10 Steps to Self Esteem: Step 2 - Feel Attractive
Welcome to the second step of your 10 steps to solid self esteem blogs
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I suspect the secret of personal attraction is locked up in our unique imperfections, flaws and frailties.
In the first step, we were really defining low self esteem, what it does to people, how itmakes them biased and intolerant towards their own personalities and characters.
One oh so common characteristic of low self esteem is feeling fundamentally unattractive a lot of the time. Low self esteem makes people feel uglier, stupider and less appealing than they really are.
Do you feel like this? Do you find fault with your face and/or body?
If we hold ourselves up to all those perfectly airbrushed images that surround us of how women and men are ‘supposed’ to look in a perfect world, we will invariably find ourselves wanting.
Developing healthy self esteem helps you be (and feel) more attractive.
But before I get to how that works, I want you to understand more about what ‘healthy self esteem’ actually means.
Healthy self esteem: What are we aiming for?
Self esteem is a by-product of other phenomena rather than an end in itself.
Yes, I know, we are aiming at ‘raising self esteem’ through these blogs, which makes it seem as if self esteem is something you can aim at directly. But the truth is that we need to aim at it indirectly. That is, we need to aim directly at those things which indirectly produce better levels of self esteem.
So we are going to be focusing specifically on how you think, how you feel, and how you behave.
Low self esteem was at one time seen as a major contributory cause of crime and bad behavior. There is no evidence for this.
By contrast, there is a great deal of evidence that people with genuine low self esteem are much more likely to treat themselves badly than they are to treat other people badly.
It also used to be thought that bullies and abusers (people who in fact have too much self esteem) must be suffering from low self esteem, and that they expressed such a sense of entitlement and behaved so badly in order to compensate for their terribly low self esteem. So ‘treatment’ involved working to raise their self esteem (imagine what happens when you try to raise the self esteem of someone who already has too much self esteem...).
It is now recognised that narcissism (exclusive focus on oneself and one’s own importance) is a more likely and much more common explanation for these behaviors.
So, low self esteem:
isn’t what lies behind all of humanity’s ills, and
doesn’t make you a bully either.
These are myths.
‘Low self esteem’ is a genuine and distinct condition characterised by a sense of powerlessness (one man described himself as ‘feeling invisible’).
People really can have too much self esteem. They can be fundamentally narcissistic and feel absolutely sure they are better and more important than anyone else at all times. This is not healthy, but neither is it necessarily low self esteem ‘in disguise’.
So we need to be clear about what we are aiming for. What is ‘healthyself esteem’?
The real secret of healthy self esteem
People with good self esteem don’t go around thinking how wonderful, fantastic and infinitely lovable they are all the time. Nor do they automatically think they are awesome at everything – imagine how out of touch with reality that would be!
The truth is, when you have healthy self esteem you don’t actually think about yourself that much. You don’t need to!
I don’t think about my big toe unless I’ve stubbed it and it’s in pain.
When people feel badly about themselves, they may spend a lot of time focusing on the source of that emotional pain. And they tend to imagine or suppose that the ‘source’ of their pain is ‘what I am like as a person’.
But when you develop true self esteem, you’ll find that you focus outward more, and enjoy life more.
Other characteristics you can look out for as you develop them more strongly will be:
appreciating what you can do (not worrying about what you can’t)
understanding your limitations, but recognising that many can be overcome
knowing, appreciating and trusting your own strengths
feeling calmer and more objective when you think about who you are
feeling relaxed and confident in social situations
feeling intrinsically just as good as anyone else
recognizing that people with different strengths to you are not ‘better’ than you– just different
being aware of but not worried about what other people might think of you
letting people think whatever they want to think
being up for all kinds of challenges
appreciating the bigger picture and not always blaming yourself when things don’t work out
assuming others will like you and appreciate you (and if they don’t, well, that’s down to them)
having a strong sense of who you are and what you can become
feeling confident to try new things
being able to accept compliments and recognise when you have done wellenough
enjoying life more and feeling connected with other people. This might seem like an awful lot of different stuff!
However, as your self esteem improves as you go through these steps you’ll find yourself noticing these new characteristics more and more within yourself.
And when you feel like this more of the time, you start to exude more confidence and – guess what! – other people find you more attractive.
Exercise • 5 lines
Every day, write 5 sentences in your notebook about what you are like and what you do when your self esteem is healthy.
Write these sentences in the present tense, as if it is all happening now.
When I have a healthy respect for myself I eat more fruit and vegetables and stay away from too much sweet food.
When I feel okay about who I am, I relax even when my boss is around.
When I know my own worth, I wear nice clothes and enjoy presenting myself well.
When I respect myself, I don’t worry what others think about me.
and so on.
After a few days, you will have an excellent list of sentences describing your life as a person who really respects themselves.
Like the Imagine this... exercise in Step 1, this exercise will help prime your brain. The fact is that low self esteem tricks us into seeing ourselves as we really aren’t.
It’s not that you have to feel infinitely beautiful all of the time, but feeling more attractive has as much to do with your mindset as your face, body or clothes.
The importance of feeling attractive
For better or worse, we do live in a culture that rewards physical beauty.
Teachers reward better looking children with higher grades, and these children tend to be more popular with their classmates. Good looking people get paid better and promoted more. The physically blessed are more likely to be found innocent in a court of law.
We assume good looking people must be ‘good’ in other ways. The heroes and heroines in the movies are often attractive, the villains noticeably less so (with exceptions, of course). Advertising exploits this assumption all the time, showing us ‘beautiful people’ using their products (but just look how those beautiful people are ‘created’...).
Judging by appearances is something many of us do (even as we protest that it is ‘wrong’). By definition, most people are not incredibly beautiful or handsome (as judged by most people) – some are, but not most. Most people are pretty average looking.
But average people can be more attractive overall than those blessed with neat symmetrical features – if they feel more attractive.
Feeling attractive makes you more attractive
The important thing to remember here is that low self esteem can make even the most attractive people in the population feel ‘ugly’ – which can be quite annoying to the genuinely less physically attractive.
It’s not how good you look, it’s how attractive you feel.
This isn’t to say that exercise, a healthy diet and an avoidance of cigarettes don’t matter. Looking after yourself well will help you look as good as you can. But ‘attractiveness’ is not some external physical ideal. It’s really an invisible powerfulpersonal magnetism. When you give it off, other people feel it. That is, they feel ‘attracted’ to you.
Feeling attractive to others
Some of the most confident and psychologically balanced and healthy people know, often with certainty, that they are not ‘God’s gift’ in terms of physical appearance. But this awareness doesn’t particularly affect their self confidence and so it’s not aproblem for them.
They can still be and feel attractive partly because their appeal isn’t based on the way they look.
Their ‘attraction of being’, as we might call it, is based on who they are and how they communicate, more than on the physical structure of their face and body, and will last much longer than looks anyway.
This is so important that I want you to come back and reflect upon it often.
Most of us have physical imperfections (or will do once time has done its work!), and these can niggle. But if they make you ‘feel worthless’, then way too much of your attention is being invested in just one aspect of the overall spectrum of what potentially makes you attractive.
So what does make people attractive?
The attractiveness spectrum
When you stop and think carefully about what ‘attractiveness’ is, you’re going to comeup with something like this:
humor/sense of fun
resilience and determination
capacity to make others feel good about themselves
capacity to communicate interestingly (and, yes, flirtatiousness can be attractive)
clearly knowing what you want and going for it.
And there are other aspects on the attractiveness spectrum I haven’t mentioned.
Now you’ll notice that ‘looks’, although they are at the top of the list, are only in that position because, generally speaking, they are the first thing you notice aboutsomeone.
But confidence, energy and style can all be noticed at just about the same time as looks. Looks are only one aspect on the spectrum amidst a whole host of other factors.
Whatever you look like, these blogs will help you develop all of the above. And I mean all. Including your looks. Because when you hold yourself in proper esteem, you look after yourself better, and thus give your ‘looks’ their best chance.
As your sense of your attraction of being increases, you’ll notice that you:
care less about any perceived physical inadequacies
exaggerate less when it comes to your own imperfections
focus more on your attractive qualities and feel more aware of them when you think about your appearance
feel attractive as a person – which covers many of the other aspects on the attractiveness spectrum, regardless of appearance.
Low self esteem, remember, is a warping lens.
I don’t know whether you ever visited those ‘crazy mirrors’ in the ‘hall of mirrors’ at fairs, the kind that distort your reflection so much as to make you look completely alien? Well, think of low self esteem as a ‘crazy mirror’ – it makes you see yourself wrong.
Time and time again, people who feel inadequate rate themselves as less physically attractive than non-involved objective strangers rate them.
When we get to Step 7 (Overcome insecurity), we’ll be looking more closely at how to increase your influence over how much people like you.
you begin to grasp how low self esteem has been biasing your assessment of your own looks and attractiveness
you stop instantly brushing off compliments
you start recognising your own attractive qualities
you feel a greater sense of your own ‘attraction of being’
you really feel that attraction is much more than just physical appearance
you relax when you look in the mirror, accepting imperfections and still feeling good about your potential to feel attractive
When you feel attractive, you are attractive – you attract more people, more opportunities and more positive feelings. When you feel more attractive more of the time naturally, then it will be an unconscious attribute and you won’t be thinking aboutit.
In Step 3 we’ll be looking at what to do about one of the most common aspects of lowself esteem – unreasonable self blame.
Please get in touch if you would like to explore some hypnosis to really make the most of this series of blogs.