Do you ever wonder…
What would people say if they knew you were having marital problems?
If they knew that your spouse, who appears so polite and courteous in front of others, was actually far from that?
What if they knew that you were on the brink of divorce? What would they say?
Would they blame you for not keeping your marriage together?
Would they blame you for not being a good enough Muslim?
Would they blame you for not having enough sabr and patience?
Do you even want to give people the satisfaction of knowing that all is not well in your marriage, of being the talk of the town and everyone knowing that your marriage is failing? Your problems are now the hot topic of conversation in your community.
Sounds really bad huh?
I mean, how awful for everyone to be talking about you and knowing what you’ve been going through.
What if you bump into them?
What are they saying to your mum when they see her?
Are they looking down on you now that it’s clear you don’t have the perfect family life?
And what about your kids – what if they start questioning certain decisions you may or may not take?
What will they say to you and think of you in the future if you stay in your unhappy marriage, or leave for good?
Behind all of these worries about what people may or may not say is one thing.
And it’s not the fear of what people may say.
It’s the fear of how we’re going to feel when they say it.
What usually seems to happen is this – someone says something about us and then we feel a certain way because of that.
It would seem only natural that we’re going to experience a bad or negative feeling as a result of that. So of course, we’re going to try and avoid being in that situation again. So that we don’t have to experience those negative feelings.
Problem solved right? All we need to do is make sure we’re never in a situation where people can talk about us negatively and then everything will be okay. Right?
But how realistic is this?
How can we possibly live our lives with a constant threat of being talked about, and therefore feeling bad about ourselves? Do we have to shelter ourselves from all of life’s big challenges, just in case people have something to say about it?
That’s almost the same as putting ourselves in an emotional prison, which we can’t step outside of for fear of what others will say.
But if what we were able to get to a place where no matter what people said, it had absolutely zero effect on how we feel. And I mean zero?
And what if we didn’t have to do any of the things that we are usually advised to do in these situations?
For example, telling ourselves that the ‘haters’ out there are just trying to drag us down or reassure ourselves by thinking that others have inflated egos and think they’re better than us. We don’t even need to start implementing the positive advice out there that tells us that we should rise above others’ behaviour and be done with the negative people in our lives – or any of the other popular and inspirational messages and memes that take up so much of our Facebook feed these days.
I’m talking about something much easier. A pure and simple truth.
When we say something, we’re just verbalising our thoughts. Nothing more. Our thoughts and opinions are just that – they’re only our thoughts about something. What we think and feel and then go on to say about something, is not necessarily the truth of that reality. It’s just our own thinking about it. Right or wrong, it’s just how we’re processing it within and often has very little to do with the actual reality of what’s happening.
Likewise, if someone is saying something about us, all they’re doing is looking at the situation through their own thought created reality. Their personal thinking about the situation leads to them feeling a certain way about the situation and then verbalising said thoughts and feelings. But that’s all they are, they’re just a reflection of their own thinking, which has zero power over the reality of the situation and more importantly, over us. Which is very different from believing that someone’s thoughts, feelings and words can have any effect on us whatsoever. Because all they are is a reflection of their own thoughts, and not of the truth of the situation.
The Inside-Out Paradigm of Psychology teaches us that the only place our feelings are ever coming from is our own thinking in the moment. When we start to believe that something outside of our thinking – such as what people will say about us – has the power to make us feel a certain way, that’s when we start to run into a whole host of problems in our lives.
We start trying to fix the people who are saying these things – we may confront them or just secretly hate them for what they’re saying. We may build up resentment in our hearts for them and never be able to have any kind of relationship with them again. Or we may end up staying stuck in a place where we can’t make any decisions in our lives for fear of what people will think about us, thereby prolonging any suffering that we’re going through and never really getting to a place where we can resolve the challenges in our lives. And the pressure could come from other family members too – they may worry about what others will say more than we do; which can make a difficult situation even more stressful to deal with.
But if you know your truth, if you understand how your mind works psychologically, then it matters not one bit what anyone else thinks about you or anything you’re going through. They’re just expressing whatever thinking is going through their minds at that moment. Nothing more, nothing less. Those thoughts and feelings have zero power over anything. And the reason they have zero power is that when we look at thoughts for what they actually are, we see just how passing and fleeting they are…a stream of thinking that creates feelings within us but isn’t necessarily telling us anything about the reality of the situation we’re looking at.
When we can start to detach ourselves from our thinking we get to see that our true self, that is full of wisdom and insight, actually sits outside of our thinking. It’s then a lot easier to step out of the land of our thoughts, which is full of things like made up stories about what may or may not happen in the future, or stories from our past that we can’t seem to let go of. When we can see this thought created a world within ourselves as somewhere that we can just step out of, because its only our own thought created reality, we can step back into the real world, and recognise that it’s only ever our own thinking at the moment that will make us feel anything – and never what anyone else thinks or says about us.
Knowing and understanding this is what helps us to easily let go of any unhelpful thinking and feeling that we experience. Knowing that we are the ones that have the power to step outside of those thoughts and feelings by simply letting them go and seeing them for what they really are. It’s a lot easier to let go of something when you know it’s your own thinking that created it. We don’t need to fix anyone or anything, we just have to recognise that our feelings are only ever coming from one place – our own thinking in the moment and never from anywhere or anyone else.
Ptissem is a coach trained in the Inside-Out paradigm of psychology her areas of interest include, relationships, our emotional well-being. If you need help working through any other blocks to moving forward in your marriage and in your life, watch her free online webinar.
By Afroze Fatima Zaidi