How to Foster Resilience

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“Challenges are what make life interesting and overcoming them is what makes life meaningful” –Joshua J. Marine

Resilience is the ability to get back up when life knocks you down, it’s not letting traumatic events and difficult times get the best of you and moving forward. It’s crucial for growth and contentment.

Islam has always encouraged the believers to be resilient.

Oh you who believe! Seek help with perseverance and prayer, for God is with those who patiently persevere” (2:153)

Narrated Ka`b: The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “The example of a believer is that of a fresh tender plant, which the wind bends it sometimes and some other time it makes it straight. And the example of a hypocrite is that of a pine tree which keeps straight till once it is uprooted suddenly.” Sahih al-Bukhari 5643

The Prophet SAWS and his companions displayed incredible resilience in the face of hardship. They never gave up as they always had the end in their mind, they knew that what they would achieve was far better than anything this world could offer.

Recent studies have shown that people who are resilient are more likely to be satisfied and content in life. As they are not after endless happiness- something which one can never find in this world- and so in the face of adversity their resilience shines and helps them in the face of adversity and enables them to grow into better people.

Many people lack resilience and accept defeat easily, which lowers their levels of hope, confidence, self-esteem etc thereby affecting their mental health terribly. So what is one to do? Is resilience a trait that’s inherited by some and not by others? Not really, we’re all born with resilience but many tend to neglect it can seem easier and it eventually becomes our second nature. However, the good news is that resilience is something that one can work upon and improve. The question is, how?

Just like one needs to do physical exercise in order to build physical strength and resilience, mental resilience can be fostered if one makes consistent efforts. Following are just some of the ways we can build up our resilience:

  1. Create strong bonds.

Having someone trustworthy and compassionate to talk to can not only help put things into perspective but the support of family and friends helps to boost one’s faith in themselves.

The strongest and best of bonds is the one you have with Allah SWT, we may not always have the love and support of the people around us, but Allah SWT is always there, He SWT is closer to us than our jugular vein. When one makes sincere duaa in the hopes that Allah SWT will accept it, it eases the mind and soul.

2. Don’t personalize

A common way people react to setbacks and problems is by putting the blame on themselves and indulging in negative self-talk; not only does this harm one’s self-esteem, but it also takes away an opportunity for us to grow. To be resilient also means to be able to look at things from all perspectives and be honest about why things didn’t go right.

For example, one might say: “I didn’t get the promotion because I am incompetent and unworthy” When one puts the blame on themselves like this, they are only harming themselves, a mindset like this will only set one back instead of allowing them to improve and do better.

Rather, one could say: “I didn’t get the job because someone else worked even harder than I did this time”

It is also always beneficial for one to remember that Allah SWT is the Best of Planners. Whatever He SWT has decreed is for our own good.

3. Focus on moving forward.

Set realistic goals that will allow you to get better and move forward. Focusing on goals and their purpose will not only resolve things, they will also keep distractive negative thoughts away. When goals are realistic, achieving them becomes easier which boosts one’s self-confidence and motivation.

4. Live life to learn.

As Muslims it is our duty to seek knowledge, to learn and grow, especially with regards to our faith.

“It is He Who created you from dust, then from a drop of fluid, then from a tiny clinging form, then He brought you forth as infants, then He allowed you to reach maturity…so that you may reflect.” (40:67)

We are certainly not going to attain eternal bliss and success in this world, we were created for a purpose and its fulfilment doesn’t come without making mistakes and more importantly, learning from them. Seek something to learn from every mishap, every challenge.

Beating ourselves up and being pessimistic brings nothing good with it. It can put one in a vicious cycle of feeling stuck. However, if hardships are seen as opportunities to learn and grow, we become more resilient and are also rewarded for it!

“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” Quran 2:155

4. Take good care of yourself.

Don’t neglect your mental and physical well being when struck with hardship. It’s important to have a healthy routine that includes a good diet and rest. If we neglect our mental health, it can affect us physically and vice versa. If we allow circumstances to take power over us and our health suffers as a consequence, it only increases difficulties. Remember no matter how much of a hard time you’re having, your health doesn’t deserve to suffer.

5. Be Optimistic.

No matter how hard it is, one should have positive thoughts and hopes for the future. Remember that hardships are temporary and perhaps a chance for one to become closer The Almighty.

But perhaps you hate a thing and it is good for you, and perhaps you love a thing and it is bad for you. And Allah Knows, while you know not.” Quran 2:216.

Allah SWT also doesn’t let our duaas go unanswered

‘The Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said: “There is no Muslim who offers supplication in which there is no sin or severing of ties of kinship, but Allah will give him one of three things in return for it: either what he asked for will be hastened for him, or (reward) will be stored up for him in the Hereafter or an equivalent evil will be diverted from him.”’

Narrated by Ahmad, 10749; classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Mishkaat al-Masaabeeh, 2199

Make duaa with high expectations of it being answered and remain patient. Being positive can give one the strength to push through and triumph rather than being pessimistic and falling into depression and anxiety.

With Allah’s help, resilience can enable one to not only overcome challenges but to also become better each time.

Tests and trials are inevitable for believers; I ask Allah SWT to protect us all from major trials and all harm and evil. May Allah SWT grant us the ability to be resilient in times of difficulty and always make it a means of bringing us closer to Him. Aameen.

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