I Have Many Fears; Help Me Cope!

08 July, 2020
Q Assalamu alaikum dear sister.

Thank you for your previous advice, it was really helpful. I'm your sister from Bangladesh.

I've taken a tough decision regarding my personal life. I'm in the final year of my studies now. I don't know what's waiting for me in the future.

Many questions come in my mind regarding how I will cope with whatever types of negative situations in my life until death.

I need advice from you so much cause these matters are affecting me negatively.

1) How will I control anger?

2) How will I control frustration?

3) How will I be positive, happy & hopeful in spite of any negative situation?

4) How will I handle my own sadness alone without expressing it to anyone in productive ways cause I don’t expect anyone & everyone is busy with their life?

5)How will I alleviate & forget my pain if I am hurt by mistreatment & misbehavior of family members & people outside the home of both gender?

6)How will I forget the man of my fantasy & control sexual feelings by taking practical halal steps for my whole life as I don't want to marry due to many reasons?

7) I have a little opportunity for socializing as Masjids are not women-friendly, there is no religious groups of sisters in my area.

I have no friends at present, cause I had a study break before. What can I do for myself to feel happy & better?

8) As I mentioned before that I'm insecure about men in general for various reasons & I fear it will affect me negatively informal interaction with them in the future.

How will I overcome my anxiety & fear related to this matter?

Answer


In this counseling answer:

•For controlling anger you may do dkhir, reading Qur’an, deep breathing exercises, consciously choosing what to be angry about, as well as taking anger management classes.

•Follow simple stress reduction techniques or it would be beneficial to take an anger management class.

•Try to focus on the good and create a repertoire of good feelings that you can call upon when feeling negative thoughts or emotions emerge.

• When your mind starts to think about a man or intimacy, quickly divert your thinking to something else.

•Taking up a hobby, going to the gym, learning a new skill will all serve to make you feel happier and more fulfilled in life

• The more that you speak in public and interact with others, the less your anxiety and fear will become.

• Seek counseling to address your anxiety problems.


As Salamu Alaykum,

Our dear sister from Bangladesh, thank you for writing to us again. Alhamdulillah our previous advice was helpful.

I am happy to hear you are in your final year of study. Congratulations! I can imagine you do have any questions in your mind about what the future will bring.

Insha’Allah sister you will have a beautiful and bright future.

As this is your last year of study, it must be a very intense and stressful year. I can imagine there are a lot of exams to take and studying to do. Insha’Allah everything will go smoothly for you.

Controlling Anger and Frustration

It seems that you are concerned with numerous issues. You asked how you could control anger.

Anger is an emotion that we as humans experience from time to time. Some experience more intense episodes of anger than others.

Useful tips for controlling anger include doing dkhir, reading Qur’an, deep breathing exercises, consciously choosing what to be angry about, as well as taking anger management classes.

Oftentimes anger is related to sadness, pain or an inability to control one’s emotions. I would kindly recommend insha’Allah that you begin to practice stress management techniques such as deep breathing exercises, progressive body relaxation, and mindfulness.

Anger is related to frustration. You asked about frustration as well. Frustration comes about when we expect something and it does not come as fast as we wish or does not turn out as we like.

When frustration occurs repeatedly, anger can result. Basically, anger and frustration can go hand-in-hand.

The prescribed remedy for this insha’Allah is the same as for anger. By de-stressing the mind and body, one is more able to control levels of frustration and anger.

Sometimes simple stress reduction techniques do not work and it would be beneficial to take an anger management class.

I Have Many Fears; Help Me Cope! - About Islam

Many people take these classes and successfully learn to control anger and frustration levels. Anger management classes are often offered at community centers, counseling centers, as well as support group formats.

You may be interested in taking a class as well as incorporating stress management techniques and Islamic prescriptions such as discussed above.

Staying Happy and Positive

Staying happy, positive, and hopeful in spite of any negative situation is a challenge for anyone! It takes much focus, self-awareness, personal insight regarding triggers, as well as an anchor as we call it – to happy and hopeful moments in our lives.

When we were able to stay in the moment where we feel good, happy, and generally hopeful, it is easier to stay in this mindful state when confronting a negative situation.

It’s often looked at as a flow. Just as a negative situation flows in your mind, you can consciously let it exit out.

For instance, say you were in a situation where there’s a lot of noise, confusion and people are rushing about. You need to get somewhere and begin to feel negative feelings.

By focusing on a happy moment that you can recall and think about, insha’Allah you will be able to let the negative situation which comes to your mind slip-on through your mind flow.

By remembering that the negative situation is temporary, it helps you remain focused on the positive thought that you recall. This takes practice as anything else.

Sister, no one will always be positive happy and hopeful all the time. As human beings, we come with many emotions. Some good and some not so good.

The key is to try to focus on the good and create a repertoire of good feelings that you can call upon when feeling negative thoughts or emotions emerge.

Dealing with Hurt and Pain

You discussed your need to alleviate and forget the pain. You specifically discussed a situation if you were hurt or mistreated by family members, as well as people outside of the home.

The situation inside the home with family members is more easily addressed. It is more easily addressed because you could move out if you are an abusive situation.

It is not easily addressed mentally because these are family members, and it hurts when family members treat you bad.

The option, if it is not abusive but it is “just insulting or irritating”, is to either ignore it and be secure in your sense of self.

Avoid it by not being around those people in the home who are mistreating you, or confront them.

When you confront people who mistreat you, insha’Allah you do it in a way that is insightful and mature. This means having calm conversations and not getting angry and yelling.


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This may include writing your feelings out first. It could be about how you feel hurt when a family member does a certain thing.

By writing or journaling how we feel prior to talking with someone, our thoughts are calmer because we have already expressed them on paper, and our thoughts are more organized.

When our thoughts are organized and calm we are able to present ourselves in a more effective way.

Dealing with people outside of the home

Regarding people outside of the home, the same principle applies only to a lesser degree because you are not around people outside of the home as much as you are in the home.

People outside of the home who say mean or hurtful things can be addressed as well. This is done by ignoring distasteful remarks and letting them flow out of your mind.

It may be easier to do this with strangers, as it does not matter to the same degree as someone who knows us.

While it may hurt, they really don’t know us, so their words should not affect us. If we look at the things done or said in the context of ’does this really matter?;

Is this worth my feeling pain/hurt over?” We often find it is not worthy of our reactions, yet we automatically react instead of putting the words/actions in the proper ’box”.

Man of Fantasy & Sexual Desires

Sister, you are hoping to forget the man of your fantasy as well as control your sexual feelings. As you don’t want to get married for various reasons, you would like to take steps to control your sexual feelings for the rest of your life.

While this is not advisable as it goes against human nature, I can suggest the following techniques which would only be recommended for a short time.

To reduce sexual desire, I would kindly suggest the obvious. You would lower your gaze, not read or look at materials that are provocative or have to do with sex.

When your mind starts to think about a man or intimacy, quickly divert your thinking to something else.

This could be reading the Qur’an, thinking of an intense exam at school, doing a math problem, turning on a TV show, taking a walk, or any other activity which will reroute your thinking.

While I do not recommend this as a long-term strategy, in sha’Allah it will work in the short-term.

Social Life and Filling the Void

Regarding your social life sister, you stated that you have little opportunity to socialize at the Masjid as women are not friendly.

I would kindly suggest testing your hypothesis; try one more time and invite the sisters over for tea or invite them out for lunch. See how they respond. Perhaps they will become more friendly. If not, are there other Masjids in your area? If there are check them out.

At your university, look to see if there is a Student Muslim Association. This may prove to be beneficial for you.

Also, get involved in some charity work. Pick a cause that is close to your heart and find organizations in your city that are helping others in need. Doing charity work and helping others always brings joy.

In addition to bringing one joy, helping others also increases your chance of meeting nice people. Nice people usually like to do charity work from time to time.

Be positive

This will increase your chances of meeting people who are like you. Taking up a hobby, going to the gym, learning a new skill will all serve to make you feel happier and more fulfilled in life.

It is my feeling and I may be wrong please forgive me, but possibly sister you may be shy?

If this is the case, the more you socialize and get involved with people and activities, the more you’ll get used to it. This could be done in small increments. For instance, participate in charity activities such as feeding the homeless for 30 minutes.

The following week participates for one hour. As you build up your time socializing/charity, the easier it may become insha’Allah. To help make yourself feel happy and better, as mentioned above,  joining a gym or exercising really helps.

Exercising on a daily basis releases the feel-good hormones in our brain. If you get into a routine of exercising on a daily basis it is bound to make you feel happier.

Insecurity about Formal Interaction with Men

Your last question is about feeling insecure about talking with men in general. You asked how to overcome your anxiety and fear interacting on a formal basis.

You are seeking a way to interact with men in a formal way such as business/career and not in marriage seeking situations. The dynamics are different but the fear is the same. This also goes back to possible shyness.

Confidence

In order to interact with men in a professional manner informal interactions, you need to have confidence in yourself and your ability to present your conversations in an effective way.

I kindly suggest insha’Allah that you write down scenarios that you may encounter at work or at the university. It could be proposing a business plan or debating a decision.

Insha’Allah after you write down the scenarios, you begin to practice them in front of the mirror. Do it repeatedly until you feel comfortable with your presentation.

The scenarios that you practice do not have to match real-life scenarios. What this exercise does is giving you experience and confidence speaking in front of others.

While your practice sessions do not involve strangers, you may want to practice with a close family member or someone that you trust so that you get feedback.

If this is not possible there are also public speaking classes that you can take. Again, you can find classes such as these at your university, community center, career and job centers.

The more that you speak in public and interact with others, the less your anxiety and fear will become.

Conclusion

Sister, for every situation, emotion or void we try to fill or alter, we are often more emotional or fearful during the ’pre-thinking” phase.

When one is in the actual situation, then becomes either blown out of proportion (anger, rage) or freezing takes place (inability to express self, shyness, etc).

In other words, the reality of the situation and the ability to respond correctly is faulty due to overthinking or underthinking.

By seeking balance, putting things in perspective as well as learning stress management techniques, insha’Allah you will find great resources within yourself – the place where happiness begins.

Editor’s note,

Sister, if you find these strategies are not enough and you still feel anxious about these issues you mentioned, please seek professional counseling to address you anxiety problems.

We wish you the best!

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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 Aisha Mohammad
Aisha received her PhD in psychology in 2000 and an MS in public health in 2009. Aisha worked as a Counselor/Psychologist for 12 years for Geneva B. Scruggs Community Health Care Center in New York. Aisha specializes in trauma, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, marriage/relationships issues, as well as community-cultural dynamics. She is certified in Restorative Justice/ Healing Circles, Conflict Resolution, Mediation, and is also a certified Life Coach.
Aisha works at a Family Resource Center, and has a part-time practice in which she integrates healing and spirituality using a holistic approach. Aisha plans to open a holistic care counseling center for Muslims and others in the New York area in the future, in sha' Allah. Aisha is also a part of several organizations that advocate for social & food justice. In her spare time she enjoys her family, martial arts classes, Islamic studies as well as working on her book and spoken word projects.