Life coach Sayeda Habib looks at ways to improve your communication with yourself in the first in our three-part series.
The qualities of our communication skills impact our lives everyday. In this series, communication will be divided into three major categories. The first is communication with yourself; the second is your communication with loved ones. The last part of the series will explore how to enhance your communication on a wider level.
Improvement in any area begins with looking at the self. Therefore, in order to improve our communication overall, we must first improve our communication within, our communication with ourselves.† How do we recognise communication with ourselves?† It is that little voice that you hear inside your head; it is there even when you do not notice it. Our emotions are also a means of communication within ourselves.
So let's explore how to improve our own inner communication. This subject reminds me of my client Sidika. This sister has a Pakistani background, but is born and raised in the UK. She approached me because she was really struggling with her motivation to finish her degree. She had recently begun a Law degree after having failed the first year of her Medicine course twice. She was struggling with coursework and exams, and was very concerned that she would fail Law just as she had Medicine.
Sidika told me that she chose Medicine because her family expected her to be a doctor but found it impossible to apply herself to the subject. I asked her about why she started the course and she said, "I thought my family were insisting for my own good. I thought that maybe it would be okay. I did give it my best shot, but after two years of failing, I just had to give up. My family were quite upset with me, but eventually they just had to accept my choice."
The first and most important aspect of inner communication is to tell the truth to oneself. Many of us are afraid to tell our own selves the truth due to fear. Sidika realised that she wasnít being entirely honest with herself about why she went ahead with studying medicine. She tired to convince herself that she did not hate the idea of being a doctor, but deep down she knew she did. She pretended that it would be ok because she was too afraid to stand up to her father. This fear turned into more suffering later on. She suffered through two years of medical studies at university, and also found her self-confidence ebbing away. Had she made an effort to truly explain that medicine was not her calling, maybe her family would have come round sooner. So the first principle of enhancing inner communication is to tell the truth to yourself about how you really feel about situations. This begins the process of learning about your own needs. Sidika learned that being honest takes courage, but helps to prevent heartache.
Telling the truth to yourself is much easier if you are listening to your intuition. Many times in life we stand at crossroads, uncertain of which path to pursue, uncertain how to proceed. Our first resort is to ensure that all our choices are within the perimeters of Islam. Second, as Muslims we are blessed with the prayer of Istikhaara, a prayer asking Allah for guidance to what is best for us, our deen and the outcome of all our affairs, and to bless us therein. That guidance often comes through one's inner voice, the gut feeling of how to proceed. We are trained to make decisions through logic only and we forget to apply our intuition, such as Sidika did, overriding her gut feeling that medicine would not be the right decision for her. Practice this increasingly within yourself, even with day-to-day decisions. Ask yourself constantly if your decision fits it with your Islamic values. Listen for the answer. †And learn to trust that inner voice that Allah has blessed you with Ö
Another thing I noticed Sidika doing was comparing herself to other students. She said to me, "Everyone else seems to get it. I donít know whatís wrong with me. I just canít seem to grasp the material. Maybe I am just dumb or lazy." We began working through some of her study techniques. What Sidika realised was that it was her past disappointments that were getting in the way of her success at Law. She is neither de-motivated nor lazy. She passed most of her exams that year. Comparing can often lead to problems. Remember that Allah (Swt) has given us all talents. Practice some compassion for yourself and stop the negative comparisons. Take a few minutes everyday and write down one or two things that make you unique. Ask yourself, "What do I have to offer myself and others?" This will allow you to focus on your own unique gifts.
We often communicate with others with a great deal of love and compassion. Be as kind to yourself as you are to others. Use these techniques to learn about your own uniqueness. You will be glad that you did.
Sayeda Habib is a Life Coach and Hypnotherapist. She specialises in working with the Muslim community through workshops and individual sessions. She has been featured in Rapport magazine, Eesha, and Venus Television and been the agony aunt for BBC radio Gloucestershire.
To find out more about Life Coaching for Muslims or to get in touch with Sayeda log on to www.makelifehappen.com or email Sayeda@makelifehappen.com.†
This article was first published in SISTERS, the magazine for fabulous Muslim women. Visit the SISTERS website at www.sisters-magazine.com to read more articles - and download a complimentary issue!