How Can I Control My Habit of Exaggerating?

30 September, 2020
Q Assalamualekum, I have a certain way of talking in which I exaggerate things to make my talk powerful, this is my way of talking since childhood I don't realise sometimes that I am exaggerating certain things.  Recently I had a cat fight with my sister in law in response she blamed me for being a liar. This blame really hurt me and I asked forgiveness from Allah for all my sins including my habit of exaggeration, though I don't lie but my husband also believes that I exaggerate things more often .  How can I overcome this problem? This blame has caused me deep pain and low self-esteem . My intention has been judged wrongly. How can I improve and will Allah forgive me for this?

Answer

Short Answer:

  • Sister, if you seek sincere repentance then insha’Allah, Allah WILL forgive you. I also suggest you make du’a for Allah to guide you to stop exaggerating and that He will make a path to doing this apparent to you.
  • It would help to take a deep breath, pause the conversation, and give some thought to what you want to say. Find a strategy that works for you.
  • Sister, please seek counseling with a licensed therapist (not a sheikh or imam) who can help you tackle why you have low self-esteem. This person will be able to help you develop strategies not only to improve upon destructive habits, but also strategies to improve your view of yourself.

………….

Salaam alaykum sister,

Thank you so much for your question. It can be hard to admit one’s faults and flaws and I believe it was brave of you to try to address your problem of exaggerating and look for a solution.

You are Not Alone

Sister, I think you will find that this is actually not an uncommon mannerism at all. I am not telling you this to let you know that it’s fine and you don’t need to work on yourself. But I do want you to know that you are not alone.

Many people struggle with things like this. So many people struggle with our self-esteem and it is almost reflexive to try to build ourselves up in front of others.

Some people do this by putting others down. Others, such as yourself, may speak in an exaggerated way to achieve the same goal.

In my opinion, the former is worse. Putting others down and making them feel bad is a sin against other people as well as Allah.

When you exaggerate, you are mostly hurting only yourself, though your relationships may be affected. My point being, again, not to give you excuses. But I do hope you can take into account the consideration that your behavior is harmful mostly to yourself.

Will Allah Forgive Me?

This phrase I say so often that my phone’s predictive text suggests the words to me: Allah is Rahman and Raheem. He is the Most Forgiving.

Sister, if you seek sincere repentance then insha’Allah, Allah WILL forgive you. I also suggest you make du’a for Allah to guide you to stop this habit and that He will make a path to doing this apparent to you.

Allah knows your heart, sister. He knows whether you intend to harm people with this bad habit.

How Can I Control My Habit of Exaggerating?

You have taken the first step: you have recognized this habit and recognized that it is harmful. If your husband is a supportive partner, I suggest you ask for his continued help. Ask him to kindly point out to you when you start exaggerating in this way that you do.

Only ask him if he can help in a gentle and loving way. Tearing someone down is a bad way to help. If you can’t rely on your husband, ask someone else in your life who you can count on to help. It is good that you recognize the behavior is harmful, but it can still be hard to catch oneself in the act.

Once you start seeing more clearly when you are exaggerating to build yourself up, and you are able to stop this, try to develop a different habit.

I don’t know you personally, so I don’t know what would work for you. For me, it would help for me to take a deep breath, pause the conversation, and give some thought to what I want to say. Find a strategy that works for you.

However, in your question, you stated that you believe this bad habit comes from you having low self-esteem. Yes, you can develop new habits and strategies, but your problem won’t really be fixed without addressing the real cause of the issue. You may end up swapping out one bad habit for another.

Sister, please seek counseling with a licensed therapist (not a sheikh or imam) who can help you tackle why you have low self-esteem. This person will be able to help you develop strategies not only to improve upon destructive habits, but also strategies to improve your view of yourself.

You are a creation of Allah – you deserve to view yourself in the light that He surely sees you.

And Allah knows best.

I hope this helps.

Salam and please keep in touch.

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About Leah Mallery
Leah is a Muslim convert of almost a decade. She has two kids, an intercultural marriage, and half of a French degree in her back pocket, looking to switch gears to science and medicine. She has lived abroad for over a decade, having just recently become reacquainted with her roots in America. She currently lives in Michigan near her family and – masha’Allah – a sizeable Muslim community.