Fuck all the advice you heard about ‘being yourself’

Imagine nothing can hurt you. Things come and go, people drift in and out until those who are meant to stay remain in your life, you face problems but deal with them with the help of a strong core and a secure sense of self. They may not vanish, but they’re in the background of elements that form your story. You’re still you.

You will evolve. You’ll grow, you’ll shrink, you’ll think you’re growing but realise you’re exactly the same, you’ll think you’re shrinking or even falling into an abyss but you realise when you land on a rainbow that you were actually being transported.

You’re on a rollercoaster, living your story. This is what it means to be authentic, to be your true self.

It took me a while to figure this out. At one point, I thought being authentic was to not have a filter and to be “straight-up”. I respected those who hurt others with their words, envying they have a quality of sheer honesty that I lacked.

Bullshit.

To be your authentic self is not to be careless with words under a pretext of honesty, it’s an inside job. I know I’m sounding like a 9/11 conspiracy theory blog by talking about how everything is an inside job and singing this phrase like a broken record, but trust me it really is. The issue is how do you get to the point where you realise and actualise it.

In this case, all we really need to do is to take a step back and observe. We bring ourselves to the mode of having unconditional love for ourselves by removing all judgement.

“Okay, yeah I’m an anxious wreck right now, it’s just now”

“Okay I hate my body and I can’t bring myself to love my belly, that’s fine — no need”

“I got drunk again, okay”

“I’m drowning in self-hate and depression, that’s just me right now and it’s only now”

It sounds so unproductive and counter-intuitive, but, think about it this way. When we stress about something that we don’t like about ourselves, we’re adding extra stress on ourselves because we’re stressing about stressing. Instead of stressing about stressing because you’re stressed, be okay with stressing because you’re stressed.

That’s a layer of stress shed. That’s literally one less layer of stress you have on your stress. We’re human and it’s very hard to be fulfilled with who we are. It’s unfair on you as a person to put that pressure on yourself when you make that life-changing intention to live your truth.

It seems like nothing, but it really is the best starting point. Allow yourself to feel the way you feel and forgive yourself. Or don’t forgive yourself if that’s too hard, just don’t beat yourself up for it. Then make your intention to calm down and do what it is that comes to mind.

You could go for a walk, you could write it all down, you could make a smoothie, you could take a nap, you could do a guided meditation on YouTube, the list is absolutely endless.

Once you’re relaxed, even if it’s temporary, bring yourself back to your breath. Allow yourself to take in deep breaths (I always thought this to be bullshit because I used to say crap like “I’d still have the same problems when the breathing is over”). Imagine yourself inhaling positive abundance deeply and exhaling polluted energy out into the universe for it to recharge itself back into positivity.

God created the universe like this. We need to breathe in oxygen, whereas trees breathe in carbon dioxide and produce oxygen. Exhale, exhale, exhale.

When you hear a calm voice telling you that things will be okay, or an idea pops up because you’re able to view things from a birds-eye view now that you’re calm, know it’s your authentic self talking. The part of you that has the right amount of trust and has everything figured out.

Even from a more scientific perspective, your subconscious takes in so much more information than your conscious hasn’t picked up on. When your brain solves problems, it uses both your conscious and subconscious. For this process to happen, you need to let go of what it is you apparently know, and just trust.

Your problems may not magically change, but your reality will start to shift. Because you’re stepping into your authentic self, your insecurities won’t take heed in social interactions, leaving for better communication with others.

You’ll be less likely to allow others to treat you as a doormat because your authentic self knows its worth. Abandonment issues, the need for immediate partnership, a perceived inability to make friends, etc come from the ego. The ego wants to protect us so it uses the pain we’ve experienced to create walls.

The problem is, these walls become self-fulfilling prophecies and because with them up, we’re unable to say no to toxic situations, we find ourselves in endless cycles. Being your authentic self is knowing you deserve better just because you exist and you’re out there to be the best you can.

As we say in Arabic: على نيتكم ترزقون (you brew your intentions).

Good luck! xox

 

 


Photo by Ksenia Makagonova on Unsplash

On loving unconditionally – is it really as ridiculous as it seems?

Loving unconditionally is an ideal that always felt unfair to me. It has always felt like an unrealistic ideal that only delusional people could attain through living in a bubble and being grossly naive. It seemed to me that to love unconditionally, one would need to live in a bubble and shut out all of their feelings, opinions and most importantly: standards.

I’ve always been told that loving unconditionally is emancipating. I’ve heard time after time in the plethora of self-help books, videos and podcasts that unconditional love is the way forward. The concept irked me because to me, loving someone is giving them a part of me. It’s sacrifice.

That was until I realised it’s my actual definition of love that’s warped, rather than the concept of loving unconditionally (I think I grew up listening to waaay too much Amr Diab, haha).

Last weekend was my turning point. I went to a vegan yoga festival and was supposed to get there for 3pm for the kundalini yoga class. My friend and I arrived late and missed the class so we went to the talk instead. We entered at a point and I heard something that I’m sure God planned for me to hear it.

He defined unconditional love in its truest form:

“When there’s someone who comes into this room, you obviously don’t feel love for that person the way you feel towards your closest friend, or partner, or family member.”

This one comment annoyed me so much that it forced me to think. How do I actually look at people when they walk in? I judge them. I look at what they’re wearing, how they carry themselves, what they say, etc. In other words, I attach myself to their experience and emotionally invest in their presence.

So, if the opposite of doing this is to love them, I must detach. How do I do this? Empathy.

Even empathy seems like extra work, but that’s only because we’ve associated with loving someone and having empathy with a form of martyrdom. In order to love, you must be willing to sacrifice and give a part of yourself to someone else. We only love if we’re able to, it’s never natural — or at least that’s what we’ve been conditioned to believe.

It all starts from within

I don’t believe self-love is to absolutely feel amazing about yourself at all times. It’s to detach from what you think of yourself to know the outside stuff is a fraction of who you really are.

It’s to allow yourself to view yourself as a whole being, not through the lexicon of your face, acne, lips, hair, body, financial situation, career etc. You don’t try to love yourself regardless of your perceived flaws, you simply don’t identify as a part of yourself as if it’s your whole self.

So really, to love yourself unconditionally is to detach and observe. Same with loving anything and anyone unconditionally. The same way you don’t attach yourself to the person who just walked into the room. You give them the space to be themselves without injecting judgement into their aura. That’s love.

Loving your lovers

With those whom you love in a more intimate way, the same rule applies. You love someone because of who they are in their whole true selves.

Naturally, we attach ourselves to people because of certain qualities we see in them that mirror what we have, or what we want. A man may love a woman because he projects a maternal standard that he has, which she seems to meet. The moment she stops being his version of motherly, his love for her ebbs.

To love unconditionally is to love regardless. This isn’t to say you become a doormat — rather it’s the opposite. You love someone enough to want to act upon it, but you have enough love for them and yourself when you realise your relationship is getting unhealthy.

With a strong sense of self that can only come with learning to love yourself unconditionally, you can draw boundaries or just let go.

Even after you’ve let go, you still love them unconditionally. Let yourself feel your feelings towards them, but don’t attach your worth to their presence. It’s that simple and that bloody emancipating.

PS: I know I’ve abandoned this blog for a year, I’ll get back to blogging again. I just need to develop a routine.

Trust your gut. Protect your energy.

I’ve been speculating a lot on gut feelings recently. For those who know me, I am a very spiritual person. I am also quite emotional. I hated this about myself for the longest time, but I’m learning to love my emotions as a part of myself. After all, they are our God given GPS guide, right?

It’s hard. We want to listen to our gut feelings and we want to just sail through our emotions, but egos, blockages and residence don’t allow us sometimes. There are times our egos take us into a whirlwind of emotions that we fake a gut feeling. There are other times that our gut feelings are so strong but we stomp on them because we are so insistent on getting what we want at that time in that place.

You know what? This shit is completely normal. It’s completely understandable and it’s completely human. Desire sweeps us off our feet. We think we want something without studying the reality of it and without wondering if we’ve created this placebo to pretend to fulfil our innermost deepest desires, or whether we want it.

This happens a lot in friendships and relationships. We idealise people and scenarios because we feel like they’re our saviours from a room within ourselves that we treat as a dumping ground which we don’t want to dive into and sort out. We plaster it with what we think are fulfilling interactions, but are simply just avoidance mechanisms.

We quickly build dreams on hopes that have no real foundation, because our ego at that time tells us it’s what we want. The whispers of our ego are so strong that we convince ourselves it’s a gut feeling. I’ve made this mistake a lot and I’ve paid some pretty heavy prices.

With gut feelings, they just come. One time, I was with someone I really cared about. Some things from this person that I used to see were more apparent to me. This person’s anger, emotional distance and somewhat dubious behaviour jumped out in my face. Before we had even managed to sit down, one reaction from one tiny instance stuck with me and I had a feeling that I would never see this person again in the context in which we were.

We sat down and I was quiet. I didn’t realise I was quiet until this person mentioned it. I looked at my orange juice and I realised it was almost finished within minutes; something I almost never do.

“You’re very quiet today. Usually I’m the one who’s quiet and you’re always talking and today it’s the other way around.”

I laughed and I tried to make an effort to speak, but something wasn’t right, even though the situation was completely normal. I just knew this wouldn’t last and I was grieving something that hadn’t even ended yet. An hour later, came the beginning of the end.

When your gut is telling you something, your senses are alive. You don’t know why and how, but they’re alive. You feel your internal space open up.

When you’re coming from a space of anxiety and “this just has to work out because I need it to” or “watch this bullshit will manifest – I’m so sure of it” or “I can’t function without ___ so it has to come back into my life”, these thoughts aren’t a gut feeling. Such thoughts are accompanied with desperation and panic. There’s an attachment to these thoughts that make us believe it’s the end of the world if they don’t manifest, so they must manifest because that’s how our lives have to be led.

Introspect saves us a lot. I’ve dealt with these by learning to enjoy my own company. I’ve fostered a sense of curiosity to battle my ongoing anxiety. Rather than needing things to turn out a certain way, I look at what this thing represents to me and I try to hold on to the underlying feeling.

For example, if you need to get into a certain academic institute to feel adequate, try replacing it with feeling proud of yourself for all that you’ve achieved to capture this adequacy you crave. That way, you’re detached, but you’ve also got enough energy to invest in actualising your dream rather than depleting it with stress.

Introspect also stops us from dragging on a friendship and relationship way after its expiration date. If you need to put in more energy to keep a spark, consider if it’s something that is meant for you or not. Yes, rough patches pop up. Yes, we must overcome and we must communicate, but if you feel like something is draining you and you’re jumping through hoops trying to fix what can’t be fixed, let go.

There’s a huge difference between giving up and letting go. Giving up is allowing things to crumble and breaking them so they shatter before your eyes. Letting go, however, is different. When true colours show, when problems arise that weren’t sorted out by communication, when toxic habits are far too deep, etc etc. You just know. Trust the feeling and peacefully move on.

If something is meant to be in your life, trust it will. People come back when they’re supposed to be and friendships rekindle at the right time. Breathe, trust yourself, love yourself and listen to yourself. Know that you’re self sufficient and nothing in this world that leaves you can make you less of who you are.

Just as I was writing this, an old friend messaged me. Turns out we had both been thinking about each other at the same time for the past few weeks. We really do communicate on an energetic level. Trust this communication happens and there are conversations our energies have had that we need to actualise in our physical lives. This includes gut feelings before goodbyes.

Trust your inner light because it’s guided by God.

Peace and love and light and all things amazing to you all.

Love you all xoxoxox

The 3aib-ness of being female, happy and single

I was on holiday recently visiting family and naturally, being in my mid-20s, marriage was on the table. More than ever, people would politely pray I find a “good Arab man” so I can move back to the Middle East and live happily ever after with 46 kids and cook a pot-full of rice every day.

Even in the UK, my parents are growing increasingly impatient, asking what is “wrong” with me, bringing up proposals I’ve rejected and fearing my lifestyle, which is basically almost vegan will deter a suitable husband.

“You need to start eating meat because your future husband will not accept your diet”

“It’s good you go to the gym, but don’t expect your husband to want to be healthy too”

“I don’t understand how ….. is engaged/married and you’re not! You’re so much prettier than her!”

“If you didn’t reject …. you’d be in a different situation right now” [I know, which is why I don’t regret following my gut instinct]

“You have until the end of this year to find someone or I’ll get involved and make sure you marry the next person who comes to you”

I’ve noticed not caring about our relationship status as such and leaving everything to God is something that scares elders. They feel as though us being happy with where we are is a form of us getting too comfortable with our single-ness. We’re building our lives so much that we may be unable to accept just anyone.

For them, marriage is central. I understand why. I feel sad when I see my mum genuinely feeling worried that it hasn’t happened to me yet. I look at myself and I see myself getting fitter, stronger, happier each day. From our discussions, however, she looks at me and sees me getting old. It’s a mentality that is so deeply rooted in our culture that you can’t really blame them when they see us going against the grain.

We do things differently. Yes, some get married early and some get married late. Some get engaged or married early and then break it off only to realise it’s not worth marrying the wrong person and then start to take their time when they are ready (me). Generally, the anxiety of getting married was very much prevalent in our early 20s, but as women reach their mid-late 20s, the concept doesn’t become less appealing per se, but we learn that life can be enjoyed because God has blessed us in the best way for us.

Our society refuses to accept this and want to pile the pressure on us not because they want to see us happy and settled, but they want to make sure we’re “normal”. We’re supposed to accept God’s decree to prove ourselves as women of faith, but at the same time we’re supposed to drown in misery because we’re not conforming to societal norms. It’s not our situation that is threatening, but the way we deal with it; when we’re not worried, we’re transcending normative cultural expectations of us, which is deemed threatening.

Follow your own path

It must be understood that being put in this environment doesn’t encourage us. It’s counterproductive because they want us to feel enough guilt and shame until we somehow get married, creating negative correlations in our heads. Whether we realise this or not, shame is subconsciously internalised and it needs to be fixed with inner work. While you may not back down from your principles, the ongoing “what is wrong with you?” comments do whether you like it or not have an affect on you. That’s completely okay.

It’s fine to recognise that certain comments can make you question your path because when you bury the effects of them, they internalise in ways that become difficult to reach. I remember when I put on weight in my early 20s, I was always told to lose weight or I would never get married. This piled onto my self esteem issues and is one of the reasons I’m still fixated on the illusion that I am overweight.

It’s okay to realise that when people say “why not you?” triggers your insecurities, even if it’s not insecurities on your relationship status. While I laugh “why not you?” comments off when people discuss marriage with me, the “why not you?” mentality in other aspects of my life.

Get out of your way and trust your instincts

Allowing the negativity around you to internalise stops you from manifesting what you want. If you refuse to commit until your needs and standards that you’ve set for yourself and your S/O are met. If someone tells you that your standards are too high and you don’t actively counteract that, you’re not going to find someone to meet your standards because you automatically have your mind set on the negative.

You don’t need to be ignorant of your worth, you can very well know your worth, but if you don’t focus on your worth, knowing your worth will do nothing for you. Knowing your God-given gifts will take you nowhere if you don’t focus on trusting yourself and walking your own path securely, rather than because you have no other choice.

Don’t shut down the criticisms you’ll get because they’ll build up in your unconscious mind. Remember, your mind records absolutely everything without you realising. Bring the criticisms and comments to the surface and counteract them with affirmations and prayer.

Ignoring may do wonders for the ego, but we’re trying to break that shit down here. We’re here to be proud of who we are, love the paths we’re on but understand that we’re human. It’s okay to be sensitive. Being in touch with our senses is what our bodies have been programmed to do.

Their 3aib-nagging comes their ego, which is why it’s so toxic to hear and absorb. Don’t fight their ego with your ego. Rebel by flowing with God’s plan from your heart instead.

Peaaaaaceeee xox

Painful truths: Our love is our mirror

“And you became like coffee,
In its deliciousness, its bitterness and its addiction”
وتشابهت أنت وقهوتى فى اللذة والمرارة والإدمان
Mahmoud Darwish – Palestinian poet

I’m tempted to talk about how this is not a love quote, but it is. I’m tempted to talk about how “real love” is not supposed to harbour toxic codependency, addiction and despondency and is smooth when you find the right person, but that’s a load of crap. Nothing in life comes easy.

Love is one of the most simple but misunderstood feelings we feel. Love is something that is engraved in our emotional fabric, but can be something that destroys us if we don’t learn about our relationship with it. We learn to love through our experiences. We lean towards what is familiar, even if it’s painful, it’s what we know.

The way we love is a mirror of our experiences throughout our lives and how we handle them.

Me? I recently realised that I feel loved when people allow me to prove myself to them. I set myself to a standard that I don’t set others to because to me, asking someone to prove being worthy of love is painful. Yet, because it’s what I know – being loved because of my credentials – without realising, I allow people to love me this way.

In my mind, it’s foreign for someone to love me simply because I’m an awesome person. I realised this days ago when I was in the shower. It was a strange revelation, but one I needed to admit to myself.

If someone downplays my career, I don’t get offended if I care for you. I actually feel the need to justify myself and feel satisfied when my justification is accepted.

This revelation took me back to all of the things I knew about love. That love is not supposed to hurt, that love is patient and it’s allowed to make mistakes. I forgive people, but I hardly ever forgive myself. I carry resentment from the actions of my past and forgive people their role when in reality, I should forgive myself before I forgive the other person.

False love-hate paradigms
I’m sure we’ve heard “the opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference”. It’s true. We love and hate with the same amount of energy. To add an extra layer, this means indifference is the opposite of both love and hate.

Therefore, we need to manage ourselves not based on the emotions we feel, but based on the energy we invest.

This is why after a disappointment of some sort, our emotions are everywhere. We focus too much on regulating our emotions when it’s really the energy we should be keeping an eye on. We go through hoops of emotions with the same amount of intensity, punishing ourselves for feeling a certain way and fearing feeling the opposite.

No matter what, no feeling we have is invalid. This is because first and foremost: we’re human. It’s also because we can view the same situation in many ways – it’s only our mood that is shaping our interpretation at that time.

But the more energy we put into an emotion, the more intense the feeling is. When you feel a huge rush of sadness, know it isn’t the sadness that is overtaking you, it’s the energy within you that has manifested itself into sadness.

Accept that a part of you is sad about the situation. Accept that you’re allowed to feel sad. But be careful with the amount of energy you put into the sadness. It’s amazing because the less you fight your sadness, the less energy you put into your sadness and the less overwhelming the sadness gets.

I’m still upset about a certain situation that I was subjected to, but for the most part, I put all of my energy in thanking God for the experience, because I know if I didn’t go through that, I wouldn’t have understood how important my boundaries are.

It’s something that even though I’ve moved on from, but I sometimes still shed a tear when I remember. I cry less often and the cries are less intense, but I still cry. I cry when I remember. Crying is healthy. Emotions are healthy.

The thing that’s stopping me from crying now that didn’t stop me then? Time is healing me, which is evident from the amount of energy I’m putting into my thoughts and feelings. I get a slight tug at the heart, to which I say a prayer for the person and myself (I like to think God is reminding me of this person because they’re in need of prayer) and I go back to what I was doing.

I allow myself to feel how I feel, but I don’t put energy into my feelings. I don’t try to not put energy, I’m just moving on. But for those who need to remove energy from their feelings, take your energy somewhere else. But make sure you take it somewhere healthy.

I did this naturally as I moved on and realised God’s will was more powerful than mine and his plan was wiser than mine; but if I knew this a few months ago, I wouldn’t have blocked my feelings until I broke down and cried myself to sleep until I was out of breath, I would have allowed myself to feel the feelings and would have utilised my energy elsewhere.

Focus on what you deserve
The Qur’an explicitly tells us that we may love something that is bad for us and we may hate something that is good for you. Yes, a lot of faith in God’s decree is needed, but one of the ways to understand it is by focusing on what you deserve.

If you know you deserve someone who trusts you, then remind yourself of that. If you know you deserve someone who will want to work things out, remember that. If you know you deserve an employer who appreciates you, keep that in mind.

Attachment isn’t bad. Neither is love. It’s okay to feel and question. Loving something “bad” doesn’t make you a bad person, same with loving something “good”. It’s all about the way you love that becomes a mirror to your being and exposes your soul.