Nowadays, we are urged to pay attention to flaws, rather than celebrate our attractive qualities. Many magazine features, TV programs or help services are geared toward the identification of imperfections, and their subsequent exposure, analysis and improvement through makeovers.
This can mean if nine people pay a compliment and one person makes a derogatory remark, an individual may discount the positive statements and brood over the negative observation.
The behaviour of low self-esteem is easy to identify:
- Negative body language – lowered head, poor posture, anxious or sullen facial expression, muttered speech
- Conversation – ungracious reactions to compliments, running oneself down, apologising
- Self-centredness – being preoccupied with oneself, seeing everything revolving around oneself, self-blaming when things go wrong, pleading for reassurances.
Unfortunately, these habits are unattractive in social interactions, and especially in friendships, where partners are called on to lift confidence or boost morale on a regular basis.
Self-esteem or Selfishness?
Self-esteem is an essential prerequisite of loving other people and being loved by them in return. The extent to which people care for themselves affects the energy and attention that is available for loving and nurturing others.
People who value themselves have personal security, knowledge and skills to be able to take their place in society. Motivation is towards growth and reaching out rather than concentrating on defence strategies and safety.
Selfishness, on the other hand, involves feeling preoccupied with one’s unmet needs to the point where others are objects manipulated to one’s advantage rather than persons to be loved. Sadly, the impression often given to others is one of over-confidence rather than the opposite.
Body Language and Attractiveness
It is easy to see attractiveness in film stars at awards ceremonies – striding to collect their trophies with upright posture, dazzling smiles and gracious acceptance speeches. It would be impossible to imagine the same people shuffling with uncertain steps, biting their lips, mumbling and apologising for themselves. They are winners and behave accordingly. Less famous individuals may not be regularly receiving trophies, but they can still adopt confident and attractive body language.
The behaviour of people that is attractive to others includes:
- Standing up straight, looking at whoever is talking and turn towards them. Good eye contact is an essential communicative tool. If looking people in the eye is difficult, then concentration on the bridge of their noses gives the same impression.
- Giving a person good feedback – a smile, laugh or a nod of empathy will show interest. Open body posture looks friendly, and appropriate gestures to accompany speech will add emphasis. Mirroring the body language of another person has a positive bonding effect.
- Attending to others, rather than worrying about oneself
- Avoiding fidgeting and irrelevant movements.
- Observing correct space between oneself and the other person, as the situation allows. Standing too close can be oppressive. Standing too far away can be alienating.
- Adopting a pleasant, happy expression (when appropriate). Even supermodels look unattractive when they are grimacing or looking sullen.
- Wearing appropriate, clean and well-cared-for clothes. Attending to personal hygiene and grooming.
We can learn how we all tick by studying aspects of Psychology. The Academy for Distance Learning has a number of courses that focus on this exciting and wide-ranging subject.
Iona has been a clinician and manager of health services for fifteen years, and a trainer for UK-based medical charities, focusing on psychosocial issues, mental health disorders, and also the promotion of communication skills for people in helping roles. She tutors and facilitates groups via workshops and teleconferences, and now specialises in Sight Loss. As a freelance writer, she contributes regular feature articles for magazines, has written five published books, as well as published courses relating to personal development and counselling skills.