The social norms have manipulated and often dictate what beauty is. In some ways society and our dependence on social media has created in us a type of “conditioning” to seek out beauty in the external. It reminds me of the psychological concept called classical conditioning. Ivan Pavlov was a physiologist and through his research on animal behavior he proved that an association of two stimuli generates a behavioral response and even when one stimulus is removed the behavior persists. The most famous example of this is Pavlov’s experiments with dogs. The short version is: dog salivates to food, you ring a bell and there is no response. Now you start ringing a bell when feeding the dog. The dog salivates to food while hearing bell. Ultimately food is taken away, the dog hears the bell and it starts to salivate. The dog is now conditioned to salivate to a bell thinking that it will be fed (but the food never shows up). I see social media using us similarly to Pavlov’s dog.
Please don’t be offended; I’m not calling us dogs. I am however demonstrating how we have become conditioned to find pleasure in things that others want us to see. What happens when society’s standards continue to ring the bell and the food never arrives? Do we continue to stand there and “salivate”? Do we continue to feel unfulfilled, anxious/depressed or feel emotionally starved?
What happens when we lose interest in social media or society’s influence over our preferences? We receive increased stimuli, more facades, more doubt and more unattainable examples of beauty with ever changing criteria. If we feel and or experience beauty from within then we may realize that we don’t need either the food or the bell because we already feel full from within.
Encountering beauty from within touches us deeply and elevates the soul. We as individuals have the option to choose what’s beautiful to us. Take a moment to think about what makes you feel beautiful. Find it within. Don’t let society dictate whether via social media, advertising or other platforms what beauty is to you. Sometimes the feeling of beauty comes by performing an act of kindness, lifting others’ spirits or spending time with your family and friends.
Children understand this the best. Their eyes have not been “conditioned”. If you ever ask a child who is the most beautiful woman on earth they will say “My Mom”. Few mothers meet the criteria of super model beauty based on social norms, Instagram or Facebook standards. They will never be on the cover of Vogue or Times Magazine’s sexiest person alive. Yet the beauty lies within.
The child’s natural instinct is to find joy in the world and in life. They see the pure essence of beauty within and can sense the soul of an individual. All children know is true inner beauty, happiness and friendship until we grow older and the outside world tries to dictate otherwise.
Society will always attempt to condition our behavior by ringing its bell. Once you decide to block out that noise and you don’t hear their bell or have a need for their food then you will truly be free, and your soul will shine from the inside out.
You are all beautiful people. Tell yourself you are beautiful. Surround yourself with like-minded beautiful people and those who see your true inner beauty. Your beauty will truly shine once you realize that it has been within you all along.
by Dr. Docyk