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5 Ways You Are Robbing Yourself Of Joy

Written by: Cordelia Gaffar, Diversity Equity And Inclusion Panel


Have you been robbing yourself of Joy? The purpose of this article is to experience your life choices differently. As you read my story, see yourself. With each area, I will also share THE truth and your ability to access joy in every situation. Be honest with yourself.

When I reflected, I had to be honest. In the past, I robbed myself of joy in five different ways.

  • Self-hate

  • Envy

  • Label and Story attaching

  • Self-sabotage

  • Unworthiness

I am grateful for every experience because I have created beautiful tools from them, like Sweet Talk. My default was extreme self-abuse and self-hate through abusive self-talk. Have you ever experienced that?


In July 2001, I became Muslim and I was so fulfilled in knowing that I had found the spiritual path for me. However, when I went to the mosque, my new community of sisters seemed so much further along in their spiritual evolution. I wished I could recite Quran like the other women or have memorized more. At family gatherings when I made an etiquette misstep, I needed to study more to not embarrass myself. At work, I look different now that I changed the way I dress. I had to prove that I still was good enough to do my job. Everywhere, I turned I internalized judgements that were sometimes mentioned and sometimes I created. I told myself that I was not good enough to be Muslim, smart enough to keep my job and it got very noisy in my head. When people started reacting to my way of being with myself, it was as if they could “feel” my internal world. I only see this now in retrospect. At the moment, everything was true. The facts were that the political environment caused people to think negatively of Muslims. I was distracted from my job with a barrage of questions about my new religious choice. The conversations quickly went to me be the “voice” for every Muslim, defending my religion, and answering why “my people” wanted to kill “us”. On one level, I was grateful for the opportunity to share the truth that Islam is about surrendering to inner peace, compassion and loving humanity. However, I cared about how it landed for the listener and when they could not accept my responses and refused to be relieved of their conjecture with my answers, I made it mean that “I didn’t know enough”, “I have to be the epitome of love and compassion”, “I hate that I chose to be Muslim” “I love practising Islam” The conflicting incongruence within grew. When I focused on my love of Islam, I could create a love for myself and reframe the story.

What has this looked like for you?


Having become Muslim and making that choice gradually over a period of two years before, outwardly revealing my choice meant that my friend group changed overnight. My friends who were not Muslim did not understand me. My new Muslim friends received me better and I felt judged with every infraction…I mispronounced a commonly used word. I had also just become a wife and mother. My parents had passed three years prior and were my only true friends in my opinion. All of my biological sisters lived in different states and I felt all alone. Where were my “friends” when I needed them? Everyone had a mother, mother-in-law, sisters or any selection of relatives to turn to for physical or emotional help and advice. My friends were my books. I read all of the time. I read the Quran, other personal development books, and Islamic text on etiquette. I believed that if I knew more, implemented and practised the steps people would like me. The truth was that my new set of friends loved and admired me the way I was. They often celebrated my ability to be so calm, joyful and compassionate with my children and encouraged me to write books. I told myself that they were mocking me and for thirteen years I told myself that I wasn’t good enough to write a book. Who would read anything I wrote? Everyone I knew had master's degrees or a PhD and I only had an accountant degree. Everyone was “doing” so much better than me.

The truth was focusing on comparing myself to others instead of the iterations of myself. When I went within, I saw compared to a previous period I was doing well for me. When I focused on being grateful for “doing well for me”, I reclaimed my joy.

Who are you compared to your previous you?

Label Attaching

The one thing that I believed that I had done right is that I was married. I could prove myself by being a great wife. In fact, I adopted a Muslim nickname which means “the one who is exceptionally loving with her husband”. I would introduce my label as a wife before my profession or motherhood. I proudly displayed my left ringed hand for people to be aware and wore pleasant colors not to bring too much attention to myself. My excuse for cutting short anything was “my husband”.

At home, I would be eager to perform and please. Over time because I expected reciprocity for my actions, I was disappointed. My label of “wife” didn’t change my position in joining “The Wives” of distinction club nor did it advance my career or change my husband’s perception of my actions. Because I didn’t feel worthy within, no one saw my worth.

My youngest child, who was 3 at the time, walked in and hugged me without noticing my tears and said, ”you are the best mom in the whole world! I love you. “ I had forgotten that I left them at the table with snacks so that I could decompress. The snacks were a blend of cooked greens, raw greens and fruits. It was so delicious and nutritious and they were grateful that I thought about it and took the time to create something specific to every food they enjoy.

I was so filled with gratitude knowing that I could express love and hold space with a snack for my child so much so they felt completely loved. I released the helpless/ hopeless story I was creating and smiled and received the blessing and gift of my child’s gratitude for me. That’s not all! The only label at that moment was “best mom in the whole world! “ No need to prove or perform that is my state of being.

What is your state of being?


I chose to study Accounting because it is a “practical secure” career path. It was easy, unlike the work that I would have to put in to become a diplomat or attorney. While I was good at my job and despite my religious discrimination issues, I advanced to the level of CFO before leaving corporate in my early thirties. I really hated my job. Choosing a career path for practical reasons rather than exploring the possibility of creating something out of deep purpose was tedious for me as a natural creative. I preferred to write poetry and articles. But who makes a living writing? To stay centered, I would use words to love myself when I walked on lunch break. I would imagine the polar positive opposite of the records playing in my head: “You suck at everything and everyone knows it.” became “Everyone looks forward to your beautiful energy to liven up the accounting department” I would smile and repeat it often to myself. On especially horrible days, I would write myself a poem to reframe every infarction I committed that day. Nothing could reverse the feeling in the pit of my stomach that I hate my job and would rather be home with my children. My body responded with two miscarriages in between my first and second child. Then bed rest for the last trimester with my second child. After my child was born, I had postpartum depression. My wake up call came when my doctor prescribed antidepressants. I chose to research ways to heal with nutrition and exercise. I learned so much that I began to write articles in parenting magazines. I began writing again and started to get paid for it. I began to feel alive again and experience a glimpse of joy. Once I discovered that I was expecting again, I chose to stay home and home educate my children. I decided to stop the sabotage and lean into joy. Has your body alert system gone off?


Even though my internal light was turning back on, after I chose to stay home and home educate my children once my third child was born, I then stepped into being the best stay-at-home label. This was my people-pleasing operating system at work. I was responsible for these small precious beings and I had to be good enough. I had to be their doctor, dietician, emotional intelligence guide, spiritual guide, a role model for peace, love, joy and the list goes on. I studied and researched and tormented myself with documentaries, exhaustive discussions which increased my insecure feelings. I experimented with different parenting styles, leadership styles, and the more I tested and “failed” the more unworthy I felt. That was adding to the messages from the outside world, some I called in and others that exist. Messages about what it means to be a woman, to be a Black woman, to be a Muslim woman, to be and the labels go on. It became all so frustrating.

Even now it shows up as frustration. I have been frustrated with what it meant to be a Black woman, a mom, a wife, all the labels. I carried them as a weight on my head, shoulders and back. I made others' perceptions of those labels mean something to me. Until I decided to discover my labeless truth according to my values. Over the years as I overturned each label, I revealed my joy within.

What a joy it is to be a multidimensional genius! That is my truth…and I am the World’s Best Joy Monger!

What’s your truth? Take some time now to self-reflect and see what is robbing you of joy? How can you reveal your joy within?

Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and visit my website for more info! Read more from Cordelia!


Cordelia Gaffar, Diversity Equity And Inclusion Panel Brainz Magazine

Cordelia Gaffar is the World’s Best Joy Monger. That means that she holds space for you to reveal your joy within. Joy Mongering is a word she created after experiencing the brunt of people’s fear as a Muslim woman. In fact, she has created a process she calls Replenish Me ™ to help you transmute fear, rage and anger into Joy. In one of her eight books, Detached Love: Transforming Your Heart Do That You Transform Your Mind, she breaks down the Replenish Me ™ process through her research, client stories and her personal vulnerable shares.

She is also the host of two host podcasts. She won Best Podcast Host for her solo show called Free to Be Show and collaborates as a co-host on Unlearning Labels. The multidimensional genius she is, is further demonstrated as the mother of six children whom I homeschooled for 17 years. In summary, she has won multiple awards: Best Podcast Host of 2019, Top National Influencer, Sexy Brilliant Leader, and inducted into the Global Library of Female Authors in 2020; and in 2021 nominated for Author of the Year and Health and Wellness Coach of the Year. She has also won the Brainz Global 500 Award of Influencers and Entrepreneurs for 2021 and won BOOKS for PEACE 2022 award.

She has been featured on America Meditating Radio, British Muslim TV, Spirituality Podcast, also featured on South African radio 786, and Fox News.



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