Social Context

When you look at yourself, your physical image, does it matter if you think you are attractive or not? Do your feelings about how the world sees you make a difference in your life…and should it? Surprisingly…yes, it does, at least at a DNA level…and here’s why…

200,000 years ago when we came down out of the trees and started living on the savannah’s and plains of Africa, a huge change occurred in how we hunted and survived. We were no longer protected by the foliage of the trees and bushes and couldn’t hide from predators so we began to rely on the cooperation of other people to keep an eye out for animals larger than ourselves. The ones who could damage or kill us. This cooperation and collaboration—also called a social order—was absolutely necessary for our species to continue.

How we chose those people—without language mind you—was by observing them as to what was important to us; our protection. That meant we looked for Individuals by leveraging what we already knew to be a successful system—mating preferences—which was the use of physical attributes such as symmetrical facial and body features, acceptable ratios (i.e. hip to waist, weight to height, etc.) and other visual attributes to identify those who we would want to mate with but also, who could work well within the context of a social order. By “context” I mean individuals who were able to suspend the focus on satisfying their personal needs in favor of the needs of others AND were able to project that “trust” to others…without using language to do so.

Because they leveraged mating rituals, physical attractiveness became a very important characteristic as to what indicated a trusting individual and therefore who was considered a useful member of that small social order…that helped our species survive the next 200,000 years…and what eventually became the much larger society we know today.

So when we look at ourselves in the mirror, there is a component of our reptilian brain, the oldest part of our thinking, that equates beauty to our ability to survive and survival is a hugely powerful motivator…even if we’re not aware that it’s there. Once you do know it’s there, however, you are able to quite easily see that we no longer need to keep an eye out for a saber toothed tiger sneaking up on us…

…and that regardless our physical attributes, we easily override those prehistoric feelings and decide how we feel and ultimately our own happiness.

Believe. Go. Do.


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