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.
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