We’ve all seen it.
You’re on your way to visit your uncle, sitting in the car preparing your answers for his barrage of questions.
It’s usually the same ones. You tell him what you’re studying or where you’re working and to your surprise he proceeds to unload his wisdom and advice on you, for the 50th time!
Yes, he’s got more experience than you. Yes, he’s had a long career. But he gave you the same advice 2 years ago and you stuck with your decision. It’s a bit late to change now anyway, isn’t it? It doesn’t seem to make a difference to him.
What is it that he wants?
The same goes for that guy in the masjid that advises you on the same thing each day or that friend that keeps insisting that you made a mistake by taking the iPhone path.
Some people don’t seem to be aiming to advise, what they want is compliance or worse, control.
The truth is, many of us do this without realising and the proof is in the pudding.
When sharing an opinion, advising, or correcting someone we need to have what I call the Just Do You mindset. Seera Masters is all about designing our mindset for success so let’s dive in!
This mindset is all about focusing on you. That might seem selfish and unislamic but in fact in the cases I’ll mention later on you can see how sometimes it’s very important and in fact, rewarding to focus on yourself.
Think deeply about this, it’s most likely that you have a mixture of many of them, which is fine. I know for example that when I give advice I will be pretty sure it’s to follow Allah’s command but deep down I also know that I get satisfaction from sharing my opinion.
When giving advice becomes harder I find that I tend to do it only to follow Allah’s command.
To many people, giving advice is something done spontaneously when the situation arises. This means they often don’t take time to think of how best to craft the message for the other person.
Being the technical, psychology-obsessed person I am, I tend to think about this quite often!
Think of the person’s circumstances. Are they in a good mood? How is their iman? Do they have much Islamic knowledge? Do they know the basics of what makes something haram? Were they raised in an Islamic environment?
Alhamdulilah you’ve taken the steps with the correct intention to help your brother/sister out. Now what? What if they don’t listen or change?
This is the test, my friend. This is where you just do you.
Your intention was to help them out because Allah told you to, right? It wasn’t to control their behaviour or to assert authority, right?
So did you do what you intended to? Yes! (Tick)
You took into consideration their circumstances, possible lack of knowledge and more, right? So you advised them in a way that they would find easy to understand and wouldn’t make them defensive. Great!
So did you communicate the advice effectively? Yes! (tick)
Congratulations, you’ve just done you. Mission complete.
Let’s explore how to apply this method further with an example.
I chose this specifically because I feel it’s something people would ignore rather than something more ‘unislamic’.
You see a Muslim man walking, finishing his bottle of juice and he throws it near a bin but it clearly doesn’t go in. He walks on.
As a Muslim you know that this behaviour isn’t Islamic and you go into advice mode. But first,
let me take a selfie you must make sure your intentions are on point.
This will be a little artificial at first but eventually it will become automatic. Your intention will determine your behaviour, remember? We need to approach him as a caring brother/sister, not as an admonishing policeman or someone seeking control.
Intention: to follow Allah’s command to forbid the evil, to follow the hadith on changing evil with our hands or tongue or hating with our heart, to help a brother to avoid sinning etc.
We can have many intentions, even to feel good about doing a good deed. That’s Ok but it shouldn’t be the main intention.
Now our intention is right, how do we effectively share our message?
Think of this man: he may be in a hurry, he may have been raised in a way that didn’t promote caring about anything but your own property, he might not see littering as a big deal, he might not see littering as a problem in Islam.
Us: Assalamu alaykum bro, how’s it going? Sorry, are you in a hurry? (if he looks like he doesn’t want to stop).
Him: Walaykum assalam. Erm no. What is it?
Us: Oh Ok. I just saw that bottle missed the bin (don’t say you). Thought I’d remind you (assume he knows) because I know it happens to me sometimes that I don’t throw stuff away properly.
Him: Ah yeah, right. True true.
Us: Ok cool, nice one bro (adapt according to how you speak naturally). Assalamu alaykum! (Walk away leaving him the choice to pick it up or walk on).
For me, the biggest mindset shift is leaving the person to make their own decision on if they will listen or not. By walking away after we remind them, we are sending them a positive message: “I trust that you’re a good, mature person and you’ll do the right thing”.
This leaves no room for ego. Think about it, only a parent watches their children to make sure they do as they’re told.
the biggest mindset shift is leaving the person to make their own decision
With the model above in mind, we can adapt it to as many situations as you can think of:
The power of just doing you is that it truly works. It will relieve you of stress because you’re not longer trying to control and it will allow others to take advice without their egos being involved.