slip-sliding away…..

Stop

Posted by Yacoob on February 1, 2008

There’s a lot to be said for delayed reactions: Stopping yourself from instinctively reacting. Forcing yourself to not go the usual route, and trying to take the situation in, see the bigger picture and the good in it; then decide how you WANT to respond.

When you can do that, I think a degree of success has been bestowed on you in terms of how to manage the trials of this life.

This has been a tremendously trying last month for me, with life being a rollercoaster of experiences – good, bad, and most definitely challenging.  And *how* badly I respond to such challenges has been exposed, over and over again. I’m sad to say: I fail. Many times, I just fail.

There’s an impulsiveness in me. A spoilt little kid, who wants everything his way, and often lets his first reactions – whether expressed or held in – be one of selfishness: “what does this mean for me?”. “How does this affect what I had in mind?

But when you face a barrage of such difficult situations, and you see yourself falling short again and again, you begin to realise that you’re supposed to be learning from these mistakes. You’re supposed to be realising that there’s something fundamentally wrong within you, and the only way that’s going to change is if you yourself recognise your flaws, and commit yourself to changing, improving, being better than what your instinctive self has been all this time.               

I never imagined life could be this insane. I never thought a person could be subjected to so much ‘trouble’ – so much confrontation, so much turmoil, so many home truths being shoved in your face in such succession.

But it is as it was meant to be; and the brutal honesty is something we all need; especially if we’ve lived most of our lives in our own worlds – as is the case with me.

Life’s challenges can make you or break you. They are there to put you in your place: show you when you aren’t living up to the standards you should be; either those placed on you by others, but especially those you aspire to for yourself.

Difficulty builds character. It is a blessing, a gift from our Creator, to shape and mould us into a better form. To bring us out of complacency and false comfort, and push us to strive for what we know is right.

Strive to rise above the superficiality and fickleness of the visible life; and remember that we each have, within us, a beautiful soul which yearns for the real life.

And how we handle things in this life, largely, is an indication of what awaits us once the curtains are closed, and we face the true reality which every soul shall taste. 

With hardship comes ease. And without hardship, we wouldn’t appreciate the ease when we do have it.

So, next time you’re faced with something which immediately demands your reaction, take a moment to stop, think, then respond in the way which portrays the best of your ambitions for who you want to be.

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8 Responses to “Stop”

  1. Zahera said

    In good- Alhamdullilah. In bad- also Alhamdullilah :-) Its a conversation i had last week with a freind where we realised that in our good times and times of ease- we often forget to thank Allah for blessing us with such comforts and ease in life because you just never know when those circumstances will change.

    We all have our own flaws and faults.. like you said, its about identifying them and strengthening our weaknesses.
    Nice post Dreamy.

  2. bb-aisha said

    And sometimes, even when we stop & think, & know that the measured reaction is better than the hasty one, we still go with the latter.
    Society has shaped us to be selfish-as you said we live in our own worlds. So many of us can’t look beyond how relationships with others will benefit our world. We don’t stop to think our we can benefit their world.

    I think this was one of your best posts:-) Give Alia my slms

  3. Dreamlife said

    You know what’s scary, though? Apparently, as you get older, it gets harder to change. Harder to shake a bad habit on the one hand, and replace it with a good one on the other.

    Maybe that’s a generalisation, but I think it’s true, because you see how older people are set in their ways. And often, it doesn’t even take age to make you set in your ways: it can be the way something’s always been done in your home, family, or whatever. And you stick to that because that’s your comfort zone, and you don’t have the courage to venture beyond it…or even worse, the perspective to see that you need to make a significant alteration to yourself.

    No one likes criticism, even if it’s warranted – but criticism is so very important. And it’s equally important to remember that, when it comes from those closest to you, their words are out of love, and their intentions are good. But we’re often so quick to become defensive and reactive, and it’s only later that we realise silence really is golden.

    A good rule of thumb would be to tend towards silence, especially in a situation when you could say the wrong thing.

    There’s several hadiths I’ve heard about being silent, rather than speaking.

    I think we don’t take the gift of speech seriously enough; seeing it as a responsibility, and something we should not abuse.

    Anyway, thanks for the comments.

    Zahera: hope your wedding goes well (or is it over already?).

    Bibi-Aisha: let me know how the magazine is coming along. I’d still love to contribute once in a while, if anything I have fits the theme.

  4. al said

    i’ve heard, dunno if its a hadith or not, that when ur angry and standing, u shuld sit, and if sitting u shuld lay on the floor.

    and to me thats so wise, u know like you say to stop ureself b4 u say anything wrong or even sinful…

    and if we only practised upon these ahadith life would be so pure and beautiful..

    i remember when my sister and i went through a stage, or rather just me, and i hated her. everything she said/did was offensive to me. and then when i was in the initial stages of changing, i made a consciuos effort to do the above every time i wanted to lash out at her and say something nasty.. and eventually it worked..

    today, +/- two years later, we’re kinda like best freinds. not just coz of me doing teh above but it sure helped…

    i often forget to follow these things through and whats worse is that we often dont revise those ahadith we once read and had the intention of following for a better life, with the result that we end up being the nasty and hot-tempered ppl we were trying to avoid becomming.

    human beings are inherently weak and tend twd hastiness. like our parents and grandparents say: ‘sabr my child, sabr’

    so true…

  5. Dreamlife said

    and what’s scary, and should bring to reality the seriousness of our actions towards others, is that on the Day of Judgement, there will be complete justice: if you oppressed anyone, or did anything bad to someone, some of your good deeds will go to them as ‘compensation’ or payback for how u wronged them.

    and if you run out of good deeds to pay them back, some of their bad deeds will go to you.

    so, even if a person had the best levels of salaah, fasting, any ibadah – but they had bad character, they were unjust and oppressive towards others, they will still have to pay for what they did to others.

    (info from Anwar Al-Awlaki’s “The Hereafter” series. more on this at: http://www.salaattime.com/anwar.html)

    it just emphasises how, while improving our character and reactions and stuff is good because we WANT to be better people – it’s actually even beyond just a personal choice: it’s something which is NECESSARY, if we want to try to avoid hardship on the Day of Judgement.

    (by the way, i highly, highly recommend that series of lectures to everyone. we’re in a state of sleep in these times, and the Prophet s.a.w. has passed down SO MUCH info about what awaits us in this world and the next…we’d have to be truly oblivious if we didn’t seek this knowledge)

    and it is true also that we need to revise these things – hadith and advices; because they’re not one-off bits of info that we’ll never need again. they are the Guidance on how to get through this world successfully, and that, really, is the most important thing you can study – a priority far more important than any other kind of knowledge.

    oh, and another tip for anger – either when you’re angry, or another person is angry with you / in your presence:

    *get a small mirror in which you can see a whole face.
    *when you/the person is angry, look in the mirror/show them what they look like when angry.

    if they see what their face looks like, it’s bound to have an impact on them. no one wants to see themselves at their worst moments, and this mirror thing is a brilliant idea because it shows the angry person the physical ugliness of their anger; right there, in their face.

    (thanks to whoever or wherever that bit of advice came from…i don’t remember anymore)

  6. Zahera said

    Excellent posts from the both of you mashaAllah :) May Allah (swt) bless you both, may He guide your marriage to the highest level of Prosperity, guard it and instill Love and Rehmaa between your hearts. Ameen.

    Reminds me of something my mum always used to say. “When one of you is fire, the other one should become water.” Its very true. Alhamdullilah i dont get angry very easily but i have moments where i have to stop myself and remain silent so that i can process what im thinking and the effects it may have on the person im lashing out on.

    Its true that Rasoolullah SAW said the tongue is the most powerful tool. (im sure you remember a blog entry i wrote about the power of speech and its consequences). I have a tendency to go quiet when i dont appreciate or like something because im not sure that i like what my mind is thinking. Its an instant reaction, and emotional and irrational reaction. Therefore in some ways i guess there is a benefit in the fact that i have to process things first before giving an immediate reaction.

    Alia- youre very right about the hadeeth on anger. It has been said that if one is standing they should sit, if one is sitting then one should lie down- because these are all states of humblessness. Drinking water is also helpful, as is doing wudhu or going away and sitting alone for a while.

    Old habits die hard as they say. Like you mention- sometimes they are so embedded in us that its very difficult to break away from them. Sometimes the reality of it is, that we dont want to break away! We like the way things are, we dont want to have to adapt to change, its a comfort zone and its all youve ever known and done and so that is the correct way to do things in your opinion.
    Youre also right about people not liking criticism- but then ive always found and im beginning to realise even more that its the ones that love us and know our weaknesses better than anyone that appear to hurt us the most. This is infact not hurt- its just a bash to the ego cos they see it and say it for what it is lol. Its not meant with any malice or offense- its meant out of sincere love. The key to it all ofcourse is- having hikmah in the way you say things rather than what you are saying.

    Kher- we should all be mindful of how we will be judged on Yaumal Qiyamah. We are told to look at ourselves and take reckoning of ourselves before we are called to our reckoning. May Allah (swt) save us all from the agoniers of death, the azhaab of the grave and from the fire of Jahannum! Ameen.

    Sorry for the long post lol *looks sheepish*
    JazakAllah Khair for the best wishes- its in about 4 weeks time inshaAllah so please make duaa for us :-)

  7. Dreamlife said

    “The key to it all ofcourse is- having hikmah in the way you say things rather than what you are saying.”

    that is SO SO SO true. i’ve said a similar thing to others: you can have the best advice; and what you’re saying can be absolutely true and the best thing; but if you say it in the wrong way – with the wrong tone, or or with the wrong approach, then your efforts can be wasted. especially when the person you’re talking to is stubborn. (and i know a few of those, myself included :)

    Anyway, thanx so much, Zahera. Alhamdullilah, today is our 4 month anniversary, and it’s been an enormous adventure so far with ups and downs and so much to learn about ourselves and each other.

    I can barely remember what it felt like before we married…can’t recapture that feeling often; like this literally is a new life now. And you know, despite whatever trials we’ve gone through, subhanAllah, it’s amazing that Allah has given us such a beautiful bond that we try to resolve everything at the time – and never let things sit and fester.

    It’s such a beautiful feeling, as Alia can tell you, falling asleep with each other. Spending those last moments of the day in each other’s arms, and just knowing that right there – right in front of you – is the person who loves you in such an incredible way, is there for you through anything, and, insha-Allah, will be the one you start a family with.

    They say that the husband/wife is capable of bringing out the very best in you, and i can see how that’s true.

    i have to remind myself – because i forget so easily – that it is very important for us to make dua for each other. it’s Allah alone that grants us the love and mercy, and success in the marriage and life, and so we should try to always remember that and keep dua as a constant in our lives.

    may Allah grant your impending marriage all the mercy and love and barakah possible, and may He elevate you both in His sight, and increase your iman and taqwa, and make the two of you tremendously happy, and the foundation of a beautiful family to come, insha-Allah.

  8. Zahera said

    InshaAllah AMEEN! :-) Think your post is going to make me cry! I understand what youre saying and i can imagine how much of a test marriage can seem especially in the beginning. Its a whole new life isnt it- its a change and one that needs adjusting to. It reminds me of a conversation we had a very very long time ago on my blog about how hopefully we are from the few that dont see marriage with rose tinted glasses or have high expectations and so hopefully will be more in tune with the realities of it. I think ive learnt as my engagement has progressed that in some ways we do still have expectations, as does our spouse of us! These may even be subconscious and not very demanding- but they exist and are part and parcel of marriage. It just takes some getting used to when youve been fending for just yourself and havent had the responsibility of another person- already though i can appreciate the beauty of it.

    SubhanAllah if Allah blesses us with children im marrying them off when and as soon as i can :-P LOL and definitely no long delay till nikkah. We may be 1000 miles away from each other which helps reduce the amount of fitnah but it all still exists and Shiataan tries his hardest to twist and turns things at every opportunity. Sometimes its very difficult. I am grateful only to Allah (swt) for what He has blessed me with and for blessing me with someone who matches my sentiments in not going to sleep without having resolved any disputes or misunderstandings. Im sure marriage itself though is going to be a very interesting journey- may Allah (swt) grant us all the sabr, the ability to remain steadfast in times of difficulty and ease. Ameen.

    Congratulations to you both on your four month anniversary! :-D May you have many many more moments, months and years filled with happiness and joy. Ameen.
    Both you and Alia are very very lucky. She is a wonderful lady and im sure you know that (so make sure you tell her and show her that- us women are very simple- it doesnt take much to make us happy lol) and you are also a very nice guy which i am sure she is very much aware of (otherwise she wouldnt have married you) :-P

    Would be wonderful to meet you guys in SA if ever the opportunity arose. Im sure you would get on with my husby (yes yes to be inshaAllah) :-)

    Wasalamu-alaikum wr wb.

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