Who has not been called stupid, fat or ugly at some time in their life? And, who has not felt hurt by such comments? Even as an adult, to be called any one of those can be hurtful. And, also, to be called the opposite of any one of those would make us feel great. How would you feel if you were told you were smart, fit and beautiful? Of course, it is not really being told either of those extremes that make us feel up or down; it is that we believe the words. If we know we are smart and are called stupid by somebody, it has no real effect, because we know, within ourselves, that we are smart. Of course, ‘smart’ and ‘stupid’ can be measured in any number of ways. A person may not be terribly smart intellectually, but can be very ‘street smart.’ Likewise, a person who is very smart intellectually may be quite stupid on the streets.

How one measures stupid/smart, fat/fit and ugly/beautiful has a lot to do with the meaning of those words. It is possible to layout a continuum, say between 1 and 10, for each of those labels. A person can be ‘fit’ or ‘fat’ on a scale ranging between 1 and 10. The same could be said for smart/stupid and beautiful/ugly. So, if someone were to call you one of these names, you might find it interesting to find out from them where they perceive you on the continuum. To make matters even more complicated, we can talk about each of these labels in three domains: physiological, psychological and sociological. That is, we can postulate that there is not only a kind of psychological stupidity or smartness, but also a physiological, and even sociological, stupidity and smartness. The same would hold for fitness and fatness, and beauty/ugly.

Physiological, or body, intelligence is a kind of inborn quality. The body has an innate intelligence, which often amazes scientists. The mere fact that so many biological systems work in coordination is a marvel. However, physiological intelligence can get damaged through traumatic events in one’s life, as can our psychological intelligence, which can then impact our physiological intelligence, which can then impact our mind. There is little doubt about the intimate connection between mind and body. Moreover, social and cultural conditioning also impacts the mind, which then impacts the body, which then impacts the mind, which then impacts the society. The concept of ‘psycho-somatic’ i.e., ‘mind-body’ should perhaps be called ‘psycho-social-somatic’ as all three are really involved.

Psychological intelligence, or smartness, is really a combination of two: cognitive and emotional. The term ‘emotional intelligence’ has gained recognition over the last several years. Cognitive intelligence is more along the lines of intellectual intelligence. Social intelligence is another area, which ought to be considered when talking about smartness, or stupidity. But, of course, how one measures social intelligence, is a question, which would need to be answered before one can label a person socially smart, or socially stupid.

So, the labels of ‘stupid, fat and ugly’ or ‘smart, fit and beautiful’ is really rather complex. A person could be physically fat and psychologically smart; or, a person could be psychologically ugly and physically beautiful, or psychologically beautiful, and physically ugly. A person could be socially stupid, and physically fit.

So, the next time you find yourself being called one of these labels, at either extreme, keep in mind that the person calling you those names probably doesn’t have a clue about the real meaning of these words let alone the different levels of their meaning. And, of course, remember that just because somebody says something about you, does not make it so. You can feel badly if someone says you are stupid fat or ugly and feel great if someone says you are smart, fit or beautiful. But, in each case, it is coming to you from outside yourself, and may or may not be valid. The saying ‘credit and blame smell the same’ is appropriate here, for it suggests that we can become much too susceptible to praise or condemnation from external sources, and in that regard, smell the same, rather than relying upon our own self assessment.

Author's Bio: 

Ken Fields is a nationally certified licensed mental health counselor. With over 25 years in the mental health field, he has worked as as an individual and family therapist throughout school districts and within communities, a crisis intervention counselor, a clinical supervisor and an administrator in a human service agency. He has taught classes in meditation, visualization, goal setting, self-image psychology, anger and stress management, negotiation, mediation and communication, crisis intervention, and parenting. Mr. Fields specializes in Cognitive Behavior Therapy, Family Systems Therapy and Communication Coaching. As a practicing counseling psychologist, Mr. Fields brings decades of specialized training and applied skills to his work. He now provides quality online counseling and can be found at http://www.openmindcounseling.com