Here’s why you’re burning yourself out and what to do

This age has been categorised by identifying ourselves with our careers. Our whole childhood education has trained us to do and contribute as opposed to just be.

Take, the innocent question of “what do you want to be when you grow up?” and the way we were trained to by well-intentioned adults to use childhood as a building ground to serve capitalist ideals. We went to class for a “future”, did homework so we could pass and go to university and then went to university, or training for a job. We were told to have realistic expectations and to not pursue dreams that could land us in financial trouble in the future.

We may have had creative outlets, but our identity was first and foremost, how we could contribute to capitalism and how we identified through its lens. Unless our passions were profitable, we were told to choose between what we love and what would let us lead the lives we love.

For me, writing was always my passion. I loved expressing myself through writing, but judged myself based on my grades, which naturally were fluctuant. I then went on to study politics and war at university and I identified myself as a student. Then I identified as a journalist and my highs and lows became dependant on how my career was going.

Little did I know, those perceived ebbs and flows were one single meander that is life and I was just navigating whilst plastering my identity to one tiny aspect of it.

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After realising this, I stumbled upon an article that said adults should identify with their health goals as opposed to their careers. It seemed legitimate, so I started to do it. I became Diana, the health conscious person and my fitness definitely improved… until I had days it didn’t.

Then came the same feeling losing your sense of self, but based on a different hurdle. I soon realised that the problem wasn’t what I was attaching my identity to, but the fact that I was identifying with temporary aspects of life, full stop.

Really, there’s no step-by-step to stop burning yourself out. We all do it in different ways and for different reasons, which change throughout our lives. Sometimes, it’s a necessity, other times it’s a survival instinct and then there are times we become addicted to the feeling of success. What we can do, though, is identify with something else.

Identify with your higher self, your soul. It could be too much to comprehend for some, especially for my readers who are new to spirituality, so think of it as identifying with your breathing.

“I am my breath. I am how I breathe.”

Take yourself there. How fast are you breathing? How deep are you breathing? Does your breathing come from your chest, or are you taking deep, belly breaths? Without judgement, focus on your breath, slow it down, put your hand on your heart centre and just say “I am”.

The rest of those identities will change. Success is relative, material is temporary. Even the body we have doesn’t stay with us forever, but our soul self, the self that was created in a completely dimension, will forever be ours and us.

Just coming to this realisation is enough. When you find yourself drifting with stress, overworking and identifying with success, just know it isn’t you.

Yes, life gets stressful, things get in the way of us doing what we want, but those are things that happen to you — they are not you. They do not need to become a part of you.

Don’t judge yourself for how well you’re connecting with your breath or identifying with your soul. Just do it. Allow negative thoughts to pass. They are not you and they do not stay forever. That extra sale may boost your confidence and dissolve those disturbing thoughts, realising your home is within lets you take a step back, allow you to feel how you want to feel, reminds you your thoughts aren’t you. Your thoughts are thoughts that affect you, but that doesn’t mean they become latched to your identity.

Get comfortable with stripping yourself of all of those labels and not identifying with the temporaries around you. Meditate on yourself, let go of the world and view yourself as the raw ethereal being you are. This is the purpose of spirituality and spiritual practice. You honour where you are, but you identify with yourself on a spiritual level to clear the material clutter in your mind.

Yes, you may need to do it more than once and yes it may take a while to retrain your brain to change the way you identify yourself, but by just having the simple awareness, you’re doing more than enough.

Baby steps, small wins and lots of gratitude and love.

I love you all.

Diana xoxo

Instagram: @flowerknafeh
Twitter: @superknafeh

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I’ve started to keep a dream journal. Here’s what I’m learning

Hello darlings!

In my pursuit of unlocking the subconscious mind and understanding my energy and spiritual self better, I’ve decided to start writing down my dreams the moment I wake up. Before doing this, I thought it would be useless, or even burdensome. I didn’t see myself as someone who dreams per se, or someone who receives messages from the “dream realm.” Regardless, I decided to try.

I saw an unused cute pink sparkly notepad, so I left it by my bed and decided to note down my dreams if I have them and remember them. Since then, I’ve been journaling every morning. What I find strange is that my sleep is often split into two because I regularly wake up to pray fajr (the sunrise prayer that we Muslims pray). I don’t remember any of my dreams before waking up for fajr prayer, but after fajr is when I feel like I’m actually dreaming.

I don’t know why this is. I’ve read in other highly spiritual circles (non-Muslim) that to increase spiritual capacity, you need to wake up between 3am-5am and that 3:33am has some significant spiritual power to it. In Islam, those time periods are usually when fajr prayer falls, or qiyam al-layl, which is the last 3rd of the night during winter. So even if the sun begins to rise at 6am, 3am is still powerful because it’s qiyam al-layl and some people do get up and worship before dawn for a powerful experience.

I’ll research this more, but if any of my readers have specific answers to this, please let me know.

Anyway, back to dreaming. I didn’t notice my dreams before unless they were memorable, or had certain people I was consciously thinking about or are close to my heart; or if they were traumatic or highly emotional. When I wanted to interpret my dreams, I used to ask people or I would look up specific symbols and search their Islamic meaning. I never thought about how I felt in the dream. I definitely believed there was more to dreaming than I knew, but I didn’t think much about it. The only way to explore this, I realised, was to actually connect with my dreams and start a journal.

It doesn’t take long. I’ve never spent more than five minutes journaling my dreams and when I don’t remember them (like this morning), I just went on with my day. I was still in my room when I ended up remembering it and I wrote it down, but if I didn’t I wouldn’t have minded. If you remember it during your commute, or some time during your day, repeat the details to yourself, or write them on your phone so they’re imprinted in your mind and then add to your journal when you reunite.

When you keep your journal, you may find common themes in your dreams that you didn’t notice before. Similar people (for me, I realised my siblings always feature in my dreams), similar colours, similar food, similar feelings. What that may mean will be different for different people, but you will be able to contextualise and resonate as you really learn about your subconscious and superconscious mind through your dreams. By journaling, you make the intention and effort to use the powerful tool that is sleep to unlock, release and reset.

Sleep state as a window to the subconscious mind

We spend a third of our lives in the sleeping state, so it’s clearly more important than our modern time perceives it to be. I remember one of my university lecturers told me to write down what I want to accomplish before I sleep and my brain will find a way to make it work the next day. It usually happened that way. So, this state of mind is powerful because not only does it help solve problems, but it takes us out of our ego and into our intuition. It’s just our intuition speaks to us through symbols and metaphors when we’re in the sleep state, so we can’t really decipher it when we wake up.

This is why having a relationship with your dreams is so important. By journaling your dreams, you’re giving them importance and you’re telling your superconscious self that you’re listening. You’ll find that naturally, you’ll understand yourself better.

The crazy thing is, you don’t need to find someone to interpret your dreams. The answers are all within us. Trust yourself when you’re analysing your dreams and really think about how you relate to your dream and how your dream relates to you. The more you do it, the better you get. If there are any symbols you’re confused about, then of course you can look them up and ask others, but really, treat your dreams as a part of yourself that is helping you learn about what you may have suppressed that you can’t access because you’re too busy thinking in your awake state.

Practicing feeling your thoughts through dreaming

One thing that I found difficult to connect with in the past was my feelings. I used to feel so strongly, especially because I was a very sensitive child. My sensitivity got me into a lot of trouble when I used to cry at the most random things; so I learned to suppress my emotions. As I got older, this suppressed my intuition and sacrificed my right to my standards, boundaries and opinions outside the rational realm. So when I started to become more in tune with my feelings, I developed boundaries and standards based on how something made me feel, as opposed to what is socially acceptable for me to accept. Everything in my life changed for the better.

To kickstart this process if you haven’t yet begun your journey of feeling your thoughts, feeling your dreams may help.

Asking yourself how you felt during your dream really helps because as you wake up, your brain waves are shifting from theta upwards, so you can identify core feelings consciously. The more you do this after you wake up, the easier it gets during the day. Progressively, though. Go easy on yourself and keep asking yourself how you feel. Identify core feelings in the midst of clouds of thoughts.

You can then ask your subconscious to give you answers during your dreams. I’m not at that stage yet, but I still try. I ask myself a question before bed, like “how do I sort out ___ dillema” and as my ego sleeps, my subconscious begins to unwrap the situation without the fear, anger, pride of my ego interfering. It’s the same as trying to figure something out when you’re relaxed about a situation. You’re not worried, so you can objectively find answers.

Understanding your dreams better also helps with lucid dreaming, which is pretty cool. I never understood why you would want to control your dreams, or even intentionally feel conscious that you’re dreaming whilst dreaming, but this is an important tool for people who have recurring nightmares.

I’ll read more about lucid dreaming and will update you all on my findings!

Here’s what you do if you want to start:

  1. Either buy a dream journal, or get a regular notepad and dedicate it to your dreams. Keep it on your bedside.
  2. When you wake up, write down whatever you remember and then date the dream (sometimes writing the date first distracts me)
  3. Write how you felt and how you currently feel being awake, either from the remainder of the dream, or knowing that you were dreaming
  4. Give thanks and forget about it. If you remember stuff during the day, jot them down as well.
  5. If you can’t remember your dream, either don’t write anything, or write how you feel right at the very moment you woke up. Don’t pressure yourself!

Good luck, I love you all.

Diana xoxoxoxoxoxx

Instagram: @flowerknafeh
Twitter: @superknafeh