Looking Beyond Imperfections: Practicing Self-love
People often feel the urge to hide their imperfections, but what happens when you face it?
According to the World Health Organisation, depression might be more common in women as compared with men. (Source) Co-occurring factors like gender-based roles, stressors and negative life experiences are related to depression, anxiety and the high rates of comorbidity between them. This is particularly true for women who play various roles at once, as they have been conditioned to strive for ‘perfection’. This causes strain and distress, which can lead to mental health concerns.
To educate women on the importance of self-love and the need for mental health awareness, Anna Chandy, Chairperson of The Live Love Laugh Foundation was in conversation with our Founder Deepika Padukone at a recent event organised by the FICCI Ladies Organisation (FLO) in Delhi. The session titled, ‘Finding Beauty In Imperfections’ was attended by more than 500 members of FLO from all over the country.
Addressing the audiences Deepika highlighted that it is easier to pass judgements about people but it is important to acknowledge that everyone has a story. “When you understand what someone has been through, it helps you in being aware of people around you,” she added.
Four years ago, when Deepika Padukone opened up to the world about her experience with depression, her story was an element of ‘imperfection’ for some. Belonging to a profession where ‘perfection’ is a prerequisite, Deepika took a step to share her experience and be honest with the world.
“Sharing my experience with depression made me feel light, it was like a huge weight lifted off my shoulders. I felt transparent without the fear of being judged. I felt happier, aware and sensitive. It brought a critical understanding of how fragile life is,” she said.
The Idea of Being Faultless
The term perfection is defined as ‘the action or process of improving something until it is faultless.’ In this ever-changing world, both in India and globally, women adorn multiple hats and play various roles of a professional, a daughter, a mother, a wife/partner, a sister, a friend and so on, at the same time. To succeed in every such role, they spend plenty of their time, effort and psychological energy into being ‘perfect’.
The quest for perfectionism, therefore, comes from our society, which is besotted with a particular idea of beauty and perfection. With this concept ingrained in our society, mental health issues too are considered a blemish and therefore viewed with stigma.
Discussing the idea of imperfection and how it is often attached to our understanding of mental health, Anna said, “Imperfection is associated with the stigma which the society has towards mental health. Deepika’s decision to share her story about going through depression and the subsequent work by the Foundation in creating awareness about mental illnesses has impacted many lives. Something that had a genesis in imperfection has had a positive impact.”
Talking to an engaged audience, Deepika said that acknowledging imperfections and reaching out for help often creates self-awareness and brings a sense of self-worth. “My experience has made me self-aware. Now when I start feeling anxious, I feel a knot in my stomach. I immediately know that I need to take care of myself, breathe better and maybe sleep more,” she said.
Beauty is referred to ‘a combination of qualities, such as shape, colour, or form, that pleases the aesthetic senses, especially the sight.’ It is an abstract concept studied as a part of aesthetics, culture, social psychology, philosophy and sociology. However, it colloquially it denotes the idea of perfection. Given our societal standards, most women often experience emotional distress that can lead to depression if left untreated.
“India is a young nation, and the average age of an Indian is 31.9 years. Depression surfaces between the years 19-40, which means it happens in the most productive years of a person's life. Each of us needs to be cognizant of the fact that mental health is true wealth," said Anna.
Women often find it difficult to indulge in self-care because they are so focused on attaining perfection in their social roles. Being the perfect mother, wife, daughter or friend, results in neglecting themselves and their needs. Thus, it imperative to know that there is beauty in self-love. Women can achieve mental wellness by remaining honest with themselves and practicing self-love and care.
“Indulging in self-care without feeling the guilt is very important for women. Even at a spa session, once in a while, women constantly worry about something or someone else. It is completely okay to indulge in self-care without worrying,” said Deepika.
Psychologically, practising self-love and self-care have shown positive effects on a person’s mental health. Mental health conditions like depression can be dealt with sensitivity and empathy by education and awareness about self-love.
“My message on how we can find beauty in imperfection is, to be honest, and authentic about your thoughts and emotions. Not necessarily by telling the whole world but at least to the people around you. It would make you feel light,” said Deepika.
If you know you or your loved one, show signs of depression or anxiety, don’t hesitate to seek professional support. Log on to www.thelivelovelaughfoundation.org/therapist.html to find a therapist near you.