Regaining Perspective & Self-Esteem in Times of Hardship
By Naairah Aftab – Campaigns Officer, FOSIS Scotland (as part of the #LifeHacks series)
We have all, without doubt, experienced stubborn challenges in life. Failures and setbacks can drain us of every ounce of energy we possess. They can cloud our judgment and have a detrimental effect on our emotional well-being. Difficult situations also can drastically slow down our productivity and extinguish the flame of passion within us that keeps us striving towards our dreams.
“And We will surely test you with something of fear and hunger and a loss of wealth and lives and fruits, but give good tidings to the patient.” [Qur’an: 2:155].
Since hardships are an inevitable part of life, the real question is, how can we continue persevering and pushing forward despite the wounds? I’m going to provide some practical tips below on how to regain perspective and rebuild self-esteem, so continue reading!
Tip 1 – Say Alhamdulillah First
“The real patience is at the first stroke of a calamity” [Bukhari].
Although patience tastes very bitter at first, it’s fruits are very sweet. No matter what calamity befalls us, we should take a deep breath and say “Alhamdulillah” – all praise and thanks are due to Allah. Reminding ourselves that there is greater good behind every setback we experience, is the first step in tackling the problem
Tip 2 – Improve Your Worship
Prioritise your Salah (prayer)
I get it; sometimes we just don’t feel like praying, especially when we’ve experienced hardships and are exhausted from riding those emotional rollercoasters. Whether it be physical or mental fatigue, it can often result in us neglecting our daily prayers.
However it’s during these exact moments that we need Salah the most. Remember, the Prophet (pbuh) was gifted Salah by Allah at a time of severe difficulty, a time when his connection with his Creator was more important than ever. It became the coolness of his eyes, his comfort during difficult times, and his go-to for relief.
“…And seek help through patience and prayer, and indeed, it is difficult except for the humbly submissive” – Qur’an [2:45]
- No matter how busy your routine becomes, hold on tightly to the five prayers. These prayers will keep us in check, instil humility within us, as well as constantly remind us of our purpose in life.
- Plan your schedule around your prayers, rather than the other way around. This is something to keep in mind when making study timetables or planning your day.
- Pray on time. This can be done by setting reminders on your mobile, so that one does not forget nor unnecessarily delay the prayers. Remember that this whole Earth has been made a place of prayer, therefore, no matter where you are, purify yourself and go pray!
- If you have missed one prayer, do not use this as an excuse to miss all of them. Keep on making progress.
- Try to incorporate extra prayers into your daily or weekly routine, whenever possible. (Perform Sunnah and Nafl payers, Duha prayer and Tahajjud)
- Perform Istikhara prayer for guidance and direction from the One who knows you better than you know yourself.
Incorporate the Qur’an into your daily routine
Aa’ishah, may Allah be pleased with her, relates that the Prophet (pbuh) said:
“Verily the one who recites the Qur’an beautifully, smoothly, and precisely, he will be in the company of the noble and obedient angels. And as for the one who recites with difficulty, stammering or stumbling through its verses, then he will have twice that reward.”‘ [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]
- Just like the prayer, the Qur’an should not be neglected. Remember that consistency is key! Therefore, if your routine is hectic, schedule in even a couple of verses per day.
- Ponder upon what you are reading in order to gain a deeper understanding. Each chapter contains a multitude of lessons for the reader. We can comprehend the Qur’an better by regularly listening to Tafseer videos on YouTube or joining courses.
- Memorise short Surahs and incorporate what you memorise into your prayers. This will substantially improve the Khushoo in your prayers and make the experience of praying less robotic.
- Bonus tip: If you’re always on the go, download a Qur’an app on your phone and set a notification to remind you to read those few verses.
Keep making Du’a (supplication)
‘And your Lord says, “Call upon Me; I will respond to you…”‘ [Qur’an – 40:60]
- Make Du’a with a hopeful attitude. Remind yourself that you are asking the One who is capable of anything and everything.
- Remember that none of us are free from fault, however Allah is indeed very Merciful, so pray for forgiveness and treat each new day as a fresh start.
- Pray for those who have wronged you and caused you pain. As difficult as this is, doing so will eliminate any ill-feelings from your heart and improve your own spiritual state.
- There are numerous times when Du’a is more readily accepted, so aspire to grasp these opportunities. Examples include when it rains (which if you live in the UK, happens often!), when fasting, in the last portion of the night (Tahajjud time), etc.
- Never feel like your Du’a isn’t being heard by Allah. It may feel that the answer to your Du’a is being delayed, but this is only because He knows the perfect moment to give what you asked for.
Give Sadaqah (voluntary charity)
“The believer’s shade on the Day of Resurrection will be his charity.” [Tirmidhi]
- Giving even a couple of pounds to charity on a monthly basis is a great way of reaping rewards and gaining Allah’s pleasure. It is the consistent deeds that are most loved by Allah. When doing so, you will also begin noticing positive changes within your life – try it!
- Remember that giving money to those who are less fortunate is not the only form of charity. Other forms of charity include the simple acts of smiling at another individual, and guiding someone in their time of need.
Tip 3 – Reflect Upon the Situation
- Ask yourself, what lessons can I take from this particular situation? Remember that every trial that comes your way, it was custom-made just for you! Therefore, do not compare your trials and tests with others, and seek peace in the fact that Allah will not burden a soul with more than it can bear. There will be a lesson, or numerous lessons, within every setback and failure that you have experienced. Find those lessons. Write them down. Learn from them.
- When your thoughts seem messy and you cannot comprehend fully how to overcome a particular difficulty, then speak about your situation to someone who can provide wise advice, or write your thoughts and feelings down on paper. Both methods have proven to be therapeutic. Do not suppress everything inside.
- Wake up early and be productive. Use this extra time in the morning for some me-time. Ponder upon your life and scribble down some ideas and plans for the future, re-create your study timetable if your productivity has experienced a decline, prepare a healthy breakfast, go outside and get some fresh air, or even exercise for an energy boost. Utilise your mornings wisely, because starting your mornings off with a positive attitude will lead to a productive day. This will do wonders for your health, well-being and self-esteem.
Tip 4 – Stand Back Up and Keep Pushing Forward
“…And whosoever has Taqwa of Allah, He will make a way for him to get out (from every difficulty). And He will provide for him from (sources) he never could imagine. And whosoever puts his trust in Allah, then He will suffice him. Verily, Allah will accomplish his purpose. Indeed Allah has set a measure for all things ” – Qur’an [65:2-3].
- Remember that time will heal all wounds. Be patient. Perhaps you are asking Him for a drop when He has written for you an ocean? Changing your perspective will alter the way you see the world, and developing a positive attitude will keep you moving forward.
- Remind yourself of the goals you have set in life (both academic and spiritual) on a regular basis. This will motivate you to pick yourself back up and get on with life. Another idea is to keep a gratitude journal and filling that in on a daily basis should aid you in developing a better mindset.
- Surround yourself with people who also have a positive outlook on life. The company we associate with subconsciously alter our mentality and if a particular environment starts to become toxic, then keep a safe distance from it, for the sake of your own emotional and mental well-being.
- Practice resilience. You will experience setbacks at different points in your life and this is inevitable, however, the way you approach the obstacles on your path to success makes all the difference. Strive to approach every situation head-on and let each trial change you into an even stronger and more refined individual.
- Lastly, remind yourself and your loved ones of the Hereafter. This life is temporary. Every trial is temporary also. Stay strong on your morals and keep persevering!