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Thursday, December 1, 2011

Forgiveness-Part 5- The Other perspective

(In the Name of Allah, Most Beneficient, Most Merciful)

The topic for today is a very important one. It's very difficult to forgive people when they have done things to hurt us and sometimes even if we try our hardest to forgive, we may find that this is difficult because of all the hurt and pain that the person/people may have caused us. So this post tries to deal with that in a more open and positive manner...

How do we forgive when we can’t forget the things that people have done to us?

The key to forgiveness and letting go is not to forget the hurtful things, but to try and REMEMBER IT DIFFERENTLY!

 How do we do this?...

…By looking at the same situation from different perspectives. 

This is also called “Re-framing”, in psychological terms.


 Usually we don’t have all the information about things that happen. We hardly ever know both sides of a story and we don’t know people’s motivations and intentions for doing things. We also don’t understand where other people are coming from, we are not empathetic. This means that all we have is our own perspective, the way we perceive something. This is very limited and one-sided. If we try to ‘walk in other peoples shoes’ and if we try and understand their reasons behind doing things and if we see things from their point of view, then we might begin to change the way we see things and then it will become easier for us to forgive others!

Some Essential Steps in Re-framing

1.   Empathy

      Empathy is “walking in the other person’s shoes”.  When you put yourself in someone else’s place and try to see things from their point of view then it becomes easier for you to identify with the person as you can understand them better. This makes it easier for you to forgive them.

2.   Accepting motivations and remaining open-minded

     Empathising with someone is not enough. You have to actively make up your mind that you will remain open-minded and willing to understand their motivations and intentions.  Sometimes we cannot understand why people are doing a certain thing, even if we place ourselves in their shoes. This is because our minds are closed and we can’t see the future consequences. Thus, part of remaining open minded and accepting their motivations means that we have to trust people and truly believe that they want what is best for us.


     (For example; Imagine if there was a deadly spider on your shoulder. Someone then comes and smacks you really hard. You immediately get angry with that person and you’re not willing to listen to their motivation for smacking you. Without knowing about the spider, you intend not to forgive them because the smack they gave you caused you pain. Then afterwards you find out about the spider that may have killed you. Will it be easy for you to forgive the person when you understand that their action was for your own good, even though it caused you pain at the moment. Now imagine if you never got a chance to forgive that person and only afterwards you come to find out about the spider? Thus we have to make an effort to trust that most people are inherently good and they may be acting according to what they think is best for us).


3.   Active listening

     This is about listening on all levels. Listening to what the person is saying to us, with their words, facial expression, and body language. This does not mean that we hear only what we want to hear.

4.   Focus on the positive

      This involves a shift in the way we think and making choices to see thing through a positive lens instead of through a negative lens.

Inshaa-Allah (If Allah wills) in the next post we will focus on the effects that our actions have on people and situations.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Forgiveness- Part 4- How we imprison ourselves


We all put ourselves in a SELF-MADE PRISON. We lock ourselves up and although we hold the key to this prison, we don’t seem to want to use it, or we don’t know where to find it.

How do we do this?

*       By holding on to negative opinions about ourselves and others.

*       By reacting negatively in situations.

*       By dwelling on the negative things that other people say to us.

*       By longing for what we don’t have and for what others do have.

*       By complaining about our lives.

*       By being ungrateful…

*       Most importantly, by not forgiving and letting go of things.

Can you think of more ways that we imprison ourselves?



TASK

Think about the prison cell that you have put yourself in.

Now, DRAW YOUR OWN PRISON CELL:
-          The size of your prison cell, the amount of bars, the size of the lock, the amount of light or darkness in the cell, etc... all this will depend on you.

-          The size, light etc, will represent the amount of negativity in your life.

-          The bars in the cell will be the actual things that are imprisoning you.

-          Write down the all the things that are causing your imprisonment!

TODAY YOU ARE GOING TO TAKE THE KEY AND UNLOCK YOUR PRISON CELL. You may have to look for the key, and you may even need help looking for it, but you are going to end up unlocking the cell somehow. Insha’Allah!!!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Forgiveness-Part 3

I know that this post has been a long time coming, and I apologise for that, but anyway, here it is, a follow up to the posts on Forgiveness.

I thought it would be nice to start off with some insight into how forgiving we are as individuals so if you'd like to take a quick quiz you can follow the link below and have some fun:

http://www.beliefnet.com/Wellness/Quiz/How-Forgiving-Are-You.aspx

Were your results what you thought they were going to be? Well, if they weren't then you have the chance to do something about it.

Now, we'll move on to the next part of our discussion: In understanding forgiveness we need to know the difference between destructive and constructive emotions, because ultimately this is what makes it easy or stops us from forgiving other people:


Constructive Emotions: These are emotions which bring about positivity, within individuals and between people. Basically, it’s emotions which encourages good and which allow people to feel at peace with themselves and others. Emotions such as love, mercy, care, etc would fall into this category.

Destructive Emotions: These are emotions which bring about negativity. They are emotions which cause harm to individuals as well as between people. These emotions help to break ties between people and only allow for enmity and hatred to foster. Emotions such as anger, jealousy, suspiciousness, annoyance, hatred, paranoia, judgemental, etc. would fall into this category.
EXERCISE

Look at the list of words below and consider a constructive alternative. For e.g. Judgemental can become non-judgemental, hatred can become love, etc.
Anger                                  Jealousy                             Fear

Guilt                                     Shame                                 Worry

Depression                       Confusion                          Annoyed

Suspiciousness               Hysterical                         Frustrated

Judgemental                    Paranoid                            Hatred

How did you find that? Was it easy or difficult to do this? If it was difficult then it seems you are more prone to using destructive emotions. With practice, our destructive emotions can be change to more positive and constructive ones.
Destructive emotions cause self-harm as well as harm to others. People have control over their emotions and we don’t have to keep all the negative feelings within us. Just how we found constructive alternatives in this exercise, we should practise changing our own destructive emotions to constructive emotions. Destructive emotions only fester and become more destructive if we allow it. We have to actively find our destructive emotions and make earnest efforts to deal with it.
It can be likened to a refrigerator. If something in the fridge is off and it gives off a terrible smell, we have to search for what is causing the smell and then remove it from the fridge. If we leave it then the entire fridge will continue to smell and other things will become rotten as well, thus worsening the smell.  Our destructive emotions give off such a terrible smell that they make everything inside us look bad and our good becomes overpowered.
Can you think of any other destructive emotions?  Look inside of yourself and find your own destructive emotions. Are you going to throw them out or hold on to them? Ultimately this choice will be yours.

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Liebster Award


I've received The Liebster Award:



The Liebster Blog Award is given to bloggers who have less than 200 followers, all in the spirit of fostering new connections.

There are some rules that go with this award:
  1. Show your thanks to the blogger who gave you the award by linking back to them.
  2. Reveal your top 5 picks for the award and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog.
  3. Post the award on your blog.
  4. Bask in the love from the most supportive people on the blogsphere - other bloggers.
  5. And, best of all - have fun and spread the karma.
1. I'd like to than Inspiring Always for this award. This is a new blog, but it really is inspiring as the name says, with a variety of topics and good casues, this is a blog to keep following, it seems that there will be much more inspiration and important reminders coming from here.

2. My Top 5 picks for this award is:

- Kattona taivas (A Cap on the sky)

3. I've Just done that;-)

4 and 5- I'll just sit back and relax now, having fun and enjoying the support.

Thanks Inspiring Always and Stay well all.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Forgiveness-Part 2- Three Major reasons which keep people back from forgiveness

1.       Win-win situation
  • We are encouraged to worry about looking good in the eyes of others and yet we forget about how we look in the eyes of Allah.
  • We are taught that we should always be the winner in all situations and this results in a constant competition between people.
  • Coming across as “the loser” is unthinkable in today’s society and through this actions that are good in Islam come to be regarded as bad and vice-versa.

2.     Belief that we are weak if we forgive
  • In modern day society there is a reversal of things.
  • Things that make us strong according to Islam are regarded as weaknesses in modern day society.
  • Islam would rather see the person who humbles himself/ herself as stronger, but in modern day society he/she would be regarded as weak.
  • The person who can control his anger, likewise will be regarded as weak, but in Islam we know that this is the stronger person.
  • Shaytaan uses our human needs to justify negative actions and to steer us away from what is considered good in the eyes of Allah.

3.     Lack of courage to forgive others
  • The only fear that we should have is fear of Allah (swt).
  • If we make an intention to do good then Inshaa-Allah things will become easy for us.
  • We use our fears to justify our negative actions and behaviours and also to make excuses for ourselves.
  • This is just another way to get us away from doing actions that will please Allah (swt).
Inshaa Allah in the next post we will have a questionnaire to see how forgiving you are!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Forgiveness-Part 1- Introduction

It's been a while since I've posted on this blog, but Alhamdullillah I will be starting a new series of posts on a topic that applies to all of us. This is FORGIVENESS. Inshaa-Allah in this series of posts I hope to cover many different aspects of forgiveness and I hope that people will find this to be useful. *********************************************************************
We all know by now that forgiveness is better for ourselves and for the other person/ people involved. Despite this, it’s still very difficult for us to forgive others. There are different reasons for this, but the important point is that shaytaan will work hard to encourage us not to forgive. He will ensure through the different ways that we do not forgive, because this will ultimately lead to a breakdown of relationships and this makes shaytaan very happy.
I really like the following story becuase it reminds us that Forgiveness is actually better for ourselves and we think that we're doing someone else a favour by forgiving, but actually we are doing a huge favour for ourselves.

The Weight of Resentments

Unknown Author

A teacher once told each of her students to bring a clear plastic bag and a sack of potatoes to school. For every person they refuse to forgive in their life’s experience, they chose a potato, wrote on it the name and date, and put it in the plastic bag. Some of their bags were quite heavy.

They were then told to carry this bag with them everywhere for one week, putting it beside their bed at night, on the car seat when driving, next to their desk at work.

The hassle of lugging this around with them made it clear what a weight they were carrying spiritually, and how they had to pay attention to it all the time to not forget  and keep leaving it in embarrassing places.

Naturally, the condition of the potatoes deteriorated to a nasty smelly slime. This was a great metaphor for the price we pay for keeping our pain, resentment and heavy negativity!

Too often we think of forgiveness as a gift to the other person, and it clearly is for ourselves!

WHY IS IT SO DIFFICULT FOR US TO FORGIVE OTHERS? 

Some reasons include:
-          Anger
-          Hurt
-          Pain
-          Jealousy
-          Pride
-          Arrogance
-          Confusion / misunderstanding

The underlying reason WE DON’T FORGIVE behind all others is PRIDE

  • It’s ultimately our pride which makes it difficult for us to forgive the next person.
  • Closely related to Pride is a Sense of Self-Importance.
  • The Modern world has ensured that people develop a sense of self-importance. While this may be necessary to a certain extent, they’ve taken it to the max and now we find that people have become self-centred and have the tendency to believe that they are over important.
  • If someone believes that they are the most important, then they will never be able to accept that someone else has done something to harm them.
  • Thus, they will never be able to forgive that person or overlook what they’ve done, because this would injure their self-pride.
  • Also closely related to this is a perceived sense of power.
  • When we forget that Allah (swt) only has all power and we start thinking that we have power, for whatever reason, then we also will never be able to forgive others.
  • When we begin to think about things in terms of what will be best for everyone or what will please Allah (SWT), instead of thinking in terms of our own emotions, then it will become easier for us to forgive others and to let things go.
(May Allah Almighty make it easy for us all and save us from Pride and arrogance).

Hadith:
Musa ibne Imraan (alaihis salaam) said;
“Oh my Rabb! Who is the most respectable slave to you?”

Allah the Almighty and Majestic replied;
“He who forgives, despite having the power to avenge.”

 Hadith:
“You should practise mercy and you will receive mercy. You should forgive others’ faults and you will receive Divine Forgiveness.”

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Character Development-Part 3- Making changes to our character

Now that we've looked at both positive and negative character we can begin to focus on making changes in our own character so that we can develop a more positive character.

Make a list of at least five things that you want to improve about your character.

Now next to each of these things write down what changes you will need to make in order to successfully change those negative traits into positive ones.

Here is an example:

What I Would Like To Change

For example: I want to stop being aggressive.

What I Can Do To Change
For example: I will practice self-control, be patient with others, or not speak harshly.

Can you think of any other ways that you can change your character so that it becomes more positive?

Developing positive character starts with making small changes in our lives. There is no point in looking at others and picking on their faults. We all have a responsibilty to change our own lives and better only our own character. Once we start to make small changes in ourselves we will see that it will become easier and naturally we will be inclined to behave in a more positive way. (Inshaa Allah)

Developing a good character takes a lot of work and it is an ongoing effort. At times it can become very difficult. Perseverance and patience is therefore of utmost importance. Only after hard work will we begin to see the benefits, but the work is worth it as we will see that good character helps us to be more at peace, not only with others, but with ourselves as well!
Some of the Material for this post was referenced from: www.peacefulsolution.org/curriculum/.../Parenting-Manual-Lesson-2.pdf

Friday, May 13, 2011

Butterfly Award

I've received the Butterfly Award for this blog from a special person. Thank you for this Marie, I really appreciate it. Please check out Marie's blog; The Colour of Our skin. Its a very interesting blog, I won't say more, you should see for yourself.


The rules of this award is that you have to share somethign about yourself and then pass the award on to other bloggers, so here goes:

About Myself: I am the type of person who prefers quality instead of quantity. So I'll rather have a few great friends, than have many friends who don't really know me that well. I'm not the most outgoing and sociable person, for me visiting an old friend is more rewarding than going out with a group of people. Superficial things in life really irritate me and one of my motto's is "be yourself no matter what others think of you".

(As you can see I also tend to write too much so I'll leave the sharing at that for now;-])

Other great bloggers: I'd like to award this to many great bloggers out there, but to be really honest, it's very time consuming and I'm a bit short on time right now so I will pass the award on to the following blogs:

Hope you all have a great weekend!


Monday, April 25, 2011

Character Development- Part-2- Negative Character

What Is A Negative Character?

• Negative character traits define who you are just as clearly as positive traits.

• They too, are a combination of values, environment and experiences. However, unlike positive character traits, negative traits can lead to behaviours that could cause hatred, violence and even wars.

• If you treat someone dishonestly, or show a lack of compassion, you are saying that you do not care about that person. If that person also has a negative character and responds to you in a disrespectful or aggressive way, then you have what is known as a conflict.

• A conflict that exists without a peaceful solution will result in hatred and violence. Here is an example; let’s say someone who is dishonest steals money from someone who is unforgiving. The person who was stolen from will try to retaliate against the one who stole from him. This too, can result in hatred and violence.


Don’t Accentuate The Negative
 K eep in mind that nobody’s character is completely negative and devoid of all positive character traits. Yet, most people do have some negative traits that they need to eliminate from their character.

 For example, someone can be a compassionate person, always looking for ways to help others, but is usually late for most functions and events. Or, he can be an honest person, but very impatient. Do these examples remind you of anyone you know? Do they remind you of yourself?

 Not accentuating negative character traits means first realizing that there are some aspects of your character that need changing, then focusing on doing just the opposite of the behavior you want to change. For example, if you have difficulty being on time, you may try going to bed earlier and setting your alarm clock half an hour earlier than you normally wake up. You might even borrow a few books from the library on time management. The point is to focus on improving your character by eliminating the negative and accentuating the positive.
  • We should always try to focus on the positive character traits of other people instead of focusing on the negative.
  • When we focus on the negative character traits then we will automatically overlook the positive.
  • Focusing on the negative only leads to more negative.
  • Sometimes people who are accustomed to displaying negative character traits can change their lives around because of a simple realization that people do see good in them.
Islam teaches us to always focus on the good in others. The beautiful teachings of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) tells us that we should make at least 72 excuses for something negative that the next person has done. The wisdom behind this is that when we make excuses for others, we are actually focusing on their positive instead of higlighting their negative.

Islam further teaches that we should not hate someone because there may be something good that comes from that person.

We cannot get rid of negativity by using negativity!

May the Almighty Allah help us all to get rid of the negative character traits in ourselves first!

Material for this post was referenced from: www.peacefulsolution.org/curriculum/.../Parenting-Manual-Lesson-2.pdf

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Character Development-Part-1- Positive Character


I know that I’ve done a post on good character already, but since this topic is such an important one, I’ve decided to focus on it in a little more detail, so Inshaa Allah the next few posts will be on character. Hope that you find this useful.

What is a positive character?
• Our character is made up of many different qualities. They are called character traits.
• Character traits can be either positive or negative based upon your values, what you have been taught, your choices and your experiences.
• The key to having moral character is to develop positive character traits. When you demonstrate these traits on a consistent basis, you will be known as a person of integrity.
• People who have moral character show by their actions and attitude that they care about themselves and others.

How many positive character traits do you recognize in yourself?

How many do you recognize in your family members and friends?


• When you possess these traits you can feel positive about yourself and your ability to interact with others in a meaningful and caring way. In like manner, when people around you exhibit these same positive character traits and treat you accordingly, you feel appreciated and respected. In essence, this is The Peaceful Solution. By simply interacting and communicating using these positive character traits, we can avoid hurting and devaluing each other.

• If you find that you are lacking any of these positive character traits, then work hard to develop them. You can develop a character trait by first valuing it as important. Begin by evaluating why that character trait is important to you as an individual and how it can benefit yourself and others. For example, let’s say you need to develop the character trait of being thankful. The first step is to consider why you should be thankful. Being thankful means you can appreciate what you have. People who are not thankful often feel dissatisfied with what they have and become envious of others. Next, list all the things you have to be thankful for. Don’t forget to include things such as food, clothing, a place to live, your health and so on. Often these things are taken for granted, and we forget to be thankful for them. Then make another list of how being thankful can affect the people you interact with everyday. A thankful person is a bright and optimistic person. He or she encourages and motivates others to be thankful.

• You can use these same steps to develop any character trait that you are lacking. Developing positive character traits takes commitment, dedication and determination. Changing yourself from the inside is not always easy, but is well worth the effort.
Material for this post was referenced from: www.peacefulsolution.org/curriculum/.../Parenting-Manual-Lesson-2.pdf

Saturday, April 9, 2011

The Inspiration Award

This blog of mine has also received the Inspiration Award from the inspiring rose water. I'd like to thank this lovely sister once again.

Please check out my post about this on my other blog:
http://muslim-women-exposed.blogspot.com/2011/04/inspiration-award-from-truly-inspiring.html


Thank you to all those inspiring bloggers out there, May You Continue To Inspire!!!