Have you ever met those types of people who just seem to smother your open wounds with a whole tablespoon of salt? I have! I have met many.
Either these people just don’t get it or they lack common sense – which by the way, in 2019, is not so common anymore. Sometimes I marvel at the types of personalities out there. Of course, I am fully flawed myself and I have some serious personality issues; but alhamdulillah, I admit them completely and I know my many shortcomings and I always ask Allah to not make me out to be what I hate! Aameen!
It’s just that, some people are really clueless, you know?
Maybe I am one of them?! Who knows!
Maybe this is a post directed to me!
I mean, I never write with the intention of just addressing the general public without me having to reflect on my own self first, so insha’Allah this will be a good reminder to myself, first and foremost.
I mean, judging only by the apparent, I feel like these people have not had a lot of experience dealing with humans or life in general. I almost feel like these people can be categorized into the narcissist (audhbillah ) category! They lack empathy, they only talk about themselves, they fail to listen, they nearly shove in your face things you really don’t want to hear about (their marriage, their husband, their children, etc..), they think their advice is golden when in reality it probably would have been better if they never spoke in the first place. There are some who are far from falling into the narcissistic category but are just plain negative. Being around these types of people are draining, to say the least. Sometimes we feel obligated to be around these people, or at least I thought I was, but then I realized, why should I sacrifice my own wellbeing to be around people who do nothing but sabotage my state of mind/wellbeing?
I know many of us want to be that supportive sister when one of our friends cry out for help. We try our best to offer beneficial advice and solutions that may help them feel a sense of solace and comfort. I understand that and I know the intentions are from a pure place (insha’Allah) but have we ever thought to ourselves, everyone is different thus the advice we offer may not always hit home for the other person? I remember when I first converted to Islam and I was beyond overzealous with my new faith. The advice I gave others was not always ideal nor was it the solution to their problems. In fact, some of my solutions, at that time, could have been more detrimental than beneficial. May Allah forgive me for my ignorance ameen.
But sometimes our advice can add salt to their wounds.
Sometimes our careless anecdotes can add salt to their wounds.
Sometimes our actions can add salt to their wounds.
I think it is extremely important to be aware of our words when we are with certain types of people. Remember, not everybody is like you. Just because you handle things one way, doesn’t mean the other person wants to handle it your way.
Just because you experienced something and went about it a certain way, does not mean that the other person will react positively to your methods or your words. I remember I met a few sisters who had gone through some hardships and as a result, it had really scarred them. Thus leaving them with a lesser-than-tainted outlook on life and as a result, when I was in their company, I felt negative and sad about myself and about my situation. I have nothing against these types of sisters and I ask Allah to relieve them from their hardships and give them comfort within, Ameen; but if I am already struggling and going through some tests myself, I don’t need to be around anymore Debbie-downers, right?
I need to be around people who are encouraging and who will remind me that Allah will respond to my duaas. I need someone to remind me about Ayyub (aleyhi salam) or Yusuf (aleyhi salam) and Ya’qub (aleyhi salam)! I need someone to remind me that they went through hardship after hardship after hardship and to the point of utter exhaustion yet they still persevered and prevailed because they believed in Allah and kept making duaa. I need someone to say ” You’re doing great and I know that everything will work out for you soon insha’Allah, because why would it not? Allah’s promise is always true!” instead of them relaying their whole life’s experience and making the whole conversation based around them and their own experience. Sometimes, people don’t want to hear about your experience because, well, everyone’s experience is conducive to themselves and not many people can really relate to you – duh.
Sometimes, we need to make it about them, and not about us.
When someone is going through hardships, offering them generic advice like “don’t worry, it will get better insha’Allah,” or ” have patience,” or “it is what it is, at least you have this and that and you are this and that” can only reach less than skin deep. YES, these are great and they are the obvious things that we should say but we need to figure out how to help their wounds, not add salt to them.
Nu’man b. Bashir reported Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: The similitude of believers in regard to mutual love, affection, fellow-feeling is that of one body; when any limb of it aches, the whole body aches, because of sleeplessness and fever. Book 032, Number 6258: (Sahih Muslim)
Being empathetic and sympathetic is the medicine to their open wounds. Feeling their pain as if it were your own and offering sincere advice that comes from within your soul is something that will help others. When you feel what they feel, that is when you will help their wounds heal rather than making them worse.
I decided to write this post because it was not until recently when I went through my own hardships and realized some of the advice some sisters would give me would often leave me feeling worse off than if I hadn’t spoken to them in the first place. They put more salt on my wounds. That is why I am a very private person. A lot of people can actually make you feel worse rather than better and that is why I am so selective with friends and with who I go to for advice. Thus, I want to write this post and address how important it is to be sensitive and empathetic to the one who comes to us for advice. It was not until I realized how I didn’t want to be treated that I realized how I should treat others. When people come to you for advice, they want comfort and affirmation that everything WILL BE OK. They are not coming to you so you can disregard their feelings and make them feel worse. If you help them, Allah will help you. Isn’t that convincing enough?
Abu Huraira reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Whoever relieves the hardship of a believer in this world, Allah will relieve his hardship on the Day of Resurrection. Whoever helps ease someone in difficulty, Allah will make it easy for him in this world and in the Hereafter. Whoever covers the faults of a Muslim, Allah will cover his faults in this world and in the Hereafter. Allah helps the servant as long as he helps his brother. Whoever travels a path in search of knowledge, Allah will make easy for him a path to Paradise, for a people do not gather together in the houses of Allah, reciting the Book of Allah and studying together, except that tranquility will descend upon them, mercy will cover them, angels will surround them, and Allah will mention them to those with Him. Whoever is slow to good deeds will not be hastened by his lineage.”
Source: Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim 2699 Grade: Sahih (authentic) according to Muslim
When we offer advice to others, it should be about them and not us.