Updated: Mar 22, 2020
“I’m not in the world to live up to your expectations and you’re not in the world to live up to mine.” Bruce Lee, a Hong Kong American actor, director, philosopher and martial artist, spoke wise words.
In order to ensure sustainable economic and developmental progress in any country, it is important to understand the impact and consequences of social pressure.
Whether these pressures are related to the choice of your partner, marriage, career, looks or even the influences and pressures that media and big corporations carry in their communication within the field of advertising.
Positive Parivartan believes that every human being is born with a gift, their core truth. Intuition and instinct are guiding humans through their individual paths. Positive parivartan also believes that the alignment of you on your true path will create maximum benefit to society.
External influences (be it from family, friends, society) often misguide any human away from their own individual truth and therefore their ability to maximize their creations towards benefiting society.
You can imagine it being like an inner light. External influences diminish this light and the impact of this manifests itself in mental or physical health issues. Examples are the increase in prevalence of depression, burn outs and other mental health issues globally.
The stigma about mental health in combination with increased social pressures from all realms of life are extremely dangerous for the progress of any society. Without solving this, no society will be able to progress. This includes the economic development of a society. The entire economy depends on the availability and productivity of human beings. Increase in physical and mental health issues due to social pressure impacts the economic output of a country. This not only burdens companies, but also the healthcare systems. Preventative measures are urgently called for to ensure sustainable economic and developmental progress.
Three actions are essential:
1 We need to work together to diminish the magnitude of social pressures.
2 We need to work together to diminish the stigma on the real impact of these social pressures - this means being able to create an environment where we can openly talk about difficulties dealing with social pressures and their potential impact in our lives. 3 We need to work together to diminish the stigma on treating mental health issues and proactively work on preventing these.
In theory any doctor would agree that the best way to solve a patients’ disease is by curing or eliminating the cause. Providing medication for covering the symptoms will not cure the cause of the disease. In the same way, focusing on reducing societal pressure is like eliminating the cause of the disease. Social pressures come from all realms of life. Whether it is your parents telling you who to marry, whether it is the media telling you how you are supposed to look, or whether it is your family telling you which career you are supposed to chose, because it is more “accepted within society”. There are two sides to this - the cause and the effect. Cause being the party executing social pressure on others, and the effect, the party receiving the social pressure. These social pressures are created in interactions with all human beings, and we can form the “causes” in three main groups: family, often dominated by the environment provided by parents; schooling systems; and media, including tv, commercials and various social media. All three sources of social pressure need to become aware of the consequences of their communication. Naturally this requires radical changes in the corporations and from a governmental perspective in the education systems. Corporations need to take on responsibility for the consequences of their communication in regards to mental health prevalence globally. Same as governments: the set up and objectives of education systems should be built in a way, that is to carry the responsibility to educate children such that enables and promotes free and creative thinking to empower them of making their own choices suiting their own expectations and dreams.
Turning a blind eye on the consequences or “effects” of social pressure is extremely dangerous and hinders any potential developmental progress. Diminishing the consequences of social pressure actually significantly downplays the burden of social pressure on society. If the consequences are not visible, why would anyone reduce the weight of the cause?
Sweeping the consequences of social pressure under the rug, will make its impact only bigger and more difficult to cure.
Dalai Lama talks about the concept of Non-Judgement. He says, “What is Love? Love is the Absence of Judgement.” To be able to create an environment where the consequences of social pressure become visible, we need to be sure of integrating more “non-judgement”in society. Parents need to understand that happiness of their children might be diminished through imposing pressure to their children to become something they are not. Businesses need to understand that imposing pressure on their employees actually diminishes performance in the long term. And governments need to understand that long term economic performance can only be increased with an increase of freedom of civilians.
In order to increase awareness on this, governments need to leverage on multiple communication channels. This can range from adjusting the content of the education system, to leveraging on the film industry or introducing centralized awareness campaigns themselves. Deepika Padukone, a world renowned actress in the Indian Bollywood industry, has openly importance of talking about mental health on the “World Economic Forum” platform in Davos. Her words are essential in the continuous increase in awareness of mental health. She states, “I’ve come across situations where people who are experiencing mental illnesses want to seek help but the family won’t allow them to do that.” We have to change this! And increasing awareness on this topic will, but we need to do more. Governments need to integrate this into the foundation of any education system. This not only teaches children the importance of mental health, but also parents. Having physical health, including teachings on sleep, diet and exercise as part of the education portfolio is equally important as mental health.
The immediate judgement of society of “therapy” jumps instantly to “crazy”. In all leadership courses within the business field, all talk about the ability of leading oneself first, before being able to lead others. Self care is not selfish - you cannot pour from an empty vessel, as Eleanor Brown rightly states. Physical hygiene is just as important as mental hygiene, and neglecting mental health care has life changing negative impacts. A happy human can serve society in the best way possible. An unhappy human not in the most optimal way. Economically the prevention of mental health issues are even more relevant. In the West mental health issues are costing companies and insurance companies tremendously. Investing in preventative care in these cases is much more cost effective. The developing countries need to learn from this. Mental health is key to increase productivity and ensure a sustainable growing economy.
We need to stop judging people who are in therapy and taking care of their mental health. And in order to create a sustainable environment, we need to encourage more mental health therapy.
My uncle, Raj Issar, jokingly often advises me in cases of increased pressure from work: “tension lene kiliye nahi, dene kiliye hota hai.” (Tension is to be given, not to be taken). There is some truth to this.
We need to make sure to reduce giving tension, that’s true. Equally important it is however, as the “effect”, to not take on pressure. We need to (and we can) create a society of strong and confident human beings, that rise above social pressure and take initiative and responsibility of taking care of their own physical and mental health.