Trials and tribulations are part and parcel of this worldly life. We can’t escape them, but we can learn how to deal with them.
Having negative thoughts as a result of tribulations can be severely detrimental to your physical and mental health, and your overall productivity. So how do we deal with a heart burdened with grief?
We need to remember that Shaytaan will lead us to despair and even tempt us to commit sin at our times of weakness. Whatever adversities we face, it is important to work through the heartbreak to improve our emotional and physical well-being and regain control of our day-to-day life. Here are a few tips that I find useful.
1. Focus on The Eternal instead of the temporary: Reconnecting with Allah
Human beings need someone, perpetually. Despite being the sturdiest creation on the planet possessing a perfect mental composure, we are in a constant exigency of having someone accompany us like Eve was created for Adam or Haroon was sent to help Musa . Complication starts the moment we try finding an eternal companion in this world. The moment our heart believes that “this” person is the best, free of any imperfection, and will be with us forever, is when the heartbreaks, failures, and disappointments arrive. There’s nothing surprising in this because if our heart is attached to a fleeting thing, it will, inevitably end.
Don’t we need someone who is with us and comprehends everything we are going through? Someone who is with us at 4 am when we are crying ceaselessly and feeling vulnerable?
There is One who never misunderstands and misinterprets any of our feelings and emotional burdens, and is there for us every day of the week, and every minute of the day.
“And we have already created man and know what his soul whispers to him and We are closer to him than his jugular vein.” [Qur’an: Chapter 50, Verse 16]
But if we serve ourselves purely just for Allah and we refocus our heart so our living is just for Him, you will be amazed to see how you become content and resilient, even if your life is surrounded with battles and traumas. The immutable belief will prevail in your heart and ignite absolute solace and strength.
Action Point: Let that emotional release be done on the prayer mat – cry, cry, cry, and plead with Allah for the perfect solution, and to bless you with patience and strength. Talk with Him and discover every possible way to reunite with your Lord . Shift your focus in weak moments from the things you’re missing, to connecting with The Eternal One .
2. Monitor your inner thoughts and adjust them
Now that you have revived your relationship with Allah , the very next move is to reflect on your thoughts. Your inner-self needs to be pure and content in order for your outer-self to glow and function adequately. So, keep a track of your thoughts, and whenever they indicate gloominess and negativity, don’t give in those memories and desolate yourself, but retreat by remembering Allah . Let your brain know that it is worthless to dwell about despairing thoughts and there is more to life. Practice, practice, and practice it continuously until your brain is accustomed to the chain of positivity.
Self-reflection is extremely important for us to become aware of ourselves and is a way we can control our hearts from despairing when a calamity occurs. Don’t ask questions like, “Why did this happen to me?” However, asking questions like “What did I learn from this?” or “How has this changed me?” are much more effective in pulling your heart from sadness and grief. Tell yourself continuously, “I am accountable for my behavior and I have to be the best version of myself.” The ability to confront yourself and admit to yourself the areas you need to grow and improve will lead to a sense of inner peace.
Action Point: Self-reflection can be done anywhere. Find your ideal method; this could be sitting quietly alone and thinking, or writing down your thoughts and goals in a chart.
3. Release your emotions through the right source
Try to find one specific reliable person in your life who will listen to you without expectation or judgment. This could be a trustworthy childhood friend who has wisdom and is capable of giving sound advice, your spouse or even a therapist trained in such matters. Withholding negativity within your heart could lead to more heartache and decreased mental well-being.
Action Point: Write down what you want to speak about beforehand, as this “self-talk” is also a form of release of negative emotions. Try writing those depressing thoughts on a paper and then tear them into pieces as a symbol of letting those thoughts go. There is research that indicates that this trick actually helps people forget harsh moments.
4. Find a passion that soothes your heart adequately
Okay, so you’ve got the cooking and cleaning to do, scheduled with those dull meetings and excessive assignments which are to be submitted by 11:59 pm, you have been cramming all day for the upcoming midterm exams but your heart is still gloomy due to all sorrows which are not easily forgettable.
An exciting change may just be what the doctor ordered! There are a wealth of fun, halal and inexpensive activities that you can become passionate about. More often than not, we find ourselves rundown with the mundane everyday tasks of life, which don’t stop even when we feel heartache or burden from our problems. Although we can’t make the negativity disappear, we can take control of our mental health and engage in active leisure which will help alleviate stress and anxiety. You may initially feel like that time spent on hobbies could be spent on ‘more important’ tasks, but giving your mind a break will allow you to be focussed, refreshed, and your heart will get just a little bit lighter.
Action point: The best hobbies are those that draw you closer to Allah . This could be a hike to ponder over the beautiful creation of Allah , some Islamic classes to be in the company of good people, or exercise to make your body strong for worship.
5. Meet those who have less than you
Often during a catastrophe, we tend to think we are the only ones who are going through a hard time. This is because the pain can be consuming and it’s hard to think that someone else would understand what we feel. Our issues and troubles start growing so tremendously that we never ponder on the people who are dealing with something greater. The Messenger of Allah said,
“Look at those who are beneath you and do not look at those who are above you, for it is more suitable that you should not consider as less the blessing of Allah.” [Sunan ibn Majah]
Looking at those who have less than us, or are going through a more heavier burden automatically invites gratitude into our hearts. Subsequently, being grateful changes our whole perception about life. Even when it seems like there is no good in your life, thank Allah for the little things you still have. Say “Alhamdulillah” at your lowest, make this a habit and even if the situation is dark, you will feel positive because of that light in your heart.
Action point: Alter the mindset of despair by visiting someone who is sick. Hospitals and care homes usually have volunteer programmes especially for those who are in end-of-life care. Another way is to go and seek out a homeless person, especially if you live in cities where the homeless population is high. Buy them some food and listen to their battles and worries: you will definitely feel that you have a great deal to thank Allah for.
6. As cliche’ as it sounds…but learn to have hope. It works!
When my dad was thirteen years old, his family was afflicted with poverty. It was so severe that they even became homeless at one point. Let me tell you what my grandma used to say to him:
“Tanveer beta (son), do you see the skies in nights and how dark it gets? Does the darkness stay forever? No, right? The sun rises and shines brightly. Sometimes beta, it is worth waiting for the sunshine so don’t dishearten yourself but put your hope in Allah . You WILL see wonders, in sha Allah!”
How beautiful is this? See how, in the midst of calamities, she tried to build hope in his heart? Once we have hope in Allah , no-one can ever put us down. Allah says,
“And will provide for him from where he does not expect. And whoever relies upon Allah – then He is sufficient for him. Indeed, Allah will accomplish His purpose. Allah has already set for everything a [decreed] extent.” [Quran: Chapter 65, Verse 3]
This trivial life can never bring eternal happiness. There will be severe tests and various trials but we must stay positive and hopeful. Allah is with the people who are patient. Stay strong because your attitude and behavior matter. Stay strong because patience during troubles and worries will pay off immeasurably in the end. Stay strong because your motivation isn’t this world, but the pleasure of Allah . Stay strong because Allah sees it all and He will help you.
What are your best techniques to mend a burdened heart and bring the self back to positivity and productivity? Share with us in the comments.