How many of us have needed help to overcome something or learn to manage something in our lives? Did outside help actually help you? If not, then did you ever consider what work you did internally before seeking external support?
Seeking help when we need it the most is no simple task. You know this if you have gone through a difficult time in your life when you were in desperate need of a helping hand. But, you did not have it in you to reach out and seek aid. So how are we supposed to get the help we need when we need it? What could be more important than seeking help?
I would argue that self reflection, self awareness and accountability are essential before reaching for and receiving help. The concept of introspection and self reflection is not foreign to us as Muslims. The Prophet Muhamad (saw), just like many prophets and messengers before him, practiced this while searching for the truth before receiving the revelations.
Self Awareness Before Seeking Help
During times of difficulty, it is important to give yourself some grace and allow yourself to go through all of the emotions. As someone who lost two loved ones in the same year, nursing my grief
and being gentle with myself while doing so was an integral part of my healing journey. Being self aware of my emotions and feelings helped me express them to those around me in a way that was beneficial, in order to receive the help I needed from others.
After giving myself the time I needed to fully feel the pain and loss I was going through, I started to recognize what type of help I needed in order to move on. I did not rush the process, nor did I suppress my feelings, but rather came to terms with the will of Allah (S) and allowed myself to fully submit to Him.
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So, unless we are aware of our own feelings, our own issues and our own problems and/or challenges, how can we be ready to receive help?
Throughout this process of self awareness, there comes a time when you will need to pinpoint your struggles and areas of need in order to communicate them to those around you. This also comes with the realization that seeking help starts from within – it starts with you. No one will be able to help you if you yourself are not able to help yourself or have the willingness to do so.
Similarly, happiness comes from within. Others can not make you happy, if you yourself can not find happiness, once again, within yourself.
Accepting Accountability for Ourselves
For far too many reasons, asking for help does not come easy for many of us. If you are anything like myself, I find it hard to let go of control. A sudden change of plans can easily throw me off. For this reason, taking the time to self reflect, and be aware of what it is you need help with and what your issues are around this is important before seeking help.
Throughout my journey for healing after my loss, I learned that help will not find me. Rather, I need to find the help from within and others to carry on. A friend to confide in, self love
, domestic help with chores and errands, spiritual reflection, as well as professional help are all forms of aid that are for you to explore and take advantage of.
Then there is accountability.
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If we are struggling with something, if we are spiraling, how willing are we to look at ourselves, recognize that we may be making wrong decisions or letting ourselves be influenced by unhealthy things before seeking external help? If help is offered to us and we have not even come to terms internally that we need to change something or that we need to seek a different path, chances are that external help will not benefit us.
In order to seek help, you must first be willing to receive it and hold yourself accountable. As Ustadha Hosai Mojaddidi explains here
, allowing yourself to go through your emotions and take your time to navigate your struggles in life is important, however there is a fine line that should not be crossed; letting those emotions embody you and take control. “Balance is feeling coupled with rational thought. Without this balance, we will ironically bring more pain to ourselves and our world,” advises Hosai.
She goes on to write, “The emphasis on ‘feelings’ over rational thought is a slippery slope that has proven destructive. Look around and you’ll see how our obsession with individual subjective emotions and experiences at the expense of the welfare of the collective is destroying our families, societies and world.
"We need to restore the balance. While seeking external validation from flawed human beings is inevitable, our faith calls us to strive higher and seek God’s approval; He is free from any and all imperfections and elevates our souls and liberates our minds from the subjugation of our ego and the enslavement of needing praise from others.”
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There is so much wisdom in what she advises. Yes, we must feel what we feel. It can be helpful to sit in our feelings and emotions and self-reflect on why we are feeling the way we are and what we can learn from it, what we can change about ourselves. But this only comes from thinking rationally along with examining our feelings. If we are willing to do the hard work of self reflection and self awareness of what has led us to the situation we are in, only then can we truly receive the guidance of Allah (S) and external help.
Let’s also not forget that the mercy of Allah (S) is endless, and He is always there for us, even when we are not there for ourselves. In those moments in life, when you are at an all-time low, seek refuge in the One who created you and is The Most Compassionate.
(Are you or someone you know going through a difficult time? This blog post is a great read on how one person’s journey through self awareness, seeking help and accountability lead her to self discovery.)