by Yousra Naeem (in collaboration with Team AYEINA)
You wake up and see disaster on the news. You get to work and clients and coworkers seep negativity into the air. It travels fast. It has a way of sticking around when and where you want it least. Eventually, negativity has the power to become you. It’s easier to be a positive person in a positive environment. It’s when things are constantly negative and emotionally draining that you are challenged to exhibit more patience. BUT how can you swim against the tides? You have the opportunity to be the beacon of light for others around you. By your actions and responses, you can demonstrate and teach others how to behave in an appropriate, positive and composed manner.
To survive the weather (trials and hardships) in your life, you need to have a shelter. We can’t stop the wind, but we can build a strong shelter. Positive energy catches on just as quickly as negative energy. Sometimes people are simply stuck in a habit or a pattern of behavior and are accustomed to act a certain way. It’s probably all they know – if they are constantly a part of such toxic environment themselves. It takes some time and effort as well as some serious commitment to do something differently to create a sustainable change in your surroundings. Following are some of the steps to cope up with all of the negative vibes around you:
1) Keep a Gratitude Journal (Husn adh Dhann Billah – Good thoughts about Allah)
Trust me it really helps! I take my #AlhamdulillahForSeries gratitude journal everywhere. It makes a huge difference alhamdulillah. Sometimes we need to jot down the thoughts that clutter our minds – take one negative part of the day that you can write a positive side of. Starting and maintaining a journal can be difficult at first, but start it with just one Alhamdulillah a day!
The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) said: “Whoever among you wakes up in the morning secured in his dwelling, healthy in his body, having his food for the day, then it is as if the world has been gathered for him.'” [Tirmidhi 2346]
Writing in your journal won’t feel like a chore because it is a peaceful time to just sit and write just one thing that you are thankful for in a day. Just one thing. Gratitude works its magic by serving as an antidote to negative emotions. It is like white blood cells for the soul, protecting us from cynicism, entitlement, anger and resignation. There are many benefits of keeping a gratitude journal. Some of them are:
-Lower Stress Levels
-Welcoming barakah in your life
-Helps you focus on what really matters
-Helps you become more self-aware
-Helps gain clarity on what you want to have more of in your life, and what you can cut from your life.
2) Leave What Doesn’t Concern You (Limit Negative Media Consumption and Mindless Scrolling)
A study from UC San Diego and Yale found that people who clicked on about 4 times as many links as the average social media user, or who liked twice as many posts, reported worse mental health than the average user. Another study by the Royal Society of Public Health revealed that 70% of young people think “social media should come with a pop-up disclaimer that it could negatively affect your mental health.” If you’re starting to feel like social media is affecting your mental health, do a quick audit of your social media accounts. If you can unfollow accounts and take steps to ensure a healthy relationship with social media. Since it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to quit social media altogether, setting time limits on your phone can be helpful. You can also use the Moment app, which not only breaks down screen time for you and your family, but also offers insights and free coaching to help you spend less time on your phone. When life feels stressful, it’s important to take care of yourself. Sometimes it can be hard to remember to do simple things like drink water or go to bed on time! Make sure that the people and brands you follow on Instagram are aligned with what’s important to you, and you’re getting value or positivity from following them.
Malik related to me that he heard that someone said to Luqman, “What has brought you to what we see?” meaning his high rank. Luqman said, “Truthful speech, fulfilling the trust, and leaving what does not concern me.” [Muwatta Malik]
3) Surround Yourself with Good Company (Talk to people who remind you of Allah instead of drowning you in more dunya)
If negativity is stressing you out because of the people you can’t distance yourself from, then surround yourself with positive people too – those who ooze out positive vibes.
Messenger of Allah ﷺ said:”Do not let yourselves be ‘yes-men’, saying: ‘If the people are good then we will be good, and if they are wrong then we will be wrong.’Rather, make up your own minds, if the people are good then you are good, and if they are evil, then do not behave unjustly.” [Tirmidhi 2007]
4) Keep Yourself Occupied in Good because What You Focus on, Grows!
In the absence of positive people to talk to, try to find something that makes you happy – it could be a walk amidst nature, creating art etc.
If being around negative or toxic people drains your energy, try to avoid taking part in their discussions – which may include gossips, backbiting etc. All of which can drain your positive vibes. When you focus on problems, they will start to become bigger than they really are.
Some Ansari persons asked for (something) from Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) and he gave them. They again asked him for (something) and he again gave them. And then they asked him and he gave them again till all that was with him finished. And then he said “If I had anything. I would not keep it away from you. (Remember) Whoever abstains from asking others, Allah will make him contented, and whoever tries to make himself self-sufficient, Allah will make him self-sufficient. And whoever remains patient, Allah will make him patient. Nobody can be given a blessing better and greater than patience.” [Bukhari 1469]
5) Avoid “If only” and Focus on Positive Self-Talk / Affirmations
Write down the things you love about yourself (from anything in your outer and inner beauty) and then make a list of things others love about you (try asking multiple loved ones around you – your parents, siblings, spouse, children, friends etc.)
I know it may feel awkward but being comfortable with loving yourself the way Allah made you – inside out – is a gift (as long as it does not lead to arrogance and self-worship)!
The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: “…If anything befalls you, do not say, “if only I had done such and such” rather say “Qaddara Allahu wa ma sha’a fa’ala (Allah has decreed and whatever he wills, He does).” For (saying) ‘If’ opens (the door) to the deeds of Satan.'” [Ibn Majah]
6) Spend More Time in Nature and Smile More Often
Look for the good in everyday affairs, and find new ways to smile. Smiling releases the chemical serotonin, which makes you feel better. Avoid gossiping about others. One of the many ways that a negative person will attempt to engage you is by talking badly about others. Remember that you wouldn’t want another person talking about you that way, and avoid these conversations.
If someone tries to draw you in, simply redirect the conversation or go for a walk in the nature and leave the scenario if a reminder doesn’t change their topic of conversation.
‘Abdullah bin Al-Mubarak explained good character, and then he said: “It is a smiling face, doing one’s best in good, and refraining from harm.” [Tirmidhi 2005]
7) Develop a Healthy Lifestyle and Good Night Sleep Routine
Most adults do best on 7-8 hours of sleep per night, while teenagers often need 9-10 hours. Follow a healthy lifestyle. Staying physically fit, getting plenty of exercise, and following a balanced diet are all part of living with emotional resilience which will positively affect your mood and reduce your stress level. When you’re hungry or tired, you’re less likely to be able to practice resilience. So make sure you rest instead of taking coffee dosages to stay alert and awake.
And We created you in pairs. And made your sleep rest. And made the night as clothing. And made the day for livelihood.” [Quran; 78:8-11]
8) Have a List of Motivational Verses and Ahadith to Read
Reading or listening to the verses or ahadith that make you smile can help alleviate the negative vibes. When you redirect your thoughts, you aren’t dismissing them, but rather moving past them so they don’t consume you.
The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “Richness is not the abundance of wealth, rather it is self-sufficiency.” [Riyad as-Salihin 522]
9) Read Inspirational Stories of the Prophets and Companions Full of Optimism
Indeed in the Messenger of Allah (Muhammad SAW) you have a good example to follow for him who hopes in (the Meeting with) Allah and the Last Day and remembers Allah much. [Quran; 33:21]
10) Spread Positivity and It will Come Back to You too
What you perceive as negativity might just be someone’s way of expressing different values from your own. If you can listen to another person’s perspective with an open mind, you might find yourself learning something new. But if it negatively affects you more than you can handle, try to limit your time around negative people whenever you can. Take breaks as often as you need to. If someone breathes only negativity, don’t feed it. Acknowledge their predicament with empathy, but don’t fuel the conversation. Like a flame in a forest, negativity need only be given one stick to spark a wildfire of pessimism.
Remember that you are in charge of your attitude. The first step in staying positive is to remember that no one can make you feel bad without your permission. Don’t allow yourself to fall into the trap of feeling like a victim of another person’s bad attitude. Collaborate with others to do something that benefits the society. Acknowledge the good work and achievement of others. Make supplication for those striving to do good around and strive to achieve even better.
“And that to your Lord is the finality. And that it is He who makes laugh and weep.” [Quran; 53:42-43]
With a positive mindset, you will find opportunities where others see roadblocks. What can you do to develop a more positive mindset irrespective of your surroundings?
Co-Author’s Bio: Yousra Naeem is a Psychology student by day and blogger by night in the pursuit of wholehearted life. She is a published writer at Dunya News and has published more than 90 articles up till now.