On the authority of Abu Musa al-Ash'ari (radiAllahu anhu), the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wasalam) said:
The likeness of a righteous friend and an evil friend, is the likeness of a (musk) perfume seller and a blacksmith. As for the perfume seller, he may either bestow something on you, or you may purchase something from him, or you may benefit from his sweet smell. And as for the blacksmith, he may either burn your clothes, or you may be exposed to his awful smell.
[Bukhari and Muslim]
Have you ever been around someone or a group of people and just felt stressed out? Are there times when negative people or their opinions trigger a negative response within you? Do you feel tainted, affected, with no resolve after being around a certain group of people or person.
If so, then I can wholeheartedly confirm that this is not just a figment of your imagination; negative vibes, people and energies can affect your health and overall wellness.
I love the above hadith; being around a good friend is likened to perfume and being around a bad friend is likened to an awful smell. This is a great metaphor when dealing with negative people/situations; stay away or be prepared to get burned by their flames.
The brain and negativity
You may have heard the analogy of the brain being compared to a computers hard drive. This couldn't be more true, because once the brain receives information, it becomes embedded into its neurons. Once that information is embedded it can be difficult to remove, just like when trying to remove information from a computer.
Interacting with negative people, situations and energies not only changes the structure of the brain, but memories of those interactions get stored at cellular level, long after that particular event took place.
The negative event creates 'neural traffic' to and from the central nervous system and triggers a 'fight or flight' response. As we all know, the fight or flight response is an automatic response that puts our bodies on high alert. The adrenal glands release stress hormones, the heart begins to beat rapidly and the thyroid gland begins to stimulate the metabolism. This all happens when we perceive a negative situation.
The immune system
When we are around negativity, we get highly stressed, hence why our bodies turns on its 'fight or flight' response. Too many studies have shown that stress can impact your immune system, by inhibiting the good disease-fighting cells, to proliferate. A weakened immune system is more prone to illness and in some severe cases lead to a heart attack.
You're probably think im exaggerating but stress is the number one cause of health problems. Stress can trigger IBS, autoimmune diseases and so much more. Avoid negativity and you avoid stress.
Don’t wait until a toxic person in your life has brought you so far down that you forget how to get back up. You need to surround yourself with people who inspire you, encourage you and help you realize your potential.
As Muslims it's ideal for us to hang around people who remind us of our ultimate goal; Jannah. Which reminds me of the following hadith;
The Prophet (sallahu alayhi wasalaam) was reportedly asked: "Which of our companions are best?" He replied: "One whose appearance reminds you of God, and whose speech increases you in knowledge, and whose actions remind you of the hereafter." (Bukhari)
If you’re encountering a negative crowd at work, consider getting a mentor. I've always been fortunate to have a mentor who pushes me to dream bigger and expect more from myself. Mentors often have a larger vision for us than we have for ourselves, and their confidence in our potential inspires us to reach higher, than we could have imagined on our own. So get inspired!
Set Limits (Especially With Complainers)
Granted, there are people who you can’t eliminate from your life (at least not right away), like co-workers or bosses, family members. Thankfully, there are some proven ways to protect your positive attitude from the influence of others, even if you’re stuck with them for 8+ hours a day.
Complainers and negative people wallow in their problems. Often, they want people to join their negativity party. And, often we feel pressure to listen to these negative individuals (especially if you're an INFJ personality; boy do we get caught up!) because we don’t want to be seen as rude. But there’s a huge difference between lending a sympathetic ear and getting sucked into others’ negative emotional tornadoes.
You can avoid all this by setting limits and distancing yourself when possible. Think of it this way: if the negative person was smoking instead, would you sit there inhaling the second-hand smoke?
No . You’d distance yourself, and you should do the exact thing same with toxic people. A great way to set limits is to ask complainers how they intend to fix the problem. They will either stop their negativity or redirect the conversation towards positivity.
Choose Your Battles
Don’t engage every time someone irritates you or tries to bring you into their negativity.
This reminds me of a famous hadith
“Once, a person was verbally abusing Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) while the Prophet (sallahu alayhi wasallam) was curiously watching with a smile. After taking much abuse quietly, Abu Bakr responded to a few of his comments. At this, the Prophet exhibited his disapproval, got up and left. Abu Bakr caught up with the Prophet and wondered, ‘O Messenger of Allah, he was abusing me and you remained sitting. When I responded to him, you disapproved and got up.’ The Messenger of Allah responded,
‘There was an angel with you responding to him. When you responded to him, Shaitan took his place.’
SubhanAllah (Glory Be to Allah)! There's such wisdom in not replying to negative rhetoric. So work on your emotional intelligence and prevent the situation from escalating. Walk away from unnecessary conflict — you’ll be respected for taking the high road.
Make Someone Else Smile
Smile. It's charity [Bukhari]
I absolutely love the concept of making other people happy, just to improve your own happiness. Making someone else smile is just so rewarding. A positive attitude is always contagious.
Multiple scientific studies have shown that being the positive one, not only makes others feel better, but creates long-lasting feelings of joy within yourself, and can provide that much-needed boost to your overall mood.
So make someone smile today without expecting anything in return. Smile at your kids. Do something special for your husband/wife. Make your mom/dad happy. Do something that will put a smile on the face, of the people around you.
When your thoughts become negative
From time-to-time we get negative thoughts; its human nature. But it's how we react to these thoughts that make a whole load of difference.
Instead of being harsh on yourself, think about all the positive things about yourself. Write them down and memorize them. Every time you feel negative about yourself, read that list and remind yourself that you're not as bad as you make yourself to be.
A lot of us were raised around difficult circumstances that affected our self-esteem and the way we perceive ourselves. Loving yourself nowadays is translated as being arrogant or 'up yourself' (as us Northerners like to call it).
But there is absolutely nothing wrong with loving yourself! The first step to happiness is being in complete acceptance of yourself and respecting yourself enough, to not listen to those negative thoughts.
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