Many of us may believe that our way of thinking, feeling, behaving and relating is related exclusively to the events or things happening around us and that this way is the ultimate truth, only choice or perspective available to us to view and cope with the situation. We conveniently ignore how our past colours our present to a varying degree and enslave us to the repititive , stereotyped maladaptive patterns. The superimposed unhealthy defenses, perspectives and cognitive distortions act as protective shields and provide temporary relief to our painful emotional and other problems but pay havoc to our long term peace and productivity in various areas of life. We are consequently locked up in a avicious cycle of events, unhealthy responses and suffering. The need, therefore, is to be aware of and accept that our way of experiencing may be faulty, that we have alternative choices or perspectives at our disposal , that we need to differentiate between the past and present realities with understanding of underlying needs, conflicts, defenses and distortions and that we need to apply our newly found awareness, acceptance and understanding into various aspects of our life. We also need to be mindful of the fact that different people may pursue different paths to transform their way of being. Large majority of us do not have the luxury of a western style psychotherapy or counseling for our growth, problem solving and emotional difficulties. What options then are available for us in this regard? Our ignorance, superstitions and overvalued ideas may take us to an unhealthy option like an unauthentic Pir, a wicked Aamil or a an unethical Quake with realization coming sooner or later to us that we were so blatently deceived and that our difficulties had rather increased condiderably.
A very effective blessing in our hand to develop a balanced personality and health, is the Divine Knowledge revealed in Holy Quran:
O mankind, there has to come to you instruction from your Lord and healing for what is in the breasts and guidance and mercy for the believers.
لوگو تمہارے پروردگار کی طرف سے نصیحت اور دلوں کی بیماریوں کی شفا۔ اور مومنوں کے لیے ہدایت اور رحمت آپہنچی ہے
. Such a vividly clear and comprehensive Divine declaration and yet we don’t contemplate and seek guidence and healing in the most precious treatise that we possess. No doubt a large number of us are in a state of spiritual wilderness and chronic unhappiness, dissatisfaction and hopelessness. We therefore, need to understand for our own sake and for the sake of others, that our religion does not deny the primary needs but rather stresses their control and gratification in a healthy way, does not encourage defenses but rather confront them in a forceful way, does not offer any damaging perspective but provides alternate powerful perspectives to transform our outlook and way of being and highlights extremely effective strategies encompassing belief system, prayers, behaviours and dealings . Let’s consider an example here. When a person misbehaves with us or does something wrong to us, we may become angry catestrophizing it as a matter of life and death and tend to pay back in our dear but destructive customary pattern learnt from our ourchildhood. The result is escalation of conflict and ruining of the relationship.
Now meditate for five minutes on the solution for a similar situation contained in these two verses from Holy Quran:
41/34:” And not equal are the good deed and the bad. Repel [evil] by that [deed] which isbetter; and thereupon the one whom between you and him is enmity [will become]as though he was a devoted friend.
اور بھلائی اوربرائی برابر نہیں ہوسکتی۔ تو (سخت کلامی کا) ایسے طریق سے جواب دو جو بہت اچھا ہو(ایسا کرنے سے تم دیکھو گے) کہ جس میں اور تم میں دشمنی تھی گویا وہ تمہارا گرمجوش دوست ہے
41/35″ But none is granted it except those who are patient, and none is granted it except one having agreat portion [of good]
.اور یہ بات ان ہی لوگوں کو حاصل ہوتی ہے جو برداشت کرنے والے ہیں۔ اور ان ہی کو نصیب ہوتی
ہے جو بڑے صاحب نصیب ہیں
Again mediate on the powerful words, change message, amazing shift in perspective and gracious reward:
اور بھلائی اوربرائی برابر
تو (سخت کلامی کا) ایسے طریق سے جواب دو جو بہت اچھا ہو
(ایسا کرنے سے تم دیکھو گے) کہ جس میں اور تم میں دشمنی تھی گویا وہ تمہارا گرمجوش دوست ہے
اور یہ بات ان ہی لوگوں کو حاصل ہوتی ہے جو برداشت کرنے والے ہیں۔
اور ان ہی کو نصیب ہوتی
ہے جو بڑے صاحب نصیب ہیں
Could u think of an example in your life when changing the perspective like this produced entirely different and meaningful results? If not, how these verses shall change your response in a similar situation in future?
NEGATIVE ASSUMPTIONS, SPYING AND BACKBITING: The reality is usually not so bad but we tend to make it so due to our negative thinking,assumptions, and behaviours. The commonest cognitive distortion which leads to significant personal distress as well destruction of relations is jumping to conclusions. We tend to arrive at a sweeping negative conclusion regarding theintention or behavior of other people when there is no or little evidence to support this. This causes destructive emotions like anger, suspicion and depression and may concomitantly prove detrimental to relationships, job etc.Similarly behaviours like spying and backbiting may be a defensive maneuver o fprojection to protect one’s insecurity, jealousy and inferiority. These again are damaging to connections and may be an obstacle in one’s growth. Holy Quran clearly highlights these assumptions, defenses and behaviours and straightaway works through these with forceful challenge:
49:12 O you who have believed, avoid much [negative] assumption. Indeed, some assumption is sin. And do not spy or backbite each other. Would one of you like to eat the flesh of his brother when dead? You would detest it. And fear Allah ; indeed, Allah is Accepting of repentance and Merciful.
اے اہل ایمان! بہت گمان کرنے سے احتراز کرو کہ بعض گمان گناہ ہیں۔ اور ایک دوسرے کے حال کا تجسس نہ کیا کرو اور نہ کوئی کسی کی غیبت کرے۔ کیا تم میں سے کوئی اس بات کو پسند کرے گا کہ اپنے مرے ہوئے بھائی کاگوشت کھائے؟ اس سے تو تم ضرور نفرت کرو گے۔ (تو غیبت نہ کرو) اور خدا کا ڈر رکھو بےشک خدا توبہ قبول کرنے والا مہربان ہے
What was the last time when you jumped to conclusion resulting in adestructive emotion like anger or suspicion affecting your relationship orother important areas of life?
How this Verse may help in challenging your distortions, assumptions, defenses and behaviors like spying or backbiting?