Self-Esteem: Dogmatism Makes Me Feel Like A Failure

19 October, 2021
Q As Salam o Alaikum,

I am a 35 year old man married for six years and unemployed since I got married. I understand that rizq is only provided by the will of Allah but my situation is unique and my bank balance is getting low day by day. As I am growing older my personality is getting weaker due to the toxic home environment and even though I am married I don’t have an exit strategy. I fear poverty and a homeless life.

My mom got into the habit of saying shh to everything I say and dad got into the habit of controlling my movements and criticizing everything I do (the way I walk, talk, do things). Relatives also treat me badly just because they saw parents pointing out things in front of them.

I grew up in Saudi Arabia Alhamdullillah, in a small city 400 km north of Madinah. I was home schooled since there was no school for kids who didn’t speak Arabic. My dad was a plant supervisor in the Ministry of Electricity for 24 years and also a community leader arranging embassy services and school examinations proctored by teachers from Jeddah. While everyone else in the family was in Pakistan. All of them came to Canada around the same time. Now my situation is totally opposite and unique, my dad is retiring this month and I don’t know how to find and keep a proper job.

My parents immigrated to Canada in 2001 for my education when I was in grade 9. Time went by and now I am the only one in the family without a degree struggling to find even a minimum wage job for the last two years. I didn't do well in school and studied IT at private career college and ended up working here and there through agencies and at retail stores.

I only have one sister (five years younger) who is an MBA and manager of her department in a well known credit bureau. Parents think I don't want to do anything and I live with them and the rest of the family and friends take my job situation as a joke and treat me like a kid. My sister moved out to an apartment in Toronto last year making the home environment more toxic. My dad is retiring from the same company he has been working at since 2007 while my mom also works in retail at the same place for almost 15 years. In my case people easily say I will never succeed because I don't have a degree while I see people without degrees getting good jobs as well.

My life was controlled since birth including my marriage which was planned even though I was not settled. Parents started looking for a groom for my sister when she was 23 but she said No. So they sent my proposal to a few places fearing how I will get married. Since these days people ask about degrees even for a girl's marriage.

My wife’s family agreed so they got me married. When I said I'm only working temp through agencies parents said wife and kids bring their own provision. Other parents say first become able to earn a living but in my case decisions were put on me. I was criticized and taunted and given instructions for everything I did all my life. I have zero friends because for some reason people start treating me like crap in the first few meetings. Something is built now in my personality that even in my mid 30's even nice people start treating me like a kid saying anything comes to their mind. When I react I become a villain not a victim of bad behavior.

Married for six years and with no kids I still don’t know how to earn and can’t even find a minimum wage job. While others who got married after us have kids and they are thinking about their schooling not about how to earn. I can’t even provide basic life to my wife. In my family everyone has a high level of education (professional degrees). While from my wife's side most people never went to college but are buying properties every few years and changing cars. When I share my situation instead of guidance and networking, people including nice and educated guys get too personal with their criticism (looks etc). Most people start controlling behavior e.g. taunting, shh etc.

I already assume negative results out of every thing I attempt and when that happens my belief about my inability to succeed becomes stronger. Also, the wisdom is to get closer to Allah who is the only one provides and not share everything about the past to people. Because people show sympathy from outside but then instead of helping me with job search or resume or interview skills, they start criticism on my looks, clothes (if I wear dress shirts they tell me to dress casual and when I do that they say otherwise) and body language and get too personal with their comments.

They start controlling me as if I’m a puppet or avoiding me including nice people and adults in their 40's and 50's. I avoid parents at home. All this what I am going through is because of wrong decisions. In my life everything was imposed on me and just happened. When a man gets married he already knows how to earn and is settled but in my case I was given no choice just like girls are given no choice back home.

In our family my sister who is five years younger is still single and her excuse is career while she is already a manager in a multinational financial institution. In my case my family only thinks about minimum wage jobs for me which won't be sufficient to live a basic life and can’t even find that I have a label that "he does not want to do anything" . In Canada just the monthly rent is around 2000 dollars and the retail jobs only pay $1500 even if I find one. I've told so many lies about my job to people and unfortunately everyone from both sides live in the same city.


In this counseling session:

It is vital that you draw your personal boundaries with people.

It is essential that you learn to explore your personal values and the things that are important to YOU in life.

Take out time for self-care.

Let go of helplessness.

Try seeking professional help.

Ask Allah for help and guidance.

Assalamu Alaikum, 

Brother, thank you for reaching out. From your post, I understand that you are in a lot of mental and emotional turmoil because you feel that you are not financially stable, still living with your parents and you feel as though you are inadequate to provide for your family, especially your wife, even with basic life’s necessities.

Chat with the Life Coach

However, from your post I also understand that there are a lot of underlying reasons that contribute to your financial instability. One of the most important contributing factors is a low self-esteem. 

There are several things which I have picked up from your post, which I feel you need to work on to help you feel better about yourself, which will also help to improve you to find a better job. 

Working on your Boundaries With Other People

It is vital that you draw your personal boundaries with people. Instead of letting people order you around, it is important that you know what you want to do for yourself. For instance – your sister drew a boundary for herself that she wanted to move out of the house and work on her own professional and personal well-being. While it may seem selfish, but it was a step which she felt that she had to take for herself. 

The point I am trying to make is that it is essential for you to know what you want from life, instead of other people dictating you what you should or should not do. Similarly, as you have also mentioned about the clothing in your post – that people make trivial comments, telling you how you should dress or not dress – the reason why other people’s comments bother you so much is that you constantly seek, and want to have other people’s approval. 

And one of the reasons you struggle with getting that approval from people, is that everyone around you has differing opinions and no matter what you do; you cannot seem to please everyone. 

Check out this counseling video:

Understanding What Is Important To You

It is essential that you learn to explore your personal values and the things that are important to YOU in life. What would you want to do if there was not any pressure from the parents, wife or the society in general? What were your dreams to become, when you were younger?

Sometimes we don’t allow our personal needs, wants and values to emerge in our consciousness, just because we have such a deep need to conform to the other people around us. And while trying to conform, we get lost in the process because that is not who we truly are.

Establishing A Sense Of Who You Are 

Once you start exploring and understanding your own values, strengths and desires – you will begin to establish a sense of who you are and what you want from life. Establishing a sense of self or an identity is vital in being able to pursue your goals and ideology of life. 

As long as you do not find out who you are and what you want in life, you will continue to be told by people what you should or should not do. 

Despite all this, I feel as though you have already accomplished the first step of change – which is accepting yourself for who you are, and therefore, you are already on the road to positive self-change. 

Take out Time For Self-Care

Self-care is very important and also very interlinked with our sense of self. For instance, if you feel as though you are not “good-enough”, you’ll find it harder to take out time for yourself and would feel guilty when you do take out time for your own self, doing things that you enjoy. 

Self-care can be anything which helps you feel refreshed and revitalized. For instance, it can be solitary walk, or a good read, writing, travelling etc. i.e., anything that helps you connect with yourself on a deeper level.  

Self-care and connecting deeply to yourself, gives you the space that you need to ultimately figure out what you want in life. 

Let Go Of Helplessness

Time and again, while reading your post, I got a repeated sense of helplessness. As though you feel helpless and powerless about what is done to you, and instead of being an active participant in your life, you are merely a passive observer.

This is not actually true – you need to understand and accept that you have power over people and circumstances. Allah SWT has created all human beings equal and has given the power to plan and also to execute those plans.

Sometimes, it is easy to fall into the “victim” trap, when you start blaming circumstances and people, and not taking ownership of who you are and what you want from life and also, the lack of belief that good things can happen to you. 

Try Seeking Professional Help

Self-Esteem: Dogmatism Makes Me Feel Like A Failure - About Islam

Brother, I sense that there are a lot of underlying things that are affecting your self-esteem and hence your ability to perform well in different areas of life. For instance, criticism from parents earlier in life may have become ingrained in you.

It may help if you seek professional counselling and therapy consistently for a couple of months. It will not only help you do better professionally, but also help you maintain healthier relationships with your family and most importantly, your own self. 

Ask Allah For Help And Guidance

Last but not the least – ask Allah SWT for His help and Guidance. Allah is the one who ultimately has the solutions to all our problems. He is the one who sent us into this world. It is also important to understand that life in this world is a test.

He tests each and every one of us in different ways – but at the same time, He has also given us some degree of power to own and control our life, and when there are adverse circumstances, we learn to adapt ourselves. Wish you all the best in life.



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 are liable for any damages that may arise from your decision in the use of our services.

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About Zainab Farrukh
Zainab Farrukh is a Counseling Psychologist. She is deeply inspired to bring about change at the individual, interpersonal and global levels.  She can be reached on her Facebook page – Thrive Now