We all want to look good. And I'm not talking about the clothes we wear or those snazzy shoes. Not the haircuts or the stylish hipster-style frames.
I'm talking about how people see us and what they think about us.
Social psychologists like Roy Baumeister tell us that most of human behavior is aimed at being liked. We want to fit in. We want to be ok.
It's why we are so incredibly focused on what we wear, how our hair looks and how our bodies fit into our clothes. What bag we carry. Why we tell people only the great things we're doing. Why we claim to like music or food or whatever is popular.
And it's why we don't come "out". Why we keep things to ourselves. Why we try to hide our depression and anxiety. Why we don't share that we got laid off or broke up or were neglected by our parents are kids (and now as adults). Why we spend six out of seven nights drunk with people who enable us. Why we say, "sorry this (fill in the blank excuse) happened and I couldn't because (someone else's fault)" for just about everything in our lives.
It's why we aren't authentic and real with people.
We want to avoid looking bad so that we look good.
Social media feeds this human tendency. Marketing is a whole industry that encourages us to perpetuate "personas" to influence how people see us and what they think of us. We spend a tremendous amount of time nurturing fake facades but little to none on what will actually help us truly look good to people--i.e., sharing ourselves authentically and nurturing our personal development.
We fix what people focus on instead of focusing on ourselves.
How kind we are.
How we acknowledge people.
How well we listen and communicate.
How we care for our bodies and minds.
How reliable and responsible we are for our lives.
How well we surround ourselves with what we need to thrive.
Because the truth is, all this speaks volumes to how people think of us. It's the stuff that trumps our hair or clothes or followers on social media. People know who we are. They aren't stupid. This doesn't go for everyone, some people fall for it. Many don't. They see right through all our attempts to look good but they play along so they don't get found out. All the 'persona' in the world comes to a grinding halt and your humanness is shining right through when they interact with you. When our persona identity is in the driver's seat, we are screwed.
And I don't say this to distress you, but to be honest. It may burst your bubble of self-delusion so you can stop trying to run from the reality. It may help you get real with yourself so you actually be more present to what's going on and do something about it.
I've spoken openly about my life since I began coaching in 2009. I've risked looking bad. I've shared a lot. Not everything. More and more, I'm seeing the holes of what I do and don't share and the impact I could have if I shared more.
For example, as I heal my anger and grief, I can speak about my experience with childhood emotional neglect without throwing my parents under the bus. I'm not a victim but I've been impacted by them. I can honor that impact and address how the symptoms show up in my life.
Because people aren't stupid. They can see how it shows up in who I am and how I behave.
And, if people are compassionate, they respect me when I speak to my growing edges. Like how I still strive for attention and validation, seeking the love and appreciation I didn't receive as a child, from people who ignore me, invalidate me or generally treat me badly. IT COMES THROUGH even if I try to avoid or hide it. So why bother? Why not share it? Just because I'm a coach doesn't mean I'm a perfect person. I'm successful because of my self-awareness and my ability to address what isn't working in my whole life.
My ability to get this real with myself helps my clients do it, too. From the lowest person on the company totem pole all the way to the top. People of any and all identities. My vulnerability with them and in my work engenders their authentic self-awareness and self-expression, which allows them to really address what's going on in their lives. When they risk looking bad, that's how they make the progress and hit the numbers or achieve the focus and follow-through they need to REALLY look good. Because they're less focused on looking good which was only making them look bad, anyway. They instead focus on what needs work to become their best selves.
When we risk looking bad and stop trying to look good, we look even BETTER.