Untangled: Can we stop guilting ourselves for having emotions, please?

By Maram Behairy

For a long time, I viewed my emotions as something bad. Emotions make people behave irrationally. Emotions make people volatile. Emotions make people unproductive. Emotions make people say hurtful words and do hurtful things. My conclusion was simple- emotions were bad.

 

To me, the obvious solution was to avoid all emotions. This wasn’t a conscious strategic decision on my part. Usually, these kinds of things are clearer in hindsight. So, I was the one who would run away from any “mushy” feelings. A hug from family or friends that lingered was a “no no.” I would cringe at emotion-inciting scenes in movies or fluffy words from loved ones. I relied on my intellect because surely that was safer and more stable.

 

Fast forward several years—marriage, a crazy health issue, kids, a kid with a crazy health issue, broken friendships, and painful social challenges—my emotions revolted. They escaped the confines of the dungeon within and staged a coup on my intellect.

 I now know that Allah SWT didn’t make a mistake by giving us these pesky emotions. Our emotions are guides, indicating when we need to recalibrate. Somehow, I thought my rational thinking brain was more stable, safer. I was trying to make my life into a sterile operating room with all things accounted for and perfectly sterilized and in exactly the right place. A life without emotions is a life devoid of beauty. If this existence was only meant to be about functionality, why did Allah SWT create flowers and colors and scents and flavors?

 

Today, I try to honor those emotions, to feel them freely, to listen for their messages, and to recalibrate my life accordingly. In the coming posts, I will share what I’ve learned along this journey. I pray my words help you honor this gift Allah SWT gave us. 

The Guest House

by Jalaluddin Rumi

Translated by Coleman Barks

 

This being human is a guest house.

Every morning a new arrival.

 

A joy, a depression, a meanness,

some momentary awareness comes

as an unexpected visitor.

 

Welcome and entertain them all!

Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,

who violently sweep your house

empty of its furniture,

still, treat each guest honorably.

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.

 

About the Author:

Maram Behairy is a PhD in Curriculum and Instruction and heads the writers’ group of South Florida Muslim Federation

‘I like to understand the bigger picture, deeper reasons, and nuanced connections. I have always been more interested in the roots under the ground than the fruit above. I complicate and explore in order to find the simple, deep truths. I live those with conviction. My dream is to use my gift for words to inspire and guide others to live with purpose and greater ease. So as I experiment on myself, I will share what I learn along the way. My roles in life (by default my areas of exploration) include being a Muslim, woman, wife, mother, writer, and youth mentor.’

Have a question for the author or want to reach her? Email her at maram@soflomuslims.com.

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