We constantly juggle multiple roles in our life. As a family member, professional and a friend, we deal with a variety of situations. Not only does this challenge us to be emotionally smart, it also challenges us to avoid the trap of a negative emotional state. So we need to make a choice to master our emotions. Do we handle our emotions or will our emotions handle us?
Let’s take a look at an example.
It’s a common scenario for a husband to quarrel with his wife because of work stress. These unfair and undue outbursts damage our personality and relations. How do we ensure that we are in control of our emotions to purify our hearts and protect the relationships we have with others?
Step 1: Recognise and Accept that You Are in Control of Your Emotions
First, we need to convince ourselves that we are in full control of our emotions. We cannot blame anyone else for any emotion residing inside of us. Of course, there can be external triggers, unexpected events and piled up work. All of these are beyond our control, but what remains within the hold of our fist is how we react to all this craziness.
It is interesting to note how we tune ourselves to react in a certain way in a given scenario. For instance, we have programmed ourselves to get angry if someone horns at us during traffic rush hour. We have programmed ourselves to shout back if someone uses a harsh tone with us. And interestingly enough, we have programmed ourselves to smile and relax when someone says, “Sorry”.
By doing this, we become a puppet in control of words, tones and scenarios. If we start emotionally detaching ourselves from these triggers that we have programmed ourselves with, we can be more intelligent in crisis situations. People who react to every word and action coming their way are so caught up in dealing with their emotions, that they waste major part of their energy and time entangled in this self-created state of mind.
Step 2: Identify the Reasons for Emotional Outbursts
- Love of world
Controlling our reactions is important. Equally important is the need to take a closer look at our lifestyles. Too much love of worldly possessions creates fear of loss and depression. So limit your wants by knowing your needs. Avoid indulgence.
- Lack of proper nutrition
Eating inorganic, fast food and lack of routine in proper eating habits causes bad mood. If one does not eat at proper intervals, or if one starves for too long only to fill up the stomach with junk food, then the brain is confused to the extent that it treats hunger as stress. The body responds to hunger not by eating (because it is not trained to), but rather by shouting, screaming and showing irritation.
- Lack of proper sleep
Agitation is also a common reaction to sleep deprivation. A healthy, sound sleep makes us happy and relaxed. By staying up for too long we become irritable and angry.One more important factor that keeps people away from emotional stability is uncontrolled thoughts. Have you ever noticed that your last thought before going to sleep is the first one that you have when you wake up? Our brain is engaged the whole night nurturing our thoughts. So make a dua, thank Allah (glorified and exalted be He) and think positive as you lie down to sleep. Avoid horror movies or late night talks.
Step 3: Take Positive Action to Manage Your Emotions
- Counsel yourself
Some people spend the whole day wondering if their neighbour’s laughing at them, if people like their shoes, if someone thinks they are stupid etc. Avoid suspicion and rid yourself on any thought that keeps recurring endlessly.Another great way to reduce emotional crisis is to keep looking at the bigger picture. Keep telling yourself that this world and everything in it is a timely setup – a trial for our character and it will all go away. Having faith in Allah (glorified and exalted be He) and gratitude towards the smallest of blessings He has granted us can help us stay positive with what life has to offer us.”For indeed, with hardship [will be] ease. Indeed, with hardship [will be] ease” [Qur'an: Chapter 94, Verses 5-6].
- Take control of your mind
Think about a joke that you heard years ago and you will find yourself laughing, as if you are heard that joke for the first time. Think about a tragedy you faced and you will find tears in your eyes.None of these two situations exist in reality right now, but our brain assumes they do. So if we can control our imagination, we can control those negative thoughts that strike us day in and day out, and then we can spend our whole life smiling while others wonder how we do that!A very effective way of controlling evil whispering away is to recite Surah Al-Falaq [Qur'an: Chapter 113, Verses 1-5] and Surah An-Nas [Qur'an: Chapter 114, Verses 1-6].There is always a brighter side to things that disturb us. Try to practice positive thinking, and if you still can’t see anything good about it, then it is an opportunity for you to practice patience and tawakkal.
- Remember Allah (glorified and exalted be He)
If you find yourself over reacting to certain events, try keeping a specific dhikr for it. Dhikr keeps the heart alive.For example you can read Kalimah Tawheed when waiting for someone, or Surah Al-Ikhlas [Qur'an: Chapter 112, Verses 1-4] when angry. You can also read ayat Al-Kursi [Qur'an: Chapter 2, Verse 255] when happy and perform sujud when you hear a good news. You can train yourself to do tawbah when distressed or sick.
- Practice forgiveness
The best way to come to terms with your emotions is to let go, move on and to not drag your emotional burdens with the intention to take revenge. There is no evil you can do without hurting yourself first, and there is no good that you can do without benefiting yourself. So do yourself a favour by forgiving and moving on.”And those who avoid the major sins and immoralities, and when they are angry, they forgive” [Qur'an: Chapter 42, Verse 37]
- Follow the seerah
Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) was the most stable personality in the history of mankind. We see an amazing balance of emotions in his seerah. The way he dealt with things is a role model for us.When Muslims won the battle of Badr and returned home, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) was told that his daughter had passed away. He did not highlight his sorrow, he did not mourn on it. He let the Muslims celebrate the victory.However during the conquest of Makkah, he did not get carried away by vindictiveness or elation. His head was down, he was remembering Allah (glorified and exalted be He) and he granted everyone a general amnesty.
- Manage your time
We find ourselves badly tied up in stress, depression and sorrow when we are late for a deadline. Planning properly and doing things in time is the best way to keep your life in control. Do not procrastinate.Also remember, if you find doing something is easy now, take advantage of it. For it does not mean that it will always remain easy. So make the best use of the time as it is one of the biggest blessings of Allah (glorified and exalted be He).
- Always communicate honestly
When nothing works, at least speak up. Voice it out to the people around you intelligently and politely, so they will know how you feel. It will give you the space you need until you feel emotionally stable again.But be careful in choosing the best words and best ways to let people know how you feel. Don’t let it become your weak point if you know that the other party can be manipulative, and don’t burst out in shouts and sarcasm as a defence. If people around you care for you, they will certainly facilitate, and in return you can be empathetic to them when they go through a bad time.Emotional crisis is an illusion created by human mind. Stress is not real: if it were a real thing like gravity, it would effect everyone the same way quantitatively. However these emotional crisis eat away our bottom lines. They affect our mental health, personalities and attitudes. To deal with them, the three golden principles are:Avoid: If there is an appropriate way to avoid the situation or people who trigger your stress then you should do it.Alter: Ask yourself, can I do the same thing in a less stressful way? If yes, then Do it.
Accept: For situations beyond our control, consider them as part of Allah (glorified and exalted be He)’s will and accept them. Develop a sense of gratitude towards Him. The more we thank Allah (glorified and exalted be He) for what is, the less we get upset for what is not.
Try the tips above and share your experience in the ‘Comments’ section below!
About the Author:
Farah Mehboob works at hibamagazine to help Muslim families enrich themselves with religious values. Besides learning the morphology of Quranic script, Farah is also studying the science of tajweed and hadith.