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I Feel Ugly & Neglected

Questioner

Anonymous

Reply Date

Dec 04, 2017

Question

Assalam Alaikum. I read an article (here the link: https://margariaziza.com/2007/03/29/diseases-of-the-heart-low-self-esteem-and-insecurities/) and it seems like I ticked all the characteristics of a low self-esteem character. I did not think that it was that bad, now I realise that it is too much. I think that Allah might be hating or be angry with me. I know that I disappoint Him really often. My past was not the best; bad memories always fill up my mind. I feel like the happy times are only a waste of time. I did commit many sins, really many of them (major and minor). I was not practising. I regret all my past. I've become "more religious" this year. I feel no comfort in my life. As a little girl, I was not normal. I had difficulties in my life. I feel so unwanted. I feel no one can comprehend my feelings. I felt to be such a burden to my parents. I did not have a normal childhood. I had difficulty in speaking and I was extremely shy because they would laugh at me. I had therapies in this regard. I sense that parents do not love each other. It seems they are "forced" to stay together. Back at school, I was bullied for my color skin (I am too dark) and I had relatives commenting hurtful things on this. I feel neglected by my mother as she delivered my sister 15 months after me. I felt my mom cared more about her in the past. I feel I am a hypocrite. I seek refuge from Allah from that. I felt that my sister's presence was appreciated but not my presence. I actually have a condition that affected my whole life which one of its symptoms is hirsutism and difficulty in weight loss. I do not feel I am beautiful. I feel like that one day I might go insane. I wished I never existed or died when I was little or made into an angel. I have so much low expectations of myself. I think that Allah might be angry at me because I think of these things. I do not want to go back at my old time. I ask Him to guide me. I pray to Allah to have mercy on me but it hurts seeing these skinny girls and girls who complain to be fat when in reality they are thin. I feel so miserable. I ask Allah for forgiveness. I ask Him to comfort and connect me with Him. I have been grown in a country that only a few wore the hijab, in a country that saw sternly at Muhammad SAW and Islam. Then I moved to the UK. I am scared that Allah is angry with me even though I seek refuge from his anger. Do you have any suggestions in this regard? Jazakhumullah khair,Helen Abdul

Counselor

Answer


I Feel Ugly & Neglected

In this counseling answer:

Talk to your mom about your feelings. But don’t judge or blame. Know yourself, your strengths, and know that you are a beautiful and intelligent lady who is not less than anyone else. Do not let anyone put you down by projecting his or her own issues and insecurities on you. Have like-minded friends, do things you enjoy and most importantly strengthen your relationship with Allah. These will boost your self-confidence, inshallah. Pray for Him to bring you soon a man into your life who will marry you and shower you with the love and care you need and deserve.


As-Salamu ‘Aleikom sister,

Thank you for writing us. First of all, the symptoms of hirsutism and weight gain can be symptoms of a hormonal imbalance – especially relating to the adrenal or ovaries. It can also cause severe mental health issues as well. So, please sister, check this issue with a doctor. Go to your GP who will hopefully refer you to an endocrinologist. Inshallah, they will help you with these symptoms.

I am also concerned that you wrote you feel very depressed, you wish you were not born, and that you feel going insane. Please sister, seek counseling. If you don’t know where to start, let me recommend the Muslim Youth Helpline. It’s free in the UK. Please reach out to them.

Low Self-Esteem is Our Modern Times’ Disease

Low self-esteem is actually the disease of our modern times, especially among girls. According to dosomething.org, “7 in 10 girls believe that they are not good enough or don’t measure up in some way, including their looks, performance in school and relationships with friends and family members.” So you are not alone, sister.

The primary reasons one develops a low self-esteem are just what you mentioned in your message: uninvolved/preoccupied parents and bullying.

Most parents do their best to give everything for their children. However, when parents neglect their child’s (emotional) needs or hurt them, there’s something behind such behavior.

This might be true in your case as you wrote you feel your parents do not love each other. Although you cannot be sure, maybe your parents do have marital issues which affect their attitude towards you and your sister.

These reasons obviously do not justify their behavior towards you in any way, but might help you to see that their attitude is really not about you but themselves. You are a beautiful sister who deserves to be loved and cared for. Knowing of the common reasons behind neglect and bullying, however, might help you decrease their destructive effects on your self-evaluation.

Communicate Your Needs to Your Mom

About your feeling that your mom cares for your sister more than you, I advise you sister that first you sit down with yourself and try to understand your thoughts and emotions, what exactly triggered them and what you truly need. How do you feel about your mom? What exactly do you feel when she, for example, talks to your sister? What exactly do you need from her? Writing these down will help you see things clearer.

From what you said, I understand that you need more attention and care from your mother. So, find the best time and talk to your mom honestly. She loves you a lot and I am sure that you can remember many times when she actually did give you the care and attention you wanted. Can you remember any occasion? What did she do exactly and how did it make you feel? Where there times she showed attention and love towards you but maybe in a different way than you would have expected? This happens often – we think the other person doesn’t love us when in fact he or she just have other ways to express it.

When talking to your mom, take care to talk about yourself. Stay away from judging or blaming your mom or your sister. These might make your mom react to your words in a defensive way instead of listening to you emphatically. Say, for example, “mom, I feel hurt when you say ….” “I feel I am not as close to you as I wish to be. I want to spend more time with you, just you and me.”

I also strongly advise you to read about compassionate or nonviolent communication (NVC). It will help you a lot to understand yourself and communicate your needs to others.

However, if you experience any physical abuse from your family (but you were afraid to include it in your message), please follow this guide.

Stop the Bullies at the University

You can find many useful articles on our website about school bullying and bully against Muslims; why people bully others, the effects and the ways to stop the bullies. I advise you to check them out.

However, there is a simple technique which I particularly recommend to try at school. Social skill educator, Brooks Gibbs, advises then when you are bullied, the best thing you can do is staying calm and not getting upset. Please watch this short video in which he demonstrates and explains the technique. This obviously applies to verbal and not physical abuse. In case of physical abuse, you must report the incident to a trusted teacher or the university counselor.

High Self-esteem is learned not innate

It’s quite interesting that despite the fact that millions suffer from low self-esteem, self-confidence is the number one characteristic to gain success and earn the people’s recognition. You will not be hired to a job; your ideas will not influence others if you are not confident. This means self-confidence is something we can learn.

The top self-esteem booster tips are:

Self-Awareness: make two lists, one where you collect what you like about yourself and what you are good at. On the other paper write down what you would like to develop in yourself. It’s important that you do not look at these as weaknesses but as challenges.

For this, you can use the symptoms’ list you mentioned at the beginning of your message. For example, you feel you are “unable to accept compliments”. So, next time someone compliments your cloth or your achievement, you will stop all the negative thoughts that come to your mind and simply say “thank you, all praise is due to Allah”. Sister, you are worthy of this compliment. Allah blessed you with it so be grateful for Him and accept it.

You said you feel you are not beautiful enough. Is there anything you can do about it to change this perception? Would you feel better, for example, if you changed your eating habits and exercise more? If it is something you cannot change, then try accepting that Allah created you in this way, and so you are beautiful as you are.

Unfortunately, ads and commercials make us believe that there is only one type of beauty: currently the skinny girls with white skin and straight hair. Such ads cause any harm to the society for women and men alike, and there are many campaigns that fight against this false image and emphasize that beauty is really subjective. If you look around on the internet, you will find tons of inspiring videos from women who might not fit into the fake beauty box of Western marketers but are proud of their unique beauty. Look around for motivation!

Set life goals: part of the self-awareness is that you acknowledge your achievements and know what you want to do in your life. Set big goals and break them into small, achievable tasks.

Socialize: Surround yourself with righteous, like-minded companions who match this description of the Prophet:

The example of the believers, in their mutual love and mercy for one another, is like the example of one body, if one part feels pain, then all of the body suffers in sleeplessness and fever.” (Bukhari)

Do things you enjoy: start a new hobby, read a good book; do anything which makes you feel happy.

Allah Loves You   

Sister, be sure Allah loves you the way you are, and that is the most important thing for us as believers. I feel it’s actually you who are angry at yourself. Not Allah.

Sister, Allah created humans who are all prone to mistakes. What’s important that you realize your mistakes, you stop the sin, and sincerely repent to Allah. In fact, Allah loves those who sin and repent:

“By Him in whose hand is my soul, if you did not sin Allah would replace you with people who would sin and they would seek the forgiveness of Allah and He would forgive them.” (Muslim)

Don’t dwell much on the past as it’s done. But think of the future which you can shape.

I hope you find the answer helpful.

Salam,

Supervised by Dr. Aisha Muhammad-Swan

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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.

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About Aya Timea

Timea Aya Csányi pursues her BSc. degree in Psychology and Islamic Studies at the Islamic Online University (IOU). She is a freelance writer and editor of the Ask the Counselor section.

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