Asalaamu ‘alaikum sister; I hope that you’re feeling a sense of gratitude and contentment at this very moment. Life is often a mixed bag, isn’t it? There are things we are grateful for, while there is always something we wish we could change. Many times I’ve seen sisters feeling that a certain situation “shouldn’t be this way,” but that doesn’t change it. Take Nafisa’s example; she came to coaching because she wasn’t getting on with her sister at all. Even though they love each other, every conversation would turn into an argument. She was left wondering why her sister was so judgemental about her choices. All Nafisa wanted was to be accepted for the person she is. Yet, she felt that her family, and her sister in particular, weren’t offering her this. Take a moment to explore: how do you behave when you really want something to change? It could be a change in a relationship, in your home or even just for yourself. For example, if you want to have recycling in your neighbourhood, do you:
a. Wait for someone else to take action
b. Hope that it happens, in time
c. Take some action and begin recycling on your own. After all, change begins with you!
What are our options when we want something to change? We can:
a. Hope that someone will notice and change things or
b. Do nothing, or
c. we could do something about it.
Now I imagine that taking action is the hardest choice, but it is also the most empowering. When we are being the change, then we are taking action and not helplessly waiting for someone else to do something. We are being responsible for the results we want. If we want to see a change, the best way to make it happen is to start the change ourselves. This also means that we will feel the benefits that we desire. In addition, we also inspire the change to occur around us. Living by example is the most powerful way to encourage others as well. Now, this is easier said than done, so let’s learn from Nafisa’s example. Nafisa had a few coaching sessions, and through the journey, her own learning surprised her. What she learned was that she herself wasn’t accepting her sister. She was resisting each time her sister wanted to offer her a helping hand or some advice. This was causing the tension in their relationship. Her sister was trying to support her, but she wasn’t open to noticing it. She wasn’t ready to change herself. Through coaching, Nafisa learned the value of acceptance. She began listening to her sister more and, Alhamdulillah, things improved in their relationship. There is a lot that we can do to make lasting change happen, so let’s look at some ways to do this.
Take accountability for change
Have you ever been in a relationship where you would like the other person to change? If you are being honest right now, I am sure you would say a resounding ‘yes’ to that. This is very common and very human. It is natural for us to want others to adapt and give us what we need. Nafisa wanted, and needed, her sister to change and be more accepting. Yet, when asked about how accepting she herself was, she realised that she wasn’t. Her sister wasn’t feeling accepted or heard, so her being defensive was a natural response to have. One thing that really shifts the quality of our life is accountability. The attitude of accountability means that we believe and understand that we have the power to think, react and take actions. Being accountable also means that we acknowledge that we can choose our responses to situations. For example, when Nafisa understood accountability, she realised that her response to her sister was in her control; she could either react badly or respond in an accepting and peaceful way. This gave her a lot of freedom in how she approached the relationship.
Take 5 minutes to reflect on various areas of your life. Ask yourself, “Am I holding myself or other people accountable for how things are going in this area? If I am holding other people responsible, then why is that? What would my taking responsibility give me in my life?” These questions will get you thinking about whether you are being a cause in your life. Of course, Allah I is the ultimate cause of everything, but Alhamdulillah, He has given us the ability to think, to choose how we behave and respond. As we start using these abilities, we will find ourselves feeling more empowered and able to change things for the better, insha Allah. We will find that we will be able to cause things to happen rather than to wait for someone else to do them.
Have you known anyone who says one thing, but does another? What is it like to communicate with someone like this? Would you be able to trust him or her? I would imagine not. People who aren’t true to their word are quite difficult to trust because they send out the message that their own word isn’t important to them. Change requires courage and effort. When we want something to change, then we must be willing to demonstrate integrity. Integrity means that we say what we do and we do what we say. When your words, vibes and behaviour are aligned, then you are someone of your word. For example, if you want to create a recycling process in your neighbourhood, then your neighbours must see you recycling well before anything concrete actually happens. Write down one or two important changes that you want to see around you. Next, notice if you are behaving in a way that is supporting those changes. If not, then what steps are you now willing to make so that the change becomes possible? Write down 3 things that you will be doing differently from now on. Insha Allah, the efforts will be worth it!
Visualise and take action
Have you ever wanted something but couldn’t really see it happening? Not being able to see ourselves achieving something is disheartening, and it makes us want to stop trying. One aspect of achieving change is to be able to visualise what exactly it is that you want. Spend 5 minutes every day to run a movie in your mind. Imagine that you are achieving the change that you want to see (in your home, life or even the world). Imagine that it is happening now and you are actually in the movie itself. Add some movement and details into your image. Notice where you are, what you are doing, who else is with you and so on. Take a few minutes out of your daily routine to run this movie in your mind. Once you are done, invite your unconscious mind to place it where it needs to be in the future. Visualising our objectives not only inspires us, but it allows us to believe that they are possible. Belief is the first part in making anything real. Once you are starting to feel your goal coming alive, then begin to plan some actions to make it happen.
Life coach Sayeda Habib provides tips on how we can inspire a loved one towards making an important change.
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Sayeda Habib is a highly qualified professional coach. She coaches Muslim women to help them feel empowered and create results in their lives. She coaches clients one to one and also runs group workshops. She holds the Professional Certified Coach (PCC) credential issued by the International Coach Federation. She is the author of “Discover the Best in You: Life Coaching for Muslims.” She also contributes to various online and print publications. She has been featured in the media in various countries including Pakistan, the UAE and the United Kingdom. To find out more, log on to www.makelifehappen.com or email at Sayeda@makelifehappen.com