Change from the inside out

January 17th, 2011 @   -  No Comments

Have you ever tried to change anyone? What was the result? Most probably you were frustrated. Our Creator gave us some examples of prophets who could not even change their immediate family members: the case of the prophet Nuh (AS) with his son, Ibrahim (AS) with his father, Lut (AS) with his wife and Mohammed (PBUH) with his uncle. What we can learn from these cases is that we cannot change others. What we can do is advise them, teach them, coach them, and make Dua for them. There are also many things around us we cannot change such as the weather or the economy. But we can change ourselves and our responses to the circumstances around us. The irony is that most people would like to see changes everywhere except in themselves.

Our Creator informed us that the true beginning of any change must come from within. “Verily Allah does not change the condition of a people until they change it themselves.” (Quran 13:11). True change must start from within an individual, from within an organization or from within a society. If you want changes in your family or your organization, you need to model the change you want to see. For example, if you want others to listen to you, you need to listen to them first. If you want your boss to be just towards you, you need to be just in your dealings with the people who report to you, your spouse and others around you. When you work hard on improving yourself and live the change you want to see, Allah will likely improve your condition.

How can we trigger change from inside out? Here are a few points to help you get started:

Change your paradigm

Your life is like a garden. The fruits you have reaped are from the seeds you have planted. If you expect to reap a tomato when you have planted a potato then you are going to be disappointed, even if you have placed the seed in fertile ground and worked hard in weeding and watering it. If you are dissatisfied with what you have reaped, you need to change the seed you have planted. The seed of change begins in your mind. The way you think and how you look at things impact every aspects of your life.

Thinking is influenced by learning. Learning is only interesting if it leads to a positive change. Being open to learning is a key to planting and nurturing the seed of change. The prophet Mohammed (PBUH) spent 13 years teaching his companions the concept of Tawheed and morals in a very hostile and difficult environment. These teachings helped his companions transform the way they see things and guided them throughout the journey of change. In other words, he helped them develop a new paradigm and a new belief system.

To change your thinking by learning, consider the following:

  1. Learn at least the basics of your religion. And ask challenging questions with the intention to learn;
  2. Understand the environment in which you live and operate;
  3. Learn from every experience by reflecting on your own experience and results and on the experiences and results of others;
  4. Associate with people who have better knowledge than you;
  5. Develop a habit of reading;
  6. Listen with the intention to learn;
  7. Ask for honest feedback from the people you trust;
  8. Equip yourself with the right skills and tools;
  9. Question the status quo;
  10. Offer support to those around you who are striving to change.

Assess your life and identify the gap

Assess your life as a whole; your relationship with your Creator, your current relationships with the people around, your health and your career. What areas are neglected or need more attention?

Close the gap

To close the gap between where you are and where you want to be, you need to take small and consistent actions.  One small action, in itself, will not have much of an impact. Yet when that same action is repeated again and again, the long term impact can be magnificent. I suggest the following to close the gap:

  1.  Identify one action you should continue doing. This is what you need to build on.
  2.  Identify one action you are now doing that you should stop doing.  The problem sometimes is not to learn, but to unlearn.
  3. Identify one action you are not doing that you should start doing.

You always need to examine your motives by asking these questions: what is my intention? What are the limits set down by my morality? What are the consequences of this action?

Don’t forget to use the weapon of Dua. Put your trust in Allah and He will always be there for you.


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