Celeste Owens

Celeste Owens

A motivational speaker and licensed psychologist with a PhD in counseling psychology from the University of Pittsburgh.


Move on

Q: Not so long ago, Alec Baldwin called his teen daughter names in a horrifying phone call heard around the world. Now he's co-hosting the Oscars ceremony. Was the decision to spotlight Baldwin a wise one? And after a public figure embarrasses himself or herself so profoundly, how do they regain their footing? Who has managed to overcome such shame, and who has failed to?

Until this question, I had forgotten about Alec Baldwin's voicemail message to his daughter. I don't think I am in the minority.

Most of us don't have a vested interest in keeping others connected to their past; we are happy to move on when (and even before) they do. This wise majority knows that in a weak moment, we're all capable of doing or saying something that can bring shame to ourselves and others. So we don't judge.

"What you do with others' judgment says more about you than them," is what I believe.

For example, a client was engaged to be married six months after the death of her husband. Most said it was too soon and she felt judged by their comments (she so desperately wanted them to agree with her decision).

It took some weeks to convince her that it wasn't up to them, that this was her life. Once she faced the truth -- that her marriage had been in dire straits for years; she was now ready to be in a loving relationship, and didn't need others' approval -- she was free to move on. She reported in the months following her therapy that people had stopped commenting on her situation. I wasn't surprised -- when she moved on, they moved on.

Victims believe that they are controlled by their circumstances. They wallow in their mistakes and wear their shame for all to see. Survivors, on the other hand, move past the devastation.They understand they are not defined by their circumstances but can forge their own destiny. Therefore, true success is not about being perfect but persisting in the face of adversity.

Baldwin demonstrates this principle nicely. He's moved on, and so have we.

By Celeste Owens  |  March 11, 2010; 3:50 PM ET  | Category:  The comeback Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: From shame to success | Next: Not everyone can recover


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This message is in response to the comment from APOSTATE on 3/12.

I believe you missed Dr. Owen's point. Move on! In the movie Precious, Precious learned to not be a victim of her circumstance and chose to be a survivor. She "Moved On!" Alex Baldwin did not let one moment in which he lacked good judgment define him for the rest of his life. Nor did he allow the public to define him. He "Moved On!"

The article is excellent! I suggest you "Move On!" as I will "Move On!"

Posted by: mmpp | March 15, 2010 2:06 PM
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As a mental health professional, you should be well aware of the fact that verbal abuse victims DO NOT MOVE ON. Comments like this are often seared in the victim's memory to be recalled years later in therapy. Haven't you ever heard a patient say, " The reason I feel so bad about myself is because as a young girl my father called me a *****". I suggest seeing the movie "Precious" and attending a seminar on child abuse.

You should also recognize that Alec Baldwin has serious anger management problems and lacks any concept of boundaries and social grace.

Posted by: apostate | March 12, 2010 4:31 PM
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