Get To Know Yourself

When you look in the mirror, do you recognize the person staring back? Do you remember who you are? Advice4Life introduces theAwareness Wheel – a way for us to see our own process, understand our intentions, thoughts, and feelings. Knowing ourselves and knowing our process allows us to cast down any imaginations or untruths in our relationships.

Many times in our relationships, we are motivated by what we think is right and things we feel is the way it should be – simply because we believe we’ve done this all before. We may be rehearsing an experience that we had in a previous relationship or maybe just another relationship in our life. Some of us are guilty of this – how many times have we held another person to the same standard as someone else? Projected the same thoughts, ideas, and outcome onto a completely different person? When we apply the same structure to another person that you did in a previous relationship, you will corrupt the morals of that person and that relationship.

The Awareness Wheel helps us identify our thoughts, feelings, intentions, actions and sensations. Knowing ourselves is extremely helpful in the way that we are able to express ourselves a little bit better. This way, in our interactions, we know where we went wrong and know exactly how to get ourselves back to the place we need to be. Once we are able to know ourselves we gain a better self image. So, take a look in that mirror again and let us know what you see!

Listen to the podcast, “Awareness Wheel Pt.1” here!

What Do You Feel??

Last week, Al Laws and Gregg Harris continued the conversation about the Awareness Wheel. The Awareness Wheelenables us to see our process to track and realize what we really meant to do when we find ourselves in a tense situation with a loved one. There is a certain comfort and certainty in being able to track where you are in your thoughts, feelings and actions. The Awareness Wheel takes on the biblical principle that God divides our spirit into pieces so that we may be more open to him. The Awareness Wheel divides aspects of who we are so that we may better understand ourselves.

We must get in the habit of being in touch with our own feelings; be aware of what you feel and TELL the other person what and how you’re feeling. So many times, we charge someone else with “You don’t know how I feel!” We must be the ones to take that into our own account and let them know exactly what is going on. It takes practice, but soon enough we will be able to zero in on our emotions and communicate it with the other person.

Listen to the podcast “Awareness Wheel Pt. 2” here!

The Follow Up

Family Strengthening really works! This past weekend, we followed up with Marie who took Al Laws’ and Gregg Harris’ advice and spoke with her ex-husband about the issue at hand. Just a refresher, Marie came to  Advice4Life with an issue that many of us face in our lives. Marie made the decision to separate from her husband, however she had hoped that her ex would remain active in their son’s life. Unfortunately, he wasn’t holding up his end of the bargain. Mr. Laws and Mr. Harris went through and offered their insight on what Marie should do. This included taking a look at her own process, finding the good in him, and apologizing for the negativity that she contributed.

Her actions warranted a surprising reaction. He apologized too. Not only that, her ex-husband stated “I don’t know how I lost myself.” How powerful is that? Her self-reflection encouraged a self-reflection of his own. Marie then updated us with her family’s new and regular interactions and communication. Her young son is now able to speak to his father whenever he wants – whether it’s in person visits or through Facetime. We’re so glad that Marie and her ex-husband were able to work out their issues and can  and effectively.

Listen to the entire podcast here:

Let’s Review

How is it already almost mid-November? The days are shorter, the weather’s colder and this year’s almost over! That being said, we’ve covered quite a bit in the last few months and it’s time that we get a little refresher. How has Family Strengthening affected your life?

This week, we’re going to do a quick recap of everything we’ve covered over the last few months! We’ve learned that Family Strengthening is a way for us to do our relationships a little differently than before. The base of the model can be found in the 7 Rules of Family Strengthening:

  1. Not Finding Fault
  2. Finding the Good
  3. Think Something Good
  4. Do Something Good
  5. Living up to the power of your own choice
  6. Don’t look for the fruit of your actions
  7. Be single pointed

How have your relationships and interactions changed since practicing the skills? Learning how to improve you relationships and changing your communication skills can be a daunting task. We aren’t saying that the people you find yourself in an altercation with are without fault. We’re just saying that it would be best if that’s not what you put your focus on. The key to Family Strengthening is that you must acknowledge the aspect and place where a person is successful and put your attention there. As long as we remain non-injurious in our interactions and communications – we get Family Strengthening.

Listen to the re-cap here:

Mirror, Mirror, On The Wall

How can we be better? How can being better change everything else? As human beings, we must always strive to be a better person than we were yesterday, this applies when we are in a relationship with another person. Over the past few weeks, Advice4Life has been discussing the wars that rage within us and going over different tools that can be of great use when we’re trying to build healthy and long standing relationships with other people.

Al Laws and Gregg Harris introduce the concept of mirrors regarding Family Strengthening in last week’s episode of Advice4Life. What is your intention every time you look into a mirror, It’s typical to make sure everything about your outer self is in place and when it’s not, we do what it takes to make it BETTER? Mirrors are a way to reflect back what you say, what you hear, and what you do. When we are in conflict with someone we care about, it is our job to reflect what people say to us without being injurious. When we look in an actual mirror and don’t like what we see (maybe a hair is out of place or your lipstick smear), it’s obvious that the mirror isn’t trying to offend us – we are giving off that image ourselves. It’s all coming from YOU! Likewise, when we are acting as a mirror, let our intent not be to defend or offense, but actually to inform or improve. It is then that we can communicate effectively and work past the issues that are bothering both sides. So this week, let’s practice being a mirror to the people that we care about and see what changes come about from all around us.

Listen to the “Wars Among Us Pt. 3” podcast here:

Love Is Kind

Walk away, make a sandwich, go for a walk!

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

Loving is tough when you’re angry. But that’s when it counts the most. When you’re experiencing any other emotion besides the pleasant ones and you’re still able to make your decisions from a place of love? You’ve mastered a very difficult skill.

It takes a lifetime to learn how to love. Everyone may think it’s just easy… Person A meets Person B. Person A and Person B fall in love. Person A and Person B spend the rest of their lives together. Nope, that’s not how it works. There are ups and downs and it’s how you handle these situations that really show your love for another person.

Why are you arguing in the first place? Why are you angry? When you are angry,  seeing red, and quivering, there is a natural defense of building walls that defend your heart. When that happens, get yourself to a safe place. Walk away, make a sandwich, go for a walk. Do whatever it takes to step back and remain non-injurious.

When you find yourself in an argument, you must remember first and foremost that you LOVE the other person and it should never be your intention to hurt them. One way you can see this through is to be aware of what you are feeling and why. It’s also important to understand what your partner is really saying to you, not what you think they’re saying.

It’s important to remember that there can’t only be one person constantly fighting to make something work. Are you going to look in the mirror and be happy with the way you responded to a situation? Learn to love yourself so that you may fully love another person.

Listen to the podcast here: part-3-al-aisha-laws/ Copyright 2015 All Rights Reserved Al Laws Jr.

On The Offense

Your union will find its place of strength”.

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

It’s happened to us all once, twice, maybe a few times – we do something that you think will help a heated situation and it sort of just blows up in your face. Did you mean for that to happen? Of course not. But it happened, and you need to figure out what your next step is.

Just as the Bible says, be quick to hear and slow to speak. When you do not get what who are expecting or ready to receive, you have a choice in that very moment of whether or not you will be offended. When we hurt, we tend to put up a fence around us in protection. We get discouraged in our communication. However, what we really should do in these moments, is not think of ourselves but think of the other person. The question to yourself is “Do I get offended or is my partner just trying to get me to listen?” Will you look at this situation and see the good or will you immediately shut-off? Gregg Harris tells us that when “you as the agent are coming from a place of love, your union will find its place of strength.”

We all know this: misery loves company and offense find friends. It’s inevitable that your offense will grow, sometimes out of proportion and become debilitating and paralyzing. You find yourself in a place of hopelessness – thinking something wrong, probably going to say something bad, then ultimately doing something wrong. As an agent of love, you must cast down that imagination of offense and its friends and see the good that is coming from your partner. What are they trying to tell you? What is it that they need from you? Once you’re able to change your mindset and reconfigure your behavior – THAT’S how you win in your relationships.

Listen to the podcast “Doing Something Good Part 2” here! Copyright 2015 All Rights Reserved Al Laws Jr.

Your True Colors

One of the hardest things in life is to hear, is to hear about unlikable things about yourself. When you work so hard to produce an image that you think everyone should love and accept, it’s difficult to hear that well… that image isn’t really working.

It’s like being at a masquerade party, you have that mask on but you’re not really fooling anyone. Everyone knows it’s you under there. It’s no different in real life. When you have a mask on, be prepared for someone to find you out. That is, if they haven’t already.

It’s so important to be authentic.

It’s not unusual to act out in an extreme way if a mask if snatched away from us, torn from our faces and destroyed. We are shocked, upset, angry when all of a sudden we’re exposed in a way we weren’t prepared for. When our masks are on, we are protecting something, hiding something from the rest of the world. Maybe it’s something that we’re not proud of, maybe it’s something we fear. Either way, when it’s staring us right back in the face, it’s unpleasant. We lash out, we act out in anger – all of a sudden we’re not the people we wanted the world to see.

In reality, we find our masks uncomfortable. They can be restricting, they can be suffocating. All we really want is to feel free. This is what calls us into a real relationship, the trust that if this mask comes off, that somebody will still love us – good, bad, beautiful, ugly. They will love every part of us. But the first step in the process of being our true selves is to trust. As difficult as it is, to show up in a relationship is to show up healed and whole. You are saying to your partner, “I trust you completely, until you have shown me that I cannot.” Allow yourself to BE yourself with this person, believing wholeheartedly that they will accept and love you for who you are. If they don’t, it wasn’t meant to be. Because the one you are meant to be with will love you as God loves you, seeking no fault and seeing only good. As someone’s partner, it is also our responsibility to be a mirror, helping someone improve for the better. In this exchange, we learn to trust, to believe and to empower as well as be empowered.

Listen to the podcast here.

Real Love Doesn’t Hurt

Abuse. Such a hard concept to even wrap our heads around. The most awful part is that there’s so many forms of it. Physical… Verbal… Emotional… It always starts with  one and intertwines with the rest. So how can we even begin to expect someone to be able to “deal” with it?

When someone loves you, they will never intentionally hurt you. They will never go out of their way to prove a point so strongly that they lay hands on you or say something that cuts deeply. The Bible says, “Perfect love casts out fear”. Your relationship with another person should be your safe place, your haven, your harbor. If you feel you are being abused, never chalk it up to your imagination. There are lines that should never be crossed and actions that you should never allow.

Be weary of individuals who apologize and say they have changed. They may go as far as to put on airs or claim they have found the way of God. You need to know that a person has to WANTto change in order to make a change. You see, people conform themselves to fit into a certain expectation, at a certain time, in a certain place. What happens when they’re taken from that environment? What happens when they’re taken out of the church? Out of the public eye? What do they do? When someone surrenders their heart to the Lord, that is when the real change will occur.

The person abusing you probably knows that you’re feeling guilty, alone and scared. They will take those feelings and use them to their advantage. You, yourself, need a willingness to change. The will to stay strong against what is out to defeat you. This strength will come from within. But how do you access it? Give your heart to the Lord. Your experiences have undoubtedly hardened you. But if you remember to keep your heart open to God, He will surely minister you and lead you in the way of safety and freedom. Renew your mind and your heart and the transformation will occur.

Listen to the podcast here.

Masquerade, Paper Faces on Parade…

If you’re anything like me, than your favorite holiday is Halloween. It’s that one night a year when you can be absolutely anyone you want to be. I’ve been a witch, an ice cream cone, a princess, a teenager succumbed to a fate of fighting to the death with other youths…and a magical nanny. I’m in character for about 24 hours and when that sun comes up, I’m Kristina again. It’s great fun and I can’t be the only one who thinks so. Because then why would masks even exist?

It all boils down to one question, once that masks comes off… do you like who’s behind it?Let’s explore the concept of masks. In the medical field, masks are actually a negative thing. When you mask an issue in the hospital, you’re only treating the symptom but have no clue what the real problem is. It’s the same in our relationships, we’re only looking at something or someone at face-level.

The reason we like masks so much is that we can make ourselves out to be whatever we want to be. We can be really sweet, maybe we can like football, maybe we go to church every day. This is all well and good, but we need to be aware of our own masks. Meaning, we need to realize when we’re putting it on, especially for other people. And that’s why we have mirrors.

We all know what mirrors do in real life. Metaphorically, people can be the exact same way. When we put on a mask, it’s because we don’t want to see who we really are. We don’t want to deal with our blemishes. But that’s why we have family, friends, and significant others. To help us see our real selves.

So imagine yourself looking into a mirror with a mask on. It’s one of those really pretty, masquerade ones with glitter and gold trim You look great! Now imagine yourself taking it off… do you like what you see? Maybe that mask was hiding a small pimple on your cheek. Aren’t you glad you can see it now so you can treat it properly before it becomes a major zit? When we remove our masks for other people, we are indicating a sense of trust to the other person. That person in turn can help us see our true selves. The good, the bad, the beautiful, the ugly… and when it comes to our blemishes, they’re right there to help us figure them out. So let’s look into our mirrors, mask free today. Let’s be our true and authentic selves, the self that God calls us to be. And if you get the chance to be someone else’s mirror, be kind. Everyone needs a safe place when they’re exposed.

Listen to the Advice4Life podcast all about masks here.