Throughout our lives, we get hit with tests and struggles. From physical issues like back pain, to psychological issues like depression. So many things influence our lives, but it’s important to recognize that they impact us only as much as we allow them to. This isn’t to say that these issues are any less important, or that they shouldn’t be addressed. Instead, I believe that it’s important to recognize them, address them, and to move forward (with or without them).

Sometimes, we let these things become a crutch for ourselves. I can speak from experience, in that when I had my car accidents a few years back, my back pain took its toll on me and flipped my life upside down and sideways. I began to blame everything on my back problems. “School didn’t go well because my back hurt. I gained weight because my back hurt. I became depressed because my back hurt. I couldn’t continue with my goals and career because my back hurt.” And the list goes on. Finally, I realized that most of this was just me making excuses. Yes, there was pain. Yes, my spine had apparently shifted to one side. Yes, I had neurological changes because of it. Still, I hesitated to accept there is ALWAYS a way around the things that hold us back. It was just easier to blame it on something else instead of dealing with it.

Sure, sometimes it takes more time and effort to overcome, but the option is always there. The question is, how determined are you to take control of your life? Now, you may be going through something incredibly difficult right now, but ask yourself, how much of the pain you’re feeling is enhanced because you’ve told yourself that you’re incapable of things because of that pain? Almost everyone in the world has some kind of a mental health issue at some point or another during their lives. Some more than others. It’s important to deal with those issues, but to remember that because there is nothing we face in life that we can’t handle and overcome, by the Mercy and Will of Allah, we can’t use these issues as crutches or let them become the cornerstone of our identity.

Just the other day, I was watching some videos about people who practice one of my favourite forms of athleticism, CrossFit. Amongst the incredible athlete profiles I watched, two of them stood out to me most. One was of a young man who had a severe form of bipolar disorder. He and his family struggled greatly with it, because there was so much that was uncertain and unpredictable about him. Still, he continued forward with his training, worked hard at taking control of the situation, and strived to make the most of his condition. His determination and dedication helped him live as normal of a life as he could, and he accepted that he was blessed with a struggle that he was determined to overcome. He pushes beyond expectations and goes after his goals and passions.

The other example was of a 73 year old man. He had been training in different ways for a good 50-60 years, and had always taken care of himself. So, when he was diagnosed with prostrate cancer, he was taken aback, wondering how he could have been hit with something related to his health after spending his entire life taking care of himself. He had his prostrate then removed, and was back to training not too long after. The lesson I learned from his story, outside of the immense motivation and inspiration that radiated from him, was that we don’t know what we will face in life. What is meant to be a part of our lives, good or bad, will be a part of our lives, and there’s nothing we can do to change that. What is destined will be. What makes the difference, HOWEVER, is how we react to these experiences. Many of us would lose hope, and would become angry after spending our lives protecting ourselves from health-related danger, only to one day get hit with something out of the blue. But this man, he decided to take control and to not let it hold him back.

We live a lot of our lives with expectations. We think that nothing bad could ever happen to us, especially if we take all the precautions. Yet, we forget that what is written for us is already decreed and will come to pass. What is up to us is how we deal with it. This is where having control of our minds comes into play. When you are facing something you are afraid of, tell yourself that you are capable of overcoming it, and face it head-on. When something happens that takes an emotional or mental toll on you, grab hold of it before you indulge in those emotions and thoughts, and reflect on what you’re facing and how you can resolve or deal with it in the most beneficial and productive way possible. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t experience your emotions. They are there to be experienced. Instead, what I’m suggesting is to find balance and moderation. It’s like everything else in life, and how too much of anything is bad for you.

We cannot let our emotions dictate our thoughts and actions because they are unstable. To lean on something that is unstable, will most likely or eventually lead to you falling and getting hurt. Moderation and balance are key. If you need to cry, cry. If you are inclined to smile or laugh, smile or laugh. If you are angry, be angry. But, use wisdom, discipline, and balance to deal with it. Avoid letting these emotions and struggles become what define you. Become the master of your life, not its slave.