You Suck

I SUCK at this.”

“No but you don’t understand, I’m just really not good with this.” “Nono, you really don’t understand.”

Sounds familiar? If it doesn’t then congrats (you can stop reading now), if it does then you are part of the rest of us.

The rest of us that suck.

Yup you heard it, you actually do suck, no you really do. Why you may ask? Well the answer is simple: It’s because you said you do!

You see, there is one thing that is very important in life that is often neglected, it’s called attitude. Attitude is an extremely important concept that is often undervalued, however it is so powerful that in fact it can be all the difference between a winner and a loser. Ask yourself: How many times has a student that believes they are a C student ever scored straight As? How many times has a straight A student been one that always thinks of his/her self as a D student? The answer: Probably None to both questions. It this coincidence? Not at all. In fact if we look at most C students we will notice that they are often the ones saying they “just aren’t good at school” whereas the confident students are the ones scoring A’s.

Hmm…so what’s going on here you say?

Simple. The students with the better attitudes are performing better. This is simply because
they believe they will perform better, as such we see that attitude is a self-fulfilling prophecy, if you believe in something, you will work to make it possible.

Not only does attitude matter, it is arguably sometimes the only thing that matters. You see if you have a negative attitude then no matter what things will not work out for you; On the other hand, a person with a positive attitude will be extremely content and things will be better for them.

You might be tempted to stop reading right now, to click the “X” on the upper right corner of your browser and end this ridiculous preaching once and for all. You might even be tempted to thinking I’m crazy for advocating such a simplistic view to even large-scale problems, heck you may additionally be thinking to call your friends and tell them how crazy this all sounds. Well before you do any of that, what if I tell you I’m not crazy, what if I tell you I’m not even making this up, and what if I tell you I got a source to back this article.

That’s right, I do, and best of all it’s not just any source but it’s the world’s most factual and objective of teachers and also the best of creation: Prophet Mohammed (PBUH). He said it and he said it best when he said “Be optimistic with the good and you will find it”

WOAH! Really? Just be optimistic and you will find it. That is a very interesting perspective if one thinks deeply about it, it is extremely interesting how he used the action tense “WILL” find it, not “will seem to find it” or anything else. This means that enhanced attitude can actually enhance your outcome–which is concrete proof for the aforementioned statement that attitude is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Another interesting thing in the wordage of this hadith is the use of the term “find it”, it’s as if good is something to be found amongst other things–let’s scroll back up a bit to the student example and ask ourselves: The student who is saying “I’m not good at school” or “Physics is just too hard for me”, why are they seeming to do bad? Well, it’s simple, they just aren’t looking for good–which is there. On the other hand, those who are scoring A’s have that attitude that they are looking for good, and in turn they can find it! This is why it is extremely rare to see an A student who thinks that they are just “not good at school” just like it is rare for somebody to find anything without actually looking for it.

Many articles can be written about this and about that hadith in specific and maybe they will be later, but we’ll stop here for now. Before we conclude though I want to ask you to do an exercise this week and try to change your attitude on something–or better yet, on everything, and if you do it properly and your life doesn’t change then don’t ever read anything I write. And you see, I can confidently say this (with a good attitude) because we already established you actually don’t have to take my word for any of this but rather you can take the word of the most factual and objective of teachers (PBUH) who said it himself better than anyone can say it. So start it today and I’m optimistic that your life will change inshAllah! 🙂

This article was guest written by Mostafa , an advocate of being positive.


8 responses

  1. Ah, where to begin. Overall, I agree with the individual comments you listed (for the most part)
    However, I disagree with the general article because you are comparing two different things. Optimism and positive attitude are not really the same thing which you seem to imply. I believe they are on different spectrum’s and apply to different things.
    Moreover, there is a difference between attitude and perception of oneself. I believe people should have a lesser perception of themselves but have positive attitudes and aspirations. Thus, saying or even believing ‘I suck’ is fine because it teaches you humility. Where it becomes detrimental is when it becomes a barrier to your achievements (i.e. it manifests into your general outlook on life).
    For example, when I take tests, I SINCERELY believe that I bombed it. When the results come back however, it turns out I aced it. I think that is ok, that is to believe that you do worse than you actually do. As i mentioned above, it would become detrimental if it manifested into my outlook on my overall performance convincing me that “since I will most likely fail on this test, I’ll probably do similarly on the next and therefore, why waste time studying?”

    My point is this: Its necessary to think of yourself and worse than you actually are because that should push you to become even better. As you read this, Mr. Moursy, I bet you’ll think that I’m just restating what you said. And in a way, I am. That is because the wordage you use has a much greater effect. To simplify and combine feeling bad about yourself and that feeling being manifested into inaction (or detrimental action) would be highly insufficient, inefficient, and inaccurate.

    Lastly, I find myself unable but to comment on your “optimistic” point of view. I do believe that people should dream big and believe that they can achieve those dreams but I also prefer a sprinkle of reality. To think of only ‘the good and positive’ things while ignoring the negative ones just for the sake of optimism is highly detrimental actually. Because only when you know what negative things you are facing and acknowledging them will you be able to overcome them.
    For example, I get bad grades in physics exams. If I were to think optimistically, I would always say, upon receiving my grades, “this doesn’t matter and doesn’t affect me. I know I can do good”. This thought process won’t necessarily motivate me enough though. In my humble opinion, a better response would be “Oh man, I got a D. Clearly something is wrong. Why did I get that D? What did I do wrong? I need to fix whatever it was so that I can get an A next time” Using this perspective, I’m still optimistic but I’m aware of reality and I think this gives me better leverage to do better.

    To conclude, be optimistic, but not blindly so.

    Wallahu A’lam


    1. Salam ,

      Well first of all thanks alot for the very comprehensive comment, it did raise up some very important points that I couldn’t address in one article. With that said, I want to say that I agree completely with everything you stated in your comment and that your comment actually does not contradict anything in the post at all, in fact it expands on it. Since a lot of points were brought up in the comment, I’m going to group them and then reply to each group–showing how it integrates with or expands on the article, please bare with me or bring it to my attention if I miss anything.

      So now, there a bunch of different points being discussed here and they can all essentially be split into three topics, I’m going to post the discussion about each topic in a separate comment to facilitate reading. The three topics are:
      1. The difference between Optimism and Positive Attitude
      2. The difference between Positive Attitude and Wishful Thinking
      3. The difference between Attitude and overall Perception of Oneself (Which ideally should be humility)

      (Comment 1 of 3)

  2. 1. The difference between Optimism and Positive Attitude

    So the first thing is the difference between optimism and positive attitude. Yes, absolutely, optimism and positive attitude are not the same thing although there is a degree of interplay between them), I would say that optimism is a complement to positive thinking and they can work hand-in-hand. SubhanAllah, when I mentioned that many posts can be written about this topic one thing that was stuck in my head was Positive attitude (and in fact there is another hadith that is more strictly about positive attitude which I think is positively AMAZING, I’ll save it for now though, maybe a post on it one day inshAllah). Anyhow if I were to explain the relationship between the two in the least amount of words, I would say the following:

    Optimism is believing that a positive outcome will occur, positive thinking is believing that the outcome that occurred is positive.

    What does that mean? Well essentially optimism is about expectancy for the future whereas positive thinking is about properly channeling the perspective of the past [ultimately for the future], so in our academics example, optimism is basically before when before the test you are thinking “I can study and do this and I’ll get a good grade inshAllah.” Now that was the easy part, but let’s go to the situation that you mentioned with the physics exam: so right now I got a D on physics, now what do I do? As you said, if I think and say “this doesn’t matter and doesn’t affect me. I know I can do good” then that is extremely flawed and detrimental, it’s actually being in denial. Thing is though, this is not a flaw in optimism its just that optimism doesn’t apply here, at least not to the D. What DOES apply to the D positive attitude which is basically the following (it’s a reword of what you said) “I got a D on the exam, alhamdulillah though as I can learn from my mistakes and use it to improve myself” , basically this person is taking something that appeared negative and framed it in a positive light to learn from it and extract benefit. On the other hand, Somebody who is not a positive thinker would think “Wow, I studied all that and I still got a D? I suck, I’m a failure and there’s no hope for me.” So when you said “Why did I get that D? What did I do wrong? I need to figure it out so I can get an A next time” then you were basically combining positive attitude with optimism. You took the seemingly negative experience and framed it as a positive by saying you will learn from it, whereas at the same time you also had high hopes for getting an A for the future. As said earlier, the positive attitude applied for the past where the optimism applied for the future.

    (Comment 2 of 4; if previous post said 3 that was a typo)

  3. Now with that said I can say that both optimism and positive attitudes are extremely practical and they are NOT separate from reality. As you said “To think of only ‘the good and positive’ things while ignoring the negative ones just for the sake of optimism ” is something that is not good, and yes I agree it is extremely detrimental. But that’s not optimism nor is it positive attitude, instead that is “Wishful thinking.” Wishful thinking differs from positive thinking in the sense that wishful thinking doesn’t actually acknowledge what’s going on, it’s the extreme form of positive thinking (with the other extreme being negative thinking). So that person that got a D on the exam and says “well it doesn’t matter it’s all good and it doesn’t affect me” , that person is a wishful thinker since he is essentially denying reality. On the other hand: the person who took the exam and said “I did get a D but I can use this D as an opportunity to improve myself and learn from my mistakes” then that is a positive thinker, note that he is still very practical because he is acknowledging what happens and channeling it directly to improve the future, which would be what you called the “Sprinkle of reality” that gives you “the leverage to do better” and that is exactly what positive thinking is. So essentially the difference between both is:

    A positive attitude person takes what might seem negative and frames it as positives, yielding benefits from it, whereas a wishful thinking person denies anything that appears negative to him and turns a blind eye to it.

    (Comment 3 of 4)

  4. 3. One must have confidence whilst at the same time maintaining humility.

    Finally, another important aspect you mentioned is that saying ‘I suck’ is fine as there is a difference between humility and attitude. That is completely true and in fact one should believe they suck. Now like you hinted, combining both seems like a big contradiction right? How can you think and believe you suck yet at the same time be confident? I’ve actually thought alot about this and then that led me to believe that there is a contradiction there myself. However, after much thought I realize that there isn’t. You see the type of “I suck” that leads to humility is thinking you suck as a person, which is something a believer should be always feeling (this is a tangent so I won’t get into that). On the other hand, the type of “I suck” that you shouldn’t feel is the one that destroys confidence which is saying you suck at a certain thing, so the student that says “I just suck at math” has that second type of “I suck” and as such it is detrimental. One can more clearly see that they are different by taking the opposite of both, the opposite of the first one is arrogance (somebody thinking that they are the best as PEOPLE, this is what shaytan did when he said “I am better than him”), whereas the opposite of the second one is confidence (“I am good at math and I can do well on this exam inshAllah”). And arrogance and confidence are NOT the same nor are they related (this took me forever to figure out but it’s true), the golden proof is that the sahabah were extremely confident yet they were extremely humble since that is from the characteristics of believers which they typically shined in (Example: Omar Bin Al Khattab).

    In conclusion:
    1. Optimism is not Positive attitude but they do go hand in hand to each other.
    2. Wishful thinking is extremely detrimental and it is in fact the antithesis of optimism and positive attitude–both of which are extremely practical and never detrimental.
    3. One must have confidence whilst at the same time maintaining humility.

    So that’s my take on the issue, it’s a bit long I understand though I tried to be brief. If there are any agreements or disagreements or otherwise please post them! Special thanks to Anon321 for inducing discussion and helping flesh out the topic in the process!

    (Comment 4 of 4)

    1. A tip to leaving comments: Never make them an essay, because when I saw there were FOUR comments, I didnt even bother reading them. Make it short, and sweet.

      1. lol, yeah true. I probably should make it into a post then 🙂

        What the comments say In summary is that there’s a difference between optimism and positive thinking. That arrogance and confidence are independent traits and that optimism is actually a very practical thing that takes all reality into account.

  5. Your thoughts are impressively well developed. I would agree with your comments and conclusions. However I would like to point out that the difference between some of the things you mentioned are very gray.
    But I do agree with confidence and humility being the ideal combination.
    Your points do raise a question however. What about the phenomenon known as trash talking? Where is it on the boundary between confidence and arrogance. Or is it neither? Is it merely a form of psychological warfare. I personally think it depends on intention but I would like to hear how you classify it.
    Good job on your last comment by the way, I successfully milked out another article from you. Lol.

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