Channel: Tarek Kareem Harris
The Reinvention Series
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being yourself, being authentic learning about who you are
learning to control yourself or manage yourself in order to know Allah, how does all that work? Who are you?
You're watching this on social media. And as a result, you're probably getting this service for free. Or it looks like free, but in reality, you're paying for it with knowledge about yourself, your phone, or your device is watching you whilst you're watching it. And it tracks who you are, what you like, what you don't like. And so the owners of this platform will get to know you. And they sell that information to companies who want to know you who want to sell to you, and whatever.
And you have to portray yourself in a certain image, you forget that it's being sold elsewhere. But what you're conscious of is that other people are watching you and you want to portray yourself a strong, enviable, admirable, and sometimes you do but behind that you're privately terrified that you're not doing it right, that you'll be found out that you have no idea what or who you really are.
This is why social media can be so troublesome and damaging because they magnify this idea of you and would force you to try to become things which you're not and invite you to think that being authentic is about buying more stuff or being more like other people.
Social media, magnify your insecurities, and make you less yourself because they confuse the boundary between you and the world.
This machine is logging who you are not because it wants to hurt you. But it wants to know you and make something knowable to those who need to know you to sell you something or filter you in and out in or out of their group in some way.
One simple way to get around this trap is to misinform it. Every time you come on social media spend at least five minutes looking on something completely random, outside your normal interests, use a fake name and so on.
But we come back to the idea of becoming ourselves who we are knowing yourself in order to know Allah to become the best version of who you could be. Look, we're born into a particular place in time. And as I said, right in the beginning of instant insights, you have a particular set of psychological and physical qualities. And you are created exactly as such by law, you're designed to be different, to be quirky, to be faulty. And it's not our aim to get rid of these things.
These constraints are limiting to us only if you see them as such, in reality, many of the rules and constraints in our life, they enable you. They are the conditions for freedom, not the barriers to it. They are the grip, which you get on life that allow you to move forward.
Whereas the world on offer online is a fake one, it puts you at the center of your own little world of you. And it caters to your every women promises you that anything is possible. And a rabbit hole of desires and anxieties comes at you. And the weird thing is, the more you try to make yourself feel happy by portraying yourself in this way or that the more unhappy or anxious you become, and the more likely you are to consume things or want to be like everyone else.
You must know that you are ripe for the picking.
Social media will be full of slogans telling you to be yourself. And then it'll go on to make you feel insecure. Because you're not like everyone else. You're not as beautiful, you're not as popular, you're not as rich, you're not as lucky. You're not as anything.
And then it tries to sell you the dream, that being more you is all about those things to be yourself you must be better looking, you must be more appreciated, you must be more inspirational, more successful, more corporate richer.
The end result is to become a human billboard constantly inspiring others more than ever. And yet underneath that you're frightened to death of the moment you lose popularity or wealth or piousness. Or, somehow people find things about you that are not popular or not likable.
So let's not look to these media as a place of knowing yourself or even of portraying yourself and anyone you find on these media portraying themselves in a certain way. That's not their true selves even if they think it is. It is how they've dressed themselves up even I have presented a certain part of me to you. I hope that it is authentic, but it isn't the full extent of me I've got faults and other qualities which will never become apparent on social media.
So we come back to the idea how
How do we become more authentic selves? Why is it important?
It's important because we need to construct a version of ourselves that is accurate.
We need to know who we are, we're at least, what we truly think about things, rather than our desires are what we're tempted to buy, or what other people make us out to be. Because it's true to say that most people, they're not themselves. They are a collection of opinions and views, which they've assimilated from everyone else, be politically, socially, what have you.
So the vision of authenticity, the idea of who someone truly is, is corrupted. And when you read it on, anywhere, to be yourself, or whatever, read it with suspicion, because it's taken advantage of by people, and
by companies and by influences and whoever, and social media have become an avenue of intensifying this sort of false self love.
true self love comes from embracing your anxiety about who you are, from understanding your limits, and accepting them.
You don't need to constantly measure yourself against these virtual people, images, these dancing figures in front of you, constantly searching for the right exercise you routine, the beautiful image of Dean or something that you wish to portray to others.
That's not being authentic. It's not being yourself at all.
prophets allows him was himself.
He didn't know how to be anyone else. From the moment even the angel embraced him and told him to read he said, I cannot read.
From the moment he was the age of 40, a shepherd before he became a prophet. And then he realized that, well, this has been chosen for me. He embraced his struggles and tried to do his duty and lived within his limits.
He spent years telling people a message that made him deeply unpopular.
Do you think he was concerned about being unpopular, no, quite the opposite. He knew this was the only way he could be. But it was something he had to do. Think about that.
Think about trying to become the best version of yourself. And embracing that, actually, that might mean that you have to live with your faults, and work your way around them. But you can't hide them or ignore them.
Make your strengths big, but be accepting of the fact that life is difficult, and there's lots of anxieties, and you can't control what other people think. And you can't control the good and bad things have happened to you. You can only control to a certain extent, the way you react the way you deal with life, your morals.
So when you're doing all the things you do to discover yourself, remember that it's not about changing the face of who you are.
Some things might be harmful to you. But generally, if something is uncomfortable, like anxiety, you should not be so keen to get rid of it. Because it does hold a key to knowing yourself better. anxiety can be thought of like a guardian of your values. What you're anxious about represents something of what you value. It might be order, it might be achievement, it might be time, progress, status, authority, find those things out and get to know them. Don't ignore them, and don't demonize them know that they're yours. And you must find a way to serve them in a way that's balanced.
If you wish to have order and achievement, those things are not bad in themselves, they only become bad if you ignore them more than they get out of control, then you just become a controlling person who is obsessed with what you achieve in life. No,
no, that these things are yours. And you must find a way to serve them in a way that's balanced in the service of Allah, not too much, not too little.
That way, you get to know yourself better. And you take a step towards knowing Allah. Worry is not to be feared.
To be properly anxious is to see the possibility of your life and face down the fact that it is all quite difficult.
There's a daily effort we have to make embrace, don't evade your anxiety. This is the leap of faith that a person of faith must make. It is the essence of authenticity.
So if you want to know how to increase your authenticity, there's many ways and they're described in greater detail in my books, but let's go over here. In brief, firstly, one of the ways is mastery, learn how to do stuff. Learn a craft. Learn how to fix a motorbike, learn how to build a shed or write in a sheet or cook something nicely. It immediately puts you
in touch with your limits, and it puts you at the feet of those who have already mastered those things.
It requires humility, but at the same time, it builds your competence, your mastery, you find yourself neither
super powerful, super popular, nor completely helpless, but somewhere in between, and that is the truth. You're doing something real.
We are dependent beings. We have weak bodies and minds, we prone to making mistakes and failing. But we also have resources and abilities that we can grow, to overcome obstacles. And that's what we're asked to do in the service of a law and that also help us to have strong minds and good lives.
The authentic person also has autonomy acts according to his or her own will. Making oneself out from the self,
in making things for yourself in living by your own decisions and standing by them properly, really thinking things through. you transform your inner feelings into something real.
How do we know your inner feelings? Well, you make dua, you talk to Allah.
You let him know, morning and night how you're feeling what's going on you write, keep a diary.
Know yourself by putting yourself in a difficult situation with someone else in terms of helping them out. When you help other people, when you help someone else achieve something, and you have no obvious reward in it that brings your inner character outwards, and puts a sheen on your character to the point where you get to know yourself and enhance yourself.
That way you can find what you are. And as you find it, you also enrich it.
And whatever you find in yourself, it will be different to what someone else finds and be proud of that. Because that is what Allah has given to you. It will be different, it will look different, it will be unusual, only you might understand some parts of it, look at it and work out how to make it useful for you. In instant actions, I talk about how to find your strengths and we have exercises looking at that. And among those things are reflections on our innermost feelings and desires.
They can't just be an end in themselves. These reflections have value only if they help you to leave yourself behind to a certain extent when you're doing things to help other people or in the service of Allah.
Those are the essences of mental well being.
But what about higher meaning? Well, higher meaning our real purpose for being here to serve Allah to try to be the best we can, despite our limitations, that is what the believer has faithful. And when you have belief, things which are difficult, are no longer impossible.
How exactly should we think about Allah, the basis for our existence is forever unavailable to us unless you understand that you are here to do things and please our maker. That's how we strive for wholeness, through work through art service, creativity, Salah encouragement, enablement, in our expressive acts, in are striving to grasp the true reason for being here, in really living a life of virtue and balance. In not taking ourselves too seriously not disappearing into just creating ourselves for the sake of nothing but popularity or points or likes. Do something with yourself, put yourself at risk, risk being unpopular because you're trying to prove something or be yourself more.
What you end up producing will always be inadequate, know that you'll always be inadequate, but
it's a tiny amount of beautiful enlightenment.
It's a tiny amount of discovering yourself.
And if you do it with good intention, then that is what allow once
acknowledge your limitations and embrace the necessary nature of your life. Things are temporary, good and bad. enrich your efforts by picking up the rope left by others who've gone before you. And by setting up enough so that whatever you have put down can be picked up by someone else.
In dealing with your own inadequacy, you achieve so many great things.
Imagine social media with the opposite where you just formed an identity. And it was all about your inadequacies, your fears your failures. That seems like a nightmare, right? And yet that is what you must set forth for Allah. And you must within those things find that you end up asking for forgiveness. You appreciate what you have. You will seek help you help others with their weaknesses. You
You get to experience true greatness. Not through always being strong. No. Through examining the things you're not good at, to helping others and more to the point, you become more precisely yourself.