Getting through it
Indeed finding yourself having negative thoughts and surrounding yourself with negativity can leave oneself in a very difficult place, and certainly a place where the longer you stay, the more tough it is going to be to get out of.
So we have spoken about filters and biases and how it impacts us in numerous ways.
It is thus imperative that we are able to get through it and win this battle which can really hold us down.
Here are some exercises which you may want to try if you are feeling that only bad things happen to you.
1) Through the Prophet’s Eyes ﷺ:
This exercise taps into your negative filter. Prophet Muhammad ﷺ had some incredibly difficult times in his life when he had no food, people were trying to kill him, and he had no sense of physical security. People abused him, attempted to sully his reputation, and tried hard to reject the words of Allah. He ﷺ also did not have any of the modern luxuries we have today like running water in the home, internet, electricity, etc. If the Prophet ﷺ had a negative filter it would have been very easy for him to be overcome by trauma, fall into depression, and stop sharing the message of Islam.
Reflecting on your life now, as difficult as it may feel, what are positive things that you have that he ﷺ didn’t? What are good things about you? What are positives you have in your life or things you have the potential to look forward to? Write those blessings down on sticky notes and post them on your mirror so you see them often.
2) Follow the Pattern:
This exercise is for helping explore behaviours resulting from your filter and biases. In the field of psychology there is a term called transference, which occurs when a person subconsciously or unconsciously interacts with another person in a certain way because that person reminds them of someone else. You have likely experienced this at some point; e.g., when a person you meet or come across has a similar voice to a friend you had in primary school, or a person’s tone reminds you of the boss you struggled with at your first job. Transference can be a part of a person’s bias(es).
If you notice that you are getting in the same types of unhealthy relationships repeatedly, try to find a common thread between all those people and reflect on if they remind you of a trauma you experienced, perhaps from childhood. Ask yourself: Do these individuals remind me of a caregiver or someone I struggled having a relationship with in the past? Who had the biggest impact on my negative emotions growing up? Who has made me feel anxious, stressed, or depressed in my early development? Reflect on whether the people from your recent toxic relationships have similar characteristics and remind you of a person who might have hurt you in the past.
If a pattern becomes clear, and you find the original source of pain, then know that working on that relationship where the pain first started is imperative to healing. You do not, and sometimes should not, work on the relationship directly with the person; rather, this can be done within yourself. One effective way of trying to repair damage from previous relationships is writing candid letters to that person venting all your feelings and frustrations about what happened. This is very cathartic and brings a feeling of resolution for many people, which can be useful for future relationships. Once you are finished releasing all of your feelings into the letter, burn it, shred it, or throw it away.