Assalaamu alaikum, lovelies! We are now on day 3 of the Ramadan Countdown! So far it’s looking like I did not miscount the days, but we’ll see Insha’Allah (I may be a little worried I’ve miscounted how many days there are left, guys). The topic for today is practicing self-restraint with gossip and general conversations with the people around you.
Gossip or backbiting can come so naturally especially if the people around you tend to engage in it. It’s only natural that if our friends or family are talking about one thing, we feel compelled to play along. It’s part of social survival; don’t be the odd one out and don’t make things awkward. It’s easy to forget that backbiting is haram and that it fosters a lot of negativity and toxicity in our relationships. There’s nothing good that can come from it. And like they say, if someone is gossiping to you, they are for sure gossiping about you. It’s a vicious cycle. My take on it is: why waste time caring about what someone else is doing or wearing when you could just focus on yourself and be a lot happier?
Another good practice is to watch the words we say to people throughout all our conversations, not just the hot gossip. What tone of voice are we using? Is what we say mostly positive or negative? Are we rude? Do we put people down? Do we tell cruel jokes? Do we make fun of others? Do we lie? Do we brag? All annoying questions, but these are behaviours that can become habits without us even noticing. Don’t be the negative, judgmental auntie that everyone avoids at Eid!
Honestly, there’s no magic trick to being positive. It just takes a little thinking before you speak, actually focusing on the positive and minding your own business. It can also help to not say anything at all, like in Bambi. You don’t even have to explain yourself or chastise anyone else. If people start saying mean things about someone else, you can always chime in and counteract with positive things you notice about the person.
It’s easy to forget how effective our words can be, not just on ourselves but also on others. I’ve had to learn this lesson and it’s kind of painful. But I’m so much happier and my relationships are better when I watch what I say. And especially now that Ramadan’s here, it’s time for blessing others with kindness.
It is day 6 of the Ramadan Countdown and today we’re talking about social media.
I know that there has been a barrage of articles lately on the evils of social media and how it is ruining our lives. I apologize in advance for contributing to the witchhunt. Well actually, I’m not here to completely put social media down. It makes for a really great tool and most businesses today couldn’t succeed with out it. But while it has many benefits, there are also as many, if not more, pitfalls. It’s no mystery that social media has contributed to a number of mental health problems in its avid users. I mean, who can blame them? Consistently exposing yourself to carefully curated images that make it seem like everyone else is more beautiful, wealthy, successful, and smart than you is bound to have negative effects.
Following certain people can start off with good intentions but very quickly end in us feeling inspired to indulge in a lifestyle that is contrary to who we are and what we believe. Seeing beautiful women my age living their best lives in cute outfits with their hair like a crown shining through the screen is tempting. I could be one of those women, I kind of want to be one of those women. The more I look, the more I start to see the hijab as a burden and not a blessing. Why can’t I live my best life with my hair covered? In fact, my life should be even better because it takes me that much less time to get ready in the mornings. Also see, no bad hair days.
What about following people who post about doing haram things (partying, drinking, drugs, smoking, sex outside of marriage, etc.)? People who perform inconsiderate pranks? People who post crude humour (yeah, I know it’s funny but it’s Ramadan. Keep it halal, bro.)? I could keep going on, but I think another good way to prepare for focusing on deen is to go through our social media and curate who we follow. In other words, unfollow anyone who isn’t motivating you to be your true best self. And this best self means being the best Muslim you can be, the best daughter, the best sister, the best friend, the best wife, the best mother, the best employee, the best student, and/or whatever other role you fill.
If following someone is motivating you to be anything less than that or if following them makes you feel jealous or bad about yourself, then unfollow them.
In the past week I’ve had to ask myself, do I really need to follow a fashion blogger who has an enviable walk in closet and who’s style is the exact opposite of mine? Probably not. Do I need to follow a secular singer who also happens to be a Fashion Nova babe? Yeah, nah. These people live their lives, do what they want to do and that’s cool. But their lifestyle doesn’t match up with mine and social media doesn’t have many boundaries after you hit that follow button. I love seeing my feed full of other Muslim women, especially ones who have the same values as me. It’s encouraging and inspiring and that’s definitely something I need this Ramadan.
And if you want to go even further, delete all of the apps! Go crazy! Social media free for Ramadan 2020. For real, deleting it for a bit is so nice..but that’s up to you.
What are some pages you like to follow? Or are you social media free? Let me know in the comments below!
Today is the second instalment of the Self Love Sunday series and I want to talk about an attitude adjustment. This is something that I believe most of us have struggled with at one point in our lives and apart from being told to get over it, there aren’t many helpful resources on how to get to the root of the issue. I’ve struggled with this myself and it’s been really frustrating trying to figure it out but I think I’m getting there. So, I’ve put together a little list below of what I’ve learned so far. This is a crucial step to self love. When we can come from a positive, easy-going, selfless mentality we make life easier for ourselves and those around us. Our relationships can succeed, our projects can flourish, and our impact can be lasting. Check it out and let me know what you think!
1) Say no to your insecurities
Insecurities lead to overthinking and sensitivity, which can cause to distrust and push others away. They make you can “energy vampire” and a burden to be around. Will cause you to react to the stories you create in your head and will cause confusion amongst everyone around you as well as put you on the path to relationship destruction. Ways to overcome your insecurities are: remember that people are not out to get you; learn that you teach people how to treat you; focus on yourself and what you’re doing rather than being nosy about others and focusing everyone else; put time into developing your accomplishments and life experiences to build confidence.
2) Control your emotions
Catering to emotions can lead to taking things personally and becoming defensive. In order to defend yourself and fight back, the attitude comes in for the kill. While your so-called “enemy” (really just a friend in the mood for a laugh) teased you good naturedly, you responded with a hurtful comment thereby taking the fun out of the moment and putting a chip in the relationship. How to even begin to reign in the wild wave of emotions? Practice patience and do not react right away. Remember that these are simply words and they can’t harm you, so there is no need to defend yourself. Don’t take anything personally. If you have to fake it till you make it, go ahead. Remember that it is not you vs. the world (or your friends/family/spouse) but a moment; whether this moment ends up being good or bad is up to you. Look into the stoic philosophy. It’s a fairly simple one that can be summed up by embracing a certain level of apathy, detaching from one’s emotions, and preparing for the worst while also taking nothing personally.
3) Be grateful
Every morning, write a list of what you’re grateful for about a person or situation that has been pushing your buttons. Choose to see the bright side in every situation (don’t ignore reality but don’t wallow in it either). This will also help you realign your priorities and get out of the self-centred mentality. When something doesn’t go your way, be grateful for something else instead!
4) Stick to your mindfulness practice
Praying five times a day, zikr, meditation, journaling, working out without music/entertainment, etc. Do these things every day, no excuses. Try to make this routine the first thing you do when you wake up so you get off to a good start. Become intentional about every word you say and every action you take. Learn to withhold reaction and separate yourself from the situation. Practice thinking before you speak. As the saying goes, “Be quick to hear, and slow to speak.” Saves you every time.
5) Embrace new challenges (and old) and find ways to make a positive impact
Taking on challenges builds character and doing good for others realigns perspective and priorities. Activities like these teach valuable lessons on selflessness, teamwork, perseverance, patience, positivity, generosity, compassion, and kindness. It also gives you meaning outside of yourself which will help put you in the right mindset to move forward and be the best version of yourself.
You can have a bad attitude and not even know it. It may only come out around a certain person or rare situation. Having a growth mentality will not help us avoid that person/situation but will allow us to recognize them as a challenge that brings out a toxic trait within ourselves that needs to be addressed. My husband brings out a lot of good in me but he also pushes just the right buttons to bring out my bad attitude some days. Before meeting him, I didn’t get a lot of opportunities to overcome this bad habit in myself because the opportunity for it rarely show up. When it did make an appearance, I just chalked it up to a bad day. I lived on my own, I was single, and nothing too serious was going on in my life that caused me so much stress that it spilled out into my relationships, alhamdulillah. But relationships with other people are essential for self-development. When you’re close with people, they show you all sides of yourself (not just the good parts). After meeting my husband, it became apparent that I had been spoiled a little bit in life and needed to work on how to respond to frustration and someone challenging me in a perfectly normal way. I had to figure out how to deal with stress when someone else is involved.
It’s been a long road and I can honestly say that I wasn’t the best version of myself. But that’s okay because we all have those moments in life. What matters is that we keep pushing forward, always with a growth mentality. What I’m grateful for is that I have Islam to show me the way, I have an amazing husband who keeps it real, and I have a lot of really cool opportunities to put into practice what I’ve learned. Subhan’Allah.