Helping you become all that you are capable of becoming!



Looking-Good Behavioral Personality Characteristics

Chapter 3: The Looking-Good

Behavioral Personality Characteristics

Laying the Foundation:
Personality Traits of Low Self-Esteem
By: James J. Messina, Ph.D.


Looking-Good Behavior Characteristics


Appearance to world of persons in the looking-good behavior role:

  • The “hero'' of the family
  • Very responsible
  • Motivated, achievement oriented
  • Successful in many pursuits
  • “Together” with an aura of having it “made” emotionally
  • Good natured, sociable
  • Appear to have high self-esteem
  • Loyal
  • Popular with others, social and outgoing
  • Considerate of others
  • Appropriate and clean-cut behavior characteristics
  • Hard workers
  • Helpful
  • Appeasers and peace makers
  • Very positive with others
  • Driven
  • Goal oriented

Feelings inside persons in the looking-good behavior role:

  • Fear of confronting problems
  • Fear of confronting people with problems
  • Denial of problems
  • Guilt for the troubles and problems in others' lives
  • Feeling of never being ``good enough'' or having done enough
  • Confusion about what to do to solve problems
  • Fear of conflict, fights, or arguments
  • Need to keep negative feelings to self, secretive
  • Need to give others what they want
  • Keep personal and family problems to self, secretive
  • Mixed feelings of love and hate for people with problems close to them with problems
  • Confusion about their true feelings
  • Low self-worth
  • Anger about having to strive so hard
  • Anger at getting so little back for all their giving
  • Anger at others who are irritable and critical when they are trying so hard
  • Anger at selves for discounting their own needs and selling out to others' demands
  • Guilt over feeling anger
  • Feel lonely and isolated from others
  • Critical of others' performance
  • Never satisfied with their own performance
  • Hypercritical of self-first and others second
  • Compulsive need to be good
  • Fear of showing affection or are unable to do so

Negative consequences of looking-good behavior role:

  • Low self-esteem
  • Inability to relax
  • Inability to enjoy successes
  • Workaholism
  • Rule-bound compulsive need to conform to perceived norms of society
  • Fear of letting go
  • Guilt over not being able to do well enough
  • Anger over never being able to be “finished”
  • Inability to face own problems or the problems of those to whom they are close
  • Impose high expectations on those with whom they are close: spouse, children, co-workers
  • Caught up in perfectionistic attitude regarding everything
  • Fear of taking risks
  • Fear of rejection, since acceptance need is high
  • Faulty problem-solving and decision-making abilities, non-original stereotypic responses
  • Physiological response to intense internal stress and pressure: “Type A” personality, prone to ulcers, heart trouble, high blood pressure, etc.
  • Problems in interpersonal relationships
  • Lack of affection-giving skills

Looking-good behavior strengths that are actually weaknesses:

These perceived “strengths” can be at the root of weaknesses and problems. For persons in the looking-good role, this is often the case:


Strength: Looks good

Weakness: So busy looking good on outside they don't take care of their inner selves, ignoring all personal growth needs.


Strength: Achiever

Weakness: So compulsively driven to success, they are never happy with what is achieved because of the belief that whatever is done is not "good enough.”


Strength: Responsible

Weakness: So over-responsible they can neither relax nor delegate responsibility to others.


Strength: Good natured

Weakness: A mask of good naturedness belies the reality of their internal anxiety, stress, guilt, anger, despair, pain, and hurt.


Strength: “Together” emotionally

 Weakness: Again, this is a mask founded in denial and the compulsive delusion that everything is OK. The fact of low self-esteem gets ignored.


Strength: Special; stands out in a crowd

Weakness: So high are their expectations of themselves that their “mask” is a fabrication of what they think others want of them. They never do for themselves; they do what they think others want of them, which leads to an internal script of compulsive “looking-good” behavior.


Strength: Strong and independent agent

Weakness: The need to appear strong and independent cuts them off from emotional involvement with others, resulting in inner feelings of isolation and loneliness.


Strength: Popular, easily liked

Weakness: They are generally superficial in their dealings with others. Fearful of offending others reduces their risk taking. They become bound by the “social” expectations of others. Fear of rejection becomes a motivator.


Strength: Positive attitude

Weakness: Scratch their veneer of positivism about life and find a foundation of guilt, hurt, and a sense of personal inadequacy. In reality they are self-motivated by negative self-talk.


Strength: Loyal

Weakness: This is often irrational loyalty, which denies and ignores reasons why such loyalty is not deserving. They are unable to confront troubled persons to whom they are loyal. Fear of conflict and negativity leads to compulsive appeasing and peace making

Some beliefs of persons in the looking-good behavior role:

  • I am responsible to do well in whatever I am involved in.
  • You must succeed in whatever you are involved in or else you are no good.
  • It is important to put your personal needs aside in order to accomplish the task at hand.
  • You must put extraordinary effort into everything you do.
  • It is important to be liked.
  • Don't hurt or offend anyone.
  • Always look, act, and behave correctly and appropriately.
  • If things don't go well it will be my fault.
  • I must work harder to please everyone in my life.
  • If I am going to be a failure in what I am doing, then there is no sense in going on.
  • There is no problem too big to be solved.
  • I'll do anything to make them happy.
  • Avoid conflict, fights, and problems at all costs.
  • I don't fit in here, yet I feel so guilty about wanting to leave.
  • Feeling sorry for yourself is wrong.
  • There is only one way for things to go and that is up!
  • Making peace and mending fences is the best way to lead your life.
  • Don't kick them when they are down.
  • You must always strive to do your best!
  • There is always so much to do and so little time to get it done.

Turning Negative Looking-good Behaviors into Positive Potential


Negative Looking-good Behavior: Ignore their own needs

Positive Potential: Looking good people need to be given permission to be selfish with their time and energy to take care of their own emotional needs. Then they can enjoy life more, feeling less driven to be successful and accomplished


Negative Looking-good Behavior: Over-responsible

Positive Potential: They can be encouraged to let go of the need to be so perfect and responsible, and to let the others in their lives take over some of these responsibilities. They can be led to accept that they are limited in what they can do to help others.


Negative Looking-good Behavior: Over-active sense of guilt

Positive Potential: They can be given help to let go of the sense of guilt, fear of failure, and fear of rejection. These are the driving motivations to succeed and to achieve. By not feeling guilt over lack of success or after experiencing failure, they can slow down and stop trying to over-compensate for the real or perceived failures of the others in their lives.


Negative Looking-good Behavior: Workaholism

Positive Potential: Once they are able to recognize that their struggle for success and achievement is founded in their need to alleviate their guilt, they can let go of such motivation and make a rational decision to place work in a more reasonable and realistic frame of reference in their lives.


Negative Looking-good Behavior: Lack of fun

Positive Potential: Always so busy trying to achieve, they do not know how to enjoy and relax in their success. Once they are able to let go of guilt and the need to “look good” they can learn that “fun” is an essential element for good health and they can re-orient their efforts to include fun, play, and relaxation into their schedules.


Negative Looking-good Behavior: Independence

Positive Potential: They become so used to not needing anyone to help them succeed that they do not know how to accept assistance or direction from others. By learning to be easier on themselves, reducing self-induced pressure to succeed, they can allow themselves to accept the offer of help from others.


Negative Looking-good Behavior: Perfectionistic

Positive Potential: By letting go of the need to have everything work out to meet their idealized image of the way life should be, they can let go of the yoke of perfectionism and unrealistic expectations. They can learn to set more realistic goals for themselves and the others in their lives.


Negative Looking-good Behavior: Fear of letting go

Positive Potential: By allowing themselves to believe that they are not responsible for the happiness of everyone in their lives, they can learn to let go of guilt. By letting go of guilt they can then learn to let go of the fears that keep them compulsively driven to prove themselves worthy in the eyes of others. By letting go of fears they are then capable of relaxing and letting go of their intense vigilance to be “good” and “right,” which means they can finally let go and be human.


Negative Looking-good Behavior: Anger

Positive Potential: By redirecting their thinking about life to a more human and rational approach, they are able to let go of the anger they experience over “never being good enough” and never being finished in accomplishing their tasks in life. They are then able to openly express their feelings when they perceive others as judging them as not being “good enough” or not having “done enough.”


Negative Looking-good Behavior: Rule bound

Positive Potential: By redirecting their emotional energy and letting go of the restrictions and directives they feel pressing in on them, they can begin to feel less compulsive to respond to those “rules” or guidelines that they have developed for themselves on a conscious or subconscious level. No longer do they need to feel a sense of obligation to be good and look good. They can now decide that they are only going to do, act, and say what they freely choose rather than what they feel obligated to. They can now say “I deserve the best that life has to offer no matter how I look or am perceived to be by others.” They can now say “I deserve to be loved unconditionally. I do not have to meet these rules/conditions I have created before I am worthy of being loved.”