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Being More Presentable Increases Self-Esteem

As already mentioned in the introduction to this section, in Cattell’s list of human drives, he included the Self-Sentiment.  This drive is measured by identifying how much an individual is driven to make herself appear socially attractive.  At one end of the extreme, many depressed individuals are so unhappy and so preoccupied with their personal distress that they often have little energy left to invest into trying to come across in a socially attractive manner.  I used to spend some time with a homeless man who I met whilst working in a soup kitchen for the homeless.  After going out with him a few times he mentioned that he had been living in a house for two years.  However, he still spent all his time with the other homeless people and in soup kitchens, since homeless people formed his social network.  Interestingly, despite the fact that he had a bath and adequate washing facilities, he smelt terrible.  He didn’t wash.  Once I spent the night sleeping on the streets of London in order to try to better understand the predicament of homeless people.  One kind young homeless man took me under his wing and showed me how their lives worked.  He explained to me ‘We all have showers provided for us and the opportunity to wash.  In fact we have everything provided.  If a homeless person smells bad its not because he doesn’t have the facilities to wash.  Its because he doesn’t want to.’  I fully understand this.  Depressed individuals are sometimes so distressed that they have little energy for personal hygiene. 

At the other end of the extreme, some people are constantly preoccupied with how they come across to others and how they look.  Many narcissists fall into this category.  A narcissist may also be preoccupied with the power dynamics of any social situation in which she finds herself; she may well be concerned with who is coming across as the most powerful in a social situation and who is getting the most attention. 

As I have already outlined in the introduction to this section of the website, I believe that how we come across socially can have major implications on our sense of self-worth and self esteem.  If we make efforts to appear socially attractive, we are likely to elicit better responses from those around us.  If we follow social etiquette and develop strong social skills then people are likely to feel more comfortable around us.  Conversely, if we do not attempt to follow social protocol and to come across well, then people will find us awkward to be around.  We may even find ourselves awkward to be around!  This has huge implications regarding our personal level of self-esteem.  This is one of the reasons why I see Social Mastery as central to our life satisfaction.