When I look back at my youth, I realise that I spent most of my time looking for Mr Right. My whole world seemed to be focused on finding him and not much else. While I studied, travelled and worked like everyone else, deep down my world revolved around needing to find him, because once I did, everything would be amazing, I would be happy and my life could finally start.
Now because my future happiness hinged on me finding Mr Right, it naturally became the sole focus in every social situation I found myself in. Going out with friends was no longer a chance to connect with those closest to me and enjoy each other’s company, but rather it became an opportunity to perhaps meet someone. Going on holidays also became opportunities to bump into Mr Right, and were no longer a chance to rest, reflect, and make memories. I thought of weddings as the best place to meet my own husband, and whenever a wedding or any other social event came to an end and I hadn’t met my Mr Right, the journey home would consist of me staring miserably out of the car/train/tube window, becoming more and more depressed by the second, wondering where the hell he was.
Didn’t he know I was looking for him? Where was he?
When the search for Mr Right became too tiring, I settled for Mr ‘He’ll Do’. I just needed to be married, and settling for Mr He’ll Do seemed like a decent enough solution.
Once I was married though, I realised that I still wasn’t feeling the joy of life that I thought I’d feel. People would ask how it was to be married and I would gush about it, telling them what I knew they wanted to hear, but in reality, I would quietly wonder if this was what married life was really meant to be like. We had little in common, and I often found that empty silences would fill the air instead of the engaging and fulfilling conversations I’d always dreamt of having with my partner. We played the part of husband and wife, but deep down I knew I’d rushed into it and secretly wished that I could have my chance again, to choose someone more compatible.
We naturally grew apart and a few years later he decided he wanted to leave. My heart skipped a beat upon hearing this news, and I was secretly overjoyed that my prayers were being answered and that I could start all over again, promising myself that this time I would definitely meet someone who could make me happy. Very soon after my divorce, I did meet someone, and I found him to be everything that my ex wasn’t, finally my Mr. Right…
Or so I thought.
Unfortunately, in my desperate search to find someone who was different to my ex-husband, I failed to notice his negative sides. I jumped in headfirst because I genuinely believed that this man was the one for me and that if I didn’t marry him, I would never meet anyone else and therefore never be happy. I ignored the red flags and signs of possessiveness because I felt that my well-being depended on me being with him and that he was my ticket to happiness. But when he turned emotionally and physically abusive very soon into our marriage, I knew that once again I had gone about my search for a spouse in completely the wrong way, and inevitably ended up having to leave the abusive marriage, with two children in tow.
Looking back, it’s very easy to see that I was so blinded by my search for a spouse, that I couldn’t see one simple truth:
Mr Right was never going to make me happy or suddenly make my life amazing.
Ultimately, that’s what I was really longing for: I wanted to be happy and I wanted to love life. My only mistake was innocently believing that someone else could give that to me, and it’s an innocent mistake that we all make. We all fall into the trap of believing that if we could just get married/get promoted/move house/have lots of money, etc., then everything would be great and we’d finally be happy. In reality, happiness is already right there inside of us, just waiting to be noticed. All it needs is a little help from us, to clear the mud and the weeds that are covering it from view. Once it was visible to me, my attachments to needing a spouse as a source of happiness no longer made any sense at all.
We need to stop and realise that our partners cannot ‘make us happy’ or give us the fulfilled life we’re searching for, even though it may really seem like they can. Only we can achieve this, by understanding exactly where our feelings come from and more importantly, where they don’t come from. We can spend our whole lives searching for happiness, looking to our goals, achievements, relationships, possessions, wealth, etc., and genuinely believing we’ll be okay in life once we reach a certain point.
I’m not going to say that we shouldn’t set goals and strive to accomplish things in life, nor am I going to advise against wanting possessions or material wealth – there’s nothing wrong with wanting these things in life. The distinction that I want to make is that having any of these things will never be what makes us happy. Our feelings are only ever coming from one place – our thinking, moment to moment.
The Inside-Out Paradigm of Psychology allows us to see life as Allah created us to experience it. Just as Allah gave us hearts to pump blood around our bodies, our moment to moment thoughts create our feelings. Feelings are an inside job. However we think about something is however we’re going to feel about something. Nothing outside of us has the power to make us happy or sad.
Thoughts mean nothing by themselves. They create feelings within us, some we enjoy and so we label them as positive feelings, and some we don’t enjoy so much, so we label them as negative feelings. But they’re all just feelings, being created by thought, which changes moment to moment. Once we realise that that’s all they are, passing thoughts with no power of their own, we can stop paying so much attention to them and to the stories they’ve created in our minds. These are stories where we tell ourselves that we can’t be happy in life unless we have this or that. It’s all just an innocent misuse of thought, and by seeing this insightfully, we get to drop so much of the unhelpful thinking that fills our minds day to day, blocking us from living in the present moment of calm, peace and being with our true selves.
When we start focusing on our true selves and uncovering the innate happiness that Allah has blessed us all with – happiness that can never come from things outside of us – we become content with ourselves, content with our lives and we’re no longer putting the pressure on a future spouse (or anything else for that matter) to fulfil us and make us happy. What then happens in our marriages, we come together as two individuals who are both happy separately and together. There is no pressure on either partner to deliver what they cannot. It takes away the unhealthy and needy attachment to the relationship and clears the way for real love, friendship and true intimacy to take its place. We’re free to just ‘be’ with each other.
When I saw this one simple truth about how truly happy, fulfilled, amazing relationships are created, I suddenly let go of all attachments, and was truly ready for real, deep, meaningful relationships. Not just with men, but with myself and with Allah.
To learn more about the Inside-Out Paradigm of Psychology and the transformational effects it can have on your life, email me at [email protected]