In this counseling answer:
“How do we overcome negative thoughts? How do we eliminate them? We do so by filling our mind with positive thoughts.”
As-Salamu ‘Alaikum dear sister,
Thank you for placing your trust in our ability to answer your question.
I would like to start off by asking you to imagine a scenario. Imagine that you are seated in the park. I come by and give you a bag filled with valuables (money, diamonds, etc.) worth a $2million precisely and tell you to keep an eye out and protect it until I return after an hour or so. During the half hour, you will be very worried. You will want to protect the bag and will not take your eyes off it. However, when I come after the half hour, you return it to me and feel relieved. Why? Because you are no longer stressed over the safety of the bag and no longer worried about losing it.
The same is the consequence of a believer who prays with mindfulness and asks Allah (swt) for help and hands over all the worries to Allah (swt). After prayer, after giving away the worries to Allah (swt), you should feel relieved and relaxed because of the rightful owner of your problems, the rightful solver of all your problems, is undoubtedly Allah (swt).
In the Quran, Allah (swt) says,
“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.” (2:155)
Pay attention to the first part of the sentence. Allah (swt) says that He will certainly test us with something of “fear”. In your case, it is the fear of becoming sick with a serious illness.
Dear sister, no one has the control except Allah (swt). So, the only logical course of action would be to ask Allah (swt) to protect you, to grant you relief from your stress, and to make you feel happy always.
Anxiety, in simple terms, is the stress about the future, about the uncertain, and about what is not in our control.
In the famous novel, The Alchemist, the character states that he neither thinks about the past as it’s over nor about the future as it is out of our control. He says he simply works on making the present perfect. This sentence profoundly changed my viewpoint about the future.
As humans, we are bound to think about the future. It is innate and something we cannot control. However, we need to overcome the negative thoughts we have when we think about the future.
Plant the seed of positivity
Now, how do we overcome negative thoughts? How do we eliminate them? We do so by filling our mind with positive thoughts. For example, when we have a glass of dirty water, the only way to clean it is to simply replace the dirty water with clean water.
I understand that your negative thoughts are a result of seeing many of your family members undergo serious illness diagnosis. However, it is not you. When you feel that you will be getting the similar diseases in the future, change your thoughts! Do not be a prisoner of your thoughts!
99% of our worries and the consequences we fear do not actually surface. However, the anxiety they create and the negative impacts they have on our health is far worse!
Globally, 1 in 13 individuals suffers from anxiety. In fact, anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S! Most of these disorders are a result of overthinking, overstressing and overworking. They can be prevented by simply taking time to unwind and simply not overthink! However, it is easier said than done.
Erase the negativity
When you write something down, and you make a mistake and realize it is wrong, what do you do? You simply erase and move on, right? Do you cry over the fact that you wrote the wrong word, or how much that mistake can ruin your life, or how much you will be suffering? No! Absolutely not! The same is the process for your negative thoughts! You must simply erase them and write the right answers, which are positive thoughts!
When you fear that you can potentially contract the disease, think about the present. You are currently healthy, and if you ask Allah (swt) to help you, He will certainly make it easy for you and keep you healthy. You should also make a note to pray for your family members who are unhealthy.
The Prophet Muhammed (saw) once said,
“The supplication of a Muslim for his (Muslim) brother in his absence will certainly be answered. Everytime he makes a supplication for good for his brother, the angel appointed for this particular task says: ‘A meen! May it be for you, too’.” (Muslim)
Therefore, if you make pray for your sick family members to be granted health and relief, then you will never be under the same circumstances, in sha’ Allah.
Always have your mind occupied
“Empty mind houses the devil” is a saying that I am sure you have heard of. The less of important stuff you have in your mind, the more useless and stressful thoughts provoke you. Try as hard as you can to ensure that your mind is never actually empty! Try to enroll yourself in group activities, join a sport, enroll in a reading club. When you are in a different environment and are conversing with others, you are less likely to be bogged down by your negative and anxiety, inducing thoughts.
Exercising is perhaps the most important medication to overcome any health issue and to prevent any serious health issue from happening. Exercising increasing the endorphins which makes you feel happy. Not only that, it increases the blood flow in the brain and the muscles making the person feel more energetic and active. There is no limitation or guideline to the type of exercise being done as long as there is physical movement and enjoyment.
Ignore the evil whispers
I know that if you ask “Dr. Google” how to overcome anxiety, the first suggestion given is to surface your anxiety, write it down, and expect the worst that can happen. However, I believe that this is certainly not the best way to proceed.
When you write your fears down, you are solidifying the fact that you fear them. However, you should completely disregard your thoughts and not imagine anything. Because naturally, humans tend to have expectations on either end of the spectrum, either worse or the best. There is usually never any middle ground. Therefore, by trying to avoid your thoughts and by busying yourself in something worthwhile and productive, you are not letting the fear and the anxiety take over you. Try as hard as you can to ignore the whispers.
Statistics show that even patients who have a disease but have a positive outlook on life fare better than those who are depressed and feel hopeless. Therefore, dear sister, you absolutely must think positively!
Disclaimer: The conceptualization and recommendations stated in this response are very general and purely based on the limited information provided in the question. In no event shall AboutIslam, its counselors or employees be held liable for any damages that may arise from your decision in the use of our services.