For the past 2 ½ decades I’ve met with many people who are overly focused on their physical appearances. On the other hand, I’ve assisted folks who are angry that the world seems to judge them based on their outward appearances. They believe that “it’s what’s on the inside that counts” and contend that judgments by others based on physical
appearance is unfair.
Which of these approaches is healthy?
The simple answer is neither!
In the real world, focusing on the outside to the exclusion of the inside or vice versa leaves us feeling insecure and unhappy. What I’ve come to understand is that there’s a synergy between our external and internal selves and if we allow this synergy to work for us, the whole can be greater than the sum of its parts. In order to do so, however, we must find a balance between our internal v. or external foci. There is no easy formula for this and the best balance will be different for each of us. As you look for your healthy balance here are some things to consider:
The External You:
How you sound: Do you have a strong, resonant voice or do you sound tentative, timid or nasal?Does your vocal presentation support or belie the person you’d like the rest of the world to “see”?
How you carry yourself: Unwittingly we give others a wealth of nonverbal cues about ourselves. So be conscious of what your physical presence tells others and what you can do to let this dynamic work for you. Is your posture erect but comfortable? Do you maintain good eye contact?
How you listen: When someone else is speaking do you give him your full attention? Do you make her feel comfortable by showing appropriate interest and empathy? As you listen do you adjust your pace and style to that of the speaker? If you do these things, you will positively influence the other person’s impression of you, and strangely enough, they’ll think you’re a fabulous conversationalist even if you’ve said little or nothing at all!
The Internal You:
In my opinion here are three key factors that inform how we experience the world and how the world sees and experiences us:
Having a Purpose: More often than not, people seek my services when they’re at a transition point; a time when they’ve temporarily lost a life focus. Maybe their children have left for college and they are empty nesters; maybe they’re experiencing a divorce or a job loss. Whatever the circumstance they feel as though they’ve fallen off the treadmill of life and don’t know how or where to get back on. Much of my work involves helping people find a new purpose when an old one has come to an end.
Choosing a Positive Attitude: Life’s circumstances are often not in our control but how we look at them is. One of the most powerful ways to change your attitude is by reaching out to help someone else in need. It’s amazing how taking the focus off our own issues and empathizing with someone else serves as a palliative, if not a cure!
Finding Your Funny Bone: Humor is a wonderful antidote to pain and puts a different perspective on even the worst of circumstances. In fact, there are chemical changes that occur in the body whenever we experience a good belly laugh.
Have you noticed how much more attractive someone appears to you when they’re happily
engaged in their lives? In closing I’d like to share the eternal words of the late actress and
humanitarian Audrey Hepburn:
“For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others; for beautiful lips, speak only words of
kindness, and for poise, walk with the knowledge that you are not alone”.