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What your style says about your psyche

Updated: Jul 13, 2023

Does the way you feel about your appearance reveal a lot about your mental health? Let's say you have a friend who dresses meticulously all the time. Are they just harnessing the confidence-boosting power of the right image - or does it mean their anxiety about your appearance is getting the better of them? What about someone who doesn't seem to care too much about how they look, or rebels against societal 'norms' - are they just super-cool & comfortable in their own skin - or are they secretly depressed, or rebelling as a silent cry for attention? From my experience in working with clients on their confidence and mindset, the answer is really 'any of the above'. You can't judge a book by its cover! But there are subtle signs which might give you a clue. So how do you know whether your approach to your looks is 'normal' - or not? Let's look at the image-conscious first. Putting outfits together or appearing well groomed can really help with confidence and mindset - and that's perfectly healthy and sensible in the right situation. In fact, hats off for using psychology to your advantage if this sounds like you. After all, we know that perception is everything and, if looking good helps you - or others - to take you more seriously then, great! There's often a lovely stage with my clients that I've come to see as a tipping point - they suddenly walk in full of smiles and confidence; they've clearly been shopping for a new wardrobe, dug out the colourful clothes they'd forgotten about, had a haircut or gone for a bold new lipstick - it's so lovely to see! In contrast though, there are times when I'm pleased to see people looking more relaxed in their appearance and less 'done'. Sometimes grooming isn't so healthy - when thinking about your looks starts to tip over into the obsessive, or causes you anxiety or misery - that's not so good. I've worked with people who can't leave the house to pop to the shops without a shower, full face of makeup and agonising over their wardrobe for an hour. If concern over how you look is starting to take over your day like this, it might be time to think about whether this is really helping you live life as you'd like. It was wonderful when that particular client turned up for our session without her usual full 'face' on - she looked so much more relaxed and happy, and couldn't believe how much more time she had in her day! And speaking from personal experience, if you can't pass a mirror or window without checking you don't have a hair out of place, you might be more anxious about your appearance than is really good for you. It's not fun being constantly on edge and it doesn't always do your friendships a great deal of good! Being able to relax about your appearance and feel comfortable around others is just a lovely by-product of the subconscious mind relaxing and learning to let go of old limiting beliefs. It's a journey I've been on myself and I love seeing it happen for clients - they often come for something completely unrelated but this creeps in to their wish-list as we progress! So what about people who 'don't care' about their appearance? Well, sometimes this is genuinely true (and it's wonderful that they feel so naturally confident & liberated). Again, though, if there's any tell-tale negativity associated with that - like not wanting to be sociable, seeming less confident, less enthusiastic about life, seeming angry or actively avoiding certain situations - then it might just be that all isn't as well as could be. We're social animals, and when we stop trying to create our own identity to define ourselves to our 'tribe', no longer bothering about how we come across or being afraid to dress up and stand out, it can be a real sign that we're feeling like we don't belong. One thing I've really learned through my work is that everyone you is unique, we can't be stereotyped or pigeonholed by our behaviour. What's perfectly normal for me might be a problem for you! It all comes down to how you feel and how those feelings affect your life. One of the lovely parts of my work is that we don't sit there and analyse all the 'ins and outs' of your behaviour or feelings. We just let your true, confident self evolve as sessions progress, and see where our journey takes us!

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