By Hwaa Irfan
Breaking new ground, discovering each other’s weaknesses and strengths and allowing for both, has become a tricky business. We may have made a lot of achievements and advancements today in comparison to ones parents generation, but one of the major sacrifices that has been made in human development is one’s ’emotional intelligence’. In fact, people take longer to mature these days. In general, people are more troubled, have grown up with less emotional support, less unconditional love, and are more lonely today than say 10 years ago, and because of this, the term ’emotional intelligence’ has been coined to describe what is missing from healthy human development.
Emotional intelligence begins in the home. Emotional intelligence is the ability to understand and handle ones emotions and the emotions of others. As we grow up we learn this skill through our immediate family. We learn:
If we take a look around us, we can see how much emotional intelligence is missing. The personal, becomes, social, then become political, each brick providing the foundation to the greater structure – making it weaker or stronger. Allah (SWT) gave us the gift of choice above all creatures, but when we have not learnt this valuable life skill, our ability to choose is undermined. What do I mean by choice? I mean the ability to ascertain what to do for one’s self. The reality today is, we do not choose for ourselves; others choose for us. We go with the flow, and if we do not, somehow we end up believing what everyone (particularly mainstream media), wishes us to believe. That is blind, but it is definitely not faith.
We may find ourselves in-between:
Refusal to understand
On the scale of love and fear, where do you fit in, and where do the people around you fit in?
The issue of who to trust becomes an issue. If this has been learnt early on in life, we might find we are:
• Extremely shy, timid
• Immobilized by Fear
• Overly sensitive
• Self negating
• Bury emotions
• Difficulty in conceiving
Or we might find ourselves to be:
• Emotionally explosive
• Overly ambitious
• Caught up in illusion
• Self serving
• Clairsentient – but can’t distinguish between your own feelings and the feelings of others
• Obsessed with thoughts of sex
• See people as sex objects
• Requires frequent sexual gratification
With this emotional baggage, it is like climbing a hill when it comes to forming healthy reciprocal relationships.
Think of one person who you wish to form a good relationship with, but you have both been going through a period of misunderstandings, and in climbing that hill, in order for the both of you to reach home, you have to go together, and that the only way is up that steep hill, on a hot dry day.
At the beginning of the journey, you encourage and support one another. Half way up the hill. You are struggling, and with that struggle, you have second thoughts. Further up, you are no longer patient with each other’s weaknesses, and you are not so close as when you began the journey. The thing is, unless, you both make the intention to get to the top of the hill, neither of you will know what you would have together. You will only remember the weakness of the other, and once you are over the hill, you will not only remember the bad things about the journey in time to come, but you would have lost the possibility of giving and receiving, and you will have less confidence about friendships in general.
But if both of you make it to the top of the hill together, you will learn to appreciate and respect the weaknesses and strengths of one another as well as one’s own, your friendship will be deeper, the level of trust between the both of you will be greater, you would have discovered a true friend and what it means to be a true friend, to form other friendships based on trust, and you will have good memories in time to come.
“The believers, in their mutual friendship, mercy and affection, are like one body: if any part of it complains, the rest of the body will also stay awake in pain.” (Al Bukhari 1: 493)
To confine ourselves to the same circle of friends, the same types of people, is more of a reflection of one’s stagnation, and inability to grow. When we meet different types of people, and learn to form new relationships, we are not only bringing variety into our own lives, but we are making ourselves open to new experiences that helps to mature our emotional intelligence. We learn new things, and develop new emotional and socio-psychological tools.
“The best of friends is the one whose love for you increases when you are in need of him, and does not decrease when you are in need of him” – ‘Ali ibn ‘Abu Talib.