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Inner Beauty vs. the Ugliest of Emotions

by Kassandra Lamb

The-Beauty-of-a-Woman-BlogFest-V1-2

This post is part of the 2017 Beauty of a Woman Blogfest, sponsored by the wonderful August McLaughlin. Please go to her site to see the other great posts in this wonderful event—some are funny, some are serious, all are entertaining and informative.

Physical beauty has little to do with attractiveness for me. I’m much more focused on inner beauty. And inner beauty is emotional (and is reflected in the person’s body language). Is the person warm and kind and seems comfortable in their own skin, or are they tense and frowning?

As a psychologist, I am intimately acquainted with emotions. And I know that almost all of them have some value.

Fear tells us when our safety or our ability to get our needs met is being threatened. Anger gives us the courage to stand and fight against such threats. Joy, love and excitement tell us that our needs are currently being met, encouraging us to seek similar situations to those currently happening.

Even guilt and shame serve a purpose by providing a moral compass for our behavior.

But jealousy? I’m sorry, it’s just ugly and has no socially redeeming value.

Recently I’ve had two friends complain about jealousy. One, a male, said, “Why are women so conniving and competitive and jealous?” The other, a girlfriend, simply said, “Why are men so jealous?”

Their comments inspired this post for BOAW. Because honestly, I haven’t personally found women all that jealous or competitive or conniving.

Perhaps that’s because I’m not particularly physically beautiful. Oh don’t get me wrong, I don’t break mirrors. I’m a reasonably attractive woman, but I’m no beauty.

I’ve also rarely encountered jealousy in men. As I think about the issue, I’m concluding that this is because I tend to hang out with fairly confident people.

Jealousy is not a gender-specific trait. It has absolutely nothing to do with being male or female. Rather it has a lot to do with being insecure!

One avenue that insecure people may take is to put down, compete with, and feel jealousy or envy (jealousy’s kissing cousin) toward those they perceive as better than themselves. (See my recent post on healthy vs. unhealthy competitiveness.)

This is incredibly self-defeating, a total waste of psychic (and sometimes physical) energy.

But wait, let me break down jealousy a bit more. It actually has two emotional components—fear and anger.

We feel jealous when we fear that someone is threatening our ability to get our needs met. We then experience anger regarding this threat.

If we want to be mentally sane individuals, our first task when we feel jealous is to assess if the threat is real. Is there a REAL risk that someone might steal away the affections of someone important to us?

Jealousy is only a “helpful” emotion if it is truly warning us of an actual threat. If it is mainly our own insecurity talking, we need to deal with that within ourselves. We need to work on improving our own self-esteem so that we do not feel so easily threatened.

two birds fighting

I saw you coming on to that canary! (photo by Jen Smith CC-BY-SA 2.0 Wikimedia-Commons)

Once we’ve determined that the threat seems to be real, we need to assess where we can legitimately aim our anger about that threat. Should we direct it at the person important to us? Is he or she ACTUALLY showing an interest in someone else? Or is that someone else ACTUALLY attempting to steal his/her affections?

Let me give you two examples from my own life. I don’t always get it right, but these two times, I did.

Example One:
In my early twenties, I dated a guy who had a nasty habit. He had to comment on the attractiveness of every female who crossed his path. This behavior didn’t surface until we were supposedly dating exclusively.

More and more frequently, he would make references to the attractiveness of women passing by on the street, in very personal terms. “Hmm, I wouldn’t mind coming home to her” was one of his milder comments.

Of course these comments hurt. They made me feel jealous, scared that he would someday find one of these women preferable to me.

It all came to a head one day when a woman passing by, who happened to be a bit on the plain side, prompted him to comment that he wouldn’t “f**k” her unless he could put a bag over her head. This brought home to me the absurdity of his behavior. This woman was oblivious to his presence, so it certainly wasn’t her fault that he was commenting on her attractiveness or lack thereof.

HE was the problem. HE deserved my wrath, not the women he ogled on a regular basis. So I dumped him.

Example Two:
My husband and I had been married just a few years when he told me about a woman at work who was going through a rough divorce. “Why do women confide in me about this stuff?” he asked.

“Because you’re a nice guy, and a good listener,” I replied.

A few weeks later, he came home from work more than a little agitated. He reported that this woman (we’ll call her Jezebel 😉 ) had asked him if he was, quote, “getting enough,” and did he want to go out for a “nooner.”

My sweet husband was concerned that Jezebel was fragile due to her recent divorce. He wanted my advice on how to gently let her know that while he was willing to listen to her woes, he wasn’t interested in having an affair with her.

Can you imagine the array of feelings I was experiencing? I quickly attempted to evaluate the situation. One, I figured if he was telling me about all this, then he wasn’t the least bit tempted by this woman.

So I had no reason to be afraid, and, two, no way did he deserve my anger.

This is the most common mistake people make with jealousy. They direct the anger over the threat toward their loved one, rather than toward the one who is actually presenting the threat. Which can all too often lead to the very thing they’re afraid of, a disruption in that important relationship.

Once I was clear that my anger should be directed at Jezebel, for daring to step into my territory and try to take my man, I had to decide what to do with that anger. First, I put my therapist hat on and responded to my husband’s desire to be a nice guy. I suggested several possible approaches he could use to back her off gently.

“And if none of those things work,” I then said, “you can tell her that if she doesn’t leave you alone, your wife will come down to the office and rip her eyes out!”

My husband gave me a very startled look. “The first few suggestions were the therapist talking,” I said. “Now your wife is talking. Tell her to find her own man. You’re taken!”

I felt much better after that. 🙂

Getting back to more recent events, my male friend’s relationship ended over his girlfriend’s jealousy. She freaked out because she saw another woman as her competition (even though he wasn’t interested in that woman) and she put him in a damned-if-he-did-damned-if-he-didn’t position. So he decided to opt out of the relationship, and I couldn’t blame him.

But I did try to set him straight about the gender thing.

What are your thoughts? Have you seen more jealousy in men or in women? How have you dealt with the fear and anger of jealousy?

To read some other wonderful posts about the Beauty of a Woman, click over to August’s site and see the list of funny, entertaining, interesting, serious posts.

Posted by Kassandra Lamb. Kassandra is a retired psychotherapist turned mystery writer. She is the author of the Kate Huntington psychological suspense series, set in her native Maryland, and a new series, the Marcia Banks and Buddy cozy mysteries, set in Central Florida.

We blog here at misterio press once (sometimes twice) a week, usually on Tuesdays. Sometimes we talk about serious topics, and sometimes we just have some fun.

Please follow us so you don’t miss out on any of the interesting stuff, or the fun! (We do not lend, sell nor otherwise bend, spindle or mutilate followers’ e-mail addresses. 🙂 )

Beauty: A Matter of Mind Over Matter

This post is for the 3rd annual Beauty Of A Woman blogfest, sponsored each year by my beautiful friend, August McLaughlin. The BOAW festivities officially begin on Thursday, so make a note to pop over to August’s site then for a whole list of great posts about what really makes women beautiful. The posts range from serious to light-hearted and they are always fabulous! (Oh, and did I mention there’s a contest and prizes? Well, there is. YAY!)

BOAW logo 2014

So what is the main ingredient that makes a woman beautiful? Good genes that bless her with smooth skin, good teeth and glossy hair?

Well, those certainly don’t hurt. But in my experience, they’re not the main ingredient in beauty.

Dentists, cosmetic surgeons, expensive make-up and hair products to create dazzling teeth, glowing skin and glossy hair?

close-up of woman putting on eye make-up

(photo by Manuel Marin, CC-BY license 2.0, Wikimedia Commons)

Not really, in my humble opinion.

So what is the main ingredient? It’s confidence!

When I was a young teenager, I was a mess–dorky-looking and totally lacking in self-confidence. Not a day went by in middle school (the purgatory of the earth plane, IMHO) that I wasn’t teased by one of the mean girls, or sometimes by one of the guys, most often about my appearance. “Pimple face” and “ironing board” (I was flat-chested) are the taunts that stand out the most in my memory.

me in 8th grade

My 8th grade school picture (told ya I looked dorky)

During the summer between middle and high school, my mother sat me down and gave me a fake-it-til-ya-make-it pep talk. She asked me if I thought a friend of hers (we’ll call her Mrs. H) was attractive. Now what fourteen-year-old gives a moment’s thought to her mother’s friends’ appearance?

I just shrugged. My mother pointed out just how homely Mrs. H was. Now that Mom was mentioning it, I realized that the woman did kind of resemble those drawings of witches you see at Halloween, complete with a large mole on her chin. Mom went on and on detailing all the flaws in Mrs. H’s appearance. I was beginning to wonder what evil spirit had taken over my mother’s body, when she pointed out that Mrs. H was married to one of the handsomest men in their circle of friends. I had to admit, now that I thought about it, Mr. H wasn’t bad looking, for an old guy (he was probably 40). Then Mom said that when Mrs. H walked into a room, every man and most of the women would turn to greet her with a big smile.

“Why is that?” Mom asked. Another shrug from me.

Because Mrs. H carried herself with confidence and was always smiling and friendly was my mother’s answer. “Kass, you’ve got the smiling and friendly down. They’re part of your natural personality. Now all you need is the confidence.” That’s when she told me to fake it ’til I made it.

Well, it took several years of faking it, but gradually I did become more confident. Then in college, I got some counseling to dig my remaining insecurities out by the roots.

I’m still not the best-looking gal in any crowd, but I don’t worry much about what I look like. Oh, I’m not saying I don’t do the best I can with what the good Lord gave me. I do. But once I’ve put on my make-up and fixed my hair (my best feature, despite it’s tendency to frizz), I walk out the door and don’t give my appearance another thought. I go about the world with confidence, and the world treats me well.

I’ll bet if you asked my friends and acquaintances whether or not I’m pretty, they’d shrug, like I did when my mom asked about Mrs. H. And then they’d say, “Oh, she looks fine. She’s so______.” (Fill in the blank with friendly, nice, smart, vivacious)

A healthy dose of confidence compensates quite well for my lack of outer beauty, and it let’s me relax and be me wherever I am. And frankly I’d rather be remembered for being smart and nice than for being pretty!

Have you ever known anyone who was naturally beautiful and yet so lacking in self-confidence that it marred their appearance? How about someone who was quite average but could light up a room with their smile?

And we’re excited to announce a new release by bestseller Stacy Green.

Speaking of confidence growing, check out what her character, Jaymee Ballard, is up to in this last book in the Delta Crossroads trilogy, Ashes and Bone:

cover of Ashes and BoneJust when Jaymee Ballard’s life seems to be on track, a massive derecho attacks the Delta Crossroads sowing destruction in its path. Her boyfriend, investigative journalist Nick Samuels, comes up missing, and she fears the worst.

Nick’s abandoned car contains evidence of his involvement uncovering a controversial case mired in political power and greed. While her friend and local detective, Cage Foster, heads up the inquiry into Nick’s kidnapping, Jaymee finds it impossible to sit back and do nothing.

Enlisting the help of her best friend, Dani Evans, Jaymee discovers a trail leading to the dangerous and secretive Dixie Mafia. Facing a fraudulent Confederate artifact scheme, dark local history, and a powerful enemy lurking in the shadows, the two friends find themselves holding the key to not only Nick’s disappearance, but a shameful town secret someone will kill to protect.

ASHES and BONE is an action packed thriller with a shocking twist.

Check it out, then talk to me about how you see beauty influenced by confidence and vice versa. (And don’t forget to visit the BOAW blogfest on Thursday)

Posted by Kassandra Lamb. Kassandra is a retired psychotherapist turned mystery writer. She writes the Kate Huntington mystery series.

We blog here at misterio press once (sometimes twice) a week,  usually on Tuesdays. Sometimes we talk about serious topics, and sometimes we just have some fun.

Please follow us so you don’t miss out on any of the interesting stuff, or the fun! (We do not harvest, lend, sell or otherwise bend, spindle or mutilate followers’ e-mail addresses.)