Do not read the title and be alarmed, I assure you this article is not persuading you to become accustomed to loneliness, but rather to appreciate your own company and support.

Think of a time where you were left waiting for a friend at the station, or your sibling ate the last doughnut that you spent the day looking forward to just to find that it was no longer there. Our minds start searching for the words to express the frustration we feel and often we do express it, and sometimes we take a moment and remain silent. Whatever the response, forgiveness is fast and inevitable. Now, if we swap roles and we are the ones who are late, or who ate their sibling’s favourite delicacy, after apologising we would still spend the rest of the day telling ourselves off. The other party has forgiven and forgotten, but we refuse to allow ourselves small mistakes. We are our own biggest enemies. But why is this the case?


Being your own motivation:

We must learn to push our boundaries in order to allow for growth. It is often a painful, yet entirely necessary, process. However, we must do so within reason. At some point, society decided it acceptable to romanticise sacrifice and struggle. Staying awake until 3am, losing countless hours of sleep and having little time for a social life suddenly became plausible. Desired. Do not mistake struggle for the grind. If you are working numerous hours but losing precious time with loved ones, it is time to re-evaluate. Allow yourself time in the week to have a sit down with yourself and re-evaluate your decisions and whether they were of benefit, or if you can reach the same outcome with a different approach that does not require you to rationalise your lack of presence to those who matter the most. In no manner does this require a harsh approach and that is where the importance of speech comes in.


Talking to yourself as if you were a loved one:

We adapt our speech based on who we are communicating with. The softness that arises when talking to your mother is adapted for a more professional, yet respectful, manner when conversing with your boss at work. It is easy to categories our tones when picturing the various people we talk to on a daily basis. Unfortunately, the tone in which we talk to ourselves can be categorised as stern and harsh. Once we realise and accept this, it is easier to work on. Throughout the day, make note of how you address yourself when completing certain activities. Did you need to be so harsh on yourself because you forgot to put the laundry out? Or did you need to get angry at yourself for not reaching a specific deadline of 400 words a day, but you reached 300? Efficiency without rigidity is possible. Use substitute language that is just as effective, for example, acknowledge that on an off day you still managed to complete 300, 200 or even 100 words instead of the usual 400. Give credit to your ability to complete what you can when you can and match that with the promise to give a little extra time the following day to catch up on what is missed. Learn to listen to your body and mind and what it is requesting from you. If your day is proving difficult, do not force productivity. Acknowledge what you did do, rather than focusing on what you didn’t. Give credit where credit is due.


Adapting your mindset:

Substitute ‘I must’ for ‘I will’. Praying 5 times a day is a continuous struggle that we, as imperfect humans, will continue to battle with. Learning to say ‘I will’ rather than ‘I must’ decreases the pressure a little and introduces a desire. ‘I will cook today’ introduces a desire to complete this task, as we have the desire to feel a certain satisfaction at the end of the day by setting ourselves tasks and completing them. It makes it more likely to be complete, rather than stating ‘I must cook today’ which adds a level of pressure that is bound to take its toll when we have a list of ‘I must’s throughout the day. This same technique can be applied to prayer as it allows prayer to become desirable rather than seen as a chore. Tie your camel and have tawakkul. Do what you can on your end, make dua and trust that Allah will take care of you.


Overcoming the past:

Our past plays a role in shaping who we grow up to be. Many fall at the hands of their suffering. Many use their suffering as a tool. Many look at their parents as role models of who they wish to be, while others look at them as who not to be. Whatever your personal struggle, say Alhumdulilah. Learning to say Alhumdulilah in times of calamity and difficulty introduces a new wave of calm that is indescribable. Focus on what the past can teach you, rather than the pain it caused you. Feel the pain in all its form, cry where tears are requested, and then let it go. Focusing on the past takes away from the future. If you are too busy looking back, how will you look forward? Do not dwell as we cannot go back and change what has happened. Remind yourself of the will of Allah. Kun Faya Kun; ‘He commands “Be!” And it is’. He is aware of what has happened and what is going to happen, and He will never let you down.


Defining loneliness:

Have you ever been upset, confided in a friend, and found that their response was not what you wanted to hear? Unfortunately, we set unrealistic and unfair expectations. We cannot believe that others will react how we would. Often, friends and family are very apparent with how much they can give to the relationship. Over time, we become familiar with how they react in good and bad times but in moments of high emotion, we require more than what they usually deliver and when that does not happen, we are left disappointed. If this happens, remember to first, say Alhumdulilah, and then, think of it as a reminder from Allah; that He is the Best to confide in. Your prayer mat can bring a warmer hug than that of a friend. This does not mean refusing to open up to friends but to differentiate between informing and confiding. We are never truly alone as we are always being protected by Allah, but it is easy to feel alone in the dunya. Humans, by default, are imperfect. Forgive yourself and others for these imperfections and learn to appreciate your own company. Find things that make you happy. Try to take out an hour a day, perhaps in the evening, where you do your favourite thing. From painting to simply having a cuppa, taking time to do what you love can make all the difference and teaches you forms of self-care.

Lastly, complete small acts of kindness. If you have tried all of the above but still are not too happy with yourself, try to perform small acts of kindness to others. Feed the birds in the park or donate to a specific cause. In turn, this may soften your heart and allow your heart to soften for yourself. Help others and Allah will help you.

When you get angry about the fact that you may cry easily, remember that Allah made us with full knowledge of our flaws and continues to forgive us for our sins. Remember that Allah encourages these tears when requesting dua. When we feel insecure about our bodies, remember that Allah loves us in our full form. He created us and knows us better than we know ourselves, and if we are worth being loved by our Lord, can we at least learn to love ourselves? There is no one more Merciful, more Loving, but as servants of Allah, these qualities are ones we should work to instil in ourselves, which includes to ourselves.