Freedom of expression is a fundamental human right. It reinforces all other human rights, allowing society to develop and progress. The ability to express our opinion and speak freely is essential to bring about a desirable change in society.
For the progress, development, and growth of any society, freedom of expression is crucial. In the case of an individual, even more so. As a fundamental human right, the well-being of an individual is greatly compromised in its absence. In a situation where you compromise your freedom of expression, your well-being is affected and in due course of time, your physical and emotional health as well.
Have you experienced a situation or situations where you were forced to not be yourself out of fear for repercussions? It is a wake-up call to ask yourself a fundamental question that will help you in achieving harmony and happiness, “Do you love yourself the way you love others?” More importantly, ask yourself, “What are you doing about this if you do not?”
1) Love yourself as much as you love others.
As a member of society, we have varied roles to play. We may be a daughter/son, spouse, parent, sibling, friend or even a grandparent. During moments of stress (do not have to wait for a crisis to erupt), the number one question we need to ask yourself is “are we loving and respecting ourselves as much as we have for others in our life?”.
Often confused with Narcissism, loving oneself is a powerful requirement for our well-being, personal and professional success. It is a prerequisite that needs to be met when we look for answers to issues that are linked to us and the world (including our family). When I asked the question to myself after the crisis I had experienced, I realized that I did not love myself enough. My attempts to be an individual who will rise up to the expectations of some of the people in my life had merely made me feel wretchedly miserable and my critics amused. My focus then on slowly moved on from the comments or opinions of others to what I want for myself. I started making efforts to know who I am, what do I want and what do I enjoy. My individual dreams, goals, my time, my happiness became a matter of importance in my life too. My attention to derogatory comments waned and I began to ignore the opinions of those whose purpose was not to improve but enjoy criticizing me. I continued to love my family, friends and all whom I cared for but I realized suddenly that the one person who needed my respect and care had been ignored for a long time – myself. I then began an insightful journey to know myself.
Many of the fundamental stressful issues we have in our relationships are due to the fact that we do not respect and care for ourselves as much as we love others.We not only love and respect others more than we regard ourselves but expect others to realize and reciprocate based on the love and respect we shower them.
As far as human relationships are concerned, the more we expect, the less we will know freedom and tranquility. Our unfulfilled expectations will eventually imprison us in a vicious circle of distress, dismay and anger. We will also be naively sabotaging our own happiness and the happiness of others through these delusory expectations.
2) Life, Family and Societal Expectations.
Happiness and contentment are based also on how we handle societal and family expectations. When I realized the significance of managing expectations, I started thinking of what the purpose of adhering to societal pressure regarding our roles in our life is. The importance of that adherence was insignificant from the perspective of the frustration, undue to stress and anxiety it can create in us. As long as we think, behave and communicate with our principles and scruples, we have little need to behave in the manner that society or family expects us to. Serenity and wellbeing come from acceptance not just of others in our life but acceptance of who we are in others lives. The uniqueness that each of us possesses is what makes every individual so special and one of a kind.
If we are accepting others for who they are, why not the other way round too?
3) Appearance and its significance
During one of the early experiments I had conducted to test societal responses and my behavior role, I had come to realize how much there is importance given to appearance by society. The attire worn by people is selected sometimes by few purely based on whether it will receive approval and admiration. A wedding is a fine social example of where our desire to wear what we wish to is questioned. Brides belonging to several communities (including the one that I belong to) are seen to wear several ornaments on their wedding day. The question is, is this important if the bride thinks otherwise?
Many societies have their own expectations on how its members need to attire and dress. Even in a society where there may not be a dress code, the moment you attire in a manner that is less than what is respected, the response would be one that could be unfortunately undesirable. To what extent are we prepared to dress based on others expectations? Are we happy with the manner we dress? Is there any lingering discontent in us as we dress the way we do? These are very fundamental questions that may appear trivial but are real when we need to take steps in overcoming challenges to our wellbeing.
We are effectively taking care of ourselves when the affirmations we give us and the actions we take consecutively are in harmony. When our belief and actions work together like a team, this affects our verbal and non behavior. This in turn helps us to be a better and happier version of ourselves – each day, every day.
Most importantly, we then give ourselves greater responsibility to be happy or not.