Assalaamu Alaykum Dearest Sisters,
I heard this quote, “Both Success and Failure Start in Your Mind,” and I thought, yes, yes, I believe in that — uhhh almost. Why do I believe in that almost?
Using our 5 Step Model to getting what we want, we know that we have a situation or a circumstance that comes upon us. How? Any of three different ways such as:
- We bring them on ourselves.
- Someone else influences our lives.
- They just come and we don’t know why – yet or ever.
What we do know for sure is:
- Things are going to happen.
- We have to respond. There’s always a response.
- Everything has the possibility of being good for us (or to our detriment).
Some wonder about #3. Basically – we can decide to be the Debbie Downer about everything that comes or we can decide to be Polyanna aka Little Mary Sunshine (I don’t know why these names are used!) – and I don’t mean this in a demeaning, weird sense. Nonetheless, we still have our choices.
We can think and feel in ways that encourage us to sulk, or we can think and feel in ways that encourage us to smile. But how can awful things be turned into good when they are so bad? Because as Muslims, we have a deeper belief.
We know from the depths of our hearts that if we try our best to be patient and grateful and give the best response to a problem in the best of ways, then Allah swt is will:
- reward us
- forgive our deficiencies
- forgive our sins
- raise our ranks
- write good deeds for us
- make our Jannah an even more beautiful place.
SO for those reasons plus more, a difficult situation has the possibility depending on HOW we choose to respond of presenting an eternity of good for us. We are able to take hardships and turn them into some of the best experiences of our lives – in fact – from some of the worst experiences, one can become the best person and totally transform his or her life, then go on to help other people.
Allah swt says He will test us with our wealth, health, and children, but He, at the same time, does not give us more than we can bear because each test we face is tailor made. With our tests, the tools to manage them are also available. The problem comes in when those tools are shun – like the tool box isn’t even opened. And by tool box I mean, our beautiful Quran.
The Quran is the guide to handling life. It’s not an ordinary manual of instructions like the kind we choose not to read, like when we buy a a bbq grill or doll house to assemble for the kids. But even moreso than all of that, is that we tend to turn away from Allah swt who is the One who can help us out of our problems.
One thing we hear so, so often is that, “I am facing so many problems, and I don’t feel like praying. I don’t even feel like making dua.” SubhanaAllah sisters… the problems are piled up on our hearts weighing us down, about to drown us, and we don’t have the capacity or desire to ask for…a float. Sisters, pull out your hands from the water and plea. Let the voice in your heart plea even if no sound is made. Allah swt can hear even the sounds of our hearts, which are more silent than the tear before it leaves the white of the eye.
Despite the well-circulated quote, success and failure do not start in the mind. Success and failure start in the heart. Why? Because the brain is not the control center of us – our heart is.
The heart stimulates the brain to do what it’s supposed to do which is to think, through which lens though does the brain formulate thoughts? A good heart stimulates the brain to think good thoughts which reinforces positive and good feelings which again enter into the heart and affect the whole person and then based on all of THAT actions entail which create positive results.
How do we know that the heart is in control? We have three compelling reasons to think so:
- One is that we’re taught this in our deen.
- People with lower intellect levels manage to live beautiful, positive, and successful lives.
- Emotions such as caring (and others) are not thought.
In fact, caring emotions may lead to subversive acts, such as the case of a prison guard who during wartime was directed to feed his inmates only water and bread, but who occasionally sneaked in a hard-boiled egg. However small his gesture, it etched itself into the prisoners’ memories as a sign that not all of their enemies were monsters. And then there are the many acts of omission, such as when soldiers could have killed captives without negative repercussions but decided not to. In war, restraint can be a form of compassion.
How and why would this happen if the brain was the ruler? It wouldn’t. The brain is merely a subordinate and something to figure out how to carry out what the heart wishes for, which is why it’s important to have a good heart.
We have heard people so much of the time say, I know I should do xyz but I can’t. It feels wrong or it’s too painful to do. The heart is the ruler. If the ruler is good, it takes care of everything else. But then we ask the question of if the heart takes care of everything else, why is my life still so hard or filled with turmoil?
Circumstances will be on us and there is no magic to go POOF now your life is perfect because you thought happy thoughts. And this is not the purpose of the exercise either. The purpose is that while we cannot always change our circumstances, we can definitely control HOW we think about our circumstance and that will be like a domino affect here in this world as well as in the Hereafter.
I’ve seen people in my life be truly happy and joyful even though life seemed to be their enemy. It seemed that way. And elsewhere, there are prisoners of war: they were locked up and fed menial amounts of food but somehow people learned to cope; they found small happiness that kept them going and positive. They learned that they must make the best out of their situation. And that’s exactly what they did. It wasn’t easy from what I’ve read in a book called, “Stolen Lives,” written by Malika Oufkir, which truly shows how resilient and strong we can be.
On the flip side, we’ve seen people shatter on what seemed like very trivial things. Tests are subjective, tailor made. People survive unimaginable situations. But sisters, we are not here to just survive…right? But if we know we ‘can’ survive what else can we do?
One last thought or so, dearest sisters, throughout this journey of life here, we will have our tests. Please know dear sisters, we transition in and out of hardships and ease. In both conditions, if we remember Allah swt, be grateful and steadfast, be sincere, turn to Him, ask Him for help and guidance, and humble ourselves, we will be among the successful ones. in sha Allah.
Stay tuned for small topics on dealing with emotions so that we can make better choices.
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