mind-set: (noun) The ideas and attitudes with which a person approaches a situation, especially when these are seen as being difficult to alter.

We all know that friend. Her life is always in crisis. She trudges from one disaster to another, crying “When will I get a break?” Our hearts ache for her. “That’s tough,” we sympathize.

Sometimes we are just too comfortable in the mindset that dominates our every waking action. “I’m a failure.” “Why is everyone’s life so easy but mine?”  “Why, me?”

We see this today more than ever.  Everyone puts their best and often false foot forward on social media. The perfect husband, job, kids, life, even pets. It’s so unrealistic. Yet we thrive on it, hungry to view more that will send us spiraling downward, once again confirming our mindset that we are just losers.

Even our faith lets us down. “If I am practicing my belief, if I am basically a good person, why do all these awful things keep happening to me?” Mindset = failure. Mindset = I’m not good enough, even for God.

On top of that, we have bullies and snarky acquaintances that only add fuel to the fire and convince us of our unworthiness.

Then there is the friend who also thinks the grass is surely greener somewhere else – anywhere but here.  She pursues a geographical cure for her woes. “If I could just live in Southern California, I KNOW my life would better.” More sun, more rain, colder, warmer, and on and on.

Of course, the move helps nothing because her mindset moves right along with her.

So, change, which is difficult and scary, is the cure.

In Islam we learn that life is meant to be a series of tests. That what may sometimes seem like a bad thing, is actually good for us. That tests often befall people in order for them to learn a lesson and most often to build character and resiliency.

This solves a lot of heartache and changes the mindset that if tough times befall me, it’s not that I’m a loser or foolish or stupid – stuff happens. It’s not me controlling or preventing the bad from happening but how I handle those tough times and tests that inevitably come my way.

Just as in school, we don’t like tests much, but they serve to measure what we know. They give us clues as to what we perhaps need to understand better or work on to become more adept and knowledgeable.

In the Qur’an I read that God does not change the condition of a people until they change themselves. Weighty words that I have found to be so true. Change cannot happen because the city or climate is different. Change cannot happen if we remove toxic people from our life but still seek the same type of friends and relationships. Yes, it would be so much easier if someone else could do the changing, but it just doesn’t work that way.  Even in abusive relationships, letting go of the mindset that “I deserve it,” is the first step in the path to freedom.

Faith is a big help. All faiths reveal that God created us, loves us, accepts repentance and forgives. Bookstores and websites abound with self-help resources that serve to change our mindsets from the half empty glass to one that is half full.

So, change, which is difficult and scary, is the cure.We are all pretty perfect, but we get in our own way. Shakespeare, too, got it right, “To thine own self be true.” Not to let others or society define us. Looking deep inside to know that we are intrinsically good, we are blessed with unique gifts that are needed by humanity. Turning the focus and the negative mindset away from ourselves and concentrating on others by helping, giving, counting one’s blessings rather than one’s flaws and lack. An attitude of abundance rather than one of paucity.

When we look more to others, particularly those who have far less or whose trials are much greater than ours; if our focus is others, sending them our thoughts, prayers, especially actively working to make their lives better, it not only takes our mind and being absorbed in an unhealthy and unproductive way off our own troubles, ourselves, we begin to feel better.  We see results, we see others blossoming by our efforts – a far better way to build confidence, self-esteem and realize we DO have a purpose and talents that are uniquely ours.


Photo by Awais Toor on Unsplash


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