Understanding Physical Beauty

In the second article, we are confronted with the source of our deepest fear: we are afraid of what she is going to think about us.

We are afraid that we’re simply not good enough.

And we are afraid for one simple reason: because we think she is pretty.

That fear, however, is entirely a creation of our minds.  Once we understand our fear, we can see through it and begin to embody the kind of confidence and self-trust that we’ve been longing for.

Let’s Take a Closer Look:

When I work face-to-face with a client, much of our time together consists in going about our day, engaging and connecting with people—particularly with women—everywhere we go.

At the start of our day, my client will often find it very difficult to hold a conversation with a woman he finds attractive without getting nervous, putting an act, or otherwise overcompensating in some way.

A short while later, however, I will find him completely engaged in a stimulating conversation with another woman, fully capturing her attention while letting out his naturally charming and likeable self.

“Well done!” I’ll say. “Did you feel your presence in that conversation? Now tap into that with every woman you talk to, and you’ll be making connections everywhere you go!”

“Sure,” he will look at me and say, “but… I wasn’t attracted to her.”

This is the predicament of many men all over the world.

He can have engaging and memorable conversations with “a woman”, but as soon as he finds her sexually attractive, he becomes overwhelmed by her appearance and loses touch with his naturally charming personality.

Let’s break down this way of thinking:

“I already know how to have great conversations with women, but I need to learn how to have conversations with women I’m attracted to!”

Here’s the reality: If you know how to have a great conversation with one woman, you know how to have a great conversation with every woman–including the ones you’re attracted to.

But it’s different when I’m attracted to her, you may be thinking.

Is it?

When you’re looking at a woman you’ve never met before in your life—or someone you’ve been talking to for 30 seconds—you are not attracted to her.

You’re just attracted to the way she looks.

In fact, you don’t know anything about this person except the way she looks.  How can you possibly be attracted to her?

She could be completely mean and self-absorbed.

She could have really bad breath.

She could be terrible in bed.

She could have really nasty toenails.

She could hate your mother…

Do you see where I’m going with this?  You’re not attracted to her, your penis just likes what you’re looking at.

Beauty Is Relative

Is Beauty relative?We’ve all heard the saying, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”

That is to say, beauty is a subjective construct:  One man may find a woman physically appealing where another man sees nothing special.  Another may recognize beauty in a woman as a reflection of the values and experiences he holds in his life.

We all have different tastes, as the phrase suggests.  Acknowledging someone as “beautiful” is simply a matter of individual perception.

But wait a moment…

Physical beauty cannot be entirely subjective, after all, as universal images of beauty abound within and across cultures.  Whether it’s the latest Hollywood sex symbol or the “hot girl” at the party you’re too nervous to go talk to, most of us will roughly agree on who we consider physically attractive and who not.

It may sound pleasing to say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but that doesn’t help us much in the heat of the moment, when “the beauty that our eye beholds” is standing right in front of us.  After all, we don’t decide who we are physically attracted to—it just happens.

Physical beauty, therefore, perhaps isn’t entirely subjective.  However:

Beauty is always relative.

This is an important distinction.

What Does It Mean for Beauty to Be Relative?

Whenever we identify one person as beautiful, that very image depends on our identification of another person as ugly.

To say, for example, that we see a pretty girl at the end of the bar implies at the same time that other girls at the bar are not so pretty.  To hold a particular Hollywood celebrity or another as “hot” creates a complementary image in our minds that people who don’t look like those celebrities are not so hot.

Whenever we define a group of people for their physical beauty, we consequently define everyone outside of that group for their lack of physical beauty. The more we emphasize beauty in some, the more we emphasize ugliness in others—including ourselves.

In order to judge beauty in one place, we must judge ugliness in another. We cannot escape it.

When people see some things as beautiful, other things become ugly.
Tao Te Ching

These are the judgments, born in our minds, that we use to guide our interactions with the people we come across every day.

We live many areas of our lives free from these judgments:

We value our family members and close friends far less for their physical appearance than we do strangers.

When we walk down a tree-lined street, we don’t compare one tree for being either more or less beautiful than the next tree.  Occasionally we may pause and think, That tree right there is a beautiful specimen!

Appreciating the beauty of natureBut we do this out of simple appreciation for and enjoyment of the tree that catches our eye, nothing more.  In order to enjoy the landscape right in front of us, we simply take in and appreciate the collective beauty cast by the entirety of the trees.

When we look up at a starry night sky, we don’t judge one star for having a different glimmer than the others.  We don’t wish the constellations to be more symmetrically aligned in order to appreciate the scattering of the stars. In fact, it is because the stars appear so irregular and scattered, without any apparent order at all, that we see a starry night as flawless in its disorder.

Throughout human history, every man with the gift of eyesight has looked up at the same seemingly patternless glitter of the night sky.  How many have criticized the stars for their appearance, or wished the constellations to be more stunning than they already are?

The Game We Play With Ourselves

Under nature, it seems that we have an innate ability to see “what is” without having to divide between “what is beautiful” and “what is ugly”—and consequently without becoming nervous or worrying how to behave in its presence.

Yet when it comes to women, when it comes to connecting with the opposite sex and welcoming the partner we want into our lives, many of us are on a never-ending mission to chase after what we find beautiful—and to repel what we find ugly.

Remember that our emphasis on beauty cannot exist to the exclusion of our emphasis on ugliness.

For this reason, chasing after a woman we perceive to be more beautiful than the rest in hopes of bringing more beauty into our lives—the beauty that we are so sorely lacking—is an entirely futile endeavor.  We will never have it.

Out of the very attempt to pursue and capture beauty into our lives arises a simultaneous attempt to escape the ugly imperfections that underscore our lives right now.  In fact, the more fiercely we strive to surround ourselves with the things we judge as beautiful, the more intensely those things that are not beautiful grow around us.

We cannot escape ugliness by capturing beauty.

You may be able to escape that which is running after you, but never that which is running inside of you.
Rwandan folk saying

It becomes increasingly apparent how much worldly “beauty” is in fact out of our grasp.  Thus our fears of loss and of failure grow: the fear that there will not be enough beauty in the world for you to have your share, and consequently the fear that you will not be enough for the beautiful woman you desire.

And so we return to the source of our fear: the fear that we are just not good enough.

Now let’s revisit our predicament…

“That woman over there is so beautiful…” you say?

Beautiful relative to what?

Well, relative to you.

For every girl you decide rate as a “9” or a “10”, what you are actually doing is rating yourself as a “3” or a “4”.  Remember that every time you assign value to the beauty in one person to the exclusion of others, you are also valuing that person to the exclusion of yourself.  Every time you attribute a person’s worth to their physical appearance, you are feeding the part within you that lacks self-worth.

The reality is that every woman looks the way she looks, with or without your praise or criticism of her.  She is not desirable or undesirable, worthy or unworthy, simply because of your judgments of her appearance.  And when your judgments of her pass and you are off doing something else, she will continue to look the way she looks.

For this reason, your impressions of a woman’s beauty do not define who she is. They define who you are.

Now, every time you got nervous and couldn’t muster a decent conversation with that girl over there, or your mind blanked because she was so pretty you forgot how to act like yourself, do you see why?

It wasn’t her beauty that did it to you.  You did it to yourself.

Becoming Aware of Our Perceptions

This is not to say that you need to convince yourself that everyone and everything is equally beautiful.

I’m not suggesting that you try to see everyone as pretty, or to find every woman sexually attractive if you don’t actually believe it.

You can’t decide who you find physically appealing.

You can’t control who you find sexually attractive.

Beauty, sex appeal, physical appearance—these things all matter to us.  Our desires are what they are, and it’s important to acknowledge and allow ourselves to be affected by our desires and not suppress them.

How else are we to celebrate and enjoy a woman’s beauty?

If we try to make ourselves judgment-free or neutral to her appearance, we soon shut ourselves off from appreciating her individual beauty.

The beauty of a woman is, after all, one of the greatest pleasures in a man’s life.

It is important to acknowledge, however, that the separation between “what we desire” and “what we do not desire” is entirely self-created.

Recognize that the relative beauty or ugliness of another person is a judgment we create from our perception of things, and that judgment in turn affects our reaction to things.

Our judgments of people and things are in themselves not “bad.”  They are simply the standards we set to make sense of the world around us—as in, “this is beautiful but that is not,” or, “this is more beautiful than that.”  Judgments will always arise, flowing into and out of our minds with everything we perceive.

Simply be aware that your reaction to another person’s physical beauty is a reaction that you create.  If you feel trapped, frustrated, or anxious in the presence of someone beautiful, understand also that you create this trap.

We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.
Anaïs Nin

Consider once again that, under nature, you are not controlled by the beauty and ugliness of your environment, and remember how free you feel among the trees and under the stars.

When you see the distinction between beauty and ugliness for what it is—a value that you create instead of a value that creates you—you now have the power that you’ve been seeking.  Not the power to control everything you perceive, but the power to embrace what you perceive: to see beyond your own judgments and direct how you want to move through the world.

Move about with the freedom of knowing that your perceptions of beauty do not have to control your actions, nor do they dictate who you are or who you are supposed to be.

Moving Toward Appreciation

To see beauty in this way, expand your attention from one of judgment toward one of perception.

Beauty must be perceived, not merely judged, to be fully appreciated. The more fully you take in the woman in front of you without sizing her up as either beautiful or not—but simply appreciating all your eye wants to see—the less anxiety, fear, or frustration you will experience.

When we concentrate only on the physical form, we see static, material beauty that is either within our grasp or outside of our grasp. When we open up to beauty as it truly is—transcendent and full of expression—we begin to see that beauty naturally flows into, out of, and through our perceptions of it in every moment, without our striving to gain or fearing to lose anything.

In fact, our ability to appreciate true beauty pacifies the fears, insecurities, and frustrations that we experience in life.

Here’s a simplified way to understand appreciation:

Imagine that you are choosing a bicycle from a rack of similar bicycles.  Without regard to the workmanship of the bicycles, the first thing your eye catches is their color.  If, like me, your favorite color is green, you choose the green bike.

Appreciation of beautyWhy did you choose the green bike?  You chose it because you like the color. Because you want to look at it and enjoy it… Yet you understand inherently that the color you’ve chosen does not in itself make your bike any “better” or more valuable than the rest of the bikes, nor does your choice make you any better or more valuable than you were before.

You are able to appreciate the “green-ness” of your bike in the full knowledge that the color of your bike does not change anything other than your enjoyment of it for its own sake.  While this is not the most romantic analogy, appreciating beauty in another person is a bit like that.

So if you decide that you want to pursue the most physically attractive woman you can find, there’s nothing wrong with that.  But do so simply because you enjoy the way she looks. Don’t do it because you think it will make you feel any better, or because you think the sex will be great.  Don’t do it because you think her appearance will make your life more valuable than it is right now.

None of those things will happen.

Too many times, we don’t notice the true beauty because we’re too busy trying to chase after it.

In the end, what we want is not to run about trying to collect a beautiful woman, or beautiful women, into our lives.  What we want is the simple ability to appreciate a woman as she is.  When we can do that, we have the ability to appreciate ourselves.

And when we appreciate ourselves, we don’t ask the question of whether we are “good enough” in this moment.

Understanding the Natural Principle

Often when we have a hard time accepting people without judging them harshly for their looks, for their strengths or weaknesses, or for what they can or cannot offer others, it’s because we have a very hard time accepting those things in ourselves.  Indeed, we feel trapped by a compulsive need to justify our own existence with what “value” we can provide.

Instead, begin to appreciate people for who they are, not for what value they have.  When you begin to appreciate people for who they are, beautiful or not, you begin to appreciate yourself for who you are, beautiful or not.

And so the principle works like this: the more beauty you see, the more beautiful you become.

Not because you have trained your mind to see beauty everywhere and in all things, but because you have decided to open yourself to what is right in front of you.

Remember that he mind likes to move toward what it sees as beautiful and close away from what its sees as ugly.  Yet the more committed we are to identifying a select few people as attractive, the more we identify others as unattractive, and as a result the more scare our perceptions of beauty become.  When we react to the beautiful and the ugly with this kind of forceful opposition to one another, we close ourselves off in fear and mistrust of the natural flow of things.

By choosing instead to open our perceptions to a fuller spectrum of what is before us, we begin to see that the natural flow of things is in fact an inseparable, harmonious interplay of beauty and ugliness.

Responding with openness allows us to relax into and trust the natural process as it unfolds.  The more we trust the process to unfold, the more we let go of our fears and trust ourselves, and the more our natural expression flows effortlessly through us.

This natural expression is the foundation for your inner confidence and fulfillment.  

You have no need to seek refuge in chasing beauty and escaping the ugly. You have no need to defend and protect yourself, because you recognize that you are part of the process of beauty and ugliness unfolding—you are all of these things, and so is every woman you encounter.

When we trust ourselves in that knowledge, we trust our own inner nature.

And embracing this approach to life automatically makes us more attractive to the opposite sex.

This was the third article of the four-part “Men’s Guide to Meeting Women”. Return to the full guide here.

8 Responses to “The Illusion of Physical Beauty”

  1. Dingler

    Hi Shogo,
    here a few adding thoughts i had about this topic. When I see a hot girl, and get scared, I think this could be, because I actually don’t desire her in that moment, I just think, wow, she looks so good. And probably subcontiously I put pressure on myself, that I actually have to be really into that girl, because she is so hot (kind of like having your friends voices in your ear saying “what, you would let that girl pass?!”). But in that moment, when I basically don’t know anything about her, I don’t “feel” her that much. Because I think when I am really feeling her and am horny, there is a lot less space for thinking and the following anxiety. (I wrote this before reading the article to keep the thought, I watched your video with Luke before).

  2. George

    It is wise to marry someone who you find attractive. One danger in this article is thinking that you can “think” your way into attraction. Absolutely not the case, you could end up with many years of disappointment on both sides. Women have a need to be pursued, and men have a need to cherish and protect. Get this piece wrong and you are up a creek.

    Now, my thought is that the fear one experiences when approaching a hot woman is a man test. Overcome your fear, and become a man, or stay a little boy. Your choice.

  3. Joyce Willis

    To understand how powerful an illusion physical beauty creates on our minds, just imagine a person who you think is the most beautiful and then see than person without the thin epidermis(skin) layer that covers that physical body…That image would create total distaste in most ordinary people.


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