So..it's my birthday tomorrow.
I don't actually have that much planned, a birthday meal with the kids, lots of cake...and probably a bit more cake just for good measure.
What I don’t have planned however, are tears.
Unless of course they're tears of happiness at how much cake there is 😉
But on a serious note....just a few years ago, tears were definitely on the menu when it came to my birthday.
Back then I was still in an abusive marriage. And though you make initially think that the tears came from experiencing abuse that day, they actually came from something else..
Beautiful, heartfelt (?) apologies, written in stunning, hand-made birthday cards. Filled from top to bottom, in small, neat handwriting. Line after line of sweet words, apologies, promises and hopes for the future.
The first few times that I received cards like this, I believed every single line that was written inside them.
For someone who was pretty much illiterate, he'd gone to such an effort to write out all of all those words that pleaded for forgiveness and a fresh start for our relationship. I genuinely thought wow, he really means it this time. I really wanted to believe that someone wouldn't just write all these words and not mean them.
But time would pass, as it does, and as the saying goes..actions speak louder than words.
And boy did they speak louder.
The abuse never stopped. Maybe he'd be better behaved for a week or two, but as anyone that's gone through anything similar to this will have noticed, a cycle of abuse was always there, ticking along in the background.
The phase of apologies and promises of a better future would soon move into the next phase of abuse when they see that you're not conforming to whatever rules they want you to. And inevitably this would lead to the next incident of abuse. And then the apologies would emerge again. And so the cycle would continue..
The last time I received one of these beautiful, handmade and handwritten cards, I did cry.
I cried because I knew it was all lies.
I cried because I knew that he didn't mean a single word of it. That all those small, neat lines of handwriting meant absolutely nothing. They may as well have been written in Chinese. They were nothing but empty words.
And so I cried on that birthday.
Because I knew deep down, that things would never improve.
And a few months later I left the marriage for good. Because not only did things not improve, they got a whole lot worse.
Thankfully, I no longer have to experience this sadness and disappointment on my birthday anymore, or any day for that matter.
And if for any reason I do end up crying tomorrow, then it'll probably be because I'm so happy that I can stuff myself with cake all day long, totally guilt-free.
And I'll take that over an abusive, unhappy marriage any day of the year.
Happy birthday to me ❤
P.S. Why should only the birthday girl get gifts? For this weekend only, I'm going to gift five 1-1 relationship breakthrough sessions with me. These usually cost £97 but hey, it’s my birthday and I'll give away free breakthrough sessions if I want to 😉
Go here to unwrap yours: www.ptissem.com/session
If you've ever come across a poem by Rumi, you'll know that his writing was deeply spiritual and full of love and insight.
However, he also had a great sense of humour..check out the following piece of relationship advice:
"Here is a relationship booster that is guaranteed to work: Every time your spouse or lover says something stupid, make your eyes light up as if you just heard something brilliant"
And 3...2...1...eye roll..
Rumi was a deeply spiritual person...so could he have meant something else by this statement?
Could he have possibly known the truth of the Inside-Out Paradigm, of where our feelings actually come from? Did he realise that when we say 'stupid' things to our partner, that we're just innocently lost in the Outside-In illusion and in that moment, can't see the truth of where our feelings are actually coming from?
I'm guessing that he did..
And if like Rumi, we were able to see this truth, how different would our relationships be?
If we could see that our spouse had just momentarily lost sight of the truth and innocently believed that something other than their own thinking had the power to make them feel anything; then perhaps we would be more compassionate and look at them as if they had just said something brilliant. Perhaps we'd be less quick to dismiss them or argue with them, but instead find logical ways to work through whatever challenge or issue they were facing.
Rumi rahimu-Allah, was definitely deep.
And although he didn't leave behind a School of Relationships (how amazing would that be) - I've got the next best thing.
By going here, you’ll get free access to the first module of my 'Effortless Relationships' program, designed to help you nurture a beautifully deep and loving connection with your spouse.
If your Facebook newsfeed is anything like mine, you'll have noticed that more and more people are posting 'positive thinking' style, uplifting memes.
Whatever challenge you're going through - there's a meme for that.
Some of the inspirational advice that I believe has the opposite effect however, is when people are told to be grateful for their situation because others have it worse.
Now at face value it appears to be sound advice.
Comparing ourselves to others who are worse off should theoretically cause us to be more appreciative of our own situation and circumstances.
However, if you've been through a really challenging time and are struggling to be grateful, what can actually happen upon reading advice such as this, is that you feel even worse for being such a bad person that you can't even feel grateful for what you do have. Comparing yourself to people who have far less does nothing to lift your mood and so you feel worse about yourself and sink into feeling even lower than before.
There should only be one uplifting meme on Facebook and it should say this:
'You're only ever feeling your thinking'
Now at face value, this may not automatically solve all of the problems you're experiencing in life.
And that's exactly why I created a five-part online training programme, that takes this one simple statement, but with it digs deep so that you can see the truth of it in your own life.
And when you see this simple truth, something really nice starts to happen.
Your mind becomes so much quieter that you naturally become more thankful and express this gratitude to Allah every day. You no longer need to be forced to be grateful, you just are. Because you now understand the simple truth of how your mind actually works.
To begin to experience this for yourself, go here and watch the first module completely free.
For anyone that's into personal development, you may think it's strange that I'm telling you that it's OK to be sad.
I mean surely the whole point of self-development is so that we can be happy more of the time? We want less of the negative feelings and more of the positive feelings, right?
But here's why I believe that the focus shouldn't be on the 'positive' and 'negative' feelings, but rather, on the source of these feelings. Because when we understand the true source of our feelings, we can experience a different type of 'negative' emotion. We start to:
- Feel hurt without feeling heartbroken
- Feel sad without feeling distraught
- Feel lonely without feeling despair
- Feel upset without it needing to drag on for days, weeks or even months
When we realise the true source of our feelings, we experience a peace around even the most 'negative' of emotions.
I use inverted commas because I don't actually believe there are negative and positive emotions. These feelings are all neutral and what we perceive as good and bad feelings are actually a normal part of life. If the Prophet PBUH experienced every single emotion out there, then we know its sunnah (tradition) to also experience the same.
But there's a small but very important distinction in how we experience them.
When we know the true source of our feelings, we welcome these moments and stop looking at them as negative feelings. We experience them for what they are and avoid slipping down the slippery slope to despair, heartbreak and depression.
We're no longer battling against ourselves to stop experiencing the 'bad' and trying so hard to experience more of the 'good'.
Because there is good in it all and it's this understanding that allows us to experience life events such as the death of a loved one, in an entirely different way. In a way that brings us ease, peace and grace in the most challenging of circumstances - and with this comes a deeper connection with Allah.
To experience this for yourself, make your first stop my 5-part online Effortless Relationships training programme.
It's designed to help you have a more beautiful relationship - with yourself. And I've made the first module available here for free 🙂
P.S. And if you needed any further convincing, here's my favourite poet Rumi with a strikingly similar message 😉
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, depression a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes,
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honourably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
Who isn't guilty of having one of these....when things don't go to plan, we retreat to the sofa and have an adult version of a toddler tantrum, albeit a quieter and less physically demanding one.
We may sit there silently stuffing ourselves with cake and chocolate, whilst contemplating how rubbish we have it compared to everyone else. We sigh heavily and may even cry at how things are just not working out for us.
We feel so sorry for ourselves.
And if we're not careful, this short and sweet self-pity session can turn into a constant phase of living in victim-mode. Suddenly our self-pity has become a big part of our life to the point where it comes up in conversation with others almost immediately. It's as if we introduce ourselves to others as 'Hi my name is Joe Bloggs and I'm a victim of xyz'.
We may not even realise that this is what we're doing.
What we feel self-pity about, suddenly becomes 'us' and we forget that the real me, our true self, is so far removed from the made-up stories we've been telling ourselves during our self-pity sessions.
You see, no matter what we think about ourselves, none of that made-up thinking can actually take anything away from who we truly are at our core. We are all perfect beings, who sometimes face challenging times, who sometimes make mistakes and slip-up and sin, but get up again and strive for better.
When we pause for a moment and stop beating ourselves up for how things have turned out for us, it frees our mind to instead focus on what we can do right now in this present moment. We end up taking more beneficial action because we're no longer dwelling on the past which no longer exists, or worrying about the future which hasn’t even happened yet.
The only moment that really matters, is this one.
Right now, in this present moment, everything is fine. You are fine. And only your thinking will tell you otherwise.
So, ditch the self-pity session and the beating yourself up and instead start to live life as your highest self. And if you need some help in doing that, then you should probably watch my 5-part online training programme. I've made the first module available for free here.
One of my all-time favourite TV shows is The Affair.
Apart from the great acting, it has a unique way of playing out its storyline. The events in the show unfold by viewing it through the perspectives of both the main characters, Noah and Alison. Each episode has a Part 1 and a Part 2, and each part gives you their unique perspective on the same events.
It can be both intriguing and very entertaining to see how differently the story is shown from each person's perspective.
The same event is altered to reflect how differently they recall past events and interestingly, how they see themselves and each other.
Whilst watching the most recent episode I got to thinking about how realistic this actually was.
How could they both have sometimes quite different versions of the same event?
But then I realised that this actually happens to us all of the time, without us even realising what's going on. And it's down to a simple truth about how we actually experience life day to day.
We all go through life living in our 'own world'. We throw this statement around a lot without realising just how much truth it holds.
Every day, we get up and experience the same things other people do, but we will have an entirely different experience of it, because we live that experience through our own thoughts. The very nature of thought itself, means no two people can have the same thoughts, or think the exact same way. It's why we can often watch the same movie as other people, but leave the cinema with an entirely different experience of it. Our thoughts create our experience, so when we're in a particular situation, or we're watching a movie, or having a conversation with someone, we're experiencing it all through our own thinking.
And because of this, no two people can have the exact same experience of something.
So with this in mind, the focus can switch from wondering why two people aren't thinking the same thing, and perhaps even thinking that there is something wrong with one of them because of that; to understanding that everyone will always be living in their own separate reality and it's 100% OK if someone doesn't think the same way we do.
When we stop wondering why someone isn't thinking the same way as us, we end up dropping all of the unhelpful thinking and reactions that we may have previously had.
We accept that they cannot think the same way we do, even if we believe it would be better if they did.
The natural consequence of this in our relationships, is that we become better listeners, better communicators and better at just being there and being present with whatever is happening in the moment, rather than wasting our time and energy wondering why our partner does not think or feel the same way we do.
We see through the illusion and accept each other's perspectives, rather than being annoyed by them.
If you’d like to experience this shift in your relationship and learn the secret to dropping so many of the often unnecessary and unhelpful expectations that we have of our partner and ourselves, then you’re going to love this.
Do you ever wonder about this? Do you wonder how you ended up in the life you are in right now, where things just haven’t turned out the way you thought they would? That your marriage is not how you dreamt it would be back when you were young, free and single. Do you reflect on your life and wonder what happened to being with the man of my dreams? What happened to being swept off my feet and saved by my Prince Charming? What happened to my aspirations of living with a great family life where the love for my husband effortlessly grows and blossoms every day? Why aren’t I living happily ever after? Do you then start to wonder that perhaps because your life isn’t like this, that maybe, just maybe, you’re not with the right person and perhaps you should separate so that you can start again and try and have that perfect, blissful marriage
with someone else?
From the moment we’re old enough to understand fairy tales, we are sold a Disney fantasy of how life should and will turn out for us eventually. We will struggle, and then miraculously our Prince Charming will come along and save us. And we will live happily ever after.
As we grow up, we continue to be surrounded by movies and books that sell us the idea of a perfect romance and a perfect relationship that we all then end up aspiring to. And then when we do get married, we naturally start comparing our own marriage to this perfect standard. Unfortunately, as our marriage matures, what then can and does happen is that we grow bitter and resentful that the man we have at home, no longer looks like the man of our dreams and is not similar in any way, shape or form to the image of the man that we are consistently exposed to and which is being sold to us as the ‘ideal’. We may all too often sit there, silently judging our spouse for not living up to the perfect standard that has been subconsciously indoctrinated into us from such a young age.
But what are we really comparing our husbands to? We’re comparing them to something that does not exist..
I was hanging out with some new mum friends from my son's school the other day, and after a few minutes of chatting we all realised that we were all either divorced, or in the process of separating.
The conversation soon turned to how relieved each of us were that we were no longer living in unhealthy and unhappy marriages.
One of the mums was relieved that she no longer had to share her house with her ex, another was overjoyed at being able to relax in her garden during the summer evenings without the negative energy in her home that once was. And another was happy that she no longer had to fight over the remote control and could watch whatever she wanted on TV.
I on the other hand, got to thinking about how peaceful life really was now that I was on my own and no longer living in an abusive and toxic relationship. It reminded me of a poem that I wrote soon after leaving my ex which I turned into a video animation (you can watch it below).
There is so much to be said for living life in peace. But we don't always have to leave our partners to experience this, especially if we if what we really want is to save our marriage - and especially if our marriage isn't abusive or toxic.
There is something else in life which gives us this feeling of peace and contentment. A simple understanding that has to potential to change how you experience life and give your relationship with yourself and your partner, the best possible chance to grow and flourish.
I've created a five-module online training programme that will get you well on your way to experiencing this peace and contentment in your life on a daily basis. And I've made the first module available completely free.
All you need to do is click this link and take 18 minutes out of your day to learn something new and powerful, that could be the first step in your own transformative journey:
These are the words of my coaching client Laila*.
Laila contacted me after reading an article of mine in the Muslim Vibe and was interested in learning more about the Inside-Out Paradigm of Psychology. Like many of us, Laila was struggling to make things work in her marriage and hoped that this understanding could help her in some small way.
Laila ended up joining my group coaching programme and after only a few sessions alhamdulillah, sent me the following update on her marriage:
"I'm literally cringing at myself over how many times I've been patronising, condescending and defensive with my husband instead of trying to be patient and understanding.
I'm taking into account everything you have written and going to apply inshallah. You will be pleased to know things have gotten so much better Alhamdulillah thanks to you!!! You have made me see the error of my ways and I'm working on myself every day.
The reason why things had been at a standstill for so long was because I had never taken accountability for my actions and only expecting the change to come from my husband and not from within myself, it's still a work in progress but I no longer sweat the small stuff!!! Before I would of made it into a mountain!!!
Thank you so much, u will get so much ajar inshallah!! It's amazing how reading something can make you wake up and hear a few home truths!
Keep up the good work xx"
So, what happened in these first few sessions that created such a positive change in Laila's relationship with her husband? The same relationship that she had been struggling with for so many years?
In our first few coaching sessions together, Laila went through my video training programme - The Inside-Out Paradigm: A Beginner's Guide to Effortless Relationships. This 5-module training programme works by opening your eyes to what's really going on behind all of that thinking and feeling that can consume us on a daily basis. It helps us to make sense of our thinking and not let all of the big feelings we experience weigh so heavily on us.
And here's the really special part…
Laila sent me this feedback after having only gone through three of the five training modules. It had a positive effect on her that quickly. You know why? Because the Inside-Out Paradigm of Psychology is truth. And our souls always recognise truth. When we hear truth, it has a simple but transformational effect on our lives. It makes it so much harder to resort back to our negative thinking patterns and all of the emotional suffering that comes with that.
And I want as many people as possible to also experience this, insha'Allah.
It's why I've made the first module of my online training programme available here for free. This first module is only 18 minutes long but is a wonderful introduction to how we actually experience life and how we are innocently allowing ourselves to experience unnecessary emotional suffering - all because of a simple misunderstanding of how we really work.
If you watch the first module and your soul also recognises just an ounce of truth in anything I've shared and you want to learn more, then I've made the full programme available at a really special, low price.
Not only that, but I'm also bonusing in a 60-90 minute, 1-1 telephone coaching session with me, where we can delve deep into your own relationship and get some much-needed clarity on the issues and challenges that you're currently facing. It will also be the perfect opportunity to get further clarification on anything that was covered in the training programme or answer any questions you may have.
You can access the first module and find details for the full training programme by clicking here.
I pray that it benefits you as much as it benefited Laila, insha'Allah.
*Name changed to protect identity
I almost lost the will to live last week...
It felt like I'd spent weeks on end, trying to sort my garden out so that the kids could enjoy it as much as possible during the heatwave we were having. All I needed to do was have an outside tap installed, get a garden hose and pressure washer, clean it all up and then fill with toys and a paddling pool. Simple right?
Except it was far from.
My kitchen got flooded after the plumber had an accident.
The garden hose my mum gave me was just a pile of crap for want of a better phrase.
And the pressure washer would just spit out a few measly drops of water and refused to work.
I'd already spent so much time running around the shops trying to get all the bits and pieces I'd need, so when I got home I just wanted to connect everything up and get to work.
But no, that would be too easy wouldn't it?
Every time I thought I'd get something done today, I'd be faced with another problem, something else that wouldn't work correctly - and with no husband at home to just 'fix it' for me, I started to get slightly annoyed...
OK, that's an understatement, I got really annoyed!!
And the only person I could vent to was my brother, as I knew he wouldn't hold the barrage of swear words that I sent to him over text message against me once I'd calmed down...
Suddenly everything was against me, why was I even having to do all of these 'man' jobs anyway? Why don't things just 'work' when you plug them in? Don't they realise I don't have time for all this crap? I still have to bath and feed the kids, I don't have the time to figure out why the pressure washer won't work correctly!
So yes, suffice to say that I was a little Outside-In (OK, a lot!)
In that moment, or moments, I'd lost the plot and started to believe that my feelings came from somewhere other than my own thinking. I believed that all of this malfunctioning garden equipment was the cause of my feelings - I believed I was annoyed because nothing was going to plan. And my brother was quick to tell me that I needed to take my own advice and practice what I preach when it came to my thinking and feeling - LOL!
And this is something important that I really wanted to highlight.
Because as we start to learn about the Inside-Out Paradigm of Psychology, as we start to see that we’re only ever feeling our own thinking and the positive effects this understanding is having on our relationships; we can all too easily start to put unrealistic expectations on ourselves to always be Inside-Out. If we fall into the Outside-In illusion, where we innocently but incorrectly believe that something other than our thinking in the moment is causing our feelings; then we can easily slip into beating ourselves up and feeling down about the fact that we've 'lost' it and have gone back to our old way of thinking.
But this isn't the case at all.
We will always fall prey to the Outside-In illusion, where we believe that people, situations or circumstances are the cause of our feelings, because it's so deceptive.
But the problem here isn't falling into the Outside-In illusion - this happens to everyone.
Knowing we've fallen into the Outside-In illusion is what helps us to quickly self-correct and start to see things again from the Inside-Out.
We know that falling into the Outside-In illusion means we're not seeing things clearly and for how they really are. We know deep down that our feelings are only ever coming from our thinking in the moment - we know this to be 100% true, so even when we do fall into the Outside-In illusion, it doesn't have the same hold over us anymore.
We understand the Inside-Out Paradigm - we understand the truth of how we really work psychologically.
And so when we do feel annoyed and frustrated and we innocently but incorrectly believe that it's because of a situation we're in, or because of a certain person's behaviour or words, this Outside-In thinking and feeling doesn't last very long.
Because we know that feelings can only ever come from our thinking, we end up naturally dismissing our Outside-In thinking that is telling us otherwise, until we're no longer experiencing it.
We basically 'snap out of it' very quickly and whatever we went through no longer has any kind of hold over us.
Can you see how this would have a hugely positive effect on your relationship with your partner?
The opposite of this happens however, when we don't have the knowledge of the Inside-Out Paradigm and we don't fully understand how we work psychologically.
It ends up being a lot harder to make sense of our thoughts and feelings. If we feel annoyed, frustrated or upset, this can drag on for days, weeks and even months, because we're not clear on where our feelings are actually coming from. We innocently but incorrectly believe that something needs to change in order for us to feel OK.
We’re giving people, situations and circumstances the power to dictate how we feel - but it just doesn’t work that way.
And if we're holding onto this Outside-In thinking and feeling in our marriage, it can have a detrimental effect on repairing our relationship with our partner - and with ourselves - moving forward.
We end up becoming stuck in our Outside-In thinking and find it almost impossible to see a way out of the challenges and situations we’re facing.
If you’d like to permanently free yourself of this emotional suffering, so that it becomes easier for you to return to your natural Inside-Out state, where you’re much better able to deal with the challenges in your marriage clearly and logically, then click right here and let’s get started insha’Allah.