Tag Archives: mercy

Episode 5: Reaction Formation As A Self Defense Mechanism

Defense Mechanism

Self defense mechanism

 

 

Episode Five: Reaction Formation As A Self Defense Mechanism

 

 

“Thank you for meeting with me Alfred. I won’t take up too much of your time, I just have a couple of questions about the night Mrs. Zahir’s necklace went missing” I said.

“Of course” Alfred, the butler, replied with a quick nod.

“In the earlier investigations, you said you went upstairs right after dessert was served, correct?”

“Mrs Zahir needed ice for her rash. I had no choice. I was only doing my job” Alfred went pale and his hands were shaking.

“Calm down. I’m just confirming the information with you.”

“I’m sorry. I’ve just been around long enough to know the unprivileged always serve as everyone else’s scapegoats….”

 

A couple of months ago….

“What are you, deaf?” Mohanad snapped. “I said Scottish smoked salmon. This is clearly Norwegian”

“I will have it replaced right away, Mr. Zahir” Alfred replied with courtesy, even though he was burning inside.

“Rich people are arrogant sick freaks. What difference does it make Scottish or Norwegian? They’re both stinky pink fish!” Alfred slammed the plate on the counter top when he walked into the kitchen.

Giselle, the housekeeper, didn’t say anything. She gulped down the unwanted food, straightened out her apron and then stood at the sink to wash the dishes.

“He’s taking out his anger on me like he always does. We’re lucky we’re not like those people. Their lifestyle is so pretentious and toxic. They have everything they want and they’re not even happy. Take Mr. Zahir, he’s always grumpy, right? And Mrs Zahir is popping pills all day to relax. But people like you and me Giselle, we sleep peacefully coz our conscious is clear.”

“So you wouldn’t want to be in Mr. Zahir’s shoes?” Giselle asked with one eyebrow up.

“Of course not. I hate this exaggeration and fakeness. I’d rather lead an honest simple life, than sit by the pool smoking cigars all day and crying coz my drink doesn’t have an umbrella in it!” Alfred spit out bitterly.

“I’ve worked for many rich families. They’re not all bad” Giselle shrugged.

“Money is a curse I tell you, a CURSE! It turns people into monsters. Wealthy people are everything that’s wrong with this world. They’re bloodsucker. They exploit the poor for their hard-earned money and then pat themselves on the back when they give their leftovers to charity!”

Alfred went back to his room after making sure everyone was sleeping. He looked at the suits he was supposed to take to the dry cleaners for Mr. Zahir, put one on, and sat down to eat a plate of salmon and caviar. He followed his little weekly tradition with lighting up one of his boss’s expensive cigars, while looking at pictures of Mr. Zahir’s Ferrari.

“I hate myself..”, he sighed….

 

 

“So how long have you been working for the Zahirs?”

“About six months now.”

“How’s your experience so far?”

“I can’t complain. They’re fine people. I hope to stay working here for years to come.”

“I heard you got married recently.” I told Alfred, watching his facial expression slowly.

“What does this have to do with anything?” He panicked.

“Well, I spoke to your wife earlier this morning. She’s under the impression you’ll quit your job in a couple of weeks and move permanently to South Africa. She said you plan to buy a house by the beach. Is this true?”

There was a long awkward silence. I could sense the poor butler’s inner struggle and embarrassment at being caught in a lie. He obviously had no intention of working for the Zahirs’ ‘for years to come’.

“We’re still thinking about it….” Alfred finally said after clearing his throat a couple of times.

“Well it does sound like a good plan. You must have a lot of money saved on the side”

 

 

Later that day

“He’s totally busted. So what did he say?” Jenna, my eager assistant asked curiously.

“He said he wasn’t planning on serving rich people for the rest of his life. He was ready to do something meaningful for a change.” I replied as I stared out of my office’s window.

“Did you notice his antagonism towards wealthy people? Is that a ‘communism’ defense mechanism?” Jenna joked.

“No” I laughed. “He’s using Reaction Formation as a self defense mechanism”

“Sounds like something we learn in Chemistry class.”

“Except this mechanism is used when there’s no chemistry between the heart and the mind. It makes people appear the opposite of what they actually are. Like Alfred, he criticizes rich people and yet deep down he wishes to be one of them.”

“What a hypocrite!” Jenna put a hand on her hip.

“It does seem that way, but it’s more like repressing socially unacceptable feelings. Some people cover them up and instead, behave in the completely opposite manner.”

“But why?”

“Because fitting in is a basic need, Jenna. And whenever you start feeling you’ll be ridiculed, judged or left out for having different views or emotions, you sometimes ‘self defend’ yourself against this ‘social pain’ by pretending you’re one of the crowd.”

“But why?”

“La Hawl Wala Kowata Ela BiAllah, I just explained.” I laughed. “Like for example, a father who’s emotionally unavailable, will go the extra mile to show he’s overly protective of his kids. Or a man who secretly has homosexual tendencies yet openly and excessively criticizes gays. Or a woman who inwardly despises her colleague might be extremely nice to her in public. This kind of exaggerated behavior is what we call “Reaction Formation’”

“Good luck treating patients who use this weird mechanism” Jenna scoffed.

“There’s usually a deeper and a much more complicated psychological problem beneath the surface of what the ‘Reaction Formaters’ show. Therapy can provide a safe environment for them to explore their contradictions and perhaps get to the bottom of their primary conflict.”

“Maybe Alfred’s primary problem is his inferiority complex. And maybe he stole the necklace to trick his wife into thinking he’s rich and that way he’d feel superior in her eyes.”

“Maybe….”

“Come on! There’s no other explanation. It’s definitely him!”

“There’s one more suspect.” I said slowly.

“Oh you mean the house keeper, Giselle? You gave me the impression she’s as timid as a blushing newborn rabbit.”

“Yes, but I saw her under a different light.”

“How so?”

“She was eavesdropping on us. And it wasn’t the first time….”

 

To be continued…..

 

 

 

Author’s Commentary:

So I couldn’t tell Jenna but I’m gonna tell you guys what I really think, since we’re all friends here. She was right; Reaction Formation is a sort of hypocrisy, but surprisingly it’s an unconscious one. I know I’m not making a lot of sense but go with me coz it’s a very thin line.
When people try to cover up undesirable feelings or opinions, they’re using a self-defense mechanism to protect themselves from social stigma, but when they add contradictory ‘action’, that’s when they become hypocrites.

 

In Islam, they’re allegedly the ones who want both this life and the Hereafter but end up getting neither. They think they’re so smart they can actually deceive Allah, but He knows their real intentions.

 

“(The hypocrites) will call the believers: “Were we not with you?” The believers will reply: “Yes! But you led yourselves into temptations, you looked forward for our destruction; you doubted (in Faith); and you were deceived by false desires, till the Command of Allah came to pass. And the chief deceiver (Satan) deceived you in respect of Allah.” (57:14 Holy Qur’an)

Now I’m going to touch on a very sensitive subject and please forgive me if I don’t do it very eloquently. Some people judge and criticize sinners so forcefully it makes one wonder why they’re so ruthless when our beautiful religion teaches us to be merciful and tolerant of others. Could it be that those same critics have undesirable wishes to sin, too? Could this exaggerated hatred be a sign of using ‘Reaction Formation’ as a self defense mechanism?

If you catch yourself attacking someone’s lifestyle or behavior in a brutal manner, stop, and take a moment to analyze your intentions. Helping others find the right path involves love, compassion and most of all patience….
We all know this:

Through judging we separate, but through understanding we grow stronger…

And it goes both ways…

If someone condemns you in a hurtful way, (and before you get so mad you feel the smoke coming out of your inflamed nostrils) I need you to remember that perhaps it’s more about them than it is about you. Judging others isn’t listed in our job descriptions as Muslims, and so when we take it upon ourselves to become the world’s most infamous critics, it usually has nothing to do with Islam.

So don’t take the hurt to heart, and try to understand when someone deliberately tries to break someone else, it’s usually because they’re already broken inside…

And ‘having mercy on broken hearts and souls’ is definitely on our job descriptions…

See? Right here on the list, in a bold huge font!

 

 

Lilly S. Mohsen

You Booze You Lose?

Published On Ink Of Faith
January 4th, 2016

Booze

You Booze You Lose
The 3 Reasons Why Some Muslims Drink

 

A glass of wine? A few beers? A shot of tequila? Scotch? On the rocks? With a twist? Man the choices are endless, and they sound so appealing, don’t they? (Oh don’t give me that look! Of course they do!)

If alcohol didn’t make people feel SO GOOD, why on earth would they start drinking? Seeking pleasure is a human instinct, and once you try the euphoric effect of alcohol, I guess it’s just hard to stop.

Now since I don’t even know what alcohol tastes like, I’ve never actually experienced that ‘euphoria’, which makes my personal reflections and opinions invalid in this case. So in the spirit of being objective, I think it’s time to put on the ‘neutral white hat’. Let’s take the emotions, opinions and arguments out of the equation and just rely on facts!

Ready? Here we go…

Why Do People Start Drinking?

According to an extensive study done at the ‘Health Study Center’ in West Virginia University, here are the top 3 reasons why people start consuming alcohol.

  • Curiosity (Phase One)
    Yes, it’s that little ‘Hmmmm’ voice inside of you that woke up when I said ‘Alcohol makes people feel SO GOOD’. Most alcohol consumers start out as ‘experimenters’ to see what all the fuss is about. Some Muslims believe they need to try it first before banishing the ‘forbidden juice’. Many think it just makes more sense to be your own judge.
  • The Effect (Phase Two)
    This is where it gets a bit tricky, because it depends on expectations and belief systems. Some Muslims who know drinking is ‘haram’ but try a sip anyway, will probably hate the whole experience, because deep down they have a strong belief system and they’re too scared of God to even let themselves enjoy it. Others will try it, struggle with their guilt, but will keep drinking coz the feeling is too good to resist and finally some Muslims, because they expected such a great experience from drinking and don’t have a very strong belief system, will trick their brains into believing drinking alcohol is so much fun and hey, how can something that makes you feel so good, be bad?
  • The Pressure (Phase Three)
    And now the pull comes in, depending on those you hang out with. If your friends and loved ones don’t do it, then avoiding the ‘drink’ is very easy coz it’s not even on the table. But if you’re around the wrong crowd most of the times, then yes chances are, the pull will drag you towards it, and the guilt will eventually work it’s way out. Peer pressure is a powerful tool people. That’s why I’m seriously considering hiring a private investigator to spy on my kids’ friends!

What’s So Wrong With Alcohol Anyway?

From a fun-loving perspective, it sounds like everything in Islam is ‘haram’, right?

I mean, why does alcohol and many other sinful temptations exist in the first? Why does God forbid us from having certain types of pleasures?

Wait, where’s that ‘white hat’? Let me make sure it’s on so we can objectively answer those questions…

  • Because Of The Well-Known Secret
    Even if you don’t get drunk or you’re an occasional drinker, there’s no such thing as ‘sensible drinking’ simply coz no level of alcohol is risk-free. Let’s look at some of the very high prices people pay for the ‘effect’…
    – According to the UK ‘Cancer Search Organization’, for every two units of alcohol (that’s a standard glass of wine) the risk of bowel cancer goes up by 8%. Studies prove alcohol consumption is linked to seven types of cancer, including mouth, throat, liver and breast cancer.
    -Drinking is one of the main culprits for weight gain. (Who wants that?!)
    -Alcohol damages the liver, raises blood pressure, and is the second highest cause for pancreatitis, which in time can become life-threatening.
    -You know that hangover when you can’t remember what happened last night? Yeah, this also creates permanent memory loss in time, and can specifically cause Wernicke Korsakoff’s Syndrome- a dementia-like illness.
    -Alcohol increases risk of stroke, infertility and damages the immune system. It also greatly affects men’s sexual performance (So if your husband drinks and isn’t being intimate while he’s sober, now you know why!)
  • Because God Loves Us.
    Besides the health risk, there are also mental and emotional damages too, but there’s no time to get into that coz woo-hoo boy are they A LOT! The forbiddance of drinking alcohol came about gradually though coz you know what else alcohol does? Studies show it releases endorphins, which are the ‘feel good’ chemicals in the brain, and that’s why it makes sense for alcohol to be addictive. A sip turns into ‘I’m not dependent on alcohol… I just NEED a drink! NOWWWWW!’
    And because God loves us and knows His creation well, He took it out of people’s system slowly through revelation in stages. That was 1400 years ago. Now this method is used in rehab!
  • Because Hello! Life Is a Test!
    Even with knowing the risks, and even with the addiction struggle, some people still find drinking enticing. This is where the discipline comes in. “They ask you about drinking (Khamr) and gambling. Tell them ‘There is great sin in both, although they may have some benefit for men, but the sin is greater than the benefit” (Holy Quran 2:219)
    You’d think Allah would compare the benefit of alcohol with it’s harm, but no sire! He says even if it has good in it, its sin is greater!
     

Prophet Muhammad said, “Every intoxicant is Khamr and every intoxicant is forbidden” (Sahih Muslim), and he also said. “Khamr is the key of all evil” (Sahih Ibn Majah). Drinking is a major sin in Islam coz it clouds your judgment and makes good people do horrible things! There’s a reason ten kinds of people are cursed with it, and prayer isn’t accepted for 40 days when someone drinks. But if we don’t care about all the risks or aren’t convinced, how about abstaining for this reason…. Ummm because Allah said so!

But Seriously, Why Do People Still Drink?

Muslims who drink are not morons. They surely understand the risks, know the Islamic laws and deep down feel guilty they’re doing ‘haram’. (I even know Muslims who went as far as believing drinking alcohol is permissible!) Most of them wouldn’t eat bacon or ham if their lives depended on it, but they still drink for other invisible reasons that the majority of us don’t get, and here they are…
Drum roll please….

  • According to NIAAA statistics show people who start drinking share common personality characteristics like being depressed, self-destructive, disruptive, insecure, rebellious, hyperactive and/or withdrawn. They drink to self-medicate a deeply rooted personality trait, and because alcohol is both a depressant and a stimulant, it releases endorphins causing a temporary ‘ecstatic effect’. So they keep drinking coz it’s easier to cover up the problem than deal with it.
  • 90% have tried alcohol for the first time in a social gathering. Ever wonder why? Coz they wanna fit in! They crumble under peer pressure. They don’t have the stamina or the confidence or the courage to say ‘NO’. They wanna look and feel cool, so they follow instead of lead. All humans are weak, and being desperate to fit in is just another form of human weakness.
  • Some Muslims drink to escape. It’s as simple as that. They wanna escape their problems, their fears, their realities… the list goes on. But the most they wanna escape is themselves. Drinking alcohol makes a person more relaxed. It releases inhibitions. According to the ‘Journal of Experimental Social Psychology’, analysis revealed a strong connection between low-self esteem and drinking alcohol. These people are usually sad, lonely and feel like total losers without the booze. They don’t trust or like themselves sober, and without the back-up fake confidence they get from drinking, they feel small and incompetent. So they tell themselves it’s okay to drink. But ask those same Muslims, especially the men, if they’re okay with their moms or daughters drinking, their response will probably be a punch in your face!

If you know one of these people, I’m urging you to please don’t slam them down. Chances are they’re already broken to start with. God does not grant peace and happiness to those who disobey Him, but you know what? He grants forgiveness when they repent… lots and lots and lots of forgiveness. We all sin differently, and no one knows whom Allah will accept in the end. At least these Muslims acknowledge and admit they’re doing wrong, which many of us don’t have the courage to do when it comes to owning up to our sins. Some of my loved ones drink, and it makes me feel so helpless.. It’s beyond painful seeing those you love so much hurt themselves and their families this way. There are no words to describe this heartache.. but this helplessness is also humbling coz it’s a constant reminder….Without Allah’s guidance we would all be ‘booze losers’ too. Because we are all flawed, we are all weak and we are all struggling…
May Allah help us, our loved ones and this beloved ummah to see the light… May we never feel this helpless or this weak when it comes to pleasing Him….

May He grant us the serenity to accept the things we can’t change, the courage to change the things we can, and the wisdom to know the difference…

Lilly S. Mohsen

The Amazing Race Of Ramadan: The Final Episode

Published On OnIslam.net
July 14th, 2015
This is the original version

The Amazing Race Of Ramadan: The Final Episode

Trophy

Oh man! Does that mean I’m going home after this? No more Ramadan episodes? No more camera crew and filtering out contestants and being asked 237 times a day how many minutes till Maghreb?
Fine I get it. It’s the final countdown, and before I start I’d like to say something to all of our lovely readers who are probably beating me to the finish line: I’ll really miss you guys!

Okay so what would be an appropriate grand finale? Come on people, give me some brilliant ideas and let me take the credit for them!
Wait… I hear something! Call me crazy, but I think it’s a conversation from thousands of years ago. Shhhhhh listen…

“Mary, where did you get this food from?”
“Oh uncle Zechariah, it’s from God. Indeed Allah provides to whom He wills with no limit!”
At that time, Zechariah called upon his Lord, saying, “My Lord, grant me from Yourself a good offspring. Indeed, You are the Hearer of supplication.” (Holy Qur’an, 3:38)

At that time? Seriously?
I was pretty sure Prophet Zechariah asked God for a child all his life. Why does it say ‘at that time’? Or was it a different kind of supplication….? The kind based on the true belief that nothing was impossible when it came to Allah’s power?

How Do We Ask?

‘It’s not what you say it’s how you say it’. I guess many have heard this phrase before. There’s a difference between mumbling a request half-heartedly and then wondering why it was never answered and it’s a totally different thing when you feel every word without even saying it, knowing that with those silent screams of desperations and those helpless tears falling down your face, God will never, and I mean NEVER, let you down…

When Prophet Zechariah made a du’aa, he started by telling God his story. He told Him how he was growing old and his hair was turning grey. How his wife was barren and how they still both desperately yearned for a child. As if God didn’t already know that! But that’s the beauty of submission… it’s talking to Allah like He’s your best friend… Explaining to Him what you’re going through as if you can see Him. Certain and 100% convinced that your prayers will be answered, and then searching for the blessings that God has definitely lifted you up with while you were down on your knees begging for help….

Why Do We Have To Ask?

I’ll take one for the team and ask the inevitable question: Why doesn’t God give us what we want right away without having to ask? Isn’t He the Most Giving? Why does He put us in hardships to start with? Isn’t He the Most Merciful?
(Whoa I think my heart stopped there for a second at how brazen these questions sounded. You guys owe me big!)

Volumes could be written from the Qur’an and Sunnah to answer these doubts and queries, but I’ll just mention the one that makes my heart melt…

Did it ever occur to us that God loves to hear our voices…? That we are so dear to Him to the point He inspires us to supplicate, then rewards us for it. He then rewards us again by giving us what we want. He then inspires us to be thankful, then rewards us for that, too. He then inspires us to share the joy by giving out charity, puts those in need on our path, then rewards us for that, TOO! He then inspires us to encourage others to ask Him like we did, then rewards us for that, and in the end, when we meet Him on Judgment Day, we find all the above stored for us with the ultimate reward of Paradise….? Wow!

Is there perhaps a chain reaction of out-of-the-blues-blessings that starts with a simple, genuine plea from the heart…?
Yes, I think so too….

What Do We Ask For…?

Don’t look at me! I don’t know!
Yet…There’s a force dragging me away from my laptop and bringing me down to my knees… Come kneel next to me… lower your head and raise your hands… and just open your heart to the One who owns it…

My Dearest Most Merciful Lord….

Where do we start…? How do we thank You for every beautiful thing You’ve given us and every scary thing You’ve protected us from….?

How do we call on the One who says “Indeed I am close…”

How do we talk to the One who knows our inner thoughts and forgives our worst mistakes…?

But we have no one else to go to… My Lord we stand by Your door, needy and desperate, and even if you don’t answer right away we will keep begging until You do… There’s no where to run but to You my Lord…

Some of us come to You sad and damaged… we beg You to heal our broken hearts…

Some of us come to You sick and helpless… we beg You to take our pain and suffering away….

Some of us are lost and confused… some of us have fallen and failed too many times… and we beg You for guidance and support…

Some of us are scared and lonely…. And don’t know how we’ll survive another day… we beg You God to fill our lives with love and warmth…

Some of us are poor and can hardly make ends meet… we beg You to open for us the doors of wealth and success…

Some of us are ashamed… humiliated by what we’ve done or how we’ve gone astray… we beg You to give us a sign we’ve been blessed with Your forgiveness…

Some of us are desperate…. Oh God each and every one of us is desperate for something only You know of and only You can provide….

Bestow Your mercy on us my dear Lord… life is so hard sometimes… so grant us the patience and the will to stay on the right path and help us….

To the One who says “I respond to the invocation of the supplicant when he calls upon Me” (Holy Qur’an 2:186)

This is our poor and humble supplication, and from You is the Best and most Greatest response….

The race has come to an end, and we don’t know if You’ve accepted us or not… if we are worthy of Your blessings or not… We don’t know who’s been saved and who’s lagging behind… All we know is that our only hope is Your everlasting mercy…

And today we ask You… please…

Please… look at us today… don’t let this Holy month pass by without admitting us into your eternally blessed servants… we don’t deserve it, but my Lord, You’re the most Merciful and the Most Giving….

Lilly S. Mohsen