It starts from a young age… the feeling that you are not good enough and that no matter what you do everyone else around you will always be better. It may seem that you are the only one who doesn’t quite know how to fit in, or how to react. You may find no good in yourself, and the desire to completely change who you are and everything about yourself may be so overwhelming that it consumes you, sometimes to such an extent that you even feel the need to harm yourself.
A while back a blogging friend of mine, Marie, asked me as a mental health professional, if I am seeing more cases of depression, basically more people who are in turmoil. She mentioned to me that when she spoke to people in this field in her locality they told her that there is definitely an increase in cases like depression and so on. I have to agree, in recent years things have definitely escalated and people seem more in need of help now than ever before. I think that working as a counsellor desensitizes you in many ways, but the one thing that still really gets to me is to see people, especially young children, who hate themselves; people with such low self-esteem that they are unable to have any happiness in their lives.
While the reasons for having low self-esteem may differ from situation to situation, I think that it goes back to expectations. Parents’ expectations of what their children should be like, children’s expectations of what they need to be like, societies expectations of what people should be…
Interestingly, and very importantly, all that Allah expects from us is to be good people, to worship Our Creator and obey His rules, and to treat others well, just to do our best!
The One who really matters does not place unrealistic expectations on us, instead He accepts us for who we are, and of course, this makes sense, since Allah created us, and He created us all differently.
I see so many people trying to fit the mould. A mould that has been defined by our societies, societies that happen to be very flawed. I see wonderfully talented people believing that they are worthless, simply because they do not fit that mould. I see beautiful human beings believing that they are nothing, simply because their outer bodies do not appear to be beautiful to others. I see true talent, true potential simply shriveling away and dying, leaving behind it a sad and lonely person, continuously striving to fit the mould!
I learnt a very profound Hadeeth (saying or teaching of the Prophet Muhammad peace be upon Him) recently. It’s translated something to this effect:
“Indeed, Allah does not look at your body, and not at your shape, but looks at your hearts.”
SubhanAllah (Glory be to Allah), isn’t this a wonderful hadeeth.
This reminds me that all we have to do is accept ourselves for who we are. We need to stop looking at others to define ourselves. We need to stop trying to fit the mould. No person is exactly like the other, and really, why would we want to be the same as others. All of us have our good and bad, no one is perfect, but all we have to do is be good people, with good hearts.
I find myself trying so hard to explain this to people, both adults and children. Sometimes I feel like I am wasting my time, but still I cannot give up, not just yet!
Let me just end by saying that If Our Creator, the One who loves us the most is able to accept us for who we are, then why is it so hard for us to accept ourselves!