How can we challenge ourselves to stop jumping to conclusions?
Our belief system is that basic, intrinsic part of us that gives us the motivation, rationalisation and passion to speak and act. It is the part of ourselves that determines our character, our personality, our faith, how we behave on a day-to-day basis and cope with life’s many difficulties. That is why, once we have a core belief, it can translate to all the many facets of our daily life – for example, when you have perhaps experienced many struggles and difficulties in life from different sources you can come to believe that, ‘Life is just out to get me’.
This core belief, as mentioned last week, can then become a negative over-generalisation in the future whenever we are faced with any such struggle or tough experiences. In this way our core belief has become a cognitive distortion.
Similarly, when one too many people may have let us down or broken our trust, we could then start to believe that, ‘I cannot trust anyone’. Therefore, any new person we then become acquainted with can suffer the cognitive consequences of this core belief, which might include jumping to conclusions about this new person or predicting how the future is going to be if you trust this person. We may even go so far as to believe that this person will hurt us or treat us badly if we become close friends. In this way, we could make the life-changing decision of keeping every single person at arms-length, and live a life of solitude and isolation, based on a series of ifs.
It is very common to do this as it is human nature to create a defence mechanism where we would shy away from ever being in a situation where our fears can be realised; in this case this would be someone breaking our trust. This month, however, is all about challenging our core beliefs so that we can move away from unhealthy defence mechanisms and towards a healthier mind-frame.
One way we can challenge these beliefs that lead to us jumping to conclusions is practicing mental restraint or mental self-control:
- Stop your core belief in its tracks – No! We don’t know anything yet for sure. We’ve only just met this person!
- Check the true facts – Do I really know how this person is like? Do I have enough evidence to conclude that this person will also betray my trust?
- Remind yourself of the positive experiences in the past – There was that one person who never betrayed my trust. No matter what, they were reliable and genuine.
Remind yourself that you may have a habit of over-analysing and jumping to conclusions out of fear or self-preservation instinct, but this way of thinking can be changed. Remind yourself of how the Prophets used to deal with this in times of great difficulty and in times when there were very few people to trust. There is much we can learn from the stories of the Prophets’ lives.
We all know the anecdote of the lady who used to throw rubbish at the Holy Prophet ﷺ. She clearly did not trust the Prophet ﷺ and thought of him in a negative way, but when she fell very ill it was the Prophet ﷺ who showed her kindness and concern. This very act was enough for her to change her belief.
Even if we see this from the perspective of the Prophet ﷺ, he could have just been glad or thought ‘good riddance’ that she was not there that day throwing rubbish on him, but he understood that showing good akhlaq (behaviour) and giving everyone the benefit of the doubt are Islamic ideals.
He also placed his entire Tawakkul (trust) and Imaan (faith) in Almighty Allah (SWT).
“And put your trust in God; and enough is God as a disposer of affairs.”
In this way, if we practice putting our trust in the Almighty, forget the bad that others have done to us and reciprocate with even better bi’ithnillah (with the permission of Allah), we can be one step closer to challenging our core beliefs and moving towards a healthier and happier mind.