Pay More Attention to Your Creator, Not Your Critics
Nada Shawish is Communications Specialist at Islamic Relief USA.
Feeling exhausted? Maybe there’s too much negativity vibrating in your ears. And maybe these devilish voices are not exactly the post-human creature “the devil”— that negativity is likely coming from the people around you. And I hate to break it to you; you’re the one letting them in.
Trying to earn the approval of others is exhausting. People are people: They have a human quality of never being satisfied: Not with themselves, not with others, and certainly not with you. And another very human tendency is for people to turn their dissatisfaction with themselves and the world on others (and it is destructive behavior).
The Prophet (SAS) during his Me’raj journey saw some people who had nails made of red copper. They were tearing apart their faces and chests with these nails. The Noble Prophet asked the Angel Jibrail (AS) about them, He said, “They are being punished because they used to eat people’s flesh in their lives (they used to defame others).”
Yikes! – This: Because of the way that people negatively talked to and about one another, rather than being concerned with their own self-development and with having a positive rather than negative presence in the world.
But back to you—To allow others to dictate your self-worth is maddening—and it leaves you a slave to their negativity.
“And when you see those who engage in a false conversation about Our Verses (of the Quran) by mocking at them, stay away from them till they turn to another topic. And if Satan causes you to forget, then after you remember sit not you in the company of those people who are the wrongdoers.” [The Holy Qur’an, 6:68]
Let me remind you: You are only servant to Allah (swt)—just like they are. And if you allow negativity to enter your mind, you’ll find yourself as negative as they are in your heart. Like a disease, negative thoughts will be allowed to flourish in your person.
Allah (swt) says:
“And it has already been revealed to you in the Book (this Quran) that when you hear the Verses of Allah being denied and mocked at, then sit not with them, until they engage in a talk other than that; (but if you stayed with them) certainly in that case you would be like them” [The Holy Qur’an, 4:140]
This is the truth imparted to us: That people let the negativity in this world get the best of them. We’re warned, however, that there is nothing more heinous than ill talk among people, including negativity about the instruction from Our Creator. Once you start letting these voices in, you’ll start to impart these voices yourself. And you’ll find yourself becoming that monster you’ve become so weary of (Think: Your very own copper nails scratching at your throat and face).
Allowing yourself to fall into calamity about your life, goals, struggles and so on when these things are good things for you, is like turning away from the positive word of our Lord, The All-Knowing.
Allah (swt) tells us:
“And most certainly shall We try you by means of danger, and hunger, and loss of worldly goods, of lives and of [labor’s] fruits. But give glad tidings unto those who are patient in adversity – who, when calamity befalls them, say, “Verily, unto God do we belong and, verily, unto Him we shall return.” It is they upon whom their Sustainer’s blessings and grace are bestowed.” (The Holy Qur’an, 2: 155-157)
To endeavor to be a more positive person in this life is part of God’s good work: Maintaining a healthy mental state is a well-worth-it struggle in this life. In the beginning it may be hard. But the more you work on it, the less you’ll let the negativity of others affect you, and the more you’ll find personal successes in the grace of God. And you may find this positivity to be contagious against the negativity we are all bombarded with every day.
You’ll not only be improving your own well being, you’ll be promoting the health of those around you who need some positive influence too.
The Prophet (pbuh) said:
Whoever among you sees an evil action, let him change it with his hand (by taking action); if he cannot, then with his tongue (by speaking out); and if he cannot, then with his heart (by feeling that it is wrong), and that is the weakest of faith.” (Muslim)
So, we’re working backwards to achieve the perfect mental state of the best, positive example. Nothing’s wrong with that, as long as we acknowledge a need to move forward toward a more positive existence.
Step 1: Feel something is wrong with the negativity you’re allowing into your life. This is about perception. Recognize it. Understand you’re allowing negative perceptions to hurt you. Recognize that you can’t control how others perceive the world—recognize that you control how you perceive the world.
Step 2: Speak positively: Look for solutions rather than focusing on problems, encourage yourself and others, make a conscious effort to exclude negative speech from your life.
Step 3: Be positive: Emit positive energy into the world with positive action in your daily life and the lives of others. DO something positive every day. Focus on convincing your Creator, (not your self-appointed critics), that you’re doing positive work in the world.
We can’t be perfect all the time. This world is itself imperfect. But controlling our thoughts by taking what others say with discretion is a good place to start.
And Allah (swt) is with those who are patient.
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