I’ve been having an internal conflict for some time now. I know I am a very flawed individual, but hearing other people gossip about it, especially those close to me, hurts beyond measure. I can feel nothing but hatred for them, particularly a certain person who often bullies me subtly.
I have a friend who would talk about me and say how I am very disobedient, immature, and irresponsible because I don't do my household chores very well or because I couldn't study properly. She is a person who yells at her mother often for minor things, hides whom she talks to on her phone from her mother, and was never that good in her studies either.
Yet, I’ve always been understanding towards her problems. I’m not trying to come off as proud or anything, but I cannot recall one time I’ve said anything intentionally to hurt her, be it front of her face or behind her back. Then why does she, and a few other people, always come after me?
Since I have never interfered with her business, can I not expect her to be kind towards me? Granted, she only does this because she wants me to rectify myself, but then why say it to my face? Why always talk behind my back?
This kind of behavior has even taken a mental toll on me. I keep replaying in my head every harsh word I caught them saying about me, and I keep thinking about just how much they’ve said that I still don’t know about. In fact, every time I do anything, I feel their eyes on me, shaming me, even if they aren’t physically there.
I don't trust them or anyone anymore. I have consulted with a few over this issue, and each time I am given the same answer: " Forgive them, move on and improve yourself. Allah loves those who forgive.". However, it's easier said than done.
It's not like if I forgive them, they will just stop. Also, I can't bring myself to forgive them as my hatred towards them grows with each passing day. I don’t know what’s the right thing to do in this kind of situation. How can I handle this maturely? Please advise me. Thank you.
In this counseling answer:
• Let people know clearly what behavior you will take from them, and what you will not.
• You should be certain that you are good enough just as you are.
• By using I-statements, you take complete ownership of your feelings and let the other person know how their behavior is affecting you.
• Acceptance is the first step towards change.
• Instead of being around people who drain you emotionally, mentally, and physically, it is better to find activities that you enjoy doing which boost your self-confidence and make you feel better about yourself.
Assalamu alaikum sister,
I am sorry you are going through this difficult situation in your life. From what you have mentioned in the post, it is apparent that you are in a relationship with some very toxic people who are abusing you mentally and emotionally.
We often dismiss this sort of abuse, but it is indeed extremely mentally and emotionally taxing. Furthermore, it keeps you going in circles and inhibits your growth as a person, obstructs your personal growth, and makes you doubt yourself.
As you have also mentioned, when people constantly criticize you, gossip about you, or make you feel small, not only do you feel engulfed by shame, but you also have this constant pressure of not making another mistake. You subconsciously start pressurizing yourself to do the right thing.
Also, you drain yourself out trying to make that extra effort to please people or to prove your worth to them, whereas no matter what you will do, it will never be enough for them.
In your question, you mentioned that you find it difficult to forgive them, and you questioned what would be the best way to deal with such a problem.
Sister, it is important to realize that you cannot ‘force’ forgiveness. When your heart is clear and washed from the abuse and torment you have been through, only then can you forgive the other person. You are under no obligation to forgive the other person if you do not want to.
To deal with this situation, the first thing you need to do is be aware that their behavior towards you is wrong, demeaning, and abusive. Therefore, you have no compulsion to be nice to them or remain friends with them. If you are in a situation where distancing yourself permanently is not an option, here are a few techniques that can help you cope with the situation better:
Create Healthy Boundaries for Yourself
Sister, it is important that you establish firm boundaries with people. Let people know clearly what behavior you will take from them, and what you will not. If the girl is giving off remarks that you are disobedient, irresponsible, etc…, you have a right to tell her that she has no right to cast judgement on you or tell you what you should do.
Once you are able to communicate your boundaries to people assertively, they won’t be able to bully you as freely.
Believe in Yourself
From your post, I assume the reason you are having trouble with these group of people is that you doubt yourself. You look to others for validation and self-worth. Therefore, when you do not receive it from others you feel so bad about yourself.
It makes you feel ashamed and small. You should be certain that you are good enough just as you are. You have no need for other people’s approval, nor do you need to do anything to prove your worth to other people. The right ones will see that worth in you just as you are.
Be Assertive About Your Feelings
Another important thing to recognize is that you are not able to communicate with the people who are causing you emotional pain. It is important that you convey to them how hurt, disappointed, and low you feel when they treat you like this.
Check out this counseling video:
Learning to communicate your feelings is an important step, and unless you own and show your feelings, other people may not even realize the damage they are inflicting on you.
Practice using “I-Statements”, because in situations such as these, it is easy to fall into a blame game. By using I-statements, you take complete ownership of your feelings and let the other person know how their behavior is affecting you.
For instance, you can say ‘I feel really hurt when you gossip about me behind my back’ or you can say ‘I feel unworthy and ashamed when you say I am irresponsible and disobedient and I think that I am neither of those things’.
So, when you take responsibility of your own feelings, thoughts, and behaviors, the other person is not in a position to put the blame on you.
Be Aware of Who You Are and Accept Yourself
Sister, no one in this world is perfect. We all have limitations and flaws. However, it is only possible to be ‘whole’ once we are aware of our flaws and accept them fully. Acceptance is the first step towards change. If you let the voices in your surroundings penetrate you, you will only sink deeper into self-doubt and feelings of worthlessness.
Surround Yourself with Positive People
As human beings, we have an inborn need to interact with people. And the kind of people we interact with has a lot of impact on the kind of people we become, as well as on our habits, mindsets, and ways of thinking.
So, it if this particular group of people is making you feel low about yourself, it may be necessary that you replace them with positive people who care about you, are genuine, and share your set of values.
Indulge Yourself in Productive Activities
Sometimes, due to life circumstances, we have limited access to people. Instead of being around people who drain you emotionally, mentally, and physically, it is better to find activities that you enjoy doing which boost your self-confidence and make you feel better about yourself.
For instance, you can try out reading, writing, painting, walking, or just about anything that makes you ‘feel good’.
Let Forgiveness Come Naturally
Sister, we are often taught that in order to move on, we have to forgive those who hurt us. When forgiveness is forced, it does more harm to yourself than good.
When you have dealt with all the emotional pain that was inflicted on you, forgiveness will not seem like such a big deal. For now, just know that you will learn to forgive people once you have healed yourself.
I wish you all the best.
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.