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What would you like to see happen? (DW#446)

Continuing with our series on the best things to say in relationships, today’s phrase is a question to use when the other person is telling us what they don’t want.

It is so much easier to talk about what we don’t like and what we don’t want, rather than to make a specific request about what we would like. 

I don’t want us to be late
I don’t want you to leave things lying around
I don’t like it when you don’t tell me your plans 
I don’t want to go a beach holiday again this year

Often we don’t even know that we are doing this. So it can be very helpful to be redirected by our loved ones and asked what we would like to see happen or what we want (as opposed to what we don’t want).

So the next time you hear someone complaining about how bad things are, instead of getting annoyed, try gently redirecting them with a question such as "What would you like to see happen?" or "Please tell me what you would like as opposed...

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Did I get that right? (DW#443)

When we are in a conversation that is not going so well, a great way to turn it around is to switch into listening mode – listening to understand, that is, rather than listening to reply and make our point. 

We can switch into listening mode by reflecting back to the other what you think they are saying. Repeat their message in your own words and check your understanding by asking: 

Did I get that right?

What I hear you saying is  . . . 

If I understand you correctly, than what you are saying is . . .

So, let’s see if I got this  . . .

I am not sure I understand. Do you mean. . . 

These phrases are guaranteed to deepen our understanding of each other and when we use these, we always learn something new and deeper about our partner’s perspective. 

We just need to remind ourselves that listening and reflecting back does not mean that we are agreeing or that we have to agree with the other perspective. 

It...

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You always/you never (DW#422)

When we are in the midst of conflict, it seems that the other person is consistently annoying – they are always late – they never keep their word – they are always grumpy – they never pick up after themselves – they never listen to us – they always have the last say etc etc etc. 

By sharing the ways that they always or never do certain things, we are trying to build a solid case of how we are being let down. 

The problem with using generalizations like always and never is that they are seldom accurate. People are just not that consistent. There will always be times when they are not what we are accusing them of. 

Moreover, the minute they hear always or never in an accusatory tone, their mind becomes super busy trying to find exceptions to our case against them. Once they find even a single exception (and they generally do!), they will do their best to prove us wrong, our case is destroyed and we have lost the...

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Watch your words! (DW#421)

We all want to enjoy great relationships with the people that matter most and others whom we are in regular contact with. Our spouses and our children, our friends and community members, siblings and parents. People at work and in the neighborhood.

Sometimes, though, despite our best intentions, we say things that drive these same people way from us.

For the next few days, let’s explore some phrases and things that we say that can be annoying, that shut down communication, damage intimacy and distance our loved ones.

Today’s phrase is wildly popular on social media and via instant messaging: "just sayin’".

 

Here is how the Urban dictionary defines it:
  • a term coined to be used at the end of something insulting or offensive to take the heat off you when you say it.
  • The punctuation people put at the end of an unsolicited, fact-less assertion to indicate self-satisfaction at having stated something they erroneously believe...
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Eat of the good things (DW#415)

Sūra Mu’minūn: Eat of the good things and act righteously [Quran: 23:51]

As we prepare for the festival of Eid and the days of feasting that will surely follow, let us remind ourselves of this verse which links eating to doing good or acting righteously. 

It is a most beautiful command to eat of the good things: to enjoy the bounty and blessings that He has granted us and to take pleasure in these bounties. While this verse commands us to be mindful of what we eat, it also links food to spirituality, to the command to act righteously. 

Scholars explain that this verse reminds us that what we eat impacts our soul. It affects how we think and how we behave, how we connect to God, and how we treat others around us. Our spirituality, in other words, is very closely linked to what and how we eat. 

A tradition of the Holy Prophet (saw) advises us: Spare one third of the stomach for food, one third for drink and one third for breath.

So today as we begin...

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Avoid secret conversations (DW#413)

Sura Nisa: There is no good in most of their secret talks except in he who enjoins charity, or goodness, or reconciliation between people. [Quran 4:114]

During the time of the Holy Prophet (saw), his enemies would gather in small groups, whisper amongst themselves and plot against him. In this verse, the Quran cautions against having secret conversations amongst people while leaving others out, except if it to do charity or advise towards kind deeds or to make amends between people.

This verse about social etiquette has deep psychological wisdom. It refers to when two or more people gather to talk secretly excluding others. In another place in the Quran, najwa or a secret conversation is referred to as an act of Shaytan (Quran 58:10) as it is often done with ill intentions, either to plot evil, to form inappropriate relationships or to deceive someone. A conversation that is well intentioned on the other hand, generally does not require the covering of...

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What is your internal dialogue? (DW#377)

Since our mindset is "an interpretative process that tells us what is going on around us", it not only helps us make sense of the world and how it works, it also determines how we engage with the world. 

According to Dweck, one of the ways we can determine our mindset is by noticing the internal dialogue that goes on in our minds. 

She explains that in a fixed mindset, there is an internal monologue of constant judging and evaluation, and every piece of information is used as evidence either for or against the assessment of whether you’re a good person, whether you are smart or talented enough, whether your partner is selfish, or whether you are better than the person next to you. 

In a growth mindset, on the other hand, the internal monologue is not one of judgment but one of learning and curiosity. The feedback from the environment (including things that have not gone well) is used as information on learning how you can do better next time. 

So let us...

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Keeping your windows clean (DW#364)

As we have been saying, a healthy and loving relationship between spouses has large, open windows of communication. 

Sometimes, however, these windows can become clouded. Even the best relationships have times when communication is not great, there is unexpressed hurt or withholding of thought and feeling. If left alone, the windows will not clean themselves. In fact, they are likely to get more clouded over time.

When we build walls or opaque windows around ourselves to ward off hurt and disappointment, it also prevents us from feeling the joy, love and intimacy on the other side. 

To live in safe disconnection is like having cloudy windows - the light of love cannot get through. 


So how do we clean the windows of communication between ourselves and our loved ones?

It is quite simple really. 

Share your internal world, your thoughts, feelings, hopes and dreams. 

Being open, honest and vulnerable is like cleaning your windows with water and vinegar. 

It is okay...

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Are you setting goals that you think you should? (DW#315)

Are you setting goals or making resolutions because you "think you should"? Or because others think you should?

If so, these goals are not very likely to be achieved.

Here is what some experts said in the Journal of Personality: "When goal pursuit is fueled by personal endorsement and valuing of the goal, commitment and persistence will be high. In contrast, when goal pursuit is the outcome of pressures or external contingencies, goal attainment will be comparatively less likely."

So instead of setting goals that others think you should, or that you think you should, just pause for a moment and ask yourself: if you did were not scared, doubtful or anxious, what would you like to achieve this year? If you knew you couldn’t fail, what would you go for? What is your heart longing to achieve?

Write that down. Those are goals that are likely to have meaning for you and are aligned with your life purpose.

Setting goals like these are likely to help you realize your full potential....

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Know your why (DW#314)

If you are planning to achieve something significant this year, you will lose inspiration and motivation along the way. Almost guaranteed.

So what will keep you going?

People who keep going after the initial inspiration has waned do so because they recognize and remember the meaning and purpose of their goals.

In other words, the reasons WHY they set the goal as they did are front and centre in their minds. This is what keeps them going when the going gets tough.

Research in psychology shows that meaning and purpose are strong motivating factors for people. In one study, for example, two groups of mountain climbers rated the difficulty of climbing certain hills. Those climbers who had a strong sense of purpose thought that the hills required less effort to ascend and weren’t as steep as those who did not have this sense of purpose.

What can we learn from this?

If we want to achieve something big this year, we need to ask
ourselves what it means for us to get this done, to...

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