Envision the light

A choice confronts us. Shall we, as we feel our foundations shaking, withdraw in anxiety and panic? Frightened by the loss of our familiar mooring places, shall we become paralyzed and cover our inaction with apathy? If we do those things, we will have surrendered our chance to participate in the forming of the future. We will have forfeited the distinctive characteristics of human beings – namely, to influence our evolution through our own awareness. We will have capitulated to the blind juggernaut of history and lost the chance to mold the future into a society more equitable and humane.

Or shall we seize the courage necessary to preserve our sensitivity, awareness, and responsibility in the face of radical change? Shall we consciously participate, on however small the scale, in the forming of the new society? I hope our choice will be the latter, for I shall speak on that basis.

We are called upon to do something new, to confront a no man’s land, to push into a forest where there are no well-worn paths and from which no one has returned to guide us. This is what the existentialists call the anxiety of nothingness. To live into the future means to leap into the unknown, and this requires a degree of courage for which there is no immediate precedent and which few people realize.

This courage will not be the opposite of despair. We shall often be faced with despair, as indeed every sensitive person has been during the last several decades in this country. Hence Kierkegaard and Nietszche and Camus and Sartre have proclaimed that courage is not the absence of despair ; it is, rather, the capacity to move ahead in spite of despair.

Nor is the courage required mere stubbornness – we shall surely have to create with others. But if you do not express your own original ideas, if you do not listen to your own being, you will have betrayed yourself. Also you will have betrayed our community in failing to make your contribution to the whole.

A chief characteristics of this courage is that it requires a centeredness within our own being, without which we would feel ourselves to be a vacuum. The ’emptiness’ within corresponds to an apathy without; and apathy adds up, in the long run, to cowardice. That is why we must always base our commitment in the center of our own being, or else no commitment will be ultimately authentic.

Courage, furthermore, is not to be confused with rashness. What masquerades as courage may turn out to be simply a bravado used to compensate for one’s unconscious fear and to prove one’s machismo, like the ‘hot’ fliers in World War II. The ultimate end of such rashness is getting one’s self killed, or at least one’s head battered in with a policeman’s billy club – both of which are scarcely productive ways of exhibiting courage.

Courage is not a virtue or value among other personal values like love or fidelity. It is the foundation that underlies and gives reality to all other virtues and personal values. Without courage our love pales into mere dependency. Without courage our fidelity becomes conformism.

The word courage comes from the same stem as the French word coeur, meaning ‘heart’. Thus just as one’s heart, by pumping blood to one’s arms, legs, and brain enables all the other physical organs to function, so courage makes possible all the psychological virtues.
Without courage other values wither away into mere facsimiles of virtue.

In human beings courage is necessary to make being and becoming possible. An assertion of the self, a commitment, is essential if the self is to have any reality. This is the distinction between human beings and the rest of nature. The acorn becomes an oak by means of automatic growth; no commitment is necessary. The kitten similarly becomes a cat on the basis of instinct. Nature and being are identical in creatures like them. But a man or woman becomes fully human only by his or her choices and his or her commitment to them.

People attain worth and dignity by the multitude of decisions they make from day by day. These decisions require courage. This is why Paul Tillich speaks of courage as ontological – it is essential to our being.

– Rollo May, The Courage to Create

wipe the slate clean

I’m a companion of my soul. I let it lead me blindly, on pure trust. I’m not afraid of drowning, of getting lost, of disintegrating, of losing control. Because I’ve gone to the edge of each of those fears, and the only thing that got lost was my fear. The only thing that drowned was my burden that I thought I couldn’t survive without. The only loss of control happened to my intellect which really, was a realization that I never had control to begin with. I was like Maggie Simpson with the steering wheel attached to her car seat, pretending she’s the one driving the car.

And maybe destruction lies ahead. Maybe this has all been a fluke. But even so, I’d rather go out with a bang than endure a slow death. I’ll drink that potion. And just because I know that my anxiety is unfounded doesn’t make it any less potent. It’s not something I can ever stifle or ‘fix’; I’ll just accept it as a price to pay for living fully.


“In actuality, no one ever sank so deep that he could not sink deeper, and there may be one or many who sank deeper. But he who sank in possibility — his eye became dizzy, his eye became confused… Whoever is educated by possibility is exposed to danger, not that of getting into bad company and going astray in various ways as are those educated by the finite, but in danger of a fall, namely, suicide. If at the beginning of education he misunderstands the anxiety, so that it does not lead him to faith but away from faith, then he is lost.
On the other hand, whoever is educated [by possibility] remains with anxiety; he does not permit himself to be deceived by its countless falsification and accurately remembers the past.
Then the assaults of anxiety, even though they be terrifying, will not be such that he flees from them. For him, anxiety becomes a serving spirit that against its will leads him where he wishes to go.”

– Søren Kierkegaard, The Concept of Anxiety


“We can understand Kierkegaard’s ideas on the relation between guilt

and anxiety only by emphasizing that he is always speaking of anxiety in its relation to creativity.

Because it is possible to create — creating one’s self, willing to be one’s self, as well as creating in all the innumerable daily activities (and these are two phases of the same process) — one has anxiety. One would have no anxiety if there were no possibility whatever.
Now creating, actualizing one’s possibilities, always involves negative as well as positive aspects. It always involves destroying the status quo, destroying old patterns within oneself, progressively destroying what one has clung to from childhood on, and creating new and original forms and ways of living.
If one does not do this, one is refusing to grow, refusing to avail himself of his possibilities; one is shirking his responsibility to himself. Hence refusal to actualize one’s possibilities brings guilt toward one’s self.
But creating also means destroying the status quo of one’s environment, breaking the old forms; it means producing something new and original in human relations as well as in cultural forms (e.g., the creativity of the artist).
Thus every experience of creativity has its potentiality of aggression or denial toward other persons in one’s environment or established patterns within one’s self.

To put the matter figuratively, in every experience of creativity something in the past is killed that something new in the present may be born.”

– Rollo May, The Meaning of Anxiety

Book recommendations

Women who run with wild wolves – Clarissa Pinkola Estés

A return to love – Marianne Williamson

Heart of the soul- Gary zukav

Escape from freedom – Erich Fromm

Art of loving – Erich Fromm

Women, food, God – Geneen Roth

On becoming a person – Carl Rogers

All about love – Bell Hooks

Prisoners of hate – Aaron Beck

Emotionally absent mother – Jasmin lee corri

The intuitive way – Penney Peirce

To be a man – Robert Augustus

Emotional intimacy – Robert Augustus

Sister outsider – Audre Lorde

The modern heroine’s journey of consciousness  – Molly McCord

52 Quotes to live by – Zett Why

The law of divine compensation – Marianne Williamson

Either/or – Søren Kierkegaard

Man and his symbols – C.G. Jung

A hidden wholeness – Parker J. Palmer

Blur –  Bill Kovach, Tom Rosenstiel

Codependency –  Melody Battie

The drama of the gifted child – Alice Miller

The undefeated mind – Alex Lickman

Rising Strong – Brene Brown

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up  – Marie Kondo

The courage to create – Rollo May

Constructive wallowing –  Tina Gilbertson

Soulshaping – Jeff Brown 

Between the world and me –                             Ta-nehisi Coates

The enlightened heart – Stephen Mitchell

The dancing Wu Li masters – Gary Zukav

Nesting dolls 

​Mental disorder is the brain feeling pain, to put it simply. 

There’s no ‘crazy’, there’s only a spectrum of how severe the ‘pain’ is. And like there are different types of physical pain like cramps, sharp pain, dull pain, etc, there are different ways different mental disorders are experienced. 

I have mental disorders. Possible bipolar ( still under diagnosis by psychologist), PTSD, severe anxiety, OCD . I have had them since I was 15. 

And to me, recovery has meant me separating who I am from my different illnesses. I try to view my mental disorders like the physical ones, but it’s tough. When the norm is that you should feel ashamed and subhuman, you tend to identify with your mental disorders because you are in such denial. What you resist persists. I’ve only found true progress in the past 2-3 years which is when I decided to stop trying to pretend I’m fine when I’m really not. 
Most days I experience emotional pain of about 5 on a scale 1-10, ten being the highest. Some days are really bad and the pain is a solid 9. But what has changed my life drastically is that I’ve created a safe haven within that keeps me stable even during the worst of storms. I stopped imposing any rules or fixed ways on myself, I’ve learnt how to tune in to my inner being, how to let intuition guide me. So instead of waking up with an emotional pain of 8 and forcing myself to stick to the plans I made a week ago, and thus resisting and exacerbating the pain, I am open. I’m open to the uncertainty, to listening to what these messengers of pain are communicating. Are there issues I’ve overlooked? Am I worried about something? Am I holding myself to unreasonable demands? Are others demanding stuff of me or otherwise violating my boundaries?

I let my feelings update me, and it’s difficult y’all. Sometimes it takes months for a message or life lesson to reach me because of how much I evade it. It’s not easy being still and letting the waves of raw pain wash over you. And even when I find myself stuck in a loop, I try not to judge myself or rush myself to get it over and done with. I honour my process and I validate my fear of opening up to more pain. Sometimes I have lessons within lessons, like nesting dolls.
 Throughout the years I’ve learnt that you can’t rush the soul, it has no time to keep. It’s like a river that is travelling along an antediluvian path that was carved out by fate. I’m simply a passenger and I try not to derail the journey. 
When I have manageable days, I focus on what I can do. If I feel the slightest bit of distress, that’s a warning sign. I take a break, meditate, take deep breaths, draw, read, do anything that isn’t burdening. This allows me to stay in balance. The importance isn’t to test the limits but to maintain an inner balance. But I still try to do as much as I can. I focus on what I can and growth. Going easy on myself allows me to keep my focus on the good. If you resist and try to suppress certain feelings because they inconvenience you, you’re inadvertently amplifying those negative feelings because focus is a creative power; wherever it’s shifted it creates more of.
The days that are really tough, I give myself permission to hibernate for as long as I need to; no rush, no shaming, no judgement, no guilt. And ironically, by giving myself limitless time for recovery, I usually recover super fast. I’m often well enough by the end of the same day or the next day to be able to resume my activities. On rare occasions I have slumps where I barely get out of bed for weeks on end. And even then I try to give myself space to heal. I’ve come to know enough about myself to trust my soul’s work. It knows what to do, I don’t need to supervise it. I just make constant ducaa no matter what I’m feeling, that Allaah guides me to that which is good and wholesome for me. And many a times the path to goodness is painful and mired with uncertaintie. But I’ll take it ; I’ll take that if it’s the only way to live authenticall. 
 I remind myself that I’m not simply idling around; just because I’m not doing something others can see doesn’t mean that I’m not productive. I bet you that I’m more productive than most workaholics when I sit still in conscious focus as the tsunamis of pain crash into me and recede. Or when I try my utmost to be loving and nonjudgmental towards myself ( I’m a recovering perfectionist, so you know that selfcriticism is my forte). Or when I struggle to stay mindful when huge clouds of hopelessness threaten to absorb me. 
I bear my soul for the world to see ( scrutinize, judge, scoff at, belittle) because I want to leak insider information, like Edward Snowden 😂😂 . But seriously, I want to show you, anyone, everyone, that healing can’t take place in shame and silence. It’s ok to stumble and mess up. You’re not a machine made for utilitarian purposes. Don’t judge yourself by industrial and capitalistic standards. You are not your struggle. But the struggle is a theatre play showing you who you are. Stop directing a show that will go on with or without your cooperation, and sit back in humbleness. 

“Because it is possible to create — creating one’s self, willing to be one’s self, as well as creating in all the innumerable daily activities (and these are two phases of the same process) — one has anxiety. One would have no anxiety if there were no possibility whatever. Now creating, actualizing one’s possibilities, always involves negative as well as positive aspects. It always involves destroying the status quo, destroying old patterns within oneself, progressively destroying what one has clung to from childhood on, and creating new and original forms and ways of living. If one does not do this, one is refusing to grow, refusing to avail himself of his possibilities; one is shirking his responsibility to himself. Hence refusal to actualize one’s possibilities brings guilt toward one’s self. But creating also means destroying the status quo of one’s environment, breaking the old forms; it means producing something new and original in human relations as well as in cultural forms (e.g., the creativity of the artist). Thus every experience of creativity has its potentiality of aggression or denial toward other persons in one’s environment or established patterns within one’s self. To put the matter figuratively, in every experience of creativity something in the past is killed that something new in the present may be born. Hence, for Kierkegaard, guilt feeling is always a concomitant of anxiety: both are aspects of experiencing and actualizing possibility. The more creative the person, he held, the more anxiety and guilt are potentially present.” 
— Rollo May

Outlive the dollar

Those who migrate across dangerous seas do so because of the utopia they’ve been sold by their brethrens in the West, through social media. ¹
I see we still have our nomad tendencies. Nomadic determinism. A myopic view of the world that somehow always comes back to currency. Not the currents of the turbulent waters that kill our brethrens. Currency, as in money.
We still act like the nomads on the arid plains of Somalia; here when there’s greenery for our cattle to eat, gone when there’s none. You see, in Somalia money *does* grow on trees. Or at least on grass. Our money is not paper. Money is anything that can act as a substitute for the inner freedom we lack. Any problem in life, we solve by throwing money at, treating life cheaply like a stripper. How can we blame the diasporians for selling a capitalistic fantasy, when in the same breath we try to convince others to come to Somalia by using the same capitalistic fantasies?
Sheeps are now dollars. Cows are cars. Camels are houses. The Somali man’s power is not his resilience or his courage or his honesty or his creativity or his altruism. It’s his money.

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Conscious pain || 36 Quotes to accompany an existential crisis

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1.Life is a process of becoming, a combination of states we have to go through. Where people fail is that they wish to elect a state and remain in it. This is a kind of death.
— Anaïs Nin

2.To fully relate to another, one must first relate to oneself. If we cannot embrace our own aloneness, we will simply use the other as a shield against isolation.
― Irvin D. Yalom

3.No tree, it is said, can grow to heaven unless its roots reach down to hell.
— C.G. Jung

4.It is often tragic to see how blatantly a man bungles his own life and the lives of others yet remains totally incapable of seeing how much the whole tragedy originates in himself, and how he continually feeds it and keeps it going.
— C.G. Jung

5.It all depends on how we look at things, and not on how things are in themselves. The least of things with a meaning is worth more in life than the greatest of things without it.
— C.G. Jung

6.The reason for evil in the world is that people are not able to tell their stories.
— C.G. Jung

7.Sensation tell us a thing is.
Thinking tell us what it is this thing is.
Feeling tells us what this thing is to us.
— C.G. Jung

8….anyone who attempts to do both, to adjust to his group and at the same time pursue his individual goal, becomes neurotic.
— C.G. Jung

9.Love obsession often serves as a distraction, keeping the individual’s gaze from more painful thoughts.
— Irvin D. Yalom (The Gift of Therapy: An Open Letter to a New Generation of Therapists and Their Patients)

10.Dissect your motives deeper! You will find that no one has ever done anything wholly for others. All actions are self-directed, all service is self-serving, all love self-loving.
— Irvin D. Yalom (When Nietzsche Wept: A Novel of Obsession)

11.The path to decision may be hard because it leads into the territory of both finiteness and groundlessness—domains soaked in anxiety.
— Irvin D. Yalom (The Gift of Therapy: An Open Letter to a New Generation of Therapists and Their Patients)

12.Each time a goal is attained, it merely breeds additional needs. Thus more scurrying, more seeking, ad infinitum.
— Irvin D. Yalom (The Spinoza Problem)

13.The human being either asserts autonomy by heroic self-assertion or seeks safety through fusing with a superior force: that is, one either emerges or merges, separates or embeds. One becomes one’s own parent or remains the eternal child.
— Irvin D. Yalom (Love’s Executioner)

14.Marriage should be no prison, but a garden in which something higher is cultivated.
— Irvin D. Yalom (When Nietzsche Wept: A Novel of Obsession)

15.A person of high, rare mental gifts who is forced into a job which is merely useful is like a valuable vase decorated with the most beautiful painting and then used as a kitchen pot.
— Irvin D. Yalom (The Schopenhauer Cure)

16.Do not create children until one is ready to be a creator and to spawn creators.” It is wrong to bear children out of need, wrong to use a child to alleviate loneliness, wrong to provide purpose in life by reproducing another copy of oneself. It is wrong also to seek immortality by spewing one’s germ into the future—as though sperm contains your consciousness!
— Irvin D. Yalom (When Nietzsche Wept: A Novel of Obsession)

17.Cynicism masquerades as wisdom, but it is the farthest thing from it. Because cynics don’t learn anything. Because cynicism is a self-imposed blindness, a rejection of the world because we are afraid it will hurt us or disappoint us. Cynics always say no. But saying “yes” begins things. Saying “yes” is how things grow. Saying “yes” leads to knowledge. “Yes” is for young people. So for as long as you have the strength to, say “yes’.
— Stephen Colbert

18.The only person who is educated is the one who has learned how to learn and change.
— Carl R. Rogers

19.The degree to which I can create relationships, which facilitate the growth of others as separate persons, is a measure of the growth I have achieved in myself.
— Carl R. Rogers (On Becoming a Person: A Therapist’s View of Psychotherapy)

20.The good life is a process, not a state of being. It is a direction not a destination.
— Carl R. Rogers

21.To be with another in this way means that for the time being you lay aside the views and values you hold for yourself in order to enter another’s world without prejudice. In some sense it means that you lay aside your self and this can only be done by a person who is secure enough in himself that he knows he will not get lost in what may turn out to be the strange or bizarre world of the other, and can comfortably return to his own world when he wishes. Perhaps this description makes clear that being empathic is a complex, demanding, strong yet subtle and gentle way of being.
— Carl R. Rogers

22.Growth occurs when individuals confront problems, struggle to master them, and through that struggle develop new aspects of their skills, capacities, views about life.
— Carl Rogers

23.I hear the words, the thoughts, the feeling tones, the personal meaning, even the meaning that is below the conscious intent of the speaker. Sometimes too, in a message which superficially is not very important, I hear a deep human cry that lies buried and unknown far below the surface of the person.
So I have learned to ask myself, can I hear the sounds and sense the shape of this other person’s inner world? Can I resonate to what he is saying so deeply that I sense the meanings he is afraid of, yet would like to communicate, as well as those he knows?
— Carl R. Rogers

24.True empathy is always free of any evaluative or diagnostic quality. This comes across to the recipient with some surprise. “If I am not being judged, perhaps I am not so evil or abnormal as I have thought.
— Carl R. Rogers

25.In order to be open to creativity, one must have the capacity for constructive use of solitude. One must overcome the fear of being alone.
— Rollo May

26.Many people suffer from the fear of finding oneself alone, and so they don’t find themselves at all.
— Rollo May (Man’s Search for Himself)

27.Intimacy requires courage because risk is inescapable. We cannot know at the outset how the relationship will affect us. Like a chemical mixture, if one of us is changed, both of us will be. Will we grow in self-actualization, or will it destroy us? The one thing we can be certain of is that if we let ourselves fully into the relationship for good or evil, we will not come out unaffected.
— Rollo May (The Courage to Create)

28.The opposite of courage in our society is not cowardice, it’s conformity.
— Rollo May

29.The relationship between commitment and doubt is by no means an antagonistic one. Commitment is healthiest when it is not without doubt, but in spite of doubt.
— Rollo May (The Courage to Create)

30.Recall how often in human history the saint and the rebel have be the same person.
— Rollo May (The Courage to Create)

31.Human freedom involves our capacity to pause between the stimulus and response and, in that pause, to choose the one response toward which we wish to throw our weight. The capacity to create ourselves, based upon this freedom, is inseparable from consciousness or self-awareness.
— Rollo May (The Courage to Create)

32.The human being cannot live in a condition of emptiness for very long: if he is not growing toward something, he does not merely stagnate; the pent-up potentialities turn into morbidity and despair, and eventually into destructive activities.
— Rollo May (Man’s Search for Himself)

33.Because it is possible to create — creating one’s self, willing to be one’s self, as well as creating in all the innumerable daily activities (and these are two phases of the same process) — one has anxiety. One would have no anxiety if there were no possibility whatever. Now creating, actualizing one’s possibilities, always involves negative as well as positive aspects. It always involves destroying the status quo, destroying old patterns within oneself, progressively destroying what one has clung to from childhood on, and creating new and original forms and ways of living. If one does not do this, one is refusing to grow, refusing to avail himself of his possibilities; one is shirking his responsibility to himself. Hence refusal to actualize one’s possibilities brings guilt toward one’s self. But creating also means destroying the status quo of one’s environment, breaking the old forms; it means producing something new and original in human relations as well as in cultural forms (e.g., the creativity of the artist). Thus every experience of creativity has its potentiality of aggression or denial toward other persons in one’s environment or established patterns within one’s self. To put the matter figuratively, in every experience of creativity something in the past is killed that something new in the present may be born. Hence, for Kierkegaard, guilt feeling is always a concomitant of anxiety: both are aspects of experiencing and actualizing possibility. The more creative the person, he held, the more anxiety and guilt are potentially present.
— Rollo May

34.Depression is the inability to construct a future.
— Rollo May (Love and Will)

35.Consciousness is the awareness that emerges out of the dialectical tension between possibilities and limitations.
— Rollo May (The Courage to Create)

36.We have to continually be jumping off cliffs and developing our wings on the way down.

— Kurt Vonnegut (If This Isn’t Nice, What Is?: Advice for the Young

 

 

 

A reunion of a different kind

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I reached for my phone with closed eyes,tears burning, and heavy sighs, as if a big balloon sat perched on my diaphragm. The irony; how emotions could turn water into fire, and could air make one suffocate.
I felt hurt and betrayed. I’m not a stranger to feelings of hurt and betrayals – but there was a  sense of acute pervasiveness about this betrayal, and it seared into my heart until I felt physical pain.

I was nonchalantly perusing through a book I’ve been reading in medias res since last year – Man’s search for himself, by Rollo May, when the feeling ambushed me. This was the reason I hadn’t been able to sit through reading a book cover to cover for years; my thoughts had a way of creeping up on me when I least expected it.

I closed the book to attend to my feelings, probing. I wondered…could it be…? My probing summoned a thought that seemed to know whence these feelings came. Indeed, I hit a nerve, because at once my heart started raining tears, and stirring up strong gusts of wind that I had to breathe deeply to relieve myself of.

I was betrayed by someone very close, and for so long. I felt hurt,anger,fear- all at once. I didn’t know how I kept such a deep secret from myself for so long. Or perhaps it’s because of its grave nature that I repressed it for as long as I had.

A lot of things made sense, and I wondered how I could have been blindsided in such a way and if there was any redemption in this at all?

The person in question might come as an odd surprise, but I think it makes perfect sense. Me.

The deep-seated betrayal I uncovered was one I felt towards some parts of me. I realized that I was intensely afraid of myself, of being alone with my thoughts. The thoughts that had been a source of much anguish and torture for over a decade. I hated being left to my own being because that’s when the gremlins would come out of the woodwork. I’d keep myself intensely occupied at all times; perfectionism,codependency,comfort eating. I felt betrayed because I was the one who sabotaged my own dreams, I was the one who let others walk all over me, I was the one who failed myself in so many different ways. I was the first to tear down my dreams, and the last to acknowledge my successes and hard work. I felt alienated in my own skin and I was forever roaming the earth like a hapless ghost looking for a tether to hold on to. I wasn’t welcome within my being. I was an outcast.

For this I was angry and hurt but immensely relieved. My discovering this meant that I was finally ready to forgive myself, to reconcile with the parts of me that had broken away in fear. It meant that peace was in the middle of the battlefield, and I’m getting ready,  my only armour being courage.

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