through other people for a long time, we lose the drive to do things on our own. When we focus on other people and depend on others to give us a sense of accomplishment, we end up putting off our own goals and putting effort into our own lives.

If this becomes the way one leads life, without much motivation and drive, we begin to make excuses for our lack of joy and fulfilment. Instead we blame other people for our own lack of meaning and purpose in life. 

We Give Others a Sense of Obligation

Another very difficult consequence that affects other people because of our tendency to live vicariously is that we put a burden on other individuals and give them a sense of obligation that impacts their own dreams and their own well-being. 

This is especially prominent when the parent lives vicariously through their children. They feel like their own purpose and meaning in life is taken away and replaced by the agendas of their parents and this can take away their sense of fulfilment and happiness. 

How to start living for oneself?

Here are a few things that you can do to stop lying life vicariously and to start living life, experiencing life yourself:’

Take notice of what you have 

Remember what makes you unique, what makes you different. Take  a moment out of your day to list out all the positive assets that you have- be it your unique skills, your relationships that bring you joy, your talents etc. 

Make a list and make it a point to reflect on which of them you used to live like that day and which of them allowed you to experience the joy of living. Most of the time you will notice that in your own way, even if small ways, you are living your life.

Celebrate Your Accomplishments

It is often the case that people do not take notice of what they have accomplished over time, instead focus on the accomplishments of other people and neglect their own milestones. 

While you might not have been the CEO of a company or a Director at UNICEF, there is much that you have done in your life that could not have been done by anyone else. 

So take note of what you have accomplished, be it graduating highschool, be it making friends, or becoming a father. Count these as your accomplishments and as life experiences that you have lived through that no one else can.

Grieve What You Lost

Take a moment to grieve what you have lost- be it opportunities, be it relationships, be it other people that could have let you live a different life. 

Make sure that you take time to feel what you feel, there is no need to judge these feelings of regret, pain, and grief. Be with these feelings and challenge yourself to focus on what you have gained in the midst of the loss. 

While you might have lost a job opportunity, focus on what you have gained through your new job or what avenues are open for you as you seek out a new job.  

Turn off your phone

Social media is often one of the major driving forces that leads us to become so dissatisfied with our lives because of the blatant displacement of other people’s fabulous lives. 

However it is important to remember that nothing is real on social media and these blatant fantasies are what push you away form a realistic outlook of your own life. 

So take a moment to sign off, and reflect on your own present life instead of wondering what your classmates from highschools are doing for the summer or what brand of clothes someone else is wearing.  Take a break to focus on the present and focus on what is real. 

Set goals

One of the best ways to get yourself moving is to set real goals that you want out of life. Let these goals be small, simple, doable, realistic and something that you can celebrate about.

For example, if you have always wanted to be a baker, and you have been obsessed over watching videos of other people baking- instead of starting a bakery, start with learning how to make cupcakes or even more simple goals- learn how to make pancakes or even similar goals- learn how to measure more accurately.

Setting goals is all about small steps that can help you achieve a larger goal, and every step of the way- every small goal- becomes a milestone for you to live through. 

Seek Professional Help                         

If you think that you have been living vicariously for too long and are unable to get yourself to change the way you live, get the help you need. 

Talk about your struggles with your therapist, work with them to understand why you tend to live this way, and work together to form a plan to get out of this way of life.

Conclusion

In this blog we have discussed what it means to live vicariously?

We have also discussed whether this form of lifestyle is healthy, if not- what are the consequences of living vicariously. 

We will also briefly touch upon what the signs of living variously are and what can one do to change. 

What is an example of living vicariously?

Some ways that an individual is living vicariously through someone else include:

  • You watch other people live your dreams instead of reaching them yourself.
  • You spend lots of time on social media wishing you had what others have.
  • You dictate what interests others take part in.
  • You encourage others to take chances you won’t.
  • You seek celebrity gossip.
  • You binge watch TV.
  • You become interested in characters from television, movies, or books.
  • You fantasise about being someone else. (betterhelp)

What does it mean to do something vicariously?

When an individual does things vicariously through other people, they immerse themselves in the lives of others- in terms of emotionally and mentally- taking their experiences and accomplishments as their own and not theirs. 

It allows you to live and celebrate achievements without the risk of failures or setbacks and it also allows you to live lifestyles that you cannot have or you do not strive towards.

What does it mean to live vicariously through your child?

To live vicariously through your child is to impose your dreams, your goals o to your child and force them to act out the life you want for yourself without respecting their own dreams and goals. 

Can you live vicariously through yourself?

Yes, you can live vicariously through yourself by allowing yourself to experience the things you want to experience, to go after the goals you want to set, and to cleerate the achievements that you dream of.

In the process of “Living vicariously through myself, you are making emmeories, and you are building a life for yourself to look back on and you create a life for yourself, by yourself. 

References:

Anderson.J. Is Living Vicariously Through Others Dangerous? Goodtherapy. Retrieved on 12th Feb 2022. https://www.betterhelp.com/advice/general/is-living-vicariously-through-others-dangerous/

Living Vicariously – Is It A Bad Thing Or Not. Change Your Life Forever. Retrieved on 12th Feb 2022. https://changeyourlifeforever.co.uk/blog/change/life/living-vicariously-is-it-a-bad-thing-or-not/

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