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Ramadan Anxiety; I’m Not Good Enough

Questioner

I

Reply Date

May 16, 2018

Question

As-salamu Alaikum sister. What can one do with anxiety in Ramadan? It is going too fast and I don't feel that I'm good enough in my worshipping. This makes me disappointed and I feel guilty for not seizing this great opportunity as I should.

Counselor

Answer


Ramadan Anxiety; I'm Not Good Enough

In this counseling answer:

• You need to be more honest about who you really are so that you can be at peace with your own reality.

• Don’t compare yourself with others.


Wa ‘Alaikum Salaam my dear Sister in Islam,

Ramadan Mubarak!

In Sha’ Allah, Allah created pain (guilt, in this case) to motivate us—like a spur in our backs—to change, do things differently, and do things better, usually. We measure if we have accomplished the needed change by whether or not the pain has stopped, i.e., if Allah removed the pain. However, with the help of the devils misguiding us about the true usefulness and function of pain, we often misinterpret it, or rather, I should say, we get stuck in its first stage. Its first stage is our processing of it. That is how our brains work; they process things.

In the case of pain, first we feel the pain which makes us stop everything. To survive pain, we have to deal with it alone and stop dealing with other stuff often times. That usually means everything else (unless the person is used to the sort of pain they are having and knows what it means and has learned to deal with/process it quickly).

Next, we have to understand it. That means figure out where it came from, what change we need to do that will alleviate it, sort it out—what is good in it, what is bad, what is from Allah, what is from ourselves, what is from other people, etc.—and everything is the Qadr of Allah).

To process all those questions and responses, we stop doing everything else because it takes our full attention—because it hurts. Thus, the processing of pain, in addition to the pain of the pain itself, can become painful, i.e., something that gets in our way of progress. When a person cannot find the answers to those questions (and more), our initial reaction to pain can become very long and we feel more pain—the pain of not being able to figure out what is happening to us and how to solve our problem(s). When that happens, we call the pain “crippling”, because the person can’t go to the next stage, i.e., they can’t function. When it is very severe, it is called “mental illness”.

In the field of psychology, in the case of the pain of guilt, the catch phrase for this problem (an inability to process guilt and go to the next stage) is “toxic guilt”. So, to avoid this happening to you, what is the next stage? Mercy. Allah Tells us:

Say, “O My servants who have transgressed against themselves [by sinning], do not despair of the mercy of Allah . Indeed, Allah forgives all sins. Indeed, it is He who is the Forgiving, the Merciful.” (39:53)

The pain of guilt is healthy. However, if it becomes crippling, then Shaitan has convinced you to have a different response to it from its good design (to prompt you to do something good).

In your case, I think you need to be more honest about who you really are so that you can be at peace with your own reality. Not one of us is equal to our goals. So, view your life as only yours; DON’T COMPARE YOURSELF TO OTHERS (at least for this process). When Islam came to the Prophet (Peace on him), it did not come down all at once; it came in stages.

Be merciful with yourself and figure out what you can do that is completely “real” in terms of your present capabilities. Then set a goal that you want to strive towards and, slowly, add on to your workload. Allah loves routine behaviors, even if they are little (a hadith). So, if all you can do is one ayyah a day, do that, and then love yourself for obeying Allah and for doing what Allah loves, and for believing in Allah.

I hope this helps, In Sha’ Allah. May Allah Make it easy for you!

***

Disclaimer: The conceptualization and recommendations stated in this response are very general and purely based on the limited information provided in the question. In no event shall AboutIslam, its counselors or employees be held liable for any damages that may arise from your decision in the use of our services.

Read more:

Ramadan: Time for Becoming Better Muslims

Ramadan 101… Your Guide for a Fruitful Ramadan

Ramadan in Allah’s Words – How to Approach Ramadan – Nouman Ali Khan




About Nasira S. Abdul-Aleem

Nasira S. Abdul-Aleem, an American, has a BA in English from UC Berkeley and is about to receive an MS degree in counseling psychology (Marriage and Family Therapy - MFT) from the Western Institute for Social Research. For over ten years, Nasira worked as a psychotherapist with the general public and in addiction recovery. For the last few years, she has been a life coach specializing in interpersonal relations. Nasira also consults with her many family members who studied Islam overseas and returned to America to be Imams and teachers of Islam. Muslims often ask Nasira what psychology has to do with Islam. To this, she replies that Islam is the manifestation of a correct understanding of our psychology. Therapists and life coaches help clients figure out how to traverse the path of life as a Believer, i.e., "from darkness into light", based on Islam and given that that path is an obstacle course, according to Allah.

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