Before diving into this upcoming thriller series dealing with the psychology of ‘Self Defense Mechanisms’, let me ask you this: what’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear the word ‘Psychotherapy’?
Crazy ‘psycho-babbling’ nerds with thick reading glasses and big hair?
A clinic with a ‘Chaise Longue’ for patients to lie on?
Paying someone to dictate the ‘common sense’ you already know?
I hate to burst the stereotype bubble we’ve all lived in at one point or another, but there’s so much more to psychology and some of it has nothing to do with common sense…
For example, it’s common sense to think people who sleep a lot are lazy bums, right? But therapists will tell you that they’re obviously sad.
People who laugh at silly things are lonely deep inside…
Those who seem selfish are only seeking more love and acceptance…
There’s a lot of things about the human nature that doesn’t make sense, and one of those is the bizarre way we all use ‘self-defense mechanisms’ to guard ourselves against hurtful feelings.
Someone criticizes the way you dress and instead of acknowledging you’re hurt, you retaliate with giving him or her the silent treatment for a good week and a half.
Your husband’s boss yells at him for no reason, and instead of admitting he feels humiliated he comes home and snaps at you because the chicken isn’t ‘crispy’ enough!
We lose someone we love, and instead of grieving properly, we go into hibernation mode away from the world.
You see, we all want to shield ourselves from pain, but as this series will demonstrate, sometimes those same defense mechanisms we use for protection are, in fact, what causes us the most pain in the long run. Through the coming episodes, you’ll see yourself or someone you care about in one of the characters, and realize that perhaps it’s us who cage ourselves in a loop of endless suffering.
But now what does learning about ‘Defense Mechanisms’ have to do with Islam or Productivity?
Good question! You should come backstage where all the action takes place. The ProductiveMuslim Team works overtime to make sure the writers stay focused on the website goals, and for that, we are very grateful. (Why? You think writers give editors a hard time? No! We’re lovely easygoing people, and not at all stubborn, lol!)
Throughout my years of being a therapist I’ve come to realize there are two types of people:
- Those who are in therapy to learn how to deal with the past
- Those who are in therapy to learn how to deal with those who need to be in therapy!
The bottom line is, deep down, we all want to change someone or something. We have this perfect colorful image of what life should be like and our expectations are feeding our frustration. We forget that life is supposed to be difficult, and this excruciating inner struggle is part of our journey.
“…Indeed, Allah will not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves…” [Qur’an: Chapter 13, Verse 11]
Yet we use ‘self-defense’ mechanisms like denial, isolation, and aggression to avoid the attacks of a guilty conscience, to steer away from uncertainty, loneliness, shame, fear, doubt, anxiety or any other kind of emotional pain inflicted upon us by others or by our own doings. And the more we resist and run away from these ugly feelings, the more we suffer because the change in itself isn’t painful, it’s the resistance to change that hurts the most.
And the first step is to acknowledge the problem.
Throughout the upcoming series, locate which ‘self-defense mechanism’ is hindering you (or your loved ones) from growing, and instead of ignoring it, purify it. Don’t shove the dirt under the couch and pretend it’s gone. Clean it out.
“And [by] the soul and He who proportioned it
And inspired it [with discernment of] its wickedness and its righteousness,
He has succeeded who purifies it,
And he has failed who instills it [with corruption].” [Qur’an: Chapter 91, Verses 7 -10]
Our Most Merciful Lord doesn’t expect perfection. He expects progress. He expects us to try harder, to learn from our mistakes and supplicate for His help. But when we defend our faults and always give excuses for our slip ups, how will we ever change? We’ll keep falling, committing sins, and fighting back in vain. We will keep judging, criticizing and hating others if we refuse to understand their dark sides and take their hands towards the light.
‘Nothing changes if nothing changes.’
We’ll keep seeing Muslims trolling each other, best friends becoming enemies, marriages falling apart, teenagers talking back to their parents, and a ton of toxic relationships everywhere we go.
We all want to change someone or something. Some of us even dream of changing the world. But here’s the thing…
We must stop escaping…
If we’re ever going to change or put an end to this inner struggle, we need to stop attacking and defending…
You’re one series away from finding the peace you’re looking for, the minute you figure out which mechanisms help you reach your goals…
Your journey will make more sense, the minute you stop fearing the darkness…
You’ll find a way to shine a light from within…
What Are You Defending…?