Midnight thieves 

​I don’t hate victim mentality because it’s a sign of weakness. No. I hate it because it’s a sign of self-betrayal. You’re abandoning yourself and throwing yourself under the bus, literally taking your power and placing it in the hands of others. Why? Because you feel that you are unable to handle your pain. You’ve resigned on life and now you’re demanding the pension you feel entitled to from the world!
Not only are you betraying yourself, but you’re doing others a great injustice. You’re burdening others with a responsibility that isn’t theirs, which is your emotions. Others can’t *make* you feel something. They can *do* something to you, but it’s ultimately your response and reaction to external stimuli that determines how you feel. 
When you default on taking responsibility and care for yourself, you release that negativity into the world. Not only that, but because you’re so self-absorbed with how much you lack, you can’t connect with others nor can you give to the world what you’re here to give! You’re sucking the life out of life!
Now. People often conflate self-pity with self-compassion, because they are under the impression that you should treat yourself like an inmate. What’s the difference between the two?
Self-compassion is giving yourself the unconditional acceptance and validation of *everything* you feel, without holding back, without criticizing yourself for whatever emotions come. It’s to allow yourself to feel, from a place of empowerment, from a place of abundance and hope. 
Self-pity comes from a place of lack, where you feel that everything happens to you, and that you’re inherently incapable. You then sulk over your perceived incapability and hopelessness of your life or situation. 
The only way to truly know which is which is by establishing a connection with your intuition. Your intuition is your emotional thermometer. It tells you what’s going on inside your heart. And it’s like a muscle, so if your intuition has atrophied, don’t worry. It’ll grow stronger with repeated use. 

Life isn’t conspiring against you! You’re just really committed to prove to yourself that you can’t do anything differently than you are or have been, because that’s easier than to face your fears and pain and go into the scary unknown. 
Whilst you’re busy looking back at who hurt you, you’re missing out on those who’ll love you 

Whilst you’re busy longing for what you don’t have, you’re missing out on what you do have 

Whilst you’re busy harping on about everything that’s wrong, you’re failing to appreciate everything that’s right 

Whilst you’re busy focusing on everything that you can’t do, you’re neglecting what you *can* do. 
A victim mentality is a very ungrateful and entitled outlook on life.

You may not sign up for hardships and difficulties in life, but being a victim is entirely a volunteering gig.

 نْ تَكْفُرُوا فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ غَنِيٌّ عَنْكُمْ وَلَا يَرْضَى لِعِبَادِهِ الْكُفْرَ وَإِنْ تَشْكُرُوا يَرْضَهُ لَكُمْ وَلَا تَزِرُ وَازِرَةٌ وِزْرَ أُخْرَى ثُمَّ إِلَى رَبِّكُمْ مَرْجِعُكُمْ فَيُنَبِّئُكُمْ بِمَا كُنْتُمْ تَعْمَلُونَ إِنَّهُ عَلِيمٌ بِذَاتِ الصُّدُورِ
 

“If you disbelieve, then verily, Allâh is not in need of you, (though)He likes not disbelief for His slaves. And if you are Grateful (by being believers), He is pleased therewith for you. No bearer of burdens shall bear the burden of another. Then to your Lord is your return, so He will inform you what you used to do. Verily, He is the All-Knower of that which is in (people’s) breasts.”
 (Az-Zumar 39:7) 

dirty shoes and doormats

Today I took my ayeyo out for a brief stroll in the beautiful Swedish spring weather. There’s something about spring that spells hope for me. The air feels alive. And the sun shines like it means it. Anyway, as we were walking, we were met by two middle-aged Somali women, one of whom abruptly stopped in front of my ayeyo – the other stood to the side. The lady who stopped seemed to know her.
 
She asked my ayeyo ‘Ma i taqaana?’( Do you know me?) And though my petite ayeyo has been tried with a lifetime of illnesses, I swear when I say that her mind is clearer than any youngster I know, I’m not exaggerating. And the corner of her mouth curved up, to form into a brief smile as she replied that of course she knows the lady, she’s so and so.
The lady clapped her hand in joyous surprise as she gave her friend a look that said
‘ can you believe this old woman remembers stuff?’.
 
There’s something that irks me about the way Somalis patronize old people and young kids. But that’s besides the point.
 
After exchanging a round of small talk, the middle-aged lady suddenly turned her face to take a sharp look at me, as if she just noticed that I was standing next to ayeyo, and asked
 
‘ ma ina cali baa?’ ( Are you the daughter of Ali?)
I have my mother’s signature looks that gives me away instantly.
I said ‘haa’ (yes). And what she said next took me aback;
 
‘oo maxaad saan ula balaaratay? Maxaad cuntay’
( Why did you become this big, what did you eat?) as her squinting and prying eyes looked me up and down. Her boorish words didn’t warrant a reply so I looked her in the eye and silently looked away. I wasn’t afraid of giving her an answer she deserves, but I didn’t even know her so I didn’t even want to acknowledge what she said.
She didn’t relent. She scrambled for something to save face with; she turned to my ayeyo and said in an explanatory tone
‘ waxaan u maleynayey inay aheyd tii wax dhashay’
( I thought it was the one who had the baby) referring to my younger sister who had the measurements of a supermodel with her 5’10 frame and envious body shape. Drive the knife deeper will you.
 
Ayeyo quipped back ‘ no, this one doesn’t have a baby. She’s not married.’
I glanced at her friend who stood silently on the side, to see if she was as shocked as I was at her rudeness? But she wasn’t. And the rude lady didn’t seem fazed by her intrusiveness. What world did these women come from that made it seem normal to be so unhinged? I tugged at ayeyo to signal that we should head back home. The afternoon sun was receding, and it was getting a bit chilly.
When they left I told my ayeyo ‘ma la yaabtay?’
( Did you become shocked?) at which she grinned, knowingly. My ayeyo says more with her facial expression than she speaks. We walked the rest of the way home in silence.
 
I noticed that it didn’t bother me. It was offensive, but it didn’t stir my emotions. Because I know that for someone to talk like that, they must be full of pain and problems. Normal people don’t go around saying shit like that. But had this been a year ago, it would have broken my spirits and would have set me oh so far back. It’s odd, how gradually change seeps into your being. A thought challenged here, an essay written there. Before you know it, you’ve thought yourself into a new person.
 
I thought to myself, if I hadn’t created my own world I would have died in other people’s worlds, paraphrasing something I had read. People project their insecurities and vices on others all the time. If I didn’t have a stable self-esteem, a sense of self, then I would have crumbled under the weight of all the negativity (no pun intended :p ).
Someone can come and destroy all the hard work you’ve done by a thoughtless word if you open yourself up to the opinion and approval of others.
 
I don’t need to explain to anyone why I gained weight, how I feel about that, or when I’m planning on losing it. Because one thing is for sure; feeling good about yourself is NOT tied to a number on the scale. If that were the case, we wouldn’t have thin girls hating their non-existent flab. I’ve battled with eating disorders and body dysmorphia ever since I was 12-13 because of what others said, because of what I saw in the magazines and on tv. I thought to be liked, I had to be perfect in every way. So even though I was slim, I hated my body. I hated it. There was never a moment where I felt ok. And it’s ironic that it took me gaining a whole lot of weight for that self-hate to come to the surface.
 
I relay this incident because I know that many girls and women suffer insecurities that leave a dent in their lives. If it’s not body size, it’s skin tone, it’s hair texture, it’s height, it’s the nose, the eyes, the hands, the waist, the hips, the neck. If not the physical aspect, then it’s how ‘lady-like’ are you, how hard-working are you, how good a manners do you have, how good a cook are you, are you married, are you able to have kids, are you able to balance the entire world on your shoulders–
 
When you open yourself up to the definitions and remarks of those who haven’t felt your pain, who haven’t witnessed the suffering that gave you the strength to carry on, the beautiful heart you have — even if it’s your own mother, then you basically say ‘ my own opinion doesn’t matter. I don’t matter until I am validated by others’. It’s this act of self-transgression that invites the transgression of others.
 
Don’t. YOU set your standards. YOU set your rules. YOU set your own boundaries. Teach people how to treat YOU. If they don’t respect it or try to mock you by saying that you’re too sensitive, cut them loose. Someone who doesn’t respect your wishes or boundaries is someone who doesn’t respect YOU. You don’t need that garbage in your life. You’re no dumpster mmkay?
 
 
The role of a writer is not to say what we can all say, but what we are unable to say.
 
— Anaïs Nin

Affirming your true,authentic self

Yet another informing article on recovering from codependency¹ by Darlene Lancer,JD.,MFT.


 

Each time you affirm your true, authentic self, every cell in your body cheers “Yes!” When you negate yourself, it has negative biological consequences. To build self-esteem and affirm your true self, try this:

» Take action to meet your needs.
» Express who you really are.
»Think good thoughts about yourself.

»Take action to do what you really want.

Affirming yourself entails putting yourself at the center of your decision-making (having an internal locus of control) – something hard for codependents, who are other-focused, ignore their needs, and have trouble asserting themselves. Negating yourself or allowing others to do so have the opposite effect.

Neuroscience has substantiated the body-mind connection revealing that hormones, neurotransmitters, immunotransmitters, and neuropeptides all respond to emotion, imagery, and thought.The powerful placebo effect is an example of how thoughts can heal. Merely talking about food can make you hungry, a sad memory or movie can make you cry, and imagining a lemon can make your mouth water. Research shows that low self-esteem and low internal locus of control are linked to stress and higher cortisol responses that over time affect brain structures. See brain research. It’s important to note that it’s not just the amount of stress that’s pivotal, but the belief in your ability to handle it that matters. Codependents with low self-esteem more often perceive situations as stressful – like saying “no” or asking for help – that needn’t be. However, taking such actions in the face of anxiety builds self-esteem and confidence; while shunning them increases a fear response.

Self-affirming actions can be challenging for codependents, because they have an external locus-of-control. Typically, they’re disconnected from their authentic self and are preoccupied with, take the lead from, and react to others. They unconsciously don’t believe they’re important and deserve love or respect. Some don’t feel entitled to happiness or success. Low self-esteem makes them self-critical. It’s hard for them to be proud and self-encouraging. Their shame leads to fear and anxiety about being judged, making mistakes, and failing. From being shamed as children, they may not be able to identify their needs, feelings, and wants, or believe that their feelings, opinions, or needs matter. These are all obstacles to taking self-affirming action, self-expression, decision-making, and putting themselves first.

Being loved and accepted are paramount for codependents. To ensure this, they hide who they really are and become who they aren’t. They tend to accommodate others rather than affirm their true self. They may anticipate anger, criticism, rejection, or abuse for setting limits, because that is what they experienced in childhood. As adults, they often choose partners and friends who repeat that pattern due to low self-esteem. Many even accept abuse rather than risk rejection or end toxic relationships, including friendships. Some fear being alone. Adding to their predicament, codependents don’t realize their own power in asserting themselves. They may have had an abusive, narcissistic, or addict parent(s) and learned that their voice didn’t matter. Moreover, they were never protected and didn’t learn how to stand-up for themselves.

Codependents frequently misinterpret others’ responses in a negative light. The following is an example of how expectations of others (including that they read your mind) and negative, personalized interpretations of behavior can lead to hurt feelings, which reinforce low self-esteem and feeling unlovable.

Bonnie was terribly hurt when her boyfriend Mark refused to loan her money, which he had and she needed and wanted. She took this to mean that he didn’t love or care about her. Adding to the problem, she never actually requested a loan, but presumed he should have offered anyway. The truth was that he was raised to have different beliefs about money and lending, and therefore disagreed with her expectations and her assumptions about how he should act. After she understood his background, and even though he was empathetic to her situation, she couldn’t forgive him unless he agreed with her about what he should have done. She was surprised when I questioned why his disagreement (which clearly had nothing to do with her) meant he neither understood nor loved her and why he couldn’t both love her and disagree. These were novel thoughts that hadn’t occurred to her.

Taking self-affirming action can feel uncomfortable at first and create anxiety, guilt, and self-doubt. Plan to expect this – like soreness after using weak muscles – and know that it’s a sign that you’re doing the right thing. Give yourself credit for taking a risk. Throughout the day, you’re confronted with many opportunities to affirm yourself – to disregard or attune to your feelings, to judge or to honor them, to keep commitments and be responsible to yourself, and to act in accordance with your needs, values, and feelings. Doing so builds self-esteem and your authentic true self. (See my blog on self-love.)

After a while, such actions feel more natural and less anxiety-provoking, until one day, you find yourself spontaneously doing them – setting limits, asking for what you want, trying something new, expressing a minority opinion, giving yourself credit, and doing more enjoyable activities – even alone. You find you have less resentments and judgments and that relationships are easier. You start to like and love yourself and enjoy the process of living.


 

¹Lancer, Darlene. “Affirming Your True, Authentic Self.” What Is Codependency.

To hell,my love, with you :)

“In youth, it was a way I had,
To do my best to please.
And change, with every passing lad
To suit his theories.

But now I know the things I know
And do the things I do,
And if you do not like me so,
To hell, my love, with you.”
Dorothy Parker

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