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“Mass media has a way of subtly but powerfully instilling a sense of “the perfect look” throughout the population.” with Roselyn Smith and Fotis Georgiadis

Mass media has a way of subtly but powerfully instilling a sense of “the perfect look” throughout the population. And social media has opened the door even more for people to personalize, criticize and ridicule self and others who don’t achieve those looks. This is a phenomenon that has always existed but that has become […]


Mass media has a way of subtly but powerfully instilling a sense of “the perfect look” throughout the population. And social media has opened the door even more for people to personalize, criticize and ridicule self and others who don’t achieve those looks. This is a phenomenon that has always existed but that has become even more influential as technology has advanced. Unfortunately, a large factor influencing acceptance of self and others has to do with appearance, rather than emphasizing character, recognition of the positive aspects of self or others, empathy for self and others, etc. But not everyone does look the same or can capture the same trending looks.

I had the pleasure to interview Roselyn Smith, Ph.D., a Licensed Psychologist in Miami, Florida. Dr. Smith is recognized by Fulbright as a Specialist in human resilience and critical incident/disaster preparedness, prevention, response and recovery and has been selected as a Subject Matter Advisor by The Rockefeller 100 Resilient Cities global effort. Her research during her doctoral training, at the internationally recognized Psychology Department of the University of Miami focusing, on stress management and coping, was funded by the National Cancer Institute. While completing her Ph.D., she was honored with every award available to doctoral students in her track, as well as receiving the Phi Lambda Pi University of Miami Female Graduate Student of the Year Award in academic year 2003–2004. In addition to her psychology practice and given her background in business as a marketing and corporate development executive prior to her doctoral studies, Dr. Smith consults with various companies and organizations and deploys to provide psychological support following critical incidents around the world. Since beginning her doctoral studies in 1998 she has also conducted seminars and training at events for numerous organizations nationally and internationally.


Thank you so much for joining us! I’d love to begin by asking you to give us the backstory as to what brought you to this specific career path.

My professional life started out in business following an undergraduate degree in Economics from UCLA, after which I competed for and was selected to participate in a year-long Master’s Fellowship program in Public Policy Analysis with the CORO Foundation in Los Angeles. Following my Master’s Fellowship, I began work in the private sector as an executive in fund raising, marketing, corporate development and public, media and government relations. Eventually I became the Vice President of Marketing and Corporate Development for Shuttle Express International (SEI), the first franchisee of SuperShuttle, the nationwide airport passenger ride share service, which lead to my relocation from Southern California to Miami.

When my work with SEI ended, I began consulting with various organizations in South Florida on marketing-related projects and also began to produce international events. Along the way I also married a somewhat older gentleman, an attorney in the Miami area. Eventually I reached a point where I simultaneously realized I had achieved all of the professional goals I had set for myself and that my (now ex) husband and I would never have children, so I began a self-evaluation process in order to figure out what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. As I went through the process, I realized that I wanted to be of help to others, make a positive impact in the world and that what had always interested me, even in the study of Economics, was learning what motivates people to make the decisions they choose to make. Then I realized that an area of study and work that would incorporate all of those factors was psychology, so I decided to explore it by taking an undergraduate course in Cognitive Psychology. After attending a few class sessions, I told my husband that I felt like I had found the right path to follow and wanted to study for a Master’s degree in counseling. He responded, “I know you and that you will be much happier if you get the terminal degree, a Ph.D.” Indeed, where that part of me was concerned, he did know me! Since my undergraduate degree is not in Psychology I had to fill in undergraduate course work to be considered for acceptance into a doctoral program, so I dedicated myself to completing the undergraduate coursework required and to pursuing acceptance into and completion of a doctoral program in Psychology. After completing the undergraduate coursework and the required graduate entrance exams, I applied to the University of Miami Psychology Department and was one of 15 applicants selected from a pool of hundreds to begin doctoral training in academic year 1998–99.

The journey has been phenomenal, beginning with my graduate advisor, Dr. Charles Carver, one of the top Personality and Social Psychology theorists in the world. Also, I was selected to be part of a research team funded by the National Cancer Institute where we contributed to ground-breaking advances in mind-body research. Following my post-doctoral training I was hired as a consultant to the University of Miami, Miller School of Medicine, Center for Disaster Epidemiology and Emergency Preparedness to collaborate on developing curriculum and help conduct training seminars throughout the State of Florida with the director of the center and the former Assistant Surgeon General of The United States for mental health care, Dr. Brian Flynn, retired Rear Admiral of the Public Health Corps. I also started my private practice during that time and it has grown steadily. Given my combined business background and psychological training and experience, I have also been presented with numerous other opportunities which continue to develop.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you hope that they might help people along their path to self-understanding or a better sense of wellbeing in their relationships?

Yes, I was recently approached by a well-known businessman and entrepreneur in Miami to produce content for an on-line streaming company he and some of his business associates are launching. One area of content I will produce and host will include increasing well-being through understanding, acceptance and forgiveness of self and others.

Do you have a personal story that you can share with our readers about your struggles or successes along your journey of self-understanding and self-love? Was there ever a tipping point that triggered a change regarding your feelings of self-acceptance?

I am honored to share my own story of reaching a place of self-love and acceptance. First a little more background…I was born and raised in a remote mountain wilderness area of Northeastern Oregon to a working class family. Although we never went without our needs being met, and even though my mother and father were both fairly influential in our community, our somewhat humble financial status and growing up in a rural area both contributed to parts of me feeling unworthy and “less than”, particularly when I moved to a more populated, cosmopolitan part of Oregon and eventually to Los Angeles to complete my undergraduate degree.

I began writing and am now revising before I publish it, my memoir about a year and a half ago. Entitled, “Spirit Bird and Crow: A Memoir of Miracles, Manifestation and Resilience, it tracks the journey of my life from my humble origins to now being an internationally recognized psychologist. As I began writing and reflecting upon my life, I started to see how wonderful, miraculous things happened in spite of my lower sense of self-worth and more limited belief system. People in positions of authority and influence believed in me before I really did and helped advance my educational and work lives. But even though I still didn’t fully value myself and see my full potential I chose to keep pressing forward in spite of a fair degree of anxiety at times about fitting in and being worthy.

Through hard work, applying my abilities and determination, accomplishing many goals and embracing the bigger picture of life I saw as my world expanded, my sophistication and self-confidence increased. But still, the major transition into full self-acceptance, love and a sense of value and self-worth occurred during my recovery from the ugly end of my 18 year marriage and was increased even more during the time of mourning the death of my beloved mother, who lived out the last 6 years of her life with me. Both of those experiences motivated to me choose to transcend my own mistakes and shortcomings as well as the pain of the losses associated with both situations. I acknowledged that I, too, even then a well-trained psychologist, was still human and could learn from accepting my imperfections, forgiving myself and others and working to feel only love and positive energy, toward myself and even toward those I felt had really betrayed me. Embracing a more spiritual existence and dedicating myself to striving to achieve my best and highest self has been a major factor in helping me learn to love and accept myself and others, just as we all are.

According to a recent study cited in Cosmopolitan, in the US, only about 28 percent of men and 26 percent of women are “very satisfied with their appearance.” Could you talk about what some of the causes might be, as well as the consequences?

Mass media has a way of subtly but powerfully instilling a sense of “the perfect look” throughout the population. And social media has opened the door even more for people to personalize, criticize and ridicule self and others who don’t achieve those looks. This is a phenomenon that has always existed but that has become even more influential as technology has advanced. Unfortunately, a large factor influencing acceptance of self and others has to do with appearance, rather than emphasizing character, recognition of the positive aspects of self or others, empathy for self and others, etc. But not everyone does look the same or can capture the same trending looks.

Consequently, many people devalue themselves because they feel dissatisfied with their appearances and may even feel they don’t deserve to be with someone they perceive as better than them, may not have the confidence to step out and work toward what they would really like to be doing in life and may engage in harmful behaviors (e.g., drugs, excessive alcohol use, risky sexual behaviors, victimization of others) in order to try to overcome the feelings of hurt and unworthiness inside. Others may spend money excessively in order to try to buy the “right” clothes, hair styles, jewelry, so that they will feel better about themselves. Still others may become aggressive and critical of others in order to try to see themselves as worthier or superior.

As cheesy as it might sound to truly understand and “love yourself,” can you share with our readers a few reasons why it’s so important?

Self-love, understanding and valuing oneself are important because not doing so creates unconscious motives and behaviors to try to compensate for the lack of self-regard and the stress that it generates. Those motives and behaviors can cause people to unintentionally create or increase difficult life circumstances by acting out their internal pain and lack of self-confidence. Also, it is very difficult to love others when we don’t love ourselves, although many feel they are better at extending compassion, patience, love and understanding to others than to themselves. It is also important to love yourself so that those around us perceive our self-regard, which usually increases others’ respect for us, if we are not arrogant about it.

Why do you think people stay in mediocre relationships? What advice would you give to our readers regarding this?

Most relationships have aspects or go through times that seem mediocre. Relationships, like the rest of life, are not always superb. People may stay because the relationships are familiar or because they accept that no one and no relationship is perfect. Or they may stay because they feel that is what they deserve. Whatever the reason, relationships take work, understanding, patience and dedication from both people. Thus, my advice is not about staying or not staying in mediocre relationships, it is to evaluate your own and your partner’s commitment to working toward developing understanding, acceptance and patience, with regard to your own contribution to the pros and cons of the relationship, as well as your partner’s. Both people should commit to owning their own interpretations of the other’s comments and behaviors, and gently explain to the other, “When you said or did this or that, I interpreted it as meaning xxx.” And the other person should gently and honestly clarify what their intentions were, “I meant this..not that.” This type of discussion should take place without either person casting blame, attacking and reacting defensively and with both people taking full responsibility for their own comments, behaviors, tone of voice, interpretations of the other’s intentions and their reactions to their interpretations. With this type of communication, relationships can transcend mediocracy or even worse!

When we talk about self-love and understanding we don’t necessarily mean blindly loving and accepting ourselves the way we are. Many times self-understanding requires us to reflect and ask ourselves the tough questions, to realize perhaps where we need to make changes in ourselves to be better not only for ourselves but our relationships. What are some of those tough questions that will cut through the safe space of comfort we like to maintain, that our readers might want to ask themselves? Can you share an example of a time that you had to reflect and realize how you needed to make changes?

Some of the tough questions we need to ask ourselves have to do with evaluating our own intentions, as well as reactions to and interpretations of others rather than blaming ourselves or others. To begin with, one must honestly confront why we have chosen to be in a particular relationship or other situation and why we are seeking that, “What was (or am) I really wanting in this relationship/situation and why? What has happened in my past that might be contributing and/or what am I afraid might happen in the future if I am not in this?” It is also critical to acknowledge our own reactivity, what triggers it, and how we behave when we are in a reactionary mode. Reactivity usually includes or leads to some kind of aggression, which only worsens a relationship or other kind of situation. Once we understand how our own reactivity works, we can begin a practice of calming and reducing it, which benefits us on both emotional and physiological levels and benefits our relationship(s). Also, when we really take responsibility for the way we interpret the things others say and do, we begin to see that usually what we are reacting to is our interpretation of an event, which may or may not be accurate. That is what makes it so important to clarify what were the other person’s intentions and meaning of what they said or did. When both people in a relationship take responsibility for their interpretations and reactions, trust and respect for self and one another grows and relationships usually blossom.

Coming out of my 18 year-long marriage, I deepened my introspection and confronted that even though my intentions in arguments my ex and I had were usually just to clearly communicate my concerns and often my frustration at what seemed like him ignoring me, the intensity with which I did so came across as aggression, which probably motivated more of his withdrawal. As I continued to contemplate and take responsibility for my part in what had not worked in our relationship, and as I read more and more spiritually-based writings I began to see that my own reactivity was often very intense, especially if I felt like I was being ignored or what I was saying was being dismissed. I realized it often triggered feelings and interpretations of being abandoned or treated as unworthy, which triggered other reactions that were part of my contribution to the failure of our relationship. Those self-realizations, combined with the dedication to transcend and strive for my greatest and highest self in this life time were what led me to forgive myself, my ex and others in my life and to begin to love and treat myself as the worthy person we are all born to be.

So many don’t really know how to be alone, or are afraid of it. How important is it for us to have, and practice, that capacity to truly be with ourselves and be alone (literally or metaphorically)?

It is very important for each of us to literally spend time alone in order to introspect and truly get to know, accept and learn to trust our own ability to care for ourselves. That doesn’t mean we have to isolate ourselves from everyone all of the time, in fact being around others and sharing support is also very important. But to really find peace and self-acceptance, we need time alone to practice calming our reactivity, engage in honest but non-judgmental introspection, and learn to quiet and love ourselves, independent of how others perceive and treat us. If we find ourselves alone and feeling lonely when we would really rather be in a relationship, it is very important to not internalize that as rejection or unworthiness. Instead, embrace it as an opportunity to develop the capacity to be with yourself, find peace through self-love, forgiveness and acceptance, and engage in the things that bring pleasure and fulfillment in your life.

How does achieving a certain level of self-understanding and self-love then affect your ability to connect with and deepen your relationships with others?

Once we understand, forgive and accept our own humanness and flaws, acknowledge all of the positive aspects of ourselves and truly love ourselves, we are more capable of seeing the good in others as well as extending deeper understanding, forgiveness, acceptance and love to them, too.

In your experience, what should a) individuals and b) society, do to help people better understand themselves and accept themselves?

Both individuals and society should stop criticizing others for being “different”, whether personality-wise, culturally, in terms of physical appearance, with regard to priorities, or in any other way. Everyone is unique and if all of humanity would accept that and stop reacting to differences, trying to change others and coerce them into being of like mind, we would make huge advances toward living in peace, as individuals, societies and a global species. If peace were to become the guiding principal and goal of individuals and societies, and instead we reassured one another that we are all here to make our own unique contributions to the world, self-acceptance would also be likely to eventually become the norm.

What are 5 strategies that you implement to maintain your connection with and love for yourself, that our readers might learn from? Could you please give a story or example for each?

Honest introspection — Which includes acknowledging that I am human and still make mistakes at times, but also remembering the good I have done and continue to do while simultaneously understanding and forgiving the mistakes I have made. For example, following the break-up of my marriage, it was tempting to just focus on what I then deemed as the negative or difficult aspects of my ex. But when I realized I was headed down that path, I eventually stopped myself and instead acknowledged my own contributions to the failure of our marriage. I then dug deeper in order to understand what had motivated my decisions and behaviors and came to understand that in large part I had been reacting to certain perceptions and interpretations of some of his behaviors. I further came to understand that some residual of my own sense of lower self-worth influenced many of my interpretations and reactions and dedicated myself to self-healing. I then became able to forgive and love myself.

Not depending on how others treat me to feel self-value and love — By combining honest introspection with a commitment to honesty with others, I have found that rather than hold back my feelings, thoughts, or truths about my life situation to those I am becoming close with, if I gently express them and explain my motive(s) for doing so, no matter how the other person responds, I know I have done my best to allow myself and the relationship to grow. And I know that my motives and my words have been genuine, therefore I can continue to respect, value and love myself. If it is just a matter of confronting some aspect of myself, to and for myself, I approach that with the same openness, gentleness and compassion as I strive to do with others, rather than self-recrimination and criticism.

Observing, rather than getting caught up in, waves of reaction, fear, self-doubt or self-criticism when they pass through me — I saw Oprah interview Michael Singer, author of “The Untethered Soul,” during a critical time in my divorce proceedings. The part of his amazing insights that really resonated with me had to do with not allowing what he referred to as “the ego self” to get tangled up with thoughts, feelings, reactions, etc. that can bring us down. Instead, he recommended leaning back into the wise, conscious part of ourselves and observing those things as waves of energy passing through us, rather than allowing them to define or control us. He was correct in referring to them as waves because, indeed, thoughts, memories, feelings and reactions really are, on a reductionist level, nothing more than electro-chemical waves passing through our neuro-circuitry. He went on to wisely and profoundly point out that one cannot be the observer and the observed at the same time. Thus, if we observe the waves passing through us, just as we would observe waves on the ocean, the impact of them on us begins to subside. We cannot be the observer of them and out in the middle of them at the same time. His words and Oprah’s insightful questions and commentary spoke volumes to me and I began immediately recognizing the difficult feelings and thoughts I was experiencing as waves passing through me. I added to my internal dialogue, that just like any other wave, they would reach their crest and then subside, returning to the peaceful shore, as long as I didn’t continue to splash around in them or try to push them away and give them energy. The approach worked phenomenally well and has been so incredibly helpful to me going through many different difficult times. I have also shared it with numerous patients who have also found it immensely helpful in healing from whatever hurt or difficult experience they are struggling with and in learning to love and respect themselves.

Meditation — I began practicing Vinyasa yoga many years ago and about 10 years into it also began practicing Kundalini yoga, which is deeply rooted in alignment of the physical, psychological and spiritual selves through calming and dedicated meditations. Also, a major part of the intervention my research team and I did with cancer patients in the doctoral research I was involved with included teaching our participants calming and relaxation techniques, including meditation. The more I have practiced it,the more I have learned to love, care for and respect myself. Finding that place of peace and calm that is inside of each of us, just waiting for us to access it, enables us to hear and listen to the wise, higher being inside of each of us and to love ourselves. I practice it daily in order to keep myself centered, focused, compassionate with myself and others, and committed to continuing my journey of transcendence in order to fulfill my purpose(s) in this existence, which I have come to realize are to help bring light, healing, hope, love, and peace to all.

Embracing my Spirituality — This is not just a strategy to maintain my connection with and love for myself; those things have been an outgrowth of my commitment to explore and live a spiritual life. When I truly came to understand and embrace that we are all spiritual beings living in a human, physical form, all other strategies and efforts I was employing to maintain and practice consistent respect and love for myself and others were magnified in their impact. Also, since doing so, the miraculous events in my life have increased exponentially and I can see how everything that happened to me before, difficult and challenging, or flowing with ease, and every decision I have made, seemingly “bad” or “good”, have contributed to me reaching a point where I not only love and respect myself, but have also empowered myself to reach my highest and best potential in every way.

What are your favorite books, podcasts, or resources for self-psychology, intimacy, or relationships? What do you love about each one and how does it resonate with you?

Books —

The Untethered Soul (Author — Michael Singer)

The Power of Kaballah (Author — Yehuda Berg)

The Novice (Author — Thich Nhat Hahn)

Monthly meditation/contemplations booklet from Science of Mind —

The Guide for Spiritual Living

Podcast —

Edge of the Unknown (Host — Mark Henry)

All of these resources, each in its own way, can help us to examine, accept and love ourselves as human, but at the same time connect with our higher selves. Each of the books and The Guide for Spiritual Living all contain vital information and insights into managing our thoughts, reducing their negativity, calming our fears, reactivity and self-doubt. Certain aspects of each can be applied to intimate and our other types of relationships and interactions with others, as well. Mark Henry’s podcast, on which I was interviewed in May of 2018 for a show called “Divine Synchronicities”, is a powerful tool for opening ourselves to consider the unseen and unknown by listening to the true stories/experiences shared by his guests.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? Maybe we’ll inspire our readers to start it…

The movement I would inspire is for all of humanity to forgive self and one another in order to create a peaceful existence and raise the vibration of the energy we create on this planet by embracing our spirituality and spreading love. Each of us may have our own way of doing that, our own belief system, but most, if not all belief systems have aspects that promote and support love, acceptance of, and being kind to ourselves and others.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote” that you use to guide yourself by? 
 Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life and how our readers might learn to live by it in theirs?

I don’t really have a favorite “Life Lesson Quote.” I’ve been granted insight and inspired by various quotes and sayings at various times in my life. But I would like to share an approach I believe will help people live their lives to the fullest, embracing love of self and others, “Stop, breathe deeply, look inside, notice and be appreciative of the good in you. Share your goodness and positivity with all others, without expectation or judgment.”

Thank you so much for your time and for your inspiring insights!

Thank you for the opportunity to participate in this incredibly important, powerful series!

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