I used to hate it when people would advise me to take my problems to my Lord. I was a bit confounded when a friend told me that my problems would work themselves out if I prayed tahajjud some more. Muslims aren’t the only ones who give that advice; Christians and even New Agey folks do it too. Christians take it to Jesus and if you’ve read the Secret basically everything is your fault because you attract negative energy. The pop psychology approach tells us that we fall into certain patterns due to some past trauma. There is some lesson in our problems, one that we fail to see. So, read the right self help book and reflect on your poor choices because the solution lies within.
Perhaps my spiritual journey is tied to my self-critical and sensitive nature. Growing up sensitive was not easy, as I was surrounded by critical people. And I tended to draw people near me who were no-holds-barred, tell-’em-like-it-is folks. On top of that, I have an emotive face. Some people call that wearing your heart on your sleeve. Without the mask, I’ve had to be honest and up front rather than let people feel smug for reading me like a book. So that means that I’ve often disclosed what’s going on with me because it was already apparent that something was boiling under the surface.
I have to admit that I’ve always been impatient with flippant responses to my complicated problems. An empathetic ear has always been important because I’ve always been hard on myself. I’ve always been hard on myself, wanting to be a good person by spending a great deal of energy pleasing others. I would want some person who was sympathetic, who could understand what I was experiencing. This was especially the case if I was going through something that was alienating. When I first got the “pray on it” advice from friends and family, I’d get frustrated because I wanted instant feedback or a kind word letting me know that I wasn’t a terrible person, something I experienced was unjust, or that my perception of reality wasn’t off.
By sharing your problems, you may get the instant gratification of feedback. There may even be some commiseration. And misery does love company. But often, sharing your problems with other people often doesn’t fix them. Some things are best left unsaid. I can say that after being hurt by friends and loved ones who have used some information I’ve shared with them in a hurtful way. It’s another thing if you are looking for strategies to deal with a situation. In that case, by all means talk to a trusted advisor, a counselor, or true friend. I suggest an advisor or counselor because the nature of your relationship is unlikely to change. God willing, you have a confidentiality agreement so they won’t share your personal information.
Things aren’t so bad, alhumdulillah, you’re still living. There’s nothing to worry about. If you have your health alhumdulillah. If you don’t, then there is some expiation in your hardship and you’re not dead yet. Once you’re dead, then there’s no need to worry because it is a done deal and your fate is sealed. My mentor was right, pray the istikhara and find that answer within yourself. More often than not, we want advice from somebody who will support us in doing something we planned to do anyway. Only the masochistic take criticism from friends, family, and advisors. Otherwise, deflect….deflect…deflect. Ultimately, you have to live with your own decisions and their repercussions in this life and the next.