About 3 years ago I went to a seminar called “Landmark”. It’s a 3 day, incredibly transformative experience. I believe it was day 2 where I started experiencing some resistance. The program lead was teaching us about the fact that essentially our whole lives are about “looking good”, but he kept using references like “the fanciest car”, and the “blonde with big boobs”. Those examples, among others, just did not click with me, so I felt safe in the rationale, that’s not me. I don’t do everything to look good. I even came up with stories like I hardly even wear make up, or fancy clothes. I clearly don’t care about looks. Little did I know, this fact would begin to shift my entire life:
Our lives are about looking good for other people (and therefore ourselves).
Now if you’re a self-development enthusiast, you already know this, and you are probably shifting it already. If you aren’t, you are likely denying that you yourself, are included in this.
Let me explain.
Maybe we all don’t buy our fancy car in order to look good, but MOST of us make MOST of our moves in life based, at least in part, on how we will look to others. “Looking good” doesn’t necessarily mean physical appearance. It’s about how we are seen through others’ eyes. So maybe you don’t put on the makeup in the morning to look good for anyone in specific, but you probably put it on in order to be seen as some who “is put together”, or like you tried, or like you care, or maybe even “just in case” you meet someone. And maybe you don’t date the sexy girl just because your friends will think you’re cool, but you probably have some part of you that wants it to work out, or to look a certain way so that people will think you’re lovable, or good in bed, or good enough to have a partner like that, or whatever.
If you know me, you know I used to be fairly social, going out every weekend and attending events frequently; and now I spend most every night at my house working, or enjoying the evening with a close friend (and my pup). Part of that is simply maturing, but another huge part of it, is exactly what I’m writing about today. It is that out there, in the world, so much is dependent on how you look to other people, without them actually having any idea who you are or how you live your life, that I got overwhelmed when I began my self-development journey. It became too difficult, and to be honest - just plain annoying, to be surrounded by people that were so worried about how they looked, without getting sucked back in myself.
Well, this weekend, I went out to a dance event. And of all dance events, it was a pretty lovely one. It was in order to raise money for a charity, so it was not only for a good cause, but it attracted good people, part of a loving community (which is certainly not always the case).
I was able to approach this experience quite differently, as it’s been about a year since I’ve attended something like this. I spent much of the evening not only watching the performances, but specifically observing people’s body language, and what story they were really telling, rather than how good their dance technique was, or how much they killed the performance. (I very much included myself in this observation: noticing when I wanted to get on my phone so as not to appear like a loner, or when I was unsure if I should say hi to someone I’ve only met on instagram for fear they would think I was weird, ha!)
And what I saw was, lots of beauty.
And, lots of insecurity.
Many of the performances were riddled with a, ‘I need you to like me’ feeling behind it. And what’s funny is, I know exactly the feeling. I remember when I’ve stepped off stage in the past and thought, damn, I was so in my head worried about what people were thinking - hoping that everyone saw me do that cool solo, or that no one saw my mess up.
I noticed girls in the bathroom, worried post-performance if their makeup was still on and cute, and boys worried about messing up their steps. And the thing is, this is all fine and normal. There’s nothing wrong with it. But the bummer is that sometimes we don’t realize that we are doing ALL of that work and worry and fear and upset, for the approval of other people. And when it comes to sharing your art, or creating an event that raises money for a great charity, it’s really a bummer when that need to look good actually STOPS you from sharing the full truth, or creating the event from the true intention of serving others.
(During this event, I also witnessed some of the truest expressions I’ve ever seen, in a way that brought me to tears multiple times (I mean, I’m a sap, but still!).)
So let’s really try to take a look at this in our lives. In full admission that we DO do things for the purpose of looking good, where does it come up? Probably everywhere, all day long, in every action. (Seriously though). Yesterday, I noticed it specifically at the gym. I was training a lot of the muscles I need for handstands. The gym is not usually the place that I actually do handstands, it’s simply the place I strengthen the muscles for them, and other things. So after a set of core and shoulders, I was considering doing some handstands, or some press handstands in the middle of the floor. And I stopped myself. Not because I was tired, or lazy, but because I realized the true reason I was doing that, was to look good for other people. I realized if I had been working out alone, I would not have done some extra handstands on top of my already intense workout. Not that using the eyes of others to motivate you can’t be helpful, but my honest self knew that that wasn’t actually the case for me - it was simply to show off. (I’ve also had times where I DO want to do the handstands to serve my workout, and I’m worried people will judge me, and in that case, I choose to do them anyway! It’s about listening to yourself, not judging what’s good or bad, or right or wrong.)
Where does this come up in your life? How might being more authentic to yourself serve you, and your dreams?
A reminder that this doesn’t mean wear your pajamas to work, stop taking showers, and be a bitch because all of that could be about looking good. It simply means, notice when you are selling yourself short, in order to attain the potential approval of others, or in order to make sure someone likes you, or in order to not show people your truth. Because in reality, you showing your truth, and owning whatever that is, is not always going to get everyone’s approval, but it WILL get yours.