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How to Deal with Low Self-Esteem?

Questioner

S

Reply Date

Apr 13, 2016

Question

I have so many psychological problems pertaining weak personality, unnatural shyness, obsessive compulsive disorder, lack of confidence and life goals. I will mention all my psychological disorders below and I wish you answer me quickly because I'm suffering savagely and I can't endure this hard life. I'm lost. These are some of the problems I haven’t found a way out until now: lack of confidence, social anxiety, OCD, obsession with masturbation, unjustified fear from people’s reaction. I am always afraid to be misjudged. I am unable to get along with strangers, and I am extremely shy, even at work. I am afraid of anything new. I have never dated a woman although I feel in love with most women I see. I feel uncomfortable and afraid outside my home. I fear of interviews and tests to the extent that I may lose half of my concentration if someone at work criticized me or were sarcastic with me. I would stay all day and night thinking of that situation. I can't live my life normally because of these issues. Please help.

Counselor

Answer


How to Deal with Low Self-Esteem?

Answer:

As Salamu ‘Alaykum brother,

Thank you for trusting us with your most important questions. May Allah bless and guide you in your journey towards healing. What you have described, which is a lot, seems to stem from an anxiety disorder, low self-esteem and depression. Some of what you have stated. I urge you in sha’ Allah to seek counseling as soon as possible so you can resolve these issues dear brother and live a happier and more satisfying life. While you did not say whether you have already been evaluated and diagnosed with all these “disorders”, I urge you to do so, if you have not already been evaluated.

Anxiety is one of the most common disorders, some more severe than others. Your description of how it has affected your life seems to indicate that it is severe as it is interfering with many things. You stated that you “feel uncomfortable and afraid outside my home”, which indicates to me a possible future problem with it leading to agoraphobia. In case of agoraphobia, in its severest form, often one cannot even leave his home due to fears/anxiety.

Onislam counselor recommends a technique for dealing with negative thoughts, anxiety and fear which involves what is often called “thought stopping”. This type of self talk can be a very powerful tool if done consistently and with determination. Onislam states “every time you catch yourself thinking a negative statement, say something such as “STOP!” Then, consciously and purposefully say a positive truth statement about yourself; in other words, correct yourself and your thoughts. This is called “thought stopping” and “thought replacement”. It will help you change the way your mind thinks and will ultimately change how you feel about yourself.

I suggest dear brother that you seek professional counseling to get to the root of all these fears and anxieties. As some are natural responses such as shyness, fear during a job interview, fear/anxiety while speaking in public, yours seems to have gone beyond that. I am happy though of your self-knowledge, your desire for help, and your determination to change your life so you can function in a comfortable and confident manner. Inc.Edu states regarding self esteem and confidence“Low self-confidence isn’t a life sentence. Self-confidence can be learned, practiced, and mastered – just like any other skill. Once you master it, everything in your life will change for the better.”

I ask you dear brother to please make a list of all your good qualities and accomplishments. At least 10! Then make a list of the blessings Allah (SWT) has given you. For the 3rd list, look at areas in your life which you would like to improve upon, and list below 3 things you can do to make that improvement. I would like you to review these lists daily, and add on to them as you grow. Often times, seeing ourselves on paper helps giving us a better perspective on what attributes we have, as well as our accomplishments as human beings are striving to please Allah. It also gives us insight in sha’ Allah into what we need to work on, and we all have areas in which we need to improve. I would kindly suggest dear brother that you also begin to engage in some relaxation techniques which will help you gain control of your internal and external responses to stimuli and fear, in sha’Allah.

Additionally, self love is important. Eat healthy foods, exercise, and plan fun social times. Get involved in some charity work by helping others less fortunate than you. Even though you may feel scared or shy, just start with a brief outing with friends. Get involved with the activities at your mosque and join groups that interest you, or increase your Islamic knowledge. Increasing your Islamic knowledge will help you understand how to conquer obstacles in life by applying Islamic prescriptions. It will also bring you closer to Allah (SWT). Stay close to Allah dear brother, pray, ask for forgiveness, repent for any sins; make du’aa’ that Allah (SWT) relieves you of these feelings and replaces them with the peace and confidence that He wants you to have. Make dhikr to Allah for it settles the mind, comforts the soul and will increase your ability to concentrate in sha’ Allah. Concentration and focus will prevent your fears from overcoming you in sha’ Allah, and will help you in remaining composed during times of stress. Remembrance of Allah is a gift we need to utilize more in everyday life and especially for healing.

Please seek counseling brother and let us know how you are. You are in our prayers.

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About Aisha Mohammad-Swan

Aisha Mohammad-Swan received her PhD in psychology in 2000. Aisha worked as a Counselor/Psychologist for 12 years for Geneva B. Scruggs Community Health Care Center in New York with a focus on PTSD, OCD, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, marriage/relationships issues, as well as community-cultural dynamics. She is certified in Restorative Justice/ Healing Circles, Conflict Resolution, and Mediation, and is also a certified Life Coach. She is currently studying for her certification in Islamic Chaplaincy, and takes Islamic courses at SHC. Aisha works at a Women's Daytime Drop in Center, and has her own part-time practice in which she integrates counseling and holistic health. Aisha also received an MA in Public Health/Community Development in 2009 and plans to open a community counseling/resource center for Muslims and others in the New York area in the future, in sha' Allah.

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