Resilience and Strength

The concepts of resilience and sensitivity, pessimism and optimism, hurt and strength, feeling and being stone hearted; have become too mingled up for us Pakisanis since last Tuesday (16-12-14). The terrorists have taken away many innocent lives but along with that they have invoked many things in us as well (I am not going through any more details of how they did it, we all know it and would remember it till our last breath).

The most important question that is being asked here again and again is that are we resilient or have we grown insensitive. The debate sounds really convincing as it is backed by the emotional arguments but if we look at the definition of resilience, it goes like “the ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape; elasticity” and “the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness” (Google). So it won’t be fair to call it insensitivity, or would it be?

They (the terrorists) have shaken us so badly that we have this enormous overflow of emotions and this outburst of emotions is natural but the point of concern is that we don’t even know what to do with all these emotions. They seem to have been pent up for so long. It is moments like these in which the real form of our expression comes out; i see all these comments on social media where people are making all sorts of points, blaming one party or another, shaming institutions and individuals, EXPRESSING ANGER in one direction or the other. And then i just look at my people, people of Peshawar, they are hurt but they are not handicapped, they are angry but they are not violent, they are staggering but they are not stopping. And their not stopping, for me is their resilience, their starting of the normal life is their strength for me. I came to Peshawar last Friday and i saw the deserted roads but on the very next day the roads and bazaars took up pace and the humdrum was back, the city seemed alive. They mourned and then carried on with life, this is resilience for me. Not being afraid and the ability to control the anger is resilience for me.

The incident would not and should not be forgotten but is holding it tightly benefiting us in anyway? I am just concerned as to how to give space to those parents and children of the teachers to hold their lost loved one’s in their hearts, i want to give them the space to sow their love in their hearts, i want them to have time to care for and flourish that love so that it heals them. Emotions are like tiny bursts of fire works…..if we direct them too close to earth, we might burn our hands or hurt others in the surroundings, but if we carry them high and strong they light up the sky.

Yes the incidence is very horrendous to say the least, yes it was our children, yes it was inhuman; but living in this geographical and political mess, we have suffered much and there is no surety of this ending soon so the point is that how are we taking it all, how is it affecting our ‘self’, how is it changing or chiseling our inner being.

It is a moment for self-growth, we hold a strong religious belief in fate and concepts of life and death. And we also know the fate of the zalim (cruel) and mazlum (sufferer). So this moment has been given to us to process our own self and make meanings for ourselves, times like this change our perspectives of life so lets just look inwards and build a stronger self rather than just crying over what’s lost. People do horrible things to others, the innocent have to suffer, human life is loosing its worth….think over these things and see what they mean to you, if we make peace with our emotions, the anger is automatically replaced by rational reasoning……..


Helping the Victims

The resilient Pakistani’s are trying to get in term with the heinous act of terrorism that hit too close to our hearts and souls. A lot has been lost but much is left to save. Trauma always hits us out of the blue and numbs as to the soul; the real pain starts after the trauma passes and the numbness wears off. but here the important consideration is that do the survivors and affectees need help now or do we have to hold on to our impulse to help them?

Since yesterday i have been getting these invites to join groups to go on with the psychological rehabilitation of the victims and their families; and the treatment of those who have developed PTSD. It made me think that isn’t it too early to jump in at this time? And how do we know who got PTSD, because its too soon to diagnose. And what are we going to help them with, like what is the plan? I discussed with my colleagues and supervisor; here is my understanding on this issue now and i want all the professionals to consider this before jumping in to help.

Whenever we are struck by trauma, an immediate normal human experience would include Post-traumatic stress (not disorder) as the people are terrorized, they are afraid for the loss of life or property, they are under the adrenaline fight and flight response where they are unable to process the experience in a rational manner. After the stress wears off, people start feeling grief; grief is a normal response to loss and it is multifaceted, it has emotional, physical, behavioral, cognitive, and spiritual affects. People go through this natural process to come to terms with the loss that they have experienced, it is a process through which people try to normalize the trauma and to move on with their life. Grief has five stages, and everyone passes through these stages on their own pace and this DOES NOT determine if they have developed a pathology. The stages are:

  1. Denial —— here the person is unable to accept what has happened and they would deny by saying something like “No this can’t happen to me”.
  2. Anger —– here the person experiences extreme anger on why they had to suffer, why did they loose. “Why me?” “What have i done wrong?”
  3. Bargaining ——- in this stage the person starts absorbing that he/she has suffered a loss and he/she would like to get the loved one back by giving up anything; statements like “Why didn’t i die in his place?” “Please God take all that i have but give me my kid back”
  4. Depression —– in this stage the sadness actually sinks in and the person realizes that they have lost it and they can not get it back by any way now. This is the stage of silent mourning.
  5. Acceptance —— finally the person reaches the stage of acceptance, where they learn that the trauma has happened and they have to live without the loved one now.

These stages like i said take their own time and any individual might remain in one or the other for varying amount of time and it is TOTALLY NORMAL reaction to trauma.

Here onward some people might linger on with some reminiscent of the depressive stage and have a deeply engraved effect on their cognition which might change their world view in a way that they develop certain behaviors to avoid the trauma, and slightest cues give them extreme distress (re-experiencing) bringing back all the memories. This leads to dysfunction and maladjustment in everyday life and finally the person can be diagnosed with a Post Traumatic Stress DISORDER (PTSD). And researches prove that in general, in any event there are only 15-20% of people who have a tendency to develop PTSD.

So i would strongly suggest that we need to let people experience grief as they want to before jumping in with our treatments. And during this time we need to plan, train, and prepare; before we go out in the field. We all want to help i know, i feel the same but this would be serving myself and not those suffering people because they might not be in need of it yet.

Losing a generation

Yesterday was the worst nightmare for everyone who belongs to Pakistan or rather i would say anyone in the world who is connected to humanity by even a frail thread. More than a 100 students, children, minor little children were massacred barbarically along with their teachers on their school premises by some armed inhuman beings, in the name of revenge. They were martyred because their fathers are fighting the war on terror, they payed for an act of protecting masses within their motherland as well as a major chunk of the world. Their precious blood was spilled for every bloody reason that their fathers never imagined would happen to their children, they had left them here for safety while they took charge at the borders. It kills me to think of how many mothers might have died in the last one night and for how long would they carry their corpses to go through this life.

My beautiful city Peshawar has payed the worst price for all that has happened. It is a place that we call home, it is a place that warms up our hearts and these hell of monsters have tried to harm its integrity once again but this time the brutality is beyond grasp of any sane the human mind. I am hurting like all my country men and women, i am frustrated at these events, and i am afraid for all the people i love. Being far from home, there is this urge to look at my loved ones, to touch them and ensure that they are fine and safe just the way i left them. We have never felt this unsafe, we the people of Pakistan are a very resilient nation, and i know we would survive this one too but i am thinking about our children, the coming generations.

The cognitive behavioral psychology, talks about the role of schemas (the belief patterns that determine our outlook on life) in our behaviors and the appraisal of the events around us. Once a schema forms, it becomes the glass through which we would view everything around us. Mal-adaptive schemas lead us to dysfunctional behaviors and these are usually formed through early learning or a traumatic event, in a few people that leads to mental illness and syndromes. My question here is that what do we do with an entire generation that grows up with a schema of “vulnerability to harm”? What do we do if they have a strong world view of “world is a dangerous place” “People are all hurtful”? How do we deal with these children if they learn that “Human life has no value”? I mean WHAT????

It is happening to us right here in front of our eyes and we are not even able to tell them that it is not true because now they are experiencing it first hand on their own. How many children would we treat? How many schemas can we unearth-en? How many mothers would be secure about sending their children out for anything?

These thoughts are taking the best of me and this pain is way too much to be silently contained. I pray for all the parents who lost their precious gems yesterday, we all know that they are in a much better place. I pray the parents have the courage to bear this extreme loss. May Allah be with us all…Ameen

The strongest bond of Love.

Aristotle said that “Man is by nature a social animal”, we are born into this world in a web of relationships and we add to this web as we grow older. We cannot survive alone in this world so on every stage of our life we form bonds, get into relationships, sometimes with the same people again and again; and at times with new people on every step. The first ever relationship that we form is with the parents to whom we are born, we depend on them for our survival for a considerable time, till we find our peers who lead us towards discovering the secrets of the world and open new perspectives that were so far hidden from us. As we grow older, we discover the forbidden fruit of young love and form deeper relationships that make us emotionally vulnerable and at the stake of another person; at times these relationships continue and at others they break, tearing us badly.

At all these times, whenever there is a bump on the way we always find ourselves back to where we started from; back to the first string of this web that makes our lives. We lean back on our parents because we know that they would be there to hold our back, no matter what goes wrong, no matter how wrong we are, they are always there standing firm to give us a hand.

I often wonder, what are parents made up of like it has to be something too special for they have hearts made of gold that can melt at the sight of their children. They have rules made of steel but they have doors in them that open with a key of love. They have eyes that only emit warmth, and they have forgiveness as their aura for no matter what the children do they endure it just for their happiness. It takes some very precious qualities from the Creator’s treasure to mold parents.

There are times when i can see a bit of them (my parents) in me. Often, people tell me that i resemble my mother, they tell me that i have the confidence of my father. When i look at the mirror i see the green of my mother’s eyes and brown of my father’s in my own hazel eyes, as i am typing (right now) i see the delicate curves of my mother’s fingers and the fullness of my father’s hands in my own. It like i am them, i am an extension of them and in this moment all the relationships that i have ever formed seem so remote because what can be greater than this affinity. And can i imagine how the parents feel about us? Not in a million years i would say.

Parents are precious; they nurture us and protect us like we are their sole treasures but come to think of it, its not them who need us, its us. They don’t come to us for hugs or advice, they don’t depend on us and they don’t need us as their backup. Its us; so why do we ever break them, why do we have to show them that we have moved on (grown up) and we have new bonds that are better than them. We need to keep them close and hold them tightly, for we all have to leave this world but we certainly don’t want to cry in despair for making those eyes cry who only wanted a glimpse of us.

I believe that everything was made with a purpose and parents, above all, were made to be treasured, respected, loved, and adored!!!!

Shams of Tabriz’s 40 Rules of Love

The rules for a fulfilling life.

The Vision

Rule 1

How we see God is a direct reflection of how we see ourselves. If God brings to mind mostly fear and blame, it means there is too much fear and blame welled inside us. If we see God as full of love and compassion, so are we.

Rule 2

The path to the Truth is a labour of the heart, not of the head. Make your heart your primary guide! Not your mind. Meet, challenge and ultimately prevail over your nafs with your heart. Knowing your ego will lead you to the knowledge of God.

Rule 3

You can study God through everything and everyone in the universe, because God is not confined in a mosque, synagogue or church. But if you are still in need of knowing where exactly His abode is, there is only one place to look for him: in the heart of a true…

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