In recent years, I’ve adopted a technique that has helped me overcome many difficult situations and strong emotions. I call it The Fast Forward Technique.
It’s a simple technique, though it requires a strong command of your emotions and a strong imagination, but nothing that can’t be learnt or practiced.
Here’s how it works: If you’re in any situation where you have strong emotions attached to it (fear, anger, excitement, jealousy, etc.) try to fast-forward yourself to 1 year from now, and see how you feel. Make sure you fast-forward your mind whilst you’re going through that emotion.
Repeat this for 5 years, 10 years, 20 years, and finally for the Akhira when you can envision standing in front of Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala). You’ll be amazed how you feel (and your legs will shake).
It’s amazing how much your perspective changes with this simple technique; we realise that matters which we think are important are actually trivial, and matters which we think are trivial become important.
Let me give you three examples:
1. Intense feeling of Happiness
You’re having a wonderful meal with all your family members and are having an enjoyable and fun time. You feel so happy and wish this moment would last forever. By applying the fast-forward technique in that moment, you will realise that this happy moment with your family will not last. In 1-10 years’ time, some of your family members will move on, others might pass away, and things will not be the same. If you fast forward to Akhira, you can see your family standing there, each with their good deed/bad deed and you cannot help them. Snap back to the present time and realise that you can help them now by using this happy family gathering to increase their good deeds with a ‘family good deed’ project or decrease their bad deeds by giving gentle dawah on some aspects they should be vigilant of.
2. Intense feeling of embarrassment
You’re really nervous as you’re about to have the most important meeting in your career, which you presume will determine your fate. You go into the meeting and you really mess it up big time. You feel ashamed, embarrassed, feel like you can’t show your face. Apply the fast forward technique and see how you feel. You’d realise people will soon forget about this moment, and your life would move on perhaps to much better things. You fast forward to the Akhira and realise that this meeting will not be important on that Day and you should focus more on developing your imaan and your character as a Muslim. Perhaps you missed Salah to prepare for this meeting, and should feel sad that you left what’s important to you in the eternal sense to what you thought was important in this temporary world.
3. Intense feeling of sadness
You’ve lost a close and dear person, perhaps a best friend or a spouse. The world seems dark in front of you and you wish you died with him/her as well. Apply the fast-forward technique – realise that life will go on and in fact soon you’ll also die. Fast forward to the Akhira and you see this special person needs a few more good deeds to get into Jannah perhaps. Snap back to now and realise you can help this person by giving charity on his/her behalf, making du’a for them, spreading the knowledge they produced, or making Umrah/Hajj for them.
The beauty of the fast forward technique is that it dampens those happy moments that can make us sometimes forget ourselves, and lifts you up when you go through intense negative emotions because it doesn’t allow you to get caught up with immediate and overwhelming emotions.
Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala) says in the Quran: ”In order that you may not grieve at the things that you fail to get, nor rejoice over that which has been given to you. And Allah likes not prideful boasters. [Surah Al-Hadid, Chapter #57, Verse #23]
I can honestly say the fast forward technique sets you free. People will notice a change in you and realise that you are a much calmer content person. You’ll also develop your mental and emotional strength to deal with any situation that comes at you bi’ithnillah. Moreover, as a Muslim, your belief in the Hereafter is an extra layer of comfort because as soon as you fast forward to Akhira you realise what’s really important and what’s not.