I have been suffering from an anxiety disorder coupled with low-level depression for a few years now. It has affected my ability to complete my education on time and leaves me feeling unable to leave the house or interact with people as I used to as I always feel extremely self-conscious.
My parents, although supportive, do not fully understand how I feel and as I am their only daughter, and they often become frustrated when marriage discussions arise, and I tell them about my fears regarding marriage.
At the base of it I would like to marry. However, I feel that I am very unattractive, and coupled with my mental health problems and an overall lack of personality, I fail to see why anybody would be interested in me.
Nobody has ever shown any interest in me at all, and although I am grateful for that in the sense of keeping things halal, it just makes me feel even worse about myself. If there was something attractive about me, surely I would have been approached in some way by now.
As I am due to finish my education soon, my parents will be thinking more about marriage and I feel very anxious and sad. I don't think I can handle rejection and I cannot discuss how I feel about myself with them because they will be upset. How do I overcome these feelings?
In this counseling answer:
• Stop criticizing yourself!
• Verbalize your fears and expect them to understand your problems.
• I would suggest maintaining a journal in which you highlight the positive aspects of your personality.
• Don’t be afraid of being judged.
• I feel it is essential that you explore what the roots of the problem are.
• Seek help from a professional counselor.
• Connect with Allah.
As-salamu Alaikum sister,
I am sorry to hear about the problems you are facing and genuinely empathize with your situation. However, I would also like to assure you that there are a lot of women out there who face similar issues, and it is nothing that cannot be resolved with counseling/psychotherapy In shaa’ Allah.
Firstly, you have mentioned that you have an anxiety disorder, coupled with minor depression. You have also mentioned how this affects your studies and your interaction with other people.
Your major concern that you have mentioned in the post is that your parents want you to get married. While you want to marry, you feel as though you will not be able to and that no one will be interested in you.
Furthermore, you are not sure if you will be able to fulfill the demands of the marriage considering your social interaction skills.
Sister, from your post, I feel that your self-confidence is really low, and that is impacting your functioning as well as your mental peace. Here are a few suggestions which might help you in your current situation.
Stop Criticizing Yourself
The first thing you need to do in your current situation is to stop criticizing yourself! We often learn to criticize ourselves from our environment, our parents, and other significant people.
Usually, the reason we are self-judgmental is that we keep comparing ourselves to other people we admire and wish to be like. What we do not realize is that we are all created uniquely by Allah SWT, and He has created us so for a reason. There is no need for us to be otherwise.
Be Direct Regarding Your Issues with Your Parents
I feel as though there is a communication gap between you and your parents, which is why you are not able to communicate to them how you feel.
However, this is an important issue that you need to help your parents understand. It is likely that they will try to brush it off but be persistent and let them know how you feel and how it will impact your future.
Do not feel embarrassed or ashamed to tell them that you have anxiety in social situations, and you feel uncomfortable when they talk about your marriage. Verbalize your fears and expect them to understand your problems.
Check out this counseling video:
However, if you feel as though your parents still do not understand your perspective, find a professional counselor and explore your situation.
Work on Your Self-esteem
Sister, it is important that you realize that none of us are perfect. We all have our own strengths and weaknesses, as well as positive and negative points.
From your post, it seems that you have a strong tendency to downplay your positive points and focus on your negative points, which is also why you feel so self-conscious around people and are unable to interact with people.
I would suggest maintaining a journal in which you highlight the positive aspects of your personality. Make a habit of jotting down something positive/valuable you did during the day. It could be anything; such as being helpful to somebody, preparing a good meal, painting or anything that you are good at.
The world is not just “black and white” – it is also grey! You cannot label yourself as completely unattractive or useless. There are definitely a lot of positive and attractive parts to your personality which you have either not made the effort to see or haven’t had a chance to explore.
Do Not “Fear” Marriage
Sister, do not fear marriage. As Muslims, it is our belief that everything is pre-destined, and happens according to the Will of Allah SWT. Allah has created everything in pairs.
In the Quran, Allah SWT says, “And We created you in pairs” [78:8]
You do not need to worry about not getting a proposal or being rejected because you think you are unattractive. Allah SWT has already decided for us who will be the right partner for us, and when the time is right, you will find them.
Understand the Vicious Cycle of Anxiety / Low Self-esteem
Sister, I want you to understand the vicious cycle of anxiety / low self-esteem. You feel as though you will not be able to cope with certain situations, including social situations.
Therefore, you either avoid those situations or if do expose yourself to those situations – you are already anxious about your “performance” or how you appear to others.
When you are so self-conscious, you subconsciously appear “closed-off” or “guarded” to people. Therefore, people avoid approaching you even if they want to. When you are anxious, you automatically give of non-verbal cues, telling people not to approach you.
Try to Expose Yourself to Social Situations
It might be a good idea to expose yourself to social situations bit by bit. Try relaxation techniques such as breathing activities and grounding when you feel too nervous. Don’t be afraid of being judged.
Exposing yourself slowly to such situations will help you get better at it, and you will also make friends in the process.
You could also look for a part-time job or internship as it would give you an opportunity to develop appropriate skills to deal with social situations.
Seek Help from A Professional Counselor to Explore Deeper Issues
From your post, I feel there are several underlying issues that have been causing you anxiety and depression for the past several years.
In order to truly overcome your anxieties and insecurities, I feel it is essential that you explore what the roots of the problem are. Only then will you be able to heal from your anxiety and feelings of inadequacy.
While you may try to explore the issues yourself, going to a professional counselor may benefit your better because we often need help looking at our life from another person’s perspective and need help with untangling the strings.
Connect with Allah
Lastly, connect with Allah SWT regarding all your problems and concerns. He is the All-Seer, All Listener and is there for you in easy times and during hardships. He puts His believers through difficulties so that they can connect with Him and ask Him for Help and Mercy.
In the Quran, Allah SWT says,
“And indeed, We have created man, and We know whatever thoughts his inner self develops, and We are closer to him than (his) jugular vein.” (Quran 50:16)
May Allah SWT make all endeavors easy for you.
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