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by Dr. Marwa Assar 

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3 Questions You Must Ask Yourself if Your Struggles Feel Unbearable!

As Muslims, we are taught that every struggle we go through in life is there to point us to God, to direct our hearts to Him, to be a means of attaining His reward, and ultimately, to improve our relationship with Him. We are taught that tests reveal to us the truth of our claims and what we really believe. And recognizing these truths is crucial for us to grow, fulfill our purpose, and attain success in this world and the next.


And while this is very important for us to understand when it comes to approaching and interacting with our tests and struggles in life, I find that we often miss a huge ingredient and crucial factor that plays a key role in us improving our relationship with God and deriving beauty and meaning from our tests! This factor we often ignore is: our relationship with ourselves!


You see, tests do not just reveal to us truths about our relationship with God, but they also reveal to us truths about our relationship with ourselves and how our interactions with ourselves can be a hindrance to our spiritual growth, our heart’s nourishment and health, and our ability to walk towards God truthfully, sincerely, honorably, and with a heart that is liberated from the shackles, expectations, and limitations of the world.


When you are going through a test, all your truths come to the surface. And what you may be missing as you are going through the test and as you are finding yourself in a lot of pain, is the link between your pain and the relationship you are having with yourself as you go through the test.


I believe that God does not burden a soul more than it can bear (as He has taught us in the Qur'an,2:286) and so it is important to always evaluate what we are bringing into our struggles that are making our experience of it feel unbearable. This is not to say that tests are not meant to be hard or painful. Tests are most definitely painful. If they did not bring some kind of pain,discomfort, or difficulty, they wouldn’t be called tests.


We must understand though that there is a difference between pain and suffering. Pain is inevitable, but in my line of work as a therapist over the years, I have come to truly believe that suffering is not inevitable and we have many tools we can access to prevent our pain from turning into suffering.


And of these tools, one of the most powerful ones we really need to utilize is our relationship with ourselves.


When we go through tests, we often forget to look at how we are interacting with ourselves, how we are speaking to ourselves, how we are viewing ourselves through the tests, and the beliefs we have about ourselves as we are going through the struggle! And what we do not realize is how these interactions can worsen the pain of the test!


For example, if you are going through a struggle or test and you are viewing it as a sign of your unworthiness, that something is wrong with you, that you are being punished, that you are not good enough, or that you are somehow less valuable and worthy because of it, then your experience of the test will be so much harder. It will lead to so much more pain (possibly suffering), but it also may lead to more resentment, anger, and many blocks between you and God and your ability to maximize the benefits of the test, for the reality is, each test is custom designed by God for you to GIVE you not to deprive you. They are designed to elevate you (in this world and the next) NOT to make you feel inferior or less than in anyway!


To receive that elevation and empowerment from our tests though, we must develop the muscle of turning inward and asking ourselves deeper questions!


To help you do that, I share with you (below) 3 questions that are crucial for us to ask through every test, struggle, and experience we go through in life! I encourage you to pause for a moment and reflect on your current struggle and test in life that may be bringing you a lot of pain today. And I then want you to take a moment and ask yourself the following:


  1. What messages am I sending to myself as I am going through this test? (i.e, “I am not worthy or valuable because of this test, “I will only be happy with myself after this test goes away,” "This test is a reflection of something wrong with me." )

  2. How am I speaking FOR God through this test? (Are these words REALLY what God has said, or from my own perception of myself? i.e, “God is punishing me,” “God hates me,” “God wants me to struggle.”)

  3. What are some new messages that I can begin sending to myself to begin walking differently through my test, so that I can walk more grounded and empowered, so that I can see the beauty through my pain, so that I can receive what God has to offer me through the test? ("The test does not define me, I define how I choose to walk through this test," "God is not punishing me, He infact is testing me because He wants to GIVE me not deprive me." )

If you do not have all the answers to these questions, that is okay! These questions serve to help you begin the process of turning inward and recognizing the importance of this sacred and powerful relationship you have with yourself and how it impacts the way you walk your path in this world. But in recognizing the power of this relationship, we must also recognize the power and importance of doing the work that will help us rectify and improve this relationship so that we can reap the spiritual, mental, emotional, and holistic benefits of what we go through in our life!


This work is so important but unfortunately very much neglected. For many years, I have been exploring the role that our relationship with ourselves plays on our spiritual path, the way we walk towards God, and especially the way we interact with our tests and struggles. And what I found is a gap in our discussions and lessons about our relationship with God, a missing factor we have learned to minimize and view as having nothing to offer us spiritually, because of our own fears, cultural influences, and our misunderstanding of what it means to have a healthy relationship with ourselves!


This lack of attention and importance we gave to our relationship with ourselves is what has lead many of us to not know how to navigate ourselves and all the tools that God put within us as we go through life, through its ups and downs. But it is recognizing this lack of attention to our inner world and our relationship to ourselves on the spiritual path that motivated the work that I have been doing over the last decade, because I realized that the way we view, understand, and interact with ourselves impacts everything else we do in life, even the way we walk towards God. This is what led to developing courses like my Sacred Self Love Course, UnMasking the Heart Course, but most importantly, my God & Me Psycho-Spiritual Transformations Program, which is my most long term, comprehensive online program designed to help us deeply transform the 2 most important relationships that impact everything else in our lives: our relationship with God and our relationship with ourselves.


This is because one of the most important truths I have come to recognize on my path of doing this work is that we cannot separate these two relationships and we cannot go through life without understand how they interact with one another and impact every other area and relationship in our lives! Doing so creates a disconnect within us, and deprives us from utilizing our relationship with ourselves as a means to spiritual growth, to a fulfilling relationship with our Creator, and a means to us growing through our tests and deriving what we need to learn from them!



"Whoever knows himself, knows His Lord"

~ a prominent saying of our righteous predecessors

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Your Relationship with God & With Yourself!

This inner work matters. Start your heart-work today!  




Click here to learn about the God & Me Psycho-Spiritual Transformation Program, a program designed to help you feel more ENOUGH, WHOLE, & NOURISHED, through your relationship with God and with yourself. In this program, you will learn about Dr. Marwa's Heart Over Mind & Ego (H.O.M.E) Approach to Psycho-Spiritual Wellness and the tools you need to transform your your relationship with God and with yourself! This is a program that takes you on a psychological and spiritual journey in which you gain the knowledge and tools you need to lead with your heart and empower your spiritual, mental, and emotional wellness!


"Educating the Mind Without Educating the Heart, is No Education at All."

~Aristotle 

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About the Author:




Dr. Marwa Assar is a psychologist, educator, and founder of The H.O.M.E

Institute.  She is dedicated to providing psycho-spiritual education and empowerment through an Islamic psychological lens. Click here to learn more about Dr. Marwa and her work. 

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