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Sunday, February 14, 2010

Dealing with “The What Will People Say Phenomenon”

In my opinion, people will have much more peace and tranquillity in their lives if they stop worrying about what other people will have to say. I mean, seriously, think about this for a while, how much time do we spend pondering about others opinions of us; how we dress, how we look, whether we’ve picked up weight, or lost weight; how we behave, our likes and dislikes, all these things are shaped by what we think others will say about us. Now, I’m not saying that we shouldn’t care about other people, but what I am saying is that when other people’s opinions of us have a negative impact on us, then this becomes a problem.

Too often have I seen people making difficult situations even more difficult by talking about the people concerned. This is not only very bad, because Allah does not like gossiping, (and yes, that’s what it is, no matter how much we may think we’re talking because we care), but this also puts additional pressure on someone who is already going through a tough time.

Nonetheless, since it’s extremely difficult to change a whole society of people, we should focus on trying to change ourselves and then slowly the changes we have made, will begin to rub off onto others, Inshallah!

So, here are some tips to dealing with what I have called, “The What Will People Say Phenomenon”.

1. Adopt a Don’t Care Attitude- Now as Muslims we are told that the opinion of Allah Almighty matters first. So instead of thinking “what are people going to say”, we should be thinking; “what is Allah thinking of me”. Once we begin to focus on Allah as our driving force, then it will become easy for us to stop caring about what other people have to say about us. This may be difficult to achieve because it’s human nature for us to want to fit in with others, and really, NO ONE LIKES TO BE INSULTED BY OTHERS! But we constantly have to remind ourselves of the insults, attacks and gossip aimed at our Beloved Prophet Muhammd (PBUH) and since Allah Almighty loved him more than anyone, it didn’t matter what people had to say at all!

So the next time you begin to consider what other people will say, first ask yourself “what
will Allah say?”, and then ask yourself, “what would our Prophet (PBUH) have done in a similar situation?” Inshallah then it will become easier for us to adopt a don’t care attitude and we will easily become unperturbed by others opinions of us.

2. Develop Empathy- “Empathy” is basically walking in someone else’s shoes, making attempts to look at life through another person’s eye’s. This is a wonderful skill to have because it helps you to understand people and situations better. In the case of “the what will people say phenomenon”, this can work both ways. – a) If someone is talking about you, take time out to empathize with that person. You are most likely to find that what you thought the person’s reasons for talking was, is actually very different and this will help you to deal with the situation much more effectively. B) If you are the one talking about someone else, think about what it would be like if you were that person, and how you might have felt if people were saying things about you, this will really make you stop talking and you may even find yourself wanting to help the person you were talking about.

3. It’s all about perception- I’d like to argue that as humans we are not subjected to the absolute truth, all we know is our perception of the truth. So each person has their own perception of what they regard as the truth. So, this goes back to tip no.1 again, because only Allah Almighty knows the real truth. Instead of becoming upset about what other people are saying, remember, whatever someone says or thinks about you, it’s really only their own perception. Another person will have a very different perception.

4. Forget the negative and focus on the positive- there are always going to be people who send out negative vibes, or who have negative things to say about you. But, in the same way, there’s always going to be someone who sees the positive in you. It doesn’t matter if a thousand people are seeing the negative, if even 1 person sees the positive, then that means that there has to be some good in you. Once you begin to focus on that positive, you will become more positive, and then the way in which you react to others will change and before you know it, the negative will decrease and the positive will increase- Inshallah!

5. Question yourself constantly- Here I’m talking about accountability for your own actions. Nobody is perfect and sometimes when people say bad things about us; it may really be the truth! So what we have to do is constantly question ourselves and reflect on our lives. If the negative things people are saying about you is false, then you have nothing to worry about and then you can follow the steps above. But, if what people are saying is actually true then it may be time for you to make some changes in your life, not so that people can stop talking, not to please people, but so that you can become a better person, thereby pleasing Allah (SWT)!

I hope that these 5 steps can help you to deal with this better. Please remember that it takes time to change the way we have been doing things, and when we decide to make positive changes in our lives, we are faced with many more challenges. Don’t become despondent; Allah may want to test us to see if we are truly sincere.

Remember what Allah says in the Qur’an :
“So the fact is that along with every hardship there is also ease. Indeed, with every hardship there is also ease!” (The Holy Qur’aan- Surah 94: Verse 5-6).

May Allah (SWT) make it easy for us all to attain peace and tranquillity and to adopt the beautiful mannerisms of our Beloved and Noble Prophet (PBUH).

Until next time, I leave you in peace, May Allah be with you always and shower His Peace and Blessings on you!

As always, feel free to leave your comments, suggestions, opinions, and so and so forth.

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