Today's topic is about; 'Courage and being Courageous’.
Before we continue further I just want to point out that this topic is not only for females but also for males.
In a society where gender biases are at a high we are always told that men are brave and women are weak.
We're not talking about the gender differences which Allah (swt) has created but how we always tell boys; 'Boys don't cry they are brave' and we tell girls; 'It's ok to cry, you're a girl!'.
By doing this we subconsciously start accepting how we should behave when we get older and sometimes lack courage, self-confidence and self-respect in situations where we really need them the most.
We are all human and we all fall and we all - female and male - need to learn to be courageous, have self-confidence and learn self-respect.
Although these three - 'Courage, Self-Confidence and Self-Respect' - make for a nice separate essay each, I'm going to link all three together today in this short blog post.
Why do we lack in courage, self-confidence and self-respect? When did it all start! And how did we allow it to eat us up and leave us for ruins?
Well, it all started when you were little...
*Re-wind to when you were 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7*....(grab the Kleenex if you need to and maybe some chocolate!)
Picture yourself trying to do something really cool (maybe dangerous) and something your friends hadn’t already tried. You were like the groups coolest kid! And just when you were about to take that step someone n the group called out ‘You can’t do it you’re a chicken – you’re too scared – watch you’re going to fall!’ and the sniggering and laughing started! (God, kids can be really crewel at times!).
Maybe that specific scenario didn’t happen to you (me neither!) – Whatever it was, it was something that you were about to do but everyone laughed at you and said you couldn’t do it!
Or maybe you were trying to read one of those hard-to-read books or trying to draw some cool pictures or wanted to make a really big Lego thing or try to score some goals in a football match. It was something that you believed you could do and someone said that you couldn’t and made a joke out of you.
It stuck with you forever!
Maybe not the way it happened way back then – but you conditioned your mind in such a way that you started believing that you can’t achieve something, anything.
*Think of freshly baked bread – take a deep breath and smell that lovely aroma....mmmmm*
(We have to do that, to snap you out of the past!)
The craziest part is that you don’t have to think about your past all the time BUT those early years up to the age of 7 are when beliefs are formed and become part of us forever (Note: if you have younger siblings, nieces/nephews or children that age, then please feed them with positive beliefs NOW – you’ll thank me later!)
All those negative thoughts, beliefs and I can’t do, achieve, be this , that or the other become part of our subconscious and whenever something goes wrong now (whatever age you are right now) then we automatically fall back into that mind-set. And then you’re left wondering why you think all that stuff when it was way in the past!
It becomes a trap – you’re trapped and can’t get out of it and it becomes like a cycle – a vicious cycle. Every time something negative, wrong, not good happens, you fall back into the trap.
As we grew older those beliefs we formed at a younger age started to affect our confidence. We stopped being confident to do what we wanted to do. We don’t seem to have the courage to do what we believe deep inside we can do. We are afraid that we will fall and hurt and get laughed at. Fear paralyses us and either we don’t do anything (and stay in a negative, unhappy state) or do all the wrong things we know we shouldn’t really do! All those dreams, hopes and wishes we wanted to achieve – we just can’t seem to do them. We start looking for validation from others. We get into the wrong relationships, with the wrong people, for the wrong reasons. This is where we lose our self-respect. Maybe even getting into haraam. We constantly allow ourselves to go round and round in this cycle. We don’t apply for that job we want. We don’t change our bad habits (in our health, wealth, emaan) to better and positive ones and we get into our comfort-zone, one where we know if we don’t try, we won’t get hurt and we’ll be ok. We think we are happy there.
Ask yourselves – will you truly be happy?
If YOU don’t pluck up the courage and believe in yourself, then who will?
Why look towards others for validation?
Know that the one who created us – Allah – believes in us – and with Allah by our side we can achieve anything!
Now, you must be wondering; ‘I have so many negative beliefs – I want to get rid of them – what do I do?’
Read on insha’Allah...
Courage is not the lack of fear – in fact, fear teaches one to become courageous and I believe we have all come through some form of fear to make us brave and courageous. And I don’t think that once we have gone through a fearful event and learnt courage it stops. We will face fearful events all the time – from the very small to very big – it’s how we react when we’re in that situation and how we deal with that situation and how we come out of it which shows whether we are courageous or we lack courage. It gets stronger with time. It has to get stronger.
Courage is also linked to patience (make sure you read the post on ‘Patience’ if you haven’t already ---> http://www.webeinspired.com/1/post/2012/01/is-your-patience-a-virtue.html <--- ).
Allah (swt) says; “But indeed if any show patience and forgive, that would truly be an exercise of courageous will and resolution in the conduct of affairs” (42:43)
Tips and Action Points:
1. The past is the past – don’t fight it now – your present is what matters – BUT respect the past to move on. The past is what you were and what was back then – that is not who you are today and it won’t be who you are tomorrow. Make peace with the past and if you need to speak to someone to put the past to rest then email firstname.lastname@example.org we’re here for YOU!
2. Are you praying your Salah and reading your Qur’an daily? If not, start now!
3. Dua – is truly the weapon of the believer. Make lots of dua and sincerely ask Allah for help – he will help you.
4. Who is in your ‘Pit-Crew’? Who are your friends? Did you know that the 5 people you are around the most (minus your family) or who you interact with the most (In person, phone, emails etc) determine your success or failure? Are your friends with you or against you? (Don’t go dumping them all after you read this!) Are they negative or positive? Do they support you in your dreams or put you down? Are they your personal cheerleaders?
5. Grab a pen and paper and write down all those negative thoughts, words and statements. The ones that really make you feel like you are nothing. Be determined to move on and make positive changes in your world. Say; ‘Goodbye negative past’ and rip that piece of paper into tiny pieces and throw it away! Take a deep breath and let all those negativities all fall away – just as leaves fall off from trees on a windy day.
6. Grab a new piece of paper and write down all the positive words about yourself, your achievements, your successes (yes, this part can be hard – but then you need to train your brain to think in a new way) and who you desire to be. Read it over and over again and picture all that you want to be. Imagine it all. See it all happen. Just the way you want it to happen. Say Bismillah and start working on your new you NOW.
Again, this is not easy because all those thoughts and beliefs have been there for a long time. But remember that we have been feeding ourselves all that negativity for many years and we’ve invested many hours of training our brain that way. It will take a little time. But invest in it now and you shall reap the positive rewards insha’Allah.
Remember, be courageous in whatever you do – you have one life. Make the most of it. Work on your ibaadah. Don’t lose out. You can achieve all you want. Believe in yourself. Allah believes in you!
Nadia Leona Yunis