Why People Hate the Way They Look
By Dr Joe
You’ve probably had the experience where you tell someone, “I just can’t stand the way I look, I feel so unattractive,” only to have your listener say, “I don’t know what you’re talking about, you look fine!” Assuming you’re getting a truthful response from your friend, how do we explain this discrepancy? For starters, your friend is looking at all of you, not just the zit on your face. And this is critical. When you allow insecurity to judge the person in the mirror, you’re focusing not on all of you, but only on specific negatives as you zero in on that zit or your frizzy hair or some other little thing. You’re not seeing all of you because insecurity is amplifying your negatives.
Why does insecurity do this? Essentially, insecurity is a feeling of vulnerability, and when humans feel vulnerable, we have a natural tendency to try to regain control. So when insecurity is steering your perceptions, you look in the mirror and don’t even see your positive attributes; instead you’re hyper focused on what you feel might hurt you—your big nose, your crooked teeth or your bulging stomach. By focusing on your negatives, you feel that at least you’re doing something to protect yourself. At first this might sound strange. “By obsessing about my zit, I’m doing something?” What you’re doing is trying to evaluate your shortcomings while looking for ways to deal with these deficits. For example, if you feel your teeth are not white enough, you might begin to smile less; if you don’t like your small chin, you might cover it with your hand whenever you engage in a conversation—you’re always finding ways to hide, compensate, or otherwise sidestep what you feel insecure about.
Aside from being hyper focused on negativity, an insecure person’s view in the mirror is like a mental “snapshot.” You take a mental photo of those bags under your eyes or your thinning hair, which you then obsessively ruminate about in your mind. This static, photographic image isn’t what the world sees. The world sees you not in a frozen moment, but in real time, moving, talking, and expressing emotions. What the world sees is an accumulation of many images that combine to form both a visual and a psychological impression. You’ve heard it said that beauty is in the eyes of the beholder—well, try to embrace this concept, because regardless of what insecurity is telling you, it’s true. Just because you see negatives doesn’t mean anyone else does. Stop projecting your insecurity outward, assuming everyone else is transfixed on your zit or your weight. Start reminding yourself that who you are and how people perceive you is up to you—all of you.