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Self-Love For Indian Women Is Not Easy, But Still Doable!

We rank 136th out of 146 total evaluated in terms of overall happiness. Indian women's happiness has deteriorated over the past thirty years, and women are twice as likely as men to suffer from depression.

India is the world’s 11th most unhappy country in the SDSN’s study, released on March 2022. We rank 136th out of 146 total evaluated in terms of overall happiness.

It got me thinking about happiness and what this word actually means to women in India.

Women’s happiness has deteriorated over the past thirty years. And that females are twice as likely as men to suffer from depression. In our society, a ‘sanskari’ Indian woman is supposed to follow the orders of her parents and community. In a study, approximately nine out of ten Indians agree that a wife must always obey her husband, with two-thirds agreeing completely.

It means women (according to society) should “Calm Down!” whenever we display feelings. All emotions are valid. But it becomes detrimental when you’re only allowed to express the ones deemed respectable by society.

Every time a woman wants to be heard, she is dubbed emotional!

The “emotional” label is for women in politics, entertainment, business, and anywhere women are trying to be heard. When feelings inspire a woman’s arguments, it “implies” that she is not thinking logically. All in all, someone or the other always has some opinion about whatever we do.

So, why not do it your way while putting your needs first?

We, women, are never actually taught how to love ourselves in our everyday lives. One out of two women experiences more self-doubt than self-love. And sixty percent of women desire more regard for themselves, according to a global study that revealed a “self-love crisis” for women worldwide.

Since we are so kind, we frequently forget self-care and feel bad for making time for ourselves. Why do we women think this way about ourselves? Don’t we understand that we cannot tend to others if we do not care for ourselves?

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How will Indian women learn to love themselves?

If a woman wants a break from her daily household chores, she is discouraged or called lazy, even if her other half wouldn’t help with anything. How will Indian women learn to love themselves if people around them teach them to be selfless from a young age?

We expect a young woman to take care of her parents, parent her siblings, and perform household chores. If not, we want her to learn, Carnatic dance and music, grow long hair, look beautiful and maintain a specific weight. Just because she would go on the marriage “market” soon. Not only that, she should adjust according to whatever others say.

How dare she speak back?

She says she doesn’t like to feel caged. Then a typical response, “How dare she speak back?” And then the blackmail card is played. “We put so much care into your life. Wouldn’t you do this much? Shouldn’t we expect just this much from you?”

A girl is forced to do so many things which she might not be what she wants. Just because parents, relatives, and society say so. A similar pattern follows when she gets married.

How can be Indian women make sure we put ourselves first? And not get stuck in this vicious cycle of losing control to others at different instances in our lives?

Today, the focus is on self-love. I believe that the word should be in every woman’s vocabulary.

What is self-love?

Self-love is caring for your needs and not forsaking your well-being to satisfy others.

But it is not as simple as it sounds. For instance, self-love has not always been an inherent part of my life. I take in a lot of stress from unnecessary things. My happiness was to make others happy. Unfortunately, I realized putting others first comes with a price. I decided to put myself first and put in the effort to work on myself with the help of coping strategies to manage stress. I’m still trying! It’s a process.

Self-love is necessary to be happy and healthy in every aspect of your life.

My new approach to happiness is to do things I love. And acknowledge my thoughts and feelings. I understand myself first to feel seen and heard and speak up (as much as I can). What does the word ‘happiness’ usually mean to you?

If self-love is not a part of my life, I think my downward thinking spiral will consume me, impacting my quality of life. I take small steps, such as looking for something I’m grateful for and finding joy in eating the food I like. I try to find happiness in the small things!

Did you know that gratitude increases self-esteem?

A massive barrier to gratitude, self-love, and happiness is social media.

We go through a great deal to show others we are happy by masking real feelings and struggles! All we can see are successes and positive moments. How are we made to want more than what we have?

It leads most people to believe others’ lives are perfect. For people with poor self-esteem, the temptation to accept this nonsensical assumption is much stronger. The online world may feel like a maze of potential triggers, from the presumptions described above to (in my case) incessantly checking to see if anybody liked my post.

It is difficult to cut out social media altogether. But limiting its use would help. To bring happiness and positivity to the forefront, instead of living in a fake world, I would suggest being grateful for at least one thing a day, speaking to close ones, exercising, decluttering, and doing anything that makes you happy!

Be kind to yourself

Take a timeout and be honest and compassionate with yourself. Open up about your daily experience and challenges. Speak up about what makes you happy, and be authentic. Always keep your principles in mind, and you’ll get there. It is not easy, but it is achievable!

However, social media is not all that bad. It could be useful if you know how to put it to use properly. There are several self-help pages and groups that definitely provide insight. It’s nice to see that many people are coming forward with real experiences with the help of powerful platforms like Women’s Web.

While self-love and positivity are good things, expecting everyone to be permanently happy could be toxic.

Acceptance is everything. While the idea is to feel joy and remain optimistic, it also means embracing challenging emotions rather than denying reality.

Be honest to yourself

Communication is effective, either with family members, friends, or work. Set boundaries! Even diet and physical exercise can play a part. A good night’s sleep is necessary for good health and emotional well-being. Go ahead and practice positive self-talk.

The easiest way to boost your self-esteem is to treat yourself in the same manner you would treat a close friend: positively but honestly.

However, pushing yourself to feel happy all the time does not help. Are you overly focused on becoming optimistic? Don’t worry about it daily because there may be little differences from one day to the next. Even though most of us always like to be happy, research reveals that negative emotions, while uncomfortable, may be beneficial at times.

Feeling low is normal, every emotion you feel is part of you

Remember that it’s normal to feel unhappy from time to time. And besides, anger, frustration, grief, and all your other feelings are natural and healthy parts of life!

I recently realized that I don’t allow myself to be happy because I feel like I don’t deserve it. Sometimes, I don’t find happiness and contentment in self-care activities like I used to. I’m working on it with the help of a counsellor. Therapy is always an option if you need someone to speak to.

Since people’s lives in Indian families are intertwined and speaking up about boundaries can be seen as disrespectful, don’t be discouraged. Always speak up. Be assertive and voice your issue with respect. Hopefully, people will gradually understand, and your family will adopt it as culture.

Create your boundaries

Remember that gaslighting is a part of boundary setting. Don’t look for a sense of validation outside. It will automatically come to you internally as you learn to love yourself.

What if they don’t understand? Maybe a family member’s actions are a result of their upbringing, education, and experiences, which might help you accept their behaviour. I don’t mean you justify and support their actions.

Set yourself free from their expectations and move on, knowing that they won’t change, and move on. Their toxic behaviour hurts a bit less, knowing where their emotions come from.

To conclude, be yourself and do what you want to. It might not be the easiest thing, but certainly achievable. Happy Self-Love month, women!

“How you love yourself is how you teach others to love you.” – Rupi Kaur

Image source: Still from the film Chichore, edited on CanvaPro

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About the Author

Megna Rajagopal

Megna is an aspiring writer trying to make it in this world. read more...

18 Posts | 4,926 Views

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