The Sacred Path of Love 2016 Day 2
Freedom of Self
by Dr Omar Mahmood
When your depression and anxiety keeps coming in, tell yourself “No. I refuse to believe those negative things about my self-worth.” The reality is that you’re a beautiful person.
When He created our father Adam (as), He breathed into Adam the Divine Breath. From then on all the children of Adam have the secret of the Divine Breath. Most of us don’t really think about it, but it is actually a fascinating thing to think about. It is amazing when you think about who we are in our day to day lives. That is what makes you human, that you have this divine secret within you.
Those of us who can recognize where they come from and what their spiritual potential is, those are the ones who can actually become higher than the angels, because the angels worship Allah but they don’t have a choice. They don’t have to overcome inner demons, but human beings have to. This is what separates us from other beings.
So what is inside you, who are you really, who are you in your essence, if you take everything else away?
Rumi said the universe is not outside of you, it is inside of you but to fully realize this requires a certain level of consciousness that only comes with a certain amount of pondering and reflecting about who we really are.
When you don’t realize the divine secret within you, you start to believe that you have an insignificant worth. People can fall into a lot of despair from that and from wondering why are they on this earth.
Cognitive frames: each person interprets the same situation differently, depending on the lens by which we see the world. These lenses depend on the personal experiences we’ve been through, especially when we were younger. If you were abandoned when you were younger, you might grow up being distrustful of others and believing that others will abandon you. That is a cognitive frame through which you see the world.
In reality, the world around is just what you perceive it to be.
Sometimes people set themselves up for failure. For example, they might already think that they can’t be a good friend. And it ends up being a self-fulfilling prophecy because of this belief, that they really will end up not being a good friend. But you have to sit with this person and talk to them and make them realize the blessings they have, and show them that their beliefs about themselves aren’t true.
Many of the negative views that people have of themselves are because they are looking at things narrowly. You should point out to them that even if they are semi-functioning human beings, there are always things they can accomplish and that there are other people who are worse off than them. It can help to change and re-shape the lens by which they see the world.
You can choose how you see the world and how you see everyone around you, and the first and foremost is how you perceive your Lord. Allah says to all of us, “I am as My servant thinks I am.” If you have a good opinion of Allah, you will see goodness manifest in your life. But if you have a bad opinion of Allah, all you’re going to see is all of the negative things in your life.
You need to realize that there is nothing that can escape your Lord in the past, the present, and the future. If you realize that, you will have a certain kind of serenity and you won’t think too much about what you can’t do and what your failures are.
Sometimes it is a blessing that you get reminded of your own limitations and your own weaknesses. If you’ve had a taste of that failure, it can serve as a wake-up call to you to better appreciate what you have and to work harder at what you do.
It is not a one-time effort and then you’re done, it is a lifetime effort. Even the spiritual masters said that there are always struggles in life that you’re never done with.
There is a certain arrogance in self-pity as well. All the statements are ‘I’, and they are a little bit self-centered because you are so focused on yourself. Even if you’re so focused on yourself, it’s not about you.
How do you unleash your hidden potential? Here are some pointers:
- Dhikr: keep on reading the Quran and remember Allah, so you can realize that you have that divine secret within you without arrogance.
- Practice mentally: keep having a good opinion of Allah
- Find ways to suppress the ego: a lot of our ibadah is meant to discipline the ego within us. It’s okay if sometimes your ego overcomes you, but the point is to keep going back and don’t give up fighting your ego. Remember, you have no power, Allah has power.
- Spiritual health and wellbeing: take care of your environment: your friends have a very direct impact on you and your life. Surround yourself with positive influences and maintain spiritual health through practice of the Sunnah as per what we’ve been taught by our teachers and the scholars of this religion.