They say comparison is the thief of joy and can actually hinder your own self development. Whilst we busy ourselves with comparison we forget about ourselves. A sister from our community wanted to share her journey and the three things that have helped her.
The way we reflect on ourselves by looking at the lives of others can heavily influence our self-esteem. For the most part, this process can be an unhealthy one for a number of reasons. The main reason is that we only see the good, especially on social media. A lot of us may also come from a culture where using someone else’s achievements as a measure for our own success has become a norm, this then causes us to try and seek validation from others. We start doing things for others, for our parents, for the rest of society and then we see all those airy-fairy quotes like “focus on yourself” and “be yourself” which do not really mean anything.
As life has gone on, certain people and certain experiences have put those gushy quotes into perspective and have made me have a more positive outlook on life, where can I truly focus on myself, Alhamdulillah – All praise is due to Allah.
One of the biggest reasons why I have stopped comparing myself to others is simply because I am a different person. Allah has made one of me. I am unique. Our thought processes, our level of imaan, level of anxiety, level of stress, level of confidence and our physical and mental endurance are unique to each and every single one of us. This means the tests we go through in this life will be unique. There is simply no use in using someone else’s life as a template for your own. Of course, we can admire a person’s achievements and maybe be inspired to do something similar, but there is a fine line between being inspired and trying to copy someone (or even try to out-do them, especially if it is for worldly gain), doing this only leads to your own self-destruction because it is not you being your authentic self.
A lot of the time when we are trying to achieve the same things as others, we try so hard but do not reach our goal and at the same time, we are seeing others achieve what they want to achieve so easily, this is when we begin to feel very disheartened. During a time like this, having full faith and placing our trust in Allah can be the most difficult thing to do. It can be very hard staying hopeful and positive when things seem very stagnant and gloomy and it feels like we are not getting anywhere. At times like this, we start doubting our abilities and ourselves. However, it is during these times Allah is calling us. We may feel a boost in our imaan because it is during these periods our reliance is solely upon no one else but Allah. As Yasmin Mogahed says: “the point of du’a is the conversation, not the outcome” When our relationship with Allah is strong then eventually everything else in life slowly starts to make sense. Eventually, we will realise why certain doors were closed to us and why certain events in our lives took place the way they did. If only we knew the hikmah (wisdom) behind Allahs’ plans for us, we would go with His plans without thinking twice. If we appreciate the experiences and trust the process, we will realise how Allah works in such amazing ways, SubhanAllah – All glory to the highest.
“But they plan, and Allah plans. And Allah is the best of planners.” Quran, Surah Al-Anfal [8:30].
Life is all about constant change and improvement, science tells us everything is always in constant motion, nothing ever really stays still and it is the same with us as humans, we should always be constantly trying to evolve and better ourselves. It does not matter how quickly we go, it does not matter if we are not doing the same as others, what matters is the direction. We should be always striving to move forward at our own pace. Self-improvement is key to having a healthy and productive life, and one of the best ways to do this is to help others in whatever way we can with ikhlaas (sincerity). Once we stop progressing and trying to perfect ourselves, that is when we have stopped living.
To be able to do things with sincerity means we need to have a sound mind, having a sound mind means we need to be positive and be honest with ourselves, remember; Allah rewards us for our efforts and intentions so never compare your results with others. Every trial and tribulation, every success and every downfall has been prescribed by the most High and is unique to us. Renew your intentions, make du’a, tie your camel and focus on the work you need to do.
I would like to end this article on an ayah from the Qur’an that has played a major role in helping me focus on myself and not compare myself to others. This ayah has also helped me have a more positive outlook on life: “Indeed, Allah will not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves”, Surah Ar-Ra’d [13:11]. Change always comes from within. Change your perspective, be optimistic, be genuinely grateful for what Allah has granted you rather than what you do not have, always, always make du’a and always think about how you can better yourself, for yourself. Once we start doing this only then can we start living a more meaningful life, In Shaa Allah.