I came here to write.
I did, didn’t I..?
Once a year, I escape to this serene place by the Nile River, to soak in the sun, the peaceful Nubian vibes and most of all, to reconnect with myself again after the turmoil of yet another year filled with….
What? I don’t know..
Everytime I come here, hoping to find myself, or do something different, I come across your little secret as well…
‘Wherever you go, there you are…’
I know you’ve tried to escape too and to no avail.
I know you’ve tried to ‘find’ yourself, set new goals or just tried to make sense of every heartache you’ve been through..
I know the same thoughts haunt you and pull you down every once in a while, and sometimes the time you take away to “heal” is just another form of a numbing technique or a mere distraction from the reality that’s too hard to face.
(Wait, the woman sitting next to me is telling her friend all about her abusive husband and it’s so hard not to eavesdrop! It’s like the universe is conspiring to stop me from writing. Help!)
Yes, you’ll lose focus and be drawn away from your own thoughts, especially when you try to dig deeper into your own soul. Mindfulness is tricky business because you’re asking your brain to go against the current. The brain is wired to think, wander, worry, plan, predict and fixate on perceived signs of threat. It will not miss an opportunity to remind you of your past failures or your doomed unknown future. At some point, your mind will sound like a nagging wife and you’ll be that absent-minded husband trying to drown out her negativity. Instead of bringing your attention to the ‘here and now’, you’ll do anything but.
It’s happening to me as we speak! What the??
I’m only here for a few days, people! Is it too much to ask of my brain to cooperate and join this little excursion into self development?
Who Are You?
We try to be ourselves, but do we really know who we are?
Who are you?
Not your name or your status or number of followers on instagram.
When you’re not a daughter or a parent or even a doctor saving lives left and right.
When you’re alone with yourself, not doing anything for anyone, and not running around in circles from sunup till sundown.
Who are you underneath everything you portray to the world?
You’ll believe you’re thinking about the answer to the above question, but the truth is, you’re only listening to the same thoughts in your head that completely control you….
“I don’t know who I am..”
“I’m someone who’s been hurt too many times..”
“I’m a good person who’s always been misunderstood…”
“I’m a bad person who shows the world the exact opposite..”
“I’m someone who is scared, anxious, alone, insecure, and/or angry at the world..”
“I’m someone who has everything and yet completely miserable”
If you’re listening to these thoughts in your head, then who is saying them?
Come on, you can’t be talking and listening at the same time, right?
Which one is ‘You’?
You were not born believing those statements, though. Something happened to you somewhere along the line, that made a part of you believe them and another part resist them. Does that make sense?
Perhaps you strive to be in a loving relationship, even though deep down, you know your needs will never be met.
You work hard and plan to better your career, yet something tells you the success you’re craving is absolutely unattainable.
But now, which one are you? The positive, sunny one working towards your dreams, or the doubtful one, sitting in the dark corner with your arms crossed and one eyebrow up?
And I’m not implying you suffer from multiple personality disorders or anything, otherwise with all my different and opposite characteristics I should have been locked up in a mental asylum years ago 🙂
Let me explain…
From birth to the age of seven, your brain functioned very differently from the way it is now. From theta to alpha brainwave patterns, your mind was literally like a sponge, absorbing all kinds of information and filing them away in permanent folders named ‘Core Beliefs’.
You took mental notes of what a marriage looks like by watching how your parents treated each other.
You figured out if your needs mattered or not, by the way your mom responded to them.
You created a list of behaviors and actions that will get you the most attention, and another one that incites danger, punishment or shame.
It all started with a story…
“I turned out this way because this and this happened…”
Unfortunately, the stories you learn at such a fragile age have deeper roots into your soul and usually morph into ‘core beliefs’, some of them so powerful you never even consider questioning them. They become your ‘narrative identity’ and like any great storyteller, as events unfolded, you add heroes, villains, plot twists and challenges to overcome.
Who you are is what you believe about yourself based on a personal myth you created when your brain wasn’t even developed enough to know which side is up! We believed in tooth fairies and mermaids at that age for God’s sake. (I still do but you know). Actually that’s my point exactly! We are not trained to challenge our core beliefs, which is why I just realized I’ve been asking you the wrong question all along…
Who Do You Want To Be?
In the past, when I was a completely different person, I asked you ‘Who Are You?’ which implies you are this one fixed identity that is unchangeable. No wonder we keep repeating the same old habits and replaying the same limiting beliefs. In an attempt to find who we are, we are confining who we can become. We are so attached to the stories we tell ourselves despite them being destructive, and then try to escape through distractions, work, food, (eavesdropping!), sleep and social media to drown out the pain of a FABLE! It’s the only thing that helps and it’s not helping…
We begin to change our lives when we realize that the stories we tell ourselves are just that: stories. They can change.
(Don’t look at me like that. I swear to Allah they can!)
Listen to me….
Do you believe you’re incapable of finding love because you’ve never felt loved for who you truly are?
Do you think this is all you could be because you’ve failed to change your bad habits in the past?
Have you done way to many sins that you’ve deemed yourself ‘unforgiven’?
Do you give but feel too ‘undeserving’ to receive?
Do you have ‘trust issues’, ‘anger issues’, ‘daddy issues’, ‘health issues’ or any other ‘issues’ obstructing you from living the life you dream of?
Have you lied to your loved ones so much that you can’t look them in the eye anymore..?
Have you disappointed and pushed away the one person whom you believed could have made you ridiculously happy?
Are you scared your partner will reject you because you aren’t able to give them what they need?
Have you failed and are terrified to fail again?
Now we’re talking…
To Wait Or Create?
We live in a world that’s getting weirder by the minute…
Everything is changing so fast and spiraling out of control that the concept of ‘logical thinking’ doesn’t make sense anymore.
If logic was the only defining factor, we wouldn’t be suffering because of our internalized myths. Our lives would go according to plan and there wouldn’t be any unexpected surprises to steer us away.
We don’t know why some people died in the pandemic and some didn’t..
We don’t know why some people were born into poor families and some into rich..
Logic is not the driving force in any equation. Emotions are!
In fact, studies show that emotions drive 80% of your decision making. I mean, how many times did you do something out of character because you were angry, excited or scared? What crazy things did you do for love? How many life goals did you dodge because of fear, shame or insecurity?
If you’re waiting for the perfect moment to realize your dreams and be who you’re meant to be, trust me you’ll be waiting for a long longggggg time….
If you’re basing your actions on the results you want to achieve, like be more healthy, be in a relationship, lose weight, make more money and all the other life goals we’re conditioned to seek, you’ll fall into a dangerous ‘double-sided sword’ logic loop. And soon you’ll find logical reasons why you can’t succeed…
“The economy is bad”
“I don’t have time to workout”
“Marriage is hard”
“I’ll never find the right person”
Your core beliefs will kick in to have a little ‘negative thinking’ party, and so the story you’ve been telling yourself continues…
Don’t base who you are and your successes on results, because that’s out of your control. Base it on your effort, because that’s all anyone can do….
You’ll be judged in the Hereafter based on your intentions and your effort, not the result…
The same with life in this world. If you’re always scared to mess up, you’ll never try. Failing is the only path to success.
That’s how you learn, reassess and later perfect.
Who you are is not based on what you’ve achieved…
It’s what you believe about yourself
The actions you take and the consistent effort you put regardless of the outcome
Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) said: “Verily, Allah does not look at your appearance or wealth, but rather he looks at your hearts and actions.” (Muslim)
( Yay! I can’t believe I found this Hadith. It says it all)
It’s beautiful and it’s changeable.
Whatever you believe in your heart, you can certainly acquire and achieve through the right actions
Good intentions are not enough
Logical, calculated practices are not enough
You need both….
You need a desired feeling to be your ultimate goal
And the actions to get you there….
And in this journey, with all its transformational ups and downs that’s when you’ll become….
Who you truly are…
All my Love,
Lilly S. Mohsen