Have you ever noticed how easy it is to fall back into thinking negatively and playing the blame game?
The thought of penning this down came as I myself was being gripped by critical thoughts, which goes to show you just how easy it is to be unkind to yourself. Being positive does not come naturally. If you do see anyone who, despite all odds, is still trying to find the good in a situation, it is because he/she has trained themselves to do so. Optimism is something I strive for daily. I don’t know what it is, but it’s just one of those habits that you have to really put an effort into doing everyday, everytime. Maybe it’s human nature or maybe it’s the plan of Satan, but have you ever noticed how easy it is to fall back into thinking negatively and playing the blame game? Pessimism is a downward spiral of frustration, inadequacy, and ultimately, depression.
Here are 5 tried and tested things that can seem insignificant, but when applied will really help inshaAllah:
1. Research Islam. I did not realise it then, but I know the significance of what it did for me now. This is the foundation of positive thinking. I was unaware of the beauty, wisdom and mercy of Allah (swt). I did not know what it meant to truly love Islam and to love and trust Allah (swt). Growing up, we are often taught mechanics: how to pray, how to read Quran, what to eat, what not to eat etc. The reasoning and wisdom behind it tends to be forgotten. Most of us lack a connection with our Lord. Researching can feel like an overwhelming task, because of the sheer number of resources available. Stop worrying about where to start, and just start. Allah (swt) will guide you along the way.
2. Constantly replenish your mind with positive thoughts. Your thoughts shape everything. They hold weight. They hold power. Negative self-talk damages more than I can say. If you constantly put yourself down, how are you ever going to see any light in any situation? Tell yourself: you are beautiful. You’re strong. You’re brave. You can handle anything thrown at you – because the mere fact that you’re going through anything bad in your life, is because Allah (swt) believes that you can not just handle it, but also come out the other side a winner.
3. Keep yourself busy. There are some people who are not studying, working, or taking care of children. So what can they do? Help with housework. Read. Indulge in a hobby: painting, writing, photography, henna artistry, whatever it may be. Learn more about your faith. Start a blog. Learn the basics of cooking. When you’re busy with things, you don’t have time to listen to negative thoughts, because your mind is preoccupied with the task at hand.
4. Make Dua frequently. I feel the power of sincere Dua tends to be taken lightly, and people look for more generic tips to change their ways of thinking. But how can we manage to do anything without His help and guidance? There are specific times when our Dua is more likely to be answered for e.g: at the end of every prayer, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t make Dua any time we wish. It becomes a habit, then, to have your own ongoing conversation with Allah (swt), because you know He is always in tune with you.
5. Practise patience. Patience and positive thinking go hand in hand. If you are patient in a tough situation, you try to hold yourself together and think that “Ok, if Plan A can’t happen, I’ll try Plan B. And if nothing works the way I wanted it to, then this is Allah’s Plan for me and surely there is something better in it for me even if I can’t see it.”
Consistency is the key to achieving anything in life, and I hope that these help you to take control of your emotions during a negative situation. I’d like to end with a quote from one of my favourite novels, which describes patience best:
Patience does not mean to passively endure. It means to be farsighted enough to trust the end result of the process. What does patience mean? It means to look at the thorn and to see the rose, to look at the night and see the dawn. Impatience means to be so shortsighted as to not be able to see the outcome. The lovers of God never run out of patience, for they know that time is needed for the crescent moon to become full.
-Elif Shafak, “The Forty Rules of Love”