The Choice Is Yours
A lot of major turning points in my life happened when I found myself in a situation that made me desperate for change. Have you ever been in a situation where you thought to yourself: enough is enough, I don’t want to feel this way anymore?
I’ve been tired of feeling physically unfit, angry and inadequate, among many other things before. In fact, my journey to recovery from 6 years of depression happened when I decided I just couldn’t stand being unhappy for another day (now that’s a story I’ll save for another day). Everyone’s recovery from depression is different—do not compare yours with that of others’ because it’s unfair on yourself.
Ok, before I digress too much, let’s get back to the story:
Sometimes, you NEED to be pushed to the edge in order to find the motivation to turn things around. There are times when reaching your breaking point is absolutely necessary in order for you to realise that it’s YOU who have to initiate the change you want to see in your life. When you hit rock bottom, you realise very quickly that the only choice you have is to go up or else you’ll drown.
No one can improve your life FOR you—you’ve to do it yourself. You can’t rely on your family, your best friend or even your spouse! No, ma’am. No one else is living your life for you, if you want to see changes, YOU have to do all the dirty work. And sometimes, the work you’ve to put in involves some very difficult choices because it means having to do things a lot differently.
Different is hard because different is uncomfortable. But temporary discomfort is a small price to pay for the change you need in order to heal, grow and THRIVE.
I was undergoing a series of anxiety attacks in the last quarter of 2018 thus my 2 month break from Instagram. Being in a constant state of anxiety is exhausting not to mention stressful for the body. After months of insomnia and doing whatever I can to control the symptoms of my anxiety attacks, I had to take a good look at what was actually going on in my life for me to find a way out.
3 Questions to Ask Yourself
Why do I feel this way—is anyone making me feel this way?
This is the first but most crucial question in order to identify the root cause of your problem.
Is anyone/anything forcing me to remain in this situation?
After you’ve identified what’s bringing you down, it’s important to ask if there’s anything stopping you from solving the issue or leaving the problem altogether.
Can I remove myself from this situation?
99% of the time, the answer is yes.
After I asked myself those questions, I reached a very important conclusion: happiness, inner-peace or whatever state of being you want to achieve, is only possible when you make the right choices. Those choices include removing what is bringing you down whether it’s certain people in your life or the thoughts and beliefs you put into your mind everyday.
It’s no secret that I go for counselling whenever I need it. One of the things my counsellor has taught me is that no one or anything can make us do or feel anything (read up on ‘The Choice Theory’). You’re always just one step away from a completely different life. You’re always just one step away from feeling different but the only person holding you back is your fear to take that first step.
The moment I stopped blaming external factors (people and circumstances) for how I was feeling, that’s when I started taking charge of my life. The world isn’t going to change for me; I’ve to do that myself.
You either do or you don’t
There were many instances where I told my counsellor things like: ‘I can’t do that, that’s hard’ or ‘But then s/he is going to think badly of me.’ I didn’t realise that all the ‘reasons’ I was giving myself were actually just excuses. Of course, to improve your life you may have to start getting used to new things.
I think the hardest changes often involve people that you’re close to especially when you’ve to cut them off or tell them how they are affecting you. But guess what? You can’t control how people feel.
You can only control your actions and how you feel. As long as you take all the necessary steps to ensure that your intentions are clear and you come from a good place, you’ve to let go your worries of how people will react to your decisions. Even when you mean well there will always be people who choose to take things personally but that’s their doing, not yours.
Changing Your Thought Process
Aside from traumatic events, everything that happens to you is information and how that information is processed is solely up to you. The way you interpret what happens to you often determines how you respond to your problems. You can either interpret things in a way that benefits you or hinders you.
For example: if someone says something mean about your appearance, the positive/beneficial way of processing that is by realising the person is rude and harbours a lot of insecurities therefore what s/he says is of no value and you can just let it slide. The negative way of processing that is by believing him/her and letting it affect your self-worth. Or worse, when you allow such people a place in your life.
Training yourself to process ‘information’ differently is hard because for many of us, we only know how to react, not respond.
The Spiritual Side Of change
I’ve spoken a lot on the things WE have to do to change OUR circumstances—so how does God fit into all of this?
Change is only ever possible through the Will of Allāh. He is Most Generous and Most Loving and He wants nothing more than to see His servants’ hearts at ease, however, there’s a catch: He wants YOU to work for it. There’s this saying that faith can move mountains but don’t be surprised if God hands you a shovel.
[13:11] Indeed, Allah will not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves.
Whatever it is that you’re going through, He will help you through it, He will be with you every step of the way but know that YOU have to take that first step. Growth is difficult not because He wants to torture you, it’s designed to be challenging because He wants to spiritually prepare you for what’s to come.