Mental Wellness: Combating Fear

This is the fifth in a series of articles on mental wellness taken from the Mental Wellness Workshop: Balkhi’s The Health of Bodies and Souls.

The same thing applies to fear and sadness. Gain knowledge on what is causing you fear and anxiety. Identify its cause. Consult. You could talk it through with a friend or it could be with family. It may also be with experts who could be religious experts, worldly experts or a combination of both. Then you can come up with a plan to address the mental obstacle or the emotional challenge that you have. Be avid for what will benefit you, place your trust in Allah, and do not deem yourself incapable. 

Have the courage to take that next step. If you do not find the courage then seek assistance from friends, family, or mentors so they can take you by the hand towards your benefit.

Negative Self-Talk

This is a major problem in our times. Avoid misgivings and negative self-talk. If we consider religious misgivings then for religious practice to be upheld in a good way one requires sound knowledge that has been soundly acquired. Very often, people get misgivings because they acquire knowledge but not through studying with teachers.  

Furthermore, you need a social environment in which to practice your religion. The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) reportedly said, “Community is mercy and being alone is torment.” If you value something you’ll give it emphasis. 

It is very easy to overdo religion because anyone with intelligence would realize this matters eternally. It is very important to avoid misgivings. We should ground our practice of religion on knowledge acquired with teachers with whom we consult regarding how to bring it into practice. Ask the question before the problems arise, that is just from being a strong believer. 

Soothing Ablution

Learn how to perform ablution according to the Sunna. If you have a question that this is going to take a long time, consult about it before the problem happens. So you ask about how long should this take and they tell you it should not take more than two minutes. If you are still not clear, ask how to do it in a manner that does not take too long. As soon as a problem arises, consult immediately. 

The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “The only cure for confusion is to ask.” The earlier you ask, the quicker you avoid confusion and becoming deeply rooted in misgivings. But also, reflect when you get misgivings and identify the causes of the misgiving. What are you worried about internally or externally? You are worried that Allah will not accept. Ask upon reflection when you identify the causes of misgivings, it is critically important, consult away. 

From all the types of things that affect you, this is one of the things where you should suspend your judgment. The scholars say the person who has misgivings has no judgment in the matters that they have misgivings in. If they tell you to do one, two, and three, do yourself a favor and just that until you get rid of misgivings. It is debilitating and incapacitating to be overcome by misgivings. 

Monitor Yourself

There are effective clinical ways of addressing things like obsessive-compulsive disorders when these become very difficult. It is from strength, not weakness. The strong believer takes effective means so do not hesitate to consult and have a plan. It helps to write down what you are doing about dealing with misgivings and negative self-taught. Make a checklist, for example, “I have these seven things that I do,” and refer back to the checklist each time. That is part of making life easy. 

Monitor yourself. If you have misgivings that, “People are judging me,” have a checklist for things that keep in perspective that Allah’s judgment matters. Think well of other people. Make remembrance (Dhikr). Have a plan that you keep applying if it is not working. Go and consult. Refine or correct your plan. That is the mercy of Allah. Allah has created us in this life with opportunities and it is part of the generosity and mercy of Allah that He has given us the means of pursuing our well-being. 

Tests in Life

Whether it be the wellness of our bodies or the mind, take the means that you can. None of these are the objective. You do not choose the questions on the tests in life.  Allah says:

لِيَبْلُوَكُمْ أَيُّكُمْ أَحْسَنُ عَمَلًۭا ۚ

“To try you as to which of you is finest in works”[Quran, 67:2; tr. Keller, Quran Beheld]

Respond in a good way, seeking the pleasure of Allah. Plan out an effective response and do your best but know that Allah does not judge you on the basis of justice, He judges you on the basis of mercy. All that He is testing with has a purpose which is He wants you to choose Him. He wants you to choose paradise. He wants the good for you. All you have to do is to choose it.  

If you have difficult tests whether physically, mentally, or emotionally know the spiritual perspective. The people most intensely tested are the Prophets (upon them be peace) then the best after them and then the best after them. The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “If Allah loves a servant He sends them intense tests.” Those tests are mercy and honor. 

Tests are not about you being dragged in the dirt of the mud and muck of the troubles of this life, rather, tests elevate you eternally if you respond right. Some of the righteous would cry when tested. In night worship they would say, “O Lord, what have I done that you honor me like you honored the best of your servants?” 

A Sense of Purpose

In taking care of our physical, mental, and emotional wellness, we need knowledge and consultation. We need to have a sense of purpose that, “I am here to seek the pleasure of Allah and to seek my eternal good.” Make a plan related to each aspect of your life that helps you get that. Also, know that there are things that are outside your plans, with that, you look at what you can do and then plan out a response accordingly.

Set positive routines. Have good habits concerning knowledge, spirituality, living, and your physical, mental, spiritual and emotional health. Build those routines and have a perspective that you are only responsible for striving for the good not for attaining it.

Prophet Adam (upon him be peace) was created in paradise even though the worldly outcome as Allah tells the angels was:

إِنِّى جَاعِلٌۭ فِى ٱلْأَرْضِ خَلِيفَةًۭ ۖ

“‘I shall place a noble reigning deputy on earth.’” [Quran, 2:30; tr. Keller, Quran Beheld]

They were created in paradise indicating that while we live our worldly lives we were created for paradise. The tests are for us to get back to where we belong and that is mercy from Allah. Know your ultimate goal. 

Remain Committed

The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) summarized success in life in three words, he said, “Remain purposefully committed! Remain purposefully committed, and you shall attain.”

Know what you are seeking in life and plan your life out positively. Build good routines and seek good company. Have a framework by which you live your life. Whenever you are tested in body, mind, emotions, or spiritually, consult your social circle or consult experts and build out a plan. Place your trust in Allah and take those steps.

Life is like climbing a mountain. Do not look down and sideways but identify a path forward and just keep taking the next step and know that you are enveloped in divine mercy. If you are taking the next step, there is no fall in the believer’s journey and that is trust in Allah. Allah says:

وَرَحْمَتِى وَسِعَتْ كُلَّ شَىْءٍۢ ۚ

“While My mercy encompasses everything.” [Quran, 7:156; tr; Keller, Quran Beheld] 

One should strive. Part of cultivating wellness is to ground oneself in religious knowledge and spiritual knowledge. Know that if you connect to community, family, friends, and mentors you have connected to gifts of mercy from Allah. Do not disconnect.