Personal style and you: Where is the focus on developing soul beauty?

For as long as I have been alive, the subject of personal style has always been present.

We are bombarded with images in magazines, billboards, and television commercials. Apparently everywhere we go, we are being asked (whether directly or indirectly) what is your personal style?

Personal style is a combination or how you carry yourself, what you wear, and the message that you’re trying to send the world. However, the part of personal style that often gets left out, is who you are on the inside. While ad agencies tend to focus on a person’s outward appearance, there is not much focus on cultivating who you are as a person.

“The beauty of a woman is not in the clothes she wears, the figure that she carries, or the way she combs her hair. The beauty of a woman is seen in her eyes, because that is the doorway to her heart, the place where love resides. True beauty in a woman is reflected in her soul. It’s the caring that she lovingly gives, the passion that she shows & the beauty of a woman only grows with passing years.”

— Audrey Hepburn

Taking care of yourself, both physically and mentally, is a sign that you respect yourself. Developing your own personal style is an even deeper reflection of your identity. Who are you? What is the message that you’re trying to send? Keep in mind, the first thing that people see, is you! However, the next thing that people will notice is how you act.

Personal style really comes from within.

Have you ever met an outwardly beautiful man or woman? Only to realize that their beauty became tainted once you started having a conversation and realized that they were totally self-involved? Vanity can be a person’s greatest downfall. While the outward appearance may attract, I don’t care how handsome or beautiful you are physically, if the inner workings of your mind are selfish, vain, or just unkind, the attractiveness will fade.

“The only real elegance is in the mind; if you’ve got that, the rest really comes from it.”

Diana Vreeland

Much like the persona (on the blog yesterday)-the outward ‘mask’ that you show the world-developing your own personal style is relative to developing yourself as an individual and examining who you are when no one else is around. Not only does personal style manifest itself in the way you dress, it comes from within. Who you are on the inside whether you want to believe it or not, radiates from you.

Every person puts out energies to the world. If yours is negative, hateful, or conversely, positive and upbeat—believe me, people pick up on it. Just like we are able to consciously choose happiness, we are definitely able to consciously choose our personal style.

I liken personal styles to how a therapist works with his or her clients. Many people ask me, what’s your style in session? I like to tell them that I’m tactfully and compassionately direct. I’m not a loud person by nature so usually my observations about a client’s problems in session are delivered in a quiet, meaningful way. I’m not saying that my style would work with everyone! Some people prefer a brasher more abrasive manner where they are “whipped into shape” and told exactly what they need to do.

Think about it.

If someone asked you what your personal interaction style was, what would you tell them?

Do you find your personal style to be effective?

What do you think that the way you carry yourself, dress, and interact says about you?

“Be sure what you want and be sure about yourself. Fashion is not just beauty, it’s about good attitude. You have to believe in yourself and be strong.”

— Adriana Lima

Walk tall, embrace your style, and smile.

Wishing you health, happiness and soulful personal style everyday,

 Rachel Ann



Taking off the mask: what is your persona?

My favorite part of my day is often coming home and washing my face. I love the feeling of washing the day away and fully embracing a level of comfort that I’m unable to throughout the day.

I feel safe, secure, and completely supported in my home so it’s no wonder that my literal “mask” can come off. I no longer have to embrace the persona that my current job entails, instead I can just fully relax. I am able to quietly reenergize through introverting and having a quiet night at home with my husband.

Swiss psychiatrist, Carl Jung, is one of my favorite psychological theorists. I do a lot of work with my clients on how the four archetypes (The Self, The Shadow, The Anima or Animus, and The Persona) manifest themselves in their lives. The persona is one of Jung’s four archetypes that he uses to explain personalities and behaviors that we show the world. Persona is quite literally the Latin word for mask. Jung proposed that our persona is the mechanism to which we protect our ego; if we are not an “open book” and others do not know how we are truly feeling, then the ego does not have as much risk of being injured.

Our persona is a collection of our behavioral characteristics, demeanor, and even ways of speaking that we exhibit to various social settings. A truly evolved, mentally healthy individual is able to recognize which parts of their persona are being utilized and ultimately should strive to be the most authentic version of themselves that they can be—drawing all aspects of who they are and bringing them to every social and personal situation. However, more times than not, the collaboration of persona and authentic self does not occur.

Persona, the mask or image we present to the world. Designed to make a particular impression on others, while concealing our true nature.

                                                                                                  -Carl Jung

Consider this: you go to see your favorite musician. They are charismatic, energetic, and engaging on stage. Afterwards, you wait to meet them and observe that there is an awkwardness, almost a shyness about them. The juxtaposition of what you have just observed them doing on stage versus who they are in real life is quite apparent.

That, my friends, is quite simply the concept of persona. We all to a certain degree, have a “face” that we put on to brave the world.  Humans learn that they must behave differently in different settings in order to elicit a certain desired effect. I recently watched a documentary on the very talented musician Amy Winehouse where she spoke to the persona in her own terms. She talked about her shyness, how she was actually a person that enjoyed keeping to herself but when her fame escalated, it created a sort of discomfort in her.

When our public personas become so different from who we really are underneath the “mask”, psychological discomfort ensues. Having to “play” such different life roles on a daily basis then becomes a confusing situation where a person may start to try to escape through maladaptive means. In an effort to alleviate [and escape] the anxiety that a person begins to experience from not incorporating all aspects of their personality, they may start to engage in sexually deviant behaviors, substance use/abuse, and or even calling into work because the stress is too much (just to name a few that I’ve witnessed in the clinical setting).

Think of public personalities that become involved in scandals. I think of former U.S. House of Representatives politician, Anthony Weiner, who was involved in several sexting scandals. He displayed the public persona of a vocal liberal Democrat, not afraid to voice his opinions on various topics. However, in his personal life, he was quite devious and engaged in several very scandalous sexting incidents. One could argue that his shadow archetype (shadow archetype next on the blog) was at play here, but I also think that his persona disfigurement was the culprit. Even his wife had to put on a public persona of support for her husband after the incidents came to light. I can only imagine what was happening behind closed doors in her home. Do you see the example of when your public persona and personal persona collide? For many, those that are closest to us are also affected.

The healthiest individual has a clear understanding of who they must be in certain situations, yet that person is able to retain characteristics of themselves in all situations. I know for example, that I do better with one on one situations. I may be at a get together, but you will not see me entertaining the crowd. I feel most comfortable making my way around the room, interacting with one person at a time, having a quality interaction. I know that this plays largely into what I do on a daily basis: interacting with an individual therapy client. I don’t feel as if I’m having to compromise who I am in an effort to work, and I come home feeling happy with my interactions. Incorporating public and personal personas.

Think about who you are at home, and who you are in the public eye. Are they one in the same? Are there similarities? Do you come home feeling like yourself or do you feel like you’re wearing a mask that does not fit? Only you know and only you can decide.

Take off the mask and see what happens.

And if you can’t fully do that, begin to incorporate who you really are into your daily life. See what happens.

Wholeness is not achieved by cutting off a portion of one’s being, but by integration of the contraries.

Carl Jung

Wishing you self-discovery and an authentic life today and every day,

Rachel Ann

For more information on the persona archetype: