Assalamu’alaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh!

I’m Kathryn Jones with the Beautiful Muslimah Monday Project. Today I want to share with you about the kind of FILTERS that we’re living our life through that could be causing all sorts of havoc in our relationships and in our emotional well being.

So let’s first look at these filters. What are filters? Filters are where we had certain experiences, certain understandings, perceptions of people, of situations, and we’ve now build up this way of looking at people or situations through this particular filter.

So let me give you an example. If for instance you have constantly experienced that people have been critical around you, critical of the work that you do, the way that you dress, then the filter that you are perhaps building is a filter that you’re not good enough. When you have this filter it means that you interpret what people say and what people do in whatever situations you’re in, from a perspective of not being good enough. When in fact, the reality could be that you’re more than good enough. But you’re not perceiving it, you’re not experiencing that, you’re experiencing not feeling good enough.

So what that could mean is, that we are missing out in many ways with all the different types of filters. This is just an example.

So with the “I’m not good enough” filter, how do we miss out? We miss out because when we have needs or wants, we don’t put them forward because our needs and wants perhaps aren’t as important as others’. We don’t deserve it as much as others, so we’re filtering things. And often, we’re hooking that on other people in a really subtle way that is leaving us with miserable feelings; not realising that in fact, we created the whole thing ourselves. That is probably very confusing and very deep right now, so let me see if I can unpack that in a way that’s understandable.

Let’s go back to our example; the filter is, “I’m not good enough!” So we’re working with a new person; this is someone we’ve never worked with before. This person is someone who is very much has an eye for detail; they may be a bit of perfectionist. But there’s nothing that they know about you, they don’t have a history with you; they’re working with you, and this is your first time working together – and you’ve presented a report or something that is a part of working with this person. They’ve gone through that report with you and they picked out the certain errors that they like you to fix it, tweak it, change it; and you felt a way to first disappointed thinking that they don’t like working with you, thinking that you’re not good enough, thinking that you didn’t do a very good job and that you might as well start looking for another job because it’s just not going to work out in this job.

From that thinking onwards, you can actually be self-sabotaging the whole relationship and the whole opportunity that you have in front of you. That person from their perspective may well have thought that the report was actually pretty awesome, and the fact that they only asked you to change 2 or 3 things, show that you did an amazing job. But because they’re a perfectionist, they need those 2 or 3 things tweaked and they’re completely happy. And they’re thinking, “WOW! I’ve got myself an excellent person to work with, I am really excited that I have this person to work with, they’re going to be fantastic.”

Look at the separate realities of that; look at how different the 2 perspectives are. They couldn’t be further from each other: one is thinking that it’s all doom and gloom, and that I better get another job. The other one is super excited because they found someone who’s so good. And it’s all because things have been filtered through a specific filter that we’ve created ourselves. So this shows just how much we’re creating our own reality and our own experience of things.

You might be asking this question – and I was asked this question earlier in a class earlier today: “How do we discover these things, and what do we do about them?”

How do we discover them is, if we are making dua to Allah that we want to be our better self—that we want to really reach a point of a true excellence where we are being the best self we possibly can be — and I hope that you are one of those people, and that’s why you’re listening to these videos.

What happens is, Allah SWT sends you the experiences and the people into your life to help you see and figure them out. So when a situation like this comes out and you’re having an emotional reaction because of something – and let’s go back to this example (you’re the person that’s the one that has to go back and change 2 or 3 things in your report) – when you have those big feelings come up about it, we start to challenge our thinking around it, we start to challenge, “Hang on a minute, is there another way to look at this?” “Am I jumping to conclusions?” And we start challenging this basically concrete thinking that we’ve had going on, this thinking were we’ve gone into a set of four patterns and started spiraling downwards from there. I’ve heard someone describe it as our thoughts start breeding like rabbits, and we start building up this huge picture. Instead of doing that, we start asking the question, “Is there another way of looking at this?”

So in this particular scenario, what might be the other way of looking at this? The other way of looking at this might be to just take a deep breath, take a moment, and go, “Okay. I was asked to make these 2 or 3 changes, how about I make these 2 or 3 changes exactly how they were asked, and see what happens.”

That’s being present in the moment, that’s being open-hearted and open-minded to what might come. And the reality might be, that in returning things with those 2 or 3 changes, that the response is one of excitement and joy on the look of this new person that you’re working with’s face, that would challenge that ingrained thinking that you’ve got that they’re disappointed in you. And you realize that perhaps they weren’t. It just takes that moment to stop heading down this constant path that you’ve headed down before, and instead just stop in the moment and think, “Can I see this from a different angle?” “Is there different way of looking at this?” Then, living in the present moment, and just see what happens. And you know what? You might be very pleasantly surprised.

What I would love you to do is share with me in the comments of this video, what areas do you think you might have a filter on in how you interpreting the people and the reactions around you?

Assalamu’alaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh. Until next week!