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A reminder on why self-appreciation is important for working women in India and some handy tips on how to love yourself.
By Runjhun Noopur
Working women in India face myriad challenges as they navigate life, negotiating various identities and justifying multiple roles. However, they often ignore the most important person in their life — themselves. As women, especially working women, focus on everyone and everything but their own selves, there is inevitable collateral damage — a phenomena that is magnified several times in the case of Indian working women who come with the baggage of a peculiar social conditioning that deems them to be the givers.
This damage manifests at physical, emotional and spiritual levels, often translating into lifestyle diseases, relationship issues and an overall sense of dissatisfaction. Against this background, loving one’s own self becomes as much of an effective coping strategy as an essential corner stone of a healthy and fulfilling existence.
There is a fine line between an ego massage and self-appreciation. While ego has many listed vices, its extreme opposite, that is, self-deprecation (often confused with humility) is equally vicious with consequences that range from low self-esteem to depression — the entire range being equally destructive if not more, than the notorious ego.
At a spiritual level, the simplest solution to every problem is looking within. In this case, it would be looking within and liking it.
At a spiritual level, the simplest solution to every problem is looking within. In this case, it would be looking within and liking it. Because when the external assault is at its worst, the only person that can see you through is you. Loving yourself in this case is much more than self-indulgence — it is your best coping strategy.
An average working woman in India navigates multiple biases. With firmly set notions about everything including what makes a woman beautiful and/or successful, the art of loving yourself is not something that comes naturally to women. This is precisely why we need a how-to guide.
Loving yourself is not confined to an occasional pat on the back. Nor is it an unwarranted ego trip. It is a continuous process of self-realization that requires consistency and conscious, devoted effort. The to-do strategy is however, rather simple. The trick is to not be deceived by the simplicity of the process and hang on to reap rich rewards. Here are some pointers that will get you started:
– Appreciate yourself. Make it a conscious habit: Look in the mirror every day and remind yourself of what a great job you are doing of managing your life and that of your loved ones. If you are feeling low, remind yourself of all that you have achieved and that you have done it while juggling multiple roles. Self-appreciation is one of the simplest and the most underestimated strategies. Start appreciating yourself today and see it grow into a love that is holistically fulfilling.
– Make room for mistakes: Humans make mistakes. You have to accept that despite your best efforts (or maybe less than best efforts at times, but hey, it is still okay), hiccups will happen. Things will go wrong. If you start taking everything personally, your life will be a bigger mess than those minor mistakes. It is understandably impossible to not feel bad and it is actually not advisable to bottle up your feelings in the name of control. What is important is really letting go and not just for appearance’s sake. Lock yourself in a bathroom and scream, if that helps, but let go as quickly as possible.
– Respect your efforts. Let go of guilt: An extension of the ‘let go’ strategy above, this is the THE most important thing for working women in India who are used to being burdened with responsibilities, both at home and at work, that have little room for practical considerations.
Trying to cope with superhuman expectations on both personal and professional fronts is exhausting. To top it, most people — whether they are colleagues or family members – won’t think twice before complaining. The best way out is to manage our reactions. Accept that people will complain. Don’t take it personally. Give yourself a break because no one else will. Accept that mess happens. Manage it if you can, move on if you can’t. Don’t let the mess or complaints stick to you. Don’t harbour guilt. You can’t be absolutely perfect; what is important is that you are trying. Remind yourself this fact every single day and revel in the dignity of your roles. Always remember, if you can’t respect yourself for what you are and what you do, no one else will.
– The buck stops with you: Modern Indian women are under-appreciated. While one might think that they get used to it, the fact is nobody does and it always hurts—a hurt that can in extreme cases snowball into serious issues like depression and broken relationships. The solution, unlike most of us would like to believe, does not lie with others. It lies with us. Ultimately the way the world perceives us is a reflection of our own perception of ourselves. That is why, self-confidence, a manifestation of self-love is one of most trusted ingredients of success. If we love ourselves the way we are, everyone else will come around to it, sooner or later. Even if they don’t, you will be able to cope because your sense of self will no more depend on the validation of others. Either way, you will find yourself in a much happier place — which is what ultimately matters.
In a world that is harsh, especially on working women — forever willing to overlook their achievements and highlight their shortcomings — loving yourself is probably your best bet at successful survival and cutting your physical, emotional and spiritual losses. All you have to do is to assert your identity with self-love and self-respect. That is the only key to lasting happiness and a satisfying existence.
*Photo credit: Juliana Coutinho (Used under the Creative Commons Attribution License.)
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