The trap: Looking good and not looking bad

One of the sneakiest behavior traps we humans fall into is wanting to look good and avoiding looking bad.

We’re so easily trapped that sometimes we behave according to this invisible script all day erry day: DO NOT LOOK BAD. LOOK GOOD! DO NOT LOOK BAD! (often said like a command from your brain.)

Much as I HATE to admit it, I’ve got the script running too. You’re telling me – compassionate, purposeful Ishita – is motivated by something this petty and small? Boy, please.

So why did it feel spot on when my coach handed my ass to me on our call last week?

“You’re way too concerned about how you show up, Ishita. Just way too concerned about looking good and not looking bad.

It gets in the way of you being real.”

“Give Jack his jacket,” Trinidadians say. “When you’re right, you’re right.”

Click here or the image below to watch me explain how this hard-wired invisible script runs the show. (You’ll also see how weak my arms are that I can’t even hold a 1lb camera for 6 minutes! And how a silly Detroit train makes me very excited.)

It didn’t sting less to hear her say it, but something deep was activated, and I knew it went beyond whether I was compassionate; that was irrelevant. It came from the hard-wired need to feel accepted and belong to something.

While I *think* I don’t want approval from others because I’m an Individual (CAPITAL “I”) my behavior revealed the opposite.

Dissonance. That’s why when my coach said it, it felt right and I knew she was being real, not yanking my chain.

It does feel uncomfortable when I’m not being MYSELF or when I prioritize social acceptance over Truth. And while I don’t think it happens often, it happens more often than I think. :)

Once I identified it, I was flooded with relief. Now I could actually stop doing what made my life hard and made me feel less like myself, all in the name of wanting to “look good.”

We’ve all got the invisible script running.

DON’T LOOK BAD. LOOK GOOD. DO NOT LOOK BAD! It’s what’s at play when you don’t take a risk or feel shame when you think about a failure from the past.

Most times the thing wasn’t actually bad, but it made you feel you looked bad.

When you realize that choosing yourself on some level will always feel a bit uncomfortable – because society trains us to choose others –

you stop worrying about people’s approval and acceptance.

Then, your reward is FREEDOM.

In today’s video I practice what I preach. I told the truth to 3 people in my life where I prioritized my feelings over “looking good.”

  • I said no to a friend’s benign request. Initially it felt wrong because it’s not like he asked me for a kidney. I still said no because it didn’t feel real to comply.
  • I didn’t go see my dad out of obligation or “shoulds” when my mom was away. I focused on myself and spent time with him when it felt good to do so.
  • I didn’t give a homeless man a ride home, when I could have.

Since practicing bucking looking good, I’ve felt much free-er. It doesn’t always feel good, but I feel like my soul is clean. And because my intuition gets stronger each time, I make better choices for myself.

Trust that if your life isn’t exactly roses right now or there’s an area that feels hard, like relationships or work, that this script might be running in the background mucking it all up.

Are you acting in ways that prioritize looking good without knowing it? Does this hit a chord inside with you? If so, email me at ishita@ishitagupta.com and tell me how and why. AND! If you know a family or friend who might need a reality check about their behavior or some loving through it, I invite you to share this with them asap. I know I’m not alone (am I?!!) in needing help with my blindspots! Help yourself and them if you found this useful.

xx Ishita

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