“Why Do Bad Things Always Happen to Me?” Breaking the Cycles of Negativity
For more on this topic, see Trauma: Your Lord Has Not Forsaken You
What is Happening to Me?
Understanding Your Thoughts & Emotions
The Filtering Phenomenon
Contributors to the Development of Filters & Biases
Implications of Having a Negative Filter
Beginning to Change a Filter or Bias
The Cognitive Perspective
The Psychodynamic Perspective
- Humans are attracted to what they are used to because it feels most familiar and comfortable. A person who grows up in an abusive household may hate it, but may find themselves being part of one as an adult because that is the dynamic and treatment they are accustomed to.
- Humans have an innate need to resolve conflicts and when they are unable to do so, will create similar future conflicts to resolve previous issues. These conflicts are not created on purpose but subconsciously to help heal past wounds.
Changing Your Mind, Body, and Heart
- What causes me the most distress in my life on a regular basis? Don’t think of specific stressors or individuals, but themes in your life. Is what bothers me conflict with others? Not feeling good enough? Fear of what others might think? Abandonment? Feeling attacked?
- Do you have themes in your emotions? Are you chronically angry, sad, or anxious? What environmental stressors are usually present when you experience these emotions?
1) Through the Prophet’s Eyes ﷺ:
2) Follow the Pattern:
Inspirational Hadith and Ayat for Reflection
The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: “Whoever among you wakes up in the morning secure in his dwelling, healthy in his body, and having his food for the day, then it is as if the world has been gathered for him.”6
No disaster strikes except by permission of Allah. And whoever believes in Allah, He will guide his heart. And Allah is Knowing of all things. (Qur;’an, 64:11)
Whoever suffered an affliction and he knew that it occurred by Allah’s Judgment and Decree, and he patiently abides, awaiting Allah’s reward, then Allah guides his heart, and will compensate him for his loss in this life by granting guidance to his heart and certainty in faith. Allah will replace whatever he lost for Him with the same or what is better. Ali ibn Abi Talhah reported from Ibn Abbas: ‘… and whosoever believes in Allah, He guides his heart.’ Allah will guide his heart to certainty. Therefore, he will know that what reached him would not have missed him and what missed him would not have reached him.7
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 who, when disaster strikes them, say, "Indeed we belong to Allah, and indeed to Him we will return." Those are the ones upon whom are blessings from their Lord and mercy. And it is those who are the [rightly] guided. (Qur’an, 2:155-157)
Example: My boss reminds me a lot of my father. My father was very aggressive, authoritarian, and sometimes violent. I never felt understood by him and felt that he always came first.Step 3: Identify how you may be contributing to the problem through transference (treating someone a certain way because they remind you of someone in your past). Write down your specific behaviors before, during, and after the problem at hand and describe how others are affected by your actions.
1 Burns, D. D. (1981). Feeling good: The new mood therapy. New York, N.Y: Penguin Books.
2 Todd, R. M., Muller, D. J., Lee, D.H., Robertson, A., Eaton, T., Freeman, N., Palombo, D. J., Levine, B., & Anderson, A. K. (2013). Genes for emotion-enhanced remembering are linked to enhanced perceiving. Psychological Science, 24 (11), 2244-2253.
3 Rosenthal, R., &. Jacobson, L. (1966). Teachers' expectancies: Determinants of pupils' IQ gains. Psychological Reports, 19, 115-118.
4 Boser, U., Wilhelm, M., & Hanna, R. (2014). The power of the Pygmalion Effect: Teachers’ expectations strongly predict college completion. Center for American Progress, https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED564606.pdf. (accessed January 30, 2019)
5 Wahbeh, H., Senders, A., Neuendorf, R., & Cayton, J., (2014). Complementary and alternative medicine for post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms: A systematic review. Journal of Evidence-Based Integrative Medicine, 19(3): 161–175.
6 Jami` at-Tirmidhi, Vol. 4, Book 10, Hadith 2346.
7 Al Mubarakpuri, Sheikh Saifur-Rahman, Tafsir ibn Kathir (Abridged) vol. 10 (Riyadh, Darussalam, 2000), pp. 24-25.