How Individualism Affects Your Personality

An individual facing the universe

Individualism is“a social theory advocating the liberty, rights, or independent action of the individual.”

Individualism gives prominence to self-development; personal achievements and independence of a person. When children grow up with the concept that they are enough, they have the potential to accomplish their goals and they have the freedom to take their own decisions, they value personal rights and their own space more than family values. A collective decision is considered oppressive.

On the surface individualism seems to be perfect as it offers absolute freedom and infinite possibilities of following your own aspirations but dig deeper and ask those who get mired in internal strife. Ask those who blame themselves for their failure. Ask those who are drowning in the sea of anguish and yearn for help. Ask those who have to take anti-depressants to cope with the pressures of life.

While individualism adds confidence, self-discipline and self-control to our personality, many essential characteristics are disregarded.

Individualism makes us self-centered:

When you are encouraged to discover your potential or follow your passion, you develop the habit of thinking only for yourself. It is always your endeavor, your success and your happiness. Self becomes larger than siblings, friends and parents and when it is time to contribute significantly to your society, it seems a burden. Such individuals drift away from most of the family relationships and seem selfish.

Self-doubts grow bigger:

Who doesn’t have to deal with self-doubts? It is difficult to handle frustrations alone. Setbacks seem like monsters, failures have to be owned and faced alone, and loneliness grows into depression. When stressful situations are not shared, their dimensions keep absorbing your confidence. Therapists step in to reinforce the fact “you are enough” but self-doubts refuse to dispel. On the other hand, Asian cultures promote sharing personal problems with family and friends and they serve the purpose of re-igniting wavering self-belief.

Individualism creates disconnect:

Personal attitudes eat into the core values of respect, patience and generosity. Self gets so exalted that love for others seems to be a chore. You may learn tactful behavior but relationships rest on the plank of façade. Senior members of your family cease to exist for you and visiting them or looking after them is not your responsibility. Those who nurtured you with the best of their abilities seem superfluous and are expected to fend for themselves.

Individualism breeds insensitivity:

Individualism gives top priority to your own interests, you become insensitive to the needs and desires of your spouse and children. You expect them to follow you in all your decisions, as your perceptions fail to see beyond your own expectations. Aggressive behavior, violence, emotional instability, incoherence in families, lack of interest in community activities and mental health issues are directly related to individualistic culture.

Individualism, a product of the western world, has silently crept into those societies that believe in collectivism. They have always taken pride in raising balanced individuals because of close knitted ties that are nurtured, and values of respect, altruism and cooperation are imbibed naturally, while growing up.

As individualism flourished in the west, touching its highest forms of selfishness, collectivism evolved and absorbed some elements of individualistic culture, granting freedom of thought and expression, taking one’s own decisions but following family values too. Such individuals have the best of both the cultures. A healthy combination of both could prove beneficial for your personality.

Thank you for reading this. Please share your valuable reflections, as they are much appreciated.

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Balroop Singh.

Allow yourself To Be A Better Person

32 thoughts on “How Individualism Affects Your Personality

  1. Well written Balroop 😎 Going beyond personality, it impacts cultures and the world. Its sad to see the absence of finding common ground, taking care of others and stewardship of the land.

    1. Thanks Val and welcome to Emotional Shadows, I am delighted that you have initiated this discussion with such a meaningful point. I have seen the impact of individualistic culture on youngsters of this generation.

  2. An interesting prospective, it’s all about balancing our personal individuality while understanding we are no more important than others.
    And learning Respect both of others and ourselves..
    I agree, self-importance can rule the head as ego inflates us to be superior in thinking we are better than anyone else.

    On the other hand, I feel that ‘mob-rule’ can also affect behaviours. We see escalating in our country more Gangs and more street knife crime. As adolescence have felt they have lost their individualism and identities, so they join together hanging in groups on street corners, and gangs are born..

    Then there are those who just want to shout out and rebel at the world as their identity is insecure, so they go overboard, in dress, hairstyles, tatoos and piercings just so they stand out from the crowd.. As they wish to be noticed because deep down they feel lost.

    Direction is what is lacking in society today, While education pushes them to achieve, often they are left feeling rejected and at a loss, as they are flung out into the big wide world.

    Many thanks Balroop for this thought provoking post..
    Lets hope our young and future generations find the balance they need to create a more healthier Culture world wide.. ❤
    Many thanks Balroop for your words of wisdom.. ❤

    1. You are so right Sue, lack of direction and good role models leave the younger generation rudderless. Balance is not easy when they get pushed from one side to another. Collective culture can do a lot for such adolescents. Thanks for sharing your insights. ♥️

  3. Very well written and highlighted. Well, the ills of the west have started surfacing the traditional Indian society too after affecting other developed Asian societies like Japan, Thailand etc. And why there is a movement towards individualism? Partly, because of consumerism and a constant reminder that you live once only, buy our products and be happy…. But what is also important is that a societal shift is needed. We need to use our brain rather than blindly aping west. People are searching for happiness in the traditional eastern cultures because they are realizing the pitfalls of their own society and culture.

    1. It is good to assimilate what suits our culture and discard those traditions, which have been hampering the growth of individuals but blindly following those norms, which interfere with our values of respect and harmony could spell doom. Parenting has become a challenge because people are torn between two cultures and don’t know how much to ape. Children start taking advantage and grow up with distorted values, not knowing what is best for them.

  4. You always bring up such interesting discussions, Balroop. I think the middle ground is often the best route. To me, individualism at it’s best means discovering our strengths, being personally creative, and knowing our limitations while honoring the same in others. We can apply our individual strengths in making the world a better place for all people. I agree that individualism that just becomes a form of selfishness is a shame. Interesting post. 🙂

    1. Who would choose the middle ground? Nobody thinks of blending the best of both, as individualism reigns supreme for obvious reasons and the consequences unfold much later. Then meditation, rehabilitation and therapy seems to be the only answer! Thanks for offering sane insights Diana, hope youngsters are listening. 🙂

  5. Lots of food for thought here Balroop. How about individualism to better ourselves and turn that betterment into becoming selfless and sharing what we learned with others?

    1. Individualism and selflessness have never been pals, let’s hope they start liking each other. Modern culture promotes individualism and even traditional societies have got influenced by its incandescence. 🙂

  6. While I think it is important for children to explore their individuality, the end must justify the means – at least in my opinion. For then, of their own free will, they might later choose to contribute to a better society, utilizing their unique gifts and perspectives. How else to live in a civil society?

    Yet oh, my. What has happened in the US – well, let’s backtrack a bit. Start with 1950’s television, the promotion of the Marlboro Man mentality, the rugged individual. Inculcated into America’s collective consciousness is this pioneer streak of independence, something yes, this country was founded on. Still, one cannot long be completely independent. We are, after all, Interdependent on one another for our very existence. We need one another and systems that enrich and support society and, ultimately one would hope, the betterment of all its citizens.

    Once upon a time, the US was a model for the world. Its Constitution is what I’ve heard, time and again, compelled others to look up to this country as evolved beyond their own. Yet the erosion of these same rights is front and center, these days. Sadly, those nations that have tried to emulate this one are left less blessed than they might have reckoned, at first blush. Individualism has morphed into corporate greed for the few, and back we are set upon our heels, wondering how far we have come from monarchies and dictatorships and the overworked peasant class. Collectivism suddenly looks mighty good, comparatively.

    As Wallace Peach says, the middle ground mulls together the best of both worlds. When things skew too far one way or another, we do lose balance. Great post, Balroop. Good food for thought. Aloha ❤

    1. Children do get all the opportunities especially in developed countries and urban areas to explore their individuality and in the US, parents zealously follow the interests of children, offering them varied activities but what is lacking is the need to expose them to interdependence, which has to begin with home environment, paying attention to the need of interaction with extended families and expecting them to play an active role in holistic development, spending time with them to enrich the development of children. A middle ground – a blend of both cultures is indeed the best solution but it has to start early so that children grow up with this idea that along with individualism, collectivism has to be assimilated and those who fail to accomplish whatever they endeavor to, are not complete failures… they too are valued members of society.
      Thank you Bela, for sharing your nuggets of wisdom and adding so much value to this discussion. Your insights are much appreciated dear friend. Stay blessed. 🙂

  7. What an interesting read. I have never thought of individualism as any other than positive but I see your points. Especially when taken to the absolute. Then we’re talking hermits, dictators, all sorts of stuff!

    1. Individualism is branded as positive by modern man, as he considers himself to be more advanced but like every coin has two sides, same applies to individualism.

  8. Very thought provoking topic, Balroop. I hadn’t given detailed thought to the dilemma of individualism vs. collective since maybe college or university days. I do hope we balance these concepts to make a well functioning society and civilization. Your points are well taken about the individual becoming too self absorbed. Apparently, there have never been so many narcissists as there are now. Some blame social media but that’s only one tiny aspect of the individual and society as a whole. I’ll be thinking about this long after I finish this comment… 😀

    1. Personality building banks heavily on the environment and people around us. Unless we are exposed to balanced concepts, we don’t think in terms of collectivism. I hope global connections help in understanding the importance of this balance. Thank you Lisa, for sharing your perspective. 🙂

  9. Call me a confirmed capitalist, but I imagine there must be a middle ground, where the individual can flourish, yet be part of a collective consciousness. Otherwise, society would languish in a state of mediocrity, with no one motivated to excel. Just sayin’ . . . 🙂

  10. In theory it shouldn’t, I agree. However, in practice, it tends to stifle achievement. No one disputes the Asian contributions to society. India and Japan, in particular, are leading contributors. I was thinking more of the communist block countries in Eastern Europe. It’s hard to deny the effect that the profit motive has upon progress in science and industry. 🙂

    1. All clouds are not dark, lets look at the brighter ones adding beauty to the azure blue. Progress can never be stalled by some perverted ones.

  11. Very well-written. I agree that individuality often has negative aspects but, this particular trait of character can have some positive effects as well. You’ve mentioned that too. I think balancing is of utmost importance, even Mother Nature has shown that in every aspect of life. 🙂

  12. I appreciate this post. I like the maturity continuum that is in “the 7 habits of highly effective people.” Dependence, independence, interdependence, and synergy. When we believe that “independence” is the goal we aren’t seeing the whole picture. We need to keep working until we recognize that we all need each other. No man is an island.

    1. Thank you for your kind words of appreciation and welcome to Emotional Shadows, where all emotions are cared for. Discussion is the hallmark of this blog.
      Individual goals may be important for a person but working together has always been a significant aspect of progress.

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