The world was so bold and confident in bullying us into believing that we are only worthy if our lives are marked by hardship. Embracing the soft-life is emboldening ourselves and changing the narrative.
If you’re someone that’s in tune with global trends, you would understand that the term “soft life” is no longer just limited to captions on Instagram posts and Tiktok videos. You would understand that it’s become a lifestyle for so many – a lifestyle of complete enjoyment and minimal stress. An intentional way of living, where you get to give yourself the VIP treatment. From buying yourself the nice things you deserve, to choosing the easiest way to getting things done, outsourcing tasks that allow you to take the needed rest, and leaving relationships marked by stress and toxicity, we are becoming more and more aware of the softness that had hitherto been denied to us by toxic cultures.
As Muslim women, rewiring ourselves for softness and abundance will put us up against many hurdles from within Muslim communities, which has absolutely nothing to do with Islam. We are not a monolith. This actually didn’t need to be mentioned, but very lately, we have been reflecting on what exactly brings joy to Muslim women. Against the backdrop of everything we have to live through and against a culture where ‘self-care’ is not openly approved of and where guilt and shame are weaponised to keep women in line, where do Muslim women find true joy? Whether you’re a mum, a creative, or a woman on a mission to trot the globe, we think there’s so much beauty in the diverse identities we take on as Muslim women and this is what makes us truly interesting as a collective. But despite this diversity, society has found a way to plaster a dangerous stereotype on us as a demographic. Some common descriptors are “weak”, “submissive”, “obedient” and “oppressed”.
As we struggle to wriggle out of the multiple layers of oppression in which we find ourselves, we need to acknowledge that the journey to breaking free from a culture which celebrates martyrdom as the marker of womanhood is hard work. The journey to breaking out of fear, scarcity and survival is a long one, especially when we can’t seem to draw the line between being obsessed with our lives and being self-absorbed. But deciding to go from survival mode to thrive mode is deciding that it’s you against all socio-cultural constraints that prevent you from living the soft lifestyle you truly deserve.
We love to see Muslim women thriving, refusing to be shamed and living in abundance and luxury. This is a movement against the oppressive structures put in place to hold us down. It is resistance against the narrative that we are only worthy when our very existence is marked by struggle and endurance. It’s a lifestyke that says “no more!” to the praise-singers who only sing praises of women who choose a life of sacrifice and martyrdom. Soft life is choosing to recognise our self-worth. It’s about unlearning everything that made us hate our very existence. It’s about healing our inner wounds and treating ourselves with so much love and kindness. The world was so bold and confident in bullying us into believing that we are only worthy if our lives are marked by hardship. Embracing the soft-life is emboldening ourselves and changing the narrative. It’s giving the middle finger to those who desperately want to see us miserable. It’s unapologetically making out time to get to know who we are and living as our most authentic selves! Because when we get to know who we are, no one can tell us who we aren’t.
So how do we get to break free from oppression and begin living the soft life unapologetically? It starts by changing the stories we tell about ourselves. It starts by following these basic steps:
Get to Know Yourself
Carving out time to get to know yourself is the first step to building a loving relationship with yourself. To do this, you need to learn and identify the qualities that make you unique. Daily reflection and meditation can help make this journey seamless. You will need to recognise different parts of your identity and personality, and you will need to be honest throughout the process. Questions like “What do I love doing?”, “What do I love about myself?”, “What makes me feel happy?” “What triggers my anger and sadness?” “What mistakes have I made?” may help you find the answers you seek. You will have to pay attention to those aspects that make you uncomfortable and ask yourself why they make you uncomfortable. Try not to criticise yourself in the process. You have to be kind to yourself and embrace everything you find; the good, the bad and the ugly. Loving yourself means loving everything, including the ugliest parts of yourself, even while you’re trying to become a better person.
Speak Well of Yourself
Speaking well of yourself is the foundation of self-worth and self-love. Highlight what you like about yourself and speak about it everytime. Remind yourself of your strengths and repeat it over and over again. Be soft with yourself and you will begin to fall head over heels in love with you. This energy will spill over into your relationships. When you speak well of yourself and treat yourself with kindness, you will begin to have little tolerance for those who talk down on you and treat you harshly. You will begin to shed the relationships that don’t align with the soft lifestyle you’re pursuing. You will sift out the people who disrespect and invalidate you. And you will begin to attract only the people and things that are healthy for you on this journey.
Give the highest form of your kindness to yourself. Take yourself out to nice places; places that fill your body, mind and soul with happiness. Buy yourself things that befit your highest self. Treat yourself like royalty. Eat good food, take your vitamins, invest in skincare, stay hydrated and do the things that bring you joy. Refuse to listen to the inner voice trying to shame you and make you feel guilty for being obsessed with yourself. When the world calls you “selfish”, embrace it. When they tell you you’re arrogant, continue to bask in the glory of the self-worth you’re building for yourself. Those who hate this version of you will fall out and you will attract the people who value the soft life just as much as you do.
Romanticise Your Life
Slow down. To choose intentional happiness is to slow down and be in tune with your own world. Many of us live a rushed life, forgetting to pay attention to the things that really matter. The soft life mindset requires that you take things slow and be mindful of everything around you. Observe your prayers mindfully, sip that cup of hot chocolate slowly, savouring its richness and appreciating every drop of it, pay attention to the fine street on which you live, take in the beauty and stillness of the morning, take nice photographs of the world around you, read that book slowly, call your senses to the beautiful smells and sounds around you. This will calm your mind and nourish your soul and you will soon realise how rich your world is.
Preserve Your Energy
Minding your business and detaching from over-involvement in other people’s problems can cause people to label you as “uncaring” and “selfish”. But you need to put yourself first by preserving your energy and filling your own cup. This will also help you to pull out of co-dependent patterns. Preserving your energy means unlearning that you’re somehow responsible for people’s problems and that you have an obligation to fix them. It shifts the focus to you and helps you shed all the extra burden that you’ve placed on yourself. This will make it easy for you to focus on your goals and achieve them.
Create Boundaries in Your Relationships
When you begin to love yourself, creating boundaries in your relationships comes naturally. Pay attention to how your relationships make you feel. Do you feel stressed and drained after every interaction, or do you feel happy and energised? Whether it’s a platonic, romantic or work-related relationship, you need to become more assertive about your needs and boundaries. Let people know upfront what you expect from them and what you won’t tolerate. Those who do not wish to honour and respect your needs and boundaries will naturally vibrate out of your life, making room for you to attract the people who align with the vision you have for yourself.
Living in abundance is a very crucial part of living a soft life, and you cannot achieve this if you don’t express gratitude. Some of us grew up with a scarcity mindset, focusing on what we lacked rather than what we have been blessed with. Shifting the focus to everything you love about yourself and your life will open doors of abundance and happiness, making you live up to your highest potential as a woman.
The soft life is about living in abundance and self-love as much as understanding that you only go where you are valued. It’s about recognising your worth and not waiting for external validation. So whether you choose to live as a “soft baby girl” or a “rich auntie”, the onus is on you to do the work required to get there.
TMWT is an online media platform spotlighting the stories of Muslim women of the past and present. We aim to be one of the most authoritative and informative guides to what is happening in the world of Muslim women. We hope to cover key issues, spark debates, progressive ideas and provocative topics to get the Muslim world talking. We want to set agendas and explore ideas to improve the lives and wellbeing of Muslim Women.