Posted by Haleh Banani on Muslimmatters.org
Imagine what your reaction would be if you saw your Muslim brother or sister verbally and physically abusing another Muslim that was feeling very depressed for making a mistake? What if you heard them yelling, “ YOU STUPID IDIOT…..can’t you do anything right? Then punching him and saying, “YOU’RE ALWAYS MESSING UP!” As he tries to catch his breath, he kicks him and says , “You are so WORTHLESS!” Your heart would be overflowing with sympathy for the one oppressed and with absolute rage at the oppressor. The natural response would be to protect the oppressed, help him up and tend to his wounds. You would comfort him by explaining that we all make mistakes and we can always change. As your nurturing slowly takes effect, your anger would be directed at the cruel, heartless person standing before you. That person could be yourself.
This is the way we usually react towards ourselves when we make mistakes and when we fall short of our expectations. We beat ourselves up with abusive language which causes scars that last much longer than physical scars. Negativity and hostility envelops us and we repeatedly kick ourselves until we are immobilized. How is it that we were so sensitive and understanding towards our Muslim brother or sister yet we can’t tolerate the smallest mistakes from ourselves? Why is it so easy to see the abuse of others and yet we are so blinded by the abuse we commit to ourselves on a daily basis?
There are many times when we may not feel good about ourselves. It could be that we feel disappointed from repeatedly falling into the same error or extremely frustrated that we are not fulfilling our duties. Sometimes we are not content with our personality – we may feel caged in by our shyness or out of control by our anger. If it is not frustration or disappointment we are feeling, then it’s anxiety. Many people suffer from anxiety which stems from fear of the future or fear of the unknown. Whatever the circumstances may be, the reactions are usually the same. We demoralize ourselves with negative self-talk which leaves us feeling miserable and hopeless. Each time we make a mistake we are harsher and more severe which leaves us feeling more depressed and less peaceful.
This pattern has got to STOP. We need to explore the many things that destroy our peace and techniques to use in order to gain that peace back.
1. Dwelling Over The Past
There are times when people can’t forgive themselves for mistakes of the past. It could be due to hurtful things they have said or done. They spend all their time regretting the mistakes they have made. Some people can’t forgive the mistakes of others. Show forgiveness, enjoin what is good, and turn away from the misguided. Surat Al-Araf 7:199 They have somehow been wronged either by their parents, spouse, relative, friend or complete strangers and they can’t go beyond this incident. They end up clinging on to grudges and they vow to never forgive the perpetrator. Living in the past prevents you from enjoying the blessings of the present. By dwelling on the past and not being able to overlook the mistakes of themselves or others, they will rob themselves of the serenity they deserve.
2. Anxious About The Future
There are people who spend every waking moment worrying about the future. “Verily, We have created man in toil (a state of struggle and stress).” Surat Al-Balad 90:4 When will I get married? Will I have kids? Will I pass my exam? Am I going to get a job? How will my kids turn out? How will I pay for their tuition? Am I going to get sick or get a disease? What will happen when I retire? The worries go on and on with no end in sight. This constant preoccupation with the future makes them miss out on all the wonderful events of the present.
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