Blog Archives

The Rules of Friendship

friendship

There are no requirements in friendship… only rules, limits, and consequences. This is how we get confused and mistake certain relationships for friendships when they truly are not.

When you enter into a friendship, these are things to remember: investment, humility, unresisting, considerate, and meekness.

A friendship is a relationship you should want to invest in. It’s not something you let fall to the wayside, but something you give your time and attention. You must want to get to know the other person – their thoughts, their interests, their fears…and that takes effort.   It is something that you work toward and put your time in, solely because you enjoy another person.

When you want to be a good friend, you have to be ready to humble yourself. All of a sudden it becomes about another person. When we’re investing in another person we learn things about them that we wouldn’t have known otherwise – those pieces of information now become vital to the development of your relationship. When you humble yourself to another person you take into account those pieces of information and join them… in their likes, dislikes, hopes, and fear.. It is your task to accept those as they are, thinking no less of them if they don’t quite match your own interests or beliefs. If you hold your opinion higher than the other person, so much so that if there were disagreeing stances on any subject that neither of you would be willing to concede… there is no friendship there.

You must be able to be honest and open with your friend. The moment they have established themselves as a friend of yours (when they have proven to be trustworthy, faithful, and loyal) you have given them permission to speak into your life. You have given them permission to sow in to your life. Now, there will be people in this world that will want to be your friend for reasons other than enjoying you as a person. Maybe you have something they want, maybe they need you to do something for them… whichever the case, you can ask God for his help in discerning who is a true friend and who is not. When you become weary of someone’s intentions, there’s no need to stress or worry… because if you have given that person the best of you, God recognizes that and his or her agenda will be revealed in only a matter of time.

So be more mindful of who you say is your friend. And be more mindful of the way you are being a friend. Friendship is so special that is serves as the base of more intimate relationships. After all being married to your best friend and having friends that become family are probably the best experiences of them all.

Visit the Advice4Life website here!

 

 

The Struggle with Forgiveness

baggage

A few weeks ago we talked about how we as human beings tend to hold on to the things that hurt us. It’s so easy for us to cling to those things as though they are our memories, but really, we tend to hold on because the difficult thing to do is to forgive.

Forgiveness is something that we all want but somehow we all struggle to give it ourselves. How is that possible? Well, when we’ve been hurt it’s our first instinct to protect ourselves so as not to repeat history. What we believe is the fool proof way to protect ourselves is to remember each and every offense and make it our case against the other person. It’s like we have things stored in our back pockets ready for the right moment. But what would life be like if everyone operated in that way? If everyone just constantly chose to stay angry or upset?

Let’s think about the times we’ve made mistakes, fallen short, or disappointed someone. Did we want that person to hold it over our heads, reminding us day in and day out of our shortcomings and what we did wrong? Well ,if you’re in a relationship like that, it’s time to think long and hard about what you’re doing because I would want someone to not just overlook my transgressions, but acknowledge that I am trying to be a better person. And since that’s how I would want to be treated, how should I expect to approach another person who has probably made all the same mistakes that I have?

Holding on to past hurt creates baggage in any relationship. This baggage has the potential to weigh you and your partner down so low that it’s no longer love that you manifest but something so much darker.

When you find yourself in a position where you want to point fingers,where you want to fight, where you want to blame, YOU have been fooled. Anger will never get you what you really want. Yes, you get fuel from anger… but you get freedom from forgiveness. The moment you choose to forgive, the baggage falls off and the weight will melt away. No matter how hurt you are, don’t let it kill your ability to love… because in the end, love is where the real power is.

Visit the #Advice4Life website here: https://advice4life.us/

 

Can You Handle the Truth?

Give

“You can’t handle the truth!”

I’ll be the first one to put my hands up and say, “Welp, I’m not going to argue with that!”

Hearing the truth can be extremely difficult for us as human beings, especially if it’s the truth about ourselves. What can make it almost unbearable is hearing it from people we love. We’re supposed to be perfect in the eyes of those who love us, right? I mean, that’s what I signed up for.

We want so badly to protect ourselves, we want so badly to be good, we want so badly to be seen as good. But what does life tell us? That sometimes we will fall short. The reality is, hearing and knowing the truth can bring us light and life. The second someone sows into our life, we have the chance and the opportunity to make ourselves better – mentally, spiritually and physically.

There are two parts to truth – receiving it and giving it. Advice4Life talked about how to do both.

Just imagine it, you’re sitting down with your partner and BAM… they tell you, seemingly out of nowhere, about something you could improve about yourself. Does it surprise you? Yes. Does it cut you? Yes. Does it ruin you? It shouldn’t. When a loved one brings you something like that, regardless of how they said it (let’s be real, that can affect the message too) it’s important to remember that God is always wanting to give us truth. He is always wanting to set us free. And what does the truth do? … You got it!

God gives us certain people in our lives to give us these truths. He sends them to speak and sow into our lives. All we have to do is LET them. Yes, it’s uncomfortable. Yes, it’s disconcerting. But it is NECESSARY. Knowing how others perceive you can be essential in growing to be the person God wants and call you to be. Remember this any time your partner wants to tell you “about yourself”. It’ll be awkward, it’ll be tense… but as long as their intention is for you, it’ll be okay.

Now, flip that on its side. What do you do when it is time for YOU to give truth. Ask yourself, am I doing this for me or will this truly help the other person? The second you recognize that you’re about to spill “truth” for your own purpose and not to help improve your partner then stop right there! You shouldn’t want to change or mold your partner into what YOU want. If that’s your intention then mission can be aborted right then and there because the other person will be able to sense that, will feel the need to defend themselves, and then you’ll have full fledged argument on your hands.

When it’s your turn to bring truth into someone’s life, do it because you truly feel your partner can benefit from it in the future. At that point, you can approach the conversation by first celebrating your partner on what he or she does well. Tell them what you truly love about them, re-iterate what you appreciate about them, magnify what you value in them. This way, your partner knows where they stand with you and understand you aren’t coming from a harmful place.

When you are in a relationship with another person, never stop having your intentions be for each other. Tough conversations like this can get tricky, messy and awkward. But once you understand that both of you are coming from a place of love, you’ll be able to grow together for the better.

Listen to the podcast here.

Just Ask

headphones

Things are often lost in translation. The words we say, the things we do… someone will always interpret it differently than what was actually intended. So if there is a discrepancy in someone’s words or behaviors, why don’t we just… ask?

In this day and time we are so quick to character assassinate someone the second they have offended us. We get so up in arms that we often fail to uphold our role as a loving partner, friend, or family member. But in moments like these,  we get so lost in our own thoughts and feelings. When someone says or does something wrong to us, we tend to shut down and all we can hear is ourselves. Even if we’re not saying anything, what we don’t realize is that if it’s in our heads, then it’s in our hearts.  Instead of closing in around yourself, open up! Open yourself so much that you are willing to hear what the other person has to give you – even if it might be negative.

It’s inevitable that the people we love will say things that will not sit well with us. We can choose to internalize their words, wrap them around our brain, and draw a funny picture of what we thought they said. Or… you can seek clarity. One way to do this is to repeat back what you think you heard. This gives your partner the chance to clarify, correct or redirect you to what they really meant.

See, it’s important for us to recognize that God has put certain people in our lives for a reason. And if that reason is to tell us about ourselves- so be it. When we enter into a relationship with another person, we are giving them permission to speak and sow into our lives. If you’re not willing to accept what another person is giving you, why be in a relationship at all? And when we have allowed someone to speak into our lives, it’s not our job to be the judge and jury of what they’re saying.

This brings me to a third way you can ensure the success of your relationship. It’s our job to truly believe that the other person’s intention is good. If it’s in your head that your partner is just out to get you, you will be so ready to defend and unwilling to listen. If we believe that our partner just wants the best for us, the best for themselves, and the best for the relationship, it will be so much easier to hear what they need to say.

So the next time you decide that you know exactly what your partner was saying, just to be sure… ask. Or repeat what you heard them say. You never know if there’s something else they’re trying to give you.

Listen to the Advice4Life podcast here.

“Why Would You Wanna Marry Me For Anyhow?”

sweet-home-alabamaNow, if you’re a sucker for romantic comedies, this iconic scene from Sweet Home Alabama got you in the heart and stayed with you for years and years to come since its premiere. Once we get over the initial swooning over the simple question posed by two childhood friends who would one day grow up to be husband and wife, we realize that this question stands for most adult relationships today.

“Why would you want to get married?”

I mean,after all, couples today have given up glamorizing the life choice. It’s not all pies in the kitchen or picking out ties in the morning. Couples earnestly and honestly share the work that is put into being married. Why would we want to enter in a covenant in which you actively choose to work every single day, allow yourself to be your most vulnerable to another person, or be committed to a certain way of life until “death do you part?”

The answer is simple: love. When you love someone, you willingly choose to lay down a huge part of yourself for someone else.

When you enter into a marriage or any type of relationship, you are entering into a life where it’s not all about you anymore. And you know what? That’s okay. See, when you want to marry someone, there is no question about you laying down your life, your interests, your agenda for someone else… because when you really love someone you want the best for THEM!

Marriage causes people to grow, both individually and together. When you begin to sacrifice for another person, you quickly learn what you can and cannot live without. Deciding to get married is actively giving another person permission to help you grow and transform your life out of love.

So why do people get married? In the heartwarming scene from the popular rom-com, the answer was clear to an 8 year old, “So I can kiss you any time I want.” But decades later, we’re more aware of what the real answer is: because our lives would cease to grow without someone to love.

 

All It Takes is a Little Practice…

new-yearIf you’ve ever played a sport or an instrument, the value of practice has been ingrained in you from the moment you started. There’s no need to explain to you the concept of “practice makes perfect” and there’s no need to remind you how many rounds it takes to get to where you want to be.

Well, it’s a new year and guess what? Another year of practice has started- another year in practicing becoming who you want to be.

We all made promises as that ball dropped at midnight… Whether it was to lose weight, be more organized or in my case, be less crazy. Regardless of the promise you made, there is a certain level of commitment to practicing that you needed to make as well. You can’t lose weight without practicing portion control or exercise. You can’t be more organized without practicing organizational skills. So the first step in your changed process is to change your mindset and go.

In order to make any change in your life, you have to sow diligence– the diligence to hone whatever skills you need to be successful in your mission. This year, I have decided to diligently practice creating healthy and long-lasting relationships with the people in my life. But my practice started long before I even decided to make the change. When you choose to work on your relationships, your practice started with your parents.

For some, it’s a hard pill to swallow, especially if you have a strained relationship with your mom or dad. But honoring your mother and father is very first place you learned about your capacity to love. Many times we think, “I wish my mom did this” or “I wish my dad did that”, but when we get older we find that the people in our lives wish we did something too. So when we fall short of others expectations, quickly we learn how to give our parents a break.

The basic love of a parent is how we should approach all of our relationships in our lifetime. Parents love their children in spite of wrongs they’ve done or things they haven’t accomplished. Parents love their children even though they are disrespected or unappreciated. When we have made the commitment to better a relationship, diligently practicing this type of love is how to get results. For at least 3 weeks, practice loving another person through their faults and their shortcomings. When someone disrespects us or we don’t feel appreciated, choose to see beyond the issue and choose to not let it drive a wedge. We are all human and are bound to make these mistakes ourselves. And if no one else practiced loving us “in spite of” or “even though”, where would we be?

Listen to the #Advice4Life podcast here.

Catch Me When I’m Falling

arguing

Infidelity is devastating in any relationship, whoever’s side it’s on. The chances of recovery these days are 0 to none and it’s hard to see a life past the violation in a relationship.

Without pointing any fingers, Advice4Life has followed the journey of two hurting individuals who are currently dealing with infidelity, how to cope, and where to go from here. Kevin and Lisa have been sharing their sides of the story and we’re slowly gaining more insight on how something like this can happen within a marriage.

When you decide to marry someone or even a dating relationship, you enter in a covenant or agreement that both of you expect each other to uphold – to be faithful to each other and never part from one another. As soon as that is broken, it’s like shattered glass – shocking and difficult to save. There’s work to be done on both ends if you are to reach a place of healing. In the case of Lisa and Kevin, a break in the relationship was present way before the cheating happened. As a partner, you are looked at to be a safe haven and best friend for any and all of the deepest parts of your significant other. Partners need validation, assurance, acceptance, love, and safety. Although they expressed this differently, these were needs not being met by either partner. In her seeking validation, safety and assurance in the relationship, Lisa ended up ultimately pushing Kevin away. In Kevin’s quest for safety, assurance and love he found himself violating the sanctity of marriage.  Through the unveiling of both sides, we find out that neither is wrong nor right but that emphasis in communicating needs and wants could have been extremely helpful.

We immediately see the importance of knowing your process. Behaviors can distort your true intentions and anger can overcome every other, more honest, emotion. With both their actions, there was a cry for help. Each individual was falling in the relationship and there was a need for someone to catch them. As one half of a couple, it’s your job to do the catching – no matter how tedious or frustrating the task may be.   When we physically see something falling, it’s second nature to reach out and grab it. That’s how we must be in our relationships with other people. Rather than watching something fall apart, be the one to pull it together. Healing after someone has cheated on you is one of the hardest things to do. You may feel like you can never trust or love again. It’s your decision to do what’s best for you, whether it is to move on and stay to fix it. Whichever you choose, it’s imperative to know that both is extremely hard work. To save something you’d have to want to. If you want to, then you do it.

Listen to the podcast here.

When You Fall in Love…

shutterstock_103329050“Love is something we were sent here to do, that is our prime directive.” – Al Laws, Jr. #Advice4Life

Being in love is  very complex. It has a way to make the entire world beautiful, but can put you in a constant state of turmoil all at the same time. Sometimes you say I love you with sweet words or sometimes you say I love you with simple gestures. Love can feel like that funny feeling in your stomach or that cloudiness in your head. Either way, one thing is for certain all across the board – being in love is work. This week, Al Laws bring his wife. Aisha, on Advice4Life to share her thoughts on how to stay in love.

It’s no secret that the “honeymoon” phase is the most fun. Everything is just so new and exciting! It’s easy to see the most beautiful things in a person during this time and it’s easy to put forth only the beautiful things within yourself. However, eventually the honeymoon comes to an end and you are left to make a very conscious decision – are you in it to win it? “When you love someone, you automatically have a responsibility,” Ms. Aisha Laws reminds us. We have a responsibility toward the other person AND we have a responsibility to ourselves.

There are a few things we need to remember when we are in love. First, before we can love another , we must be able to love ourselves and we cannot do that until we understand how God loves us. The second is to be able to trust your vulnerabilities to another person – when we say we love someone, God is testing us to see what we will manifest when these insecurities show up. Will it truly be love? Third, we have to make ourselves open and available to love – just let it in! Lastly, while we keep our hearts open, we must remember to protect the temples that are our bodies. What good is a spirit of love without something to house it in? This means you have the human right to keep yourself safe and protected physically.

There’s so much more to love than the fluttery feeling inside of you. Help it thrive by creating depth and substance.

Listen to the podcast here: http://advice4life.podbean.com/

Showing Understanding

shutterstock_106373366People have the wrong impression about therapists.  They believe that human service clinicians have answers about their lives that others don’t, and this is not the case.  All human beings, at one point or another, struggle with issues that challenge their temporary or long-term emotional stability.  Some of us, unfortunately, never address our issues in a forum that allows us to proceed with healing.

The ones who do understand that their mental health is just as important as their physical well-being don’t know where to look for help, or they feel lost because they don’t feel like they have enough resources to get the help that they need.  In reality, what most of us lack is an empathetic ear.  We don’t need anyone to solve our problems because the solutions to our problems are already within.  When we go through challenging, or even traumatic events, we need someone who we can talk to without passing judgment or giving you a 5-step process to follow which may or may not work.

One of the beautiful things about the Family Strengthening Practice Model is that the principles taught in it are not lofty, difficult to understand concepts designed for Masters level human service professionals.  One skill that is taught in FSP in the Parenting Skill Sequence is Showing Understanding.  This simple skill, when used with a genuine, non-judgmental approach can make the world of difference in our inter-personal relationships.  You don’t have to be a social worker to master this skill.  You just have to be a human being.

So the next time someone is going through a difficult time in their lives and they need to vent about it, show some understanding and hear them out without judgment or offering solutions.  This skill builds confidence, increases respect, and it helps to empower the individual in finding solutions for themselves.  Respond to this blog post with some statements of your own that demonstrate how you show understanding when someone is going through.

 

MD

@markbmore