Is “Netflix and Chill”
Killing My Relationship?

Movies give us an escape and break, it’s true, but more importantly they help us engage with reality more deeply.

Netflix and chill might be killing your relationship. Instead of zoning out in front of the TV and calling it quality time, invest in each other and put down the remote! It will refresh your relationship like you never thought possible.


It’s no secret Bob and I are cinephiles. If you’ve heard us speak or read one of our books, you know we’re always referring to great cinema. Since the dawn of time, we’ve been using fiction and storytelling to teach lessons—from the parables in the Bible to ancient cave paintings and oral traditions in native cultures. Stories are interwoven into the fabric of our lives. Books, lectures, and yes, film help us explore our anthropology and the very origins of our humanity and emotions.

Film can teach powerful lessons and bring on strong feelings. Think of the scene between Ben Affleck and Matt Damon in Goodwill Hunting when Ben’s character is an ally and true friend because he tells his buddy a harsh reality: that he looks forward to the day when he’ll escape their small town and go on to greater things.

Or the great scene in The Matrix when Keanu Reeve’s character, Neo makes the CHOICE between the red pill (reality and truth) and the blue pill (a life of blissful ignorance).

Then there’s the scene in The Notebook when Ryan Gosling tells Rachel McAdams that she’s a pain in the ass, but he loves her, so it’s okay that they fight all the time—a powerful lesson in relationships.

Yes, movies can teach us many things and be wonderful platforms for deeper engagement.

But just like any escape, they can be abused and overused. When does your “Netflix and chill” time go from entertainment to zoning out? And what do you do if your partner would rather stay home on social media or watching TV, when you’d prefer to be out DOING and living life? How do you both break out of that comfortable rut?

How Much is Too Much?

Does a film engage you? Do you use it as a platform for deeper exploration about yourself and the world around you? Do you and your partner discuss the nuances of each film and the takeaways afterwards? Is that discussion your favorite part of the movie date?

If you’re using film, books, or any entertainment as an opportunity to engage more deeply with reality and discover more about yourself, then you’re using it as a powerful tool.

When we use movies as a substitute for reality, a way to zone out, escape and disengage, that’s when we’re abusing them. That’s when it becomes a soft addiction. Soft addictions are time-fillers and worse, time-wasters.

Soft addictions are activities that tune us out rather than tune us in: scrolling endlessly through social media, watching news stories ad nauseam, flipping mindlessly through magazines, and yes, “binge watching” our favorite shows and movies (hence, Netflix and chill).

There’s nothing wrong with entertainment, but there IS something wrong when we use entertainment and “screen time” as substitutes for real interaction. It can be hard to determine if an activity is a soft addiction or just something you enjoy. There’s no hard and fast rule either. It’s not “bad” to watch TV or shop or read or play videogames. Each of these activities have their time and place.


If you’re having a hard time determining whether your habits are soft addictions, you can take our Soft Addictions screening quiz. To determine if your hobbies are soft addictions, ask yourself a few questions about each:

How much time do I spend?

What is my motivation?

What are my feelings?


If you find you’re using an activity as just “something to do” with your partner (and it’s often the same movie-night or binge-watching sitcoms pattern), you might be damaging your relationship with your soft addictions. Look at the amount of time you spend (a few hours vs. a whole day). What is your motivation? Some people might listen to music to zone out, for example, while others may listen to learn, educate, feel uplifted, and more.

Also check how your feeling. Does talking about the activity or “admitting it” make you feel embarrassed or ashamed? Are you afraid someone will find out how much money you spent shopping or how much time you’ve spent focused on the activity? Do you cancel plans, obsess over it, or think about it often? Does giving it up or taking a break make you feel nervous?

These questions can help you separate your positive habits and activities from your soft addictions.

More Meaningful Date Nights

Every date doesn’t need to be wind surfing in the Caribbean or scaling Mount Kilimanjaro. They don’t have to be costly or elaborate. You can still go to your favorite restaurant or see the latest blockbuster.

The key to making it meaningful is to find the message and the lesson in the activity. Can you try a new dish at your favorite restaurant? Explore the wine list? Learn something new about the way the food is made? Break out of your comfort (addiction) zone and break into a place where you can learn or do something new and interesting.

If you and your significant other enjoy movies, add more meaning by engaging in a lively discussion after the film. What lessons did you each take away? What did you think of the plot twist? Rather than a simple black and white critique, explore the deeper WHY and let your opinion be known!

The key to breaking out of your rut is to try new things. Maybe you love movie night, so why not take in a play or a concert once in a while instead? Go for a walk. Try a new spot for dinner or a different ethnic cuisine than you’re normally comfortable with.

When you and your partner experience something new together, it strengthens your bond. It’s a small risk, but those little risks add up to greater connection. Just as how our bodies—bones and muscles—are strengthened by breaking them down slightly so they can continuously repair and regrow. Our minds are the same way. We have to push beyond our comfort zone to grow our brain and develop it in new ways.


Growth isn’t always comfortable, but our brains are made for it!


Made up of BILLIONS of neurons, our brains are amazingly pliable. These neurons form different pathways with every new experience. Just as driving over the same route repeatedly would lead to a deep groove or rut, doing the same activities and habits over and over leaves our brains dulled and in a rut as well.

We’re built to grow! We’re built to have new experiences and find new opportunities for conversation. When we’re involved in something new, our brains are forming new connections. Breaking out of those old ruts and tired ways of thinking means we’re alive and engaged. Learning and growing shouldn’t be reserved for professional development and our work life. We can become even more fulfilled and more deeply engaged in our personal relationships and leisure time. Break out!

So if your relationship needs to bust the routine, try something different. It doesn’t have to be huge. It can be a small, deliberate activity like a nature walk, a meditation class or simply enjoying a new food or new experience together.

When you push yourself and your partner out of your comfort zone and away from your soft addictions, your relationship will grow stronger!

For more on how you can strengthen your relationships and deepen your ties to your partner, please visit the Wright Foundation.

 


 About the Author

Judith

Dr. Judith Wright is a media favorite, sought-after inspirational speaker, respected leader, peerless educator, bestselling author, & world-class coach. She is a co-founder of Wright and the Wright Graduate University.


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The Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential is a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Living performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.

Considering Divorce?
Inventory Your Assets First

 

Are you considering divorce? Be sure you pull out your personal assets. It’s time for some tough questions.

Considering Divorce


I’m not talking about your savings, your house, and the dog. Of course, whether you are divorced, divorcing, considering divorce, or just in a rough patch…chances are, you’re weighing and measuring those things and their worth in the relationship.

But you have more assets than just those that are tangible. You have personal assets—emotional assets—that you’ve invested in this relationship (even if divorce is inevitable). These are worth far more than anything else, so it’s time to take emotional inventory.

How Did YOU Contribute to the Failure of the Relationship?

Can you even ask yourself this question? If you walk away without dealing with the choices you made to get to where you are, dealing with yourself, and dealing with each other, you’re leaving empty-handed. You’re walking away from the learning, growing, and personal improvement that can be the result of a significant inventory of the relationship. Think about it:

How did you get together?

Why did you get together?

How did you manage to let the relationship fall apart?

How did it manage to end (whether it was an affair or you think you just grew apart)?

Here’s the news: It wasn’t JUST because he was a philandering jerk or she was an ice queen. There were skill deficits on each of your parts.

Failing to recognize this and take stock of the situation honestly means you’re walking away from valuable assets—assets that will help you rebuild your life, grow, and find happiness.

When considering these tough questions and maximizing the assets that you have, follow the Rules of Engagement. The first rule is: no one can give or take more than 50% of the blame. Each of you gets only half of the blame and each of you is 100% responsible for your experience in the situation and what you take away.

When you first got together, there was something that drew you in (more than just sexual attraction). It might not have been enough to keep you together, but it was enough to pique your interest. The problem is stagnation—where did you take it from there? Did you keep growing and working on yourself? For relationships to be durable, research demonstrates you must learn within the relationship.


You must be constantly adapting, changing, and discovering. You must grow and your relationships must transform. If it stays static, it can’t be sustained.


So, how did each of you avoid transformation?

(No, you don’t get to blame it all on HIM, and no, it’s not HER fault because she didn’t kiss your butt forever!)

The Scenario:

It usually starts out that He is “Mr. Solid” and She is “Miss Aliveness” (or she may be “Miss Solid” and he may be “Mr. Aliveness”)…we tend to pair up to and be attracted with people that are what we call our complements.

This other person seems to fill in what WE are missing: “She’s so adventurous and fun!” or “He’s so stable and reassuring—I just feel like he’ll take care of me.”

For the relationship to grow, that “sparkplug person” needs to learn to be more solid, not just for the relationship, but for the benefit of his or her own personal growth. Similarly, the “solid person” needs to not just be an anchor (or the stick in the mud holding things back) but needs to channel that solidity into stability and aliveness.

That is the first part of your inventory.

The first part of your inventory is: What was I looking for? What attracted me in the other person?

“He was handsome” and “she was pretty” doesn’t quite do it. The only time this is the sole motivating factor is cases where one party has particularly low self-esteem, so they’re just looking for an armpiece to validate their existence. If this is the case, it’s a red flag that you’ve stumbled into: a pit of unconscious snakes representing your failure to develop your self esteem and independence in your singlehood.

And no, women (usually), it’s typically not that you were so “strong and independent” without him. That is such a common script (and frankly a piece of horse manure).

Our Unconscious Landmines

When we declare our love–and notice I’m not saying “fall in love”…because it doesn’t happen. Love is a choice. When we begin to love someone, there are a host of landmines in our unconscious programming that we begin stepping on. Why?

Because, we all have a prerecorded script for marriage from our childhood.

This script comes from our parents. It’s based on the relationships we saw, ideas of what a relationship SHOULD look like from the media, from fairytales and whatever baggage we picked up at that time. It came from the way our parents treated us and the role we took within our family.

Around here, it’s always amusing to hear somebody say, “Well, I’m exactly the opposite of my parents.”

I have a friend from my younger years whose parents were rabid conservatives—John Birch Society conservatives. We went to college together in the 1960s, where he met his wife. They chose to live a rather marginal, hippy lifestyle. He thought (and repeatedly professed) that he was the opposite of his parents.

BUT, not surprisingly, he brought all of the unfinished baggage with him. He didn’t understand the psychological elements of his family. In his own marriage, he became distant and unavailable and his wife became very domineering in the relationship, which mirrored his parent’s relationship almost to a T. Now, maybe he didn’t espouse their political beliefs, and on the surface he seemed to embrace the laid back lifestyle, but when it came down to it, he was repeating exactly what he’d seen at home on a fundamental level. We can put on different clothing, but our core remains the same, unless it’s addressed.

Breaking Through Limiting Beliefs

A few years later, I had the opportunity to coach a woman who was facing her third divorce. This woman was quite gorgeous and knew it (and how to leverage it) at an early age. She grew up with significant pain: her parents had a troubled marriage where they were fighting all of the time. There was never enough money and they survived in a scarce and impoverished existence. She swore, no matter what it took, she would never be poor again.

Discovering she was particularly attractive and desirable to men, she married a man who was very wealthy. He appeared to have plenty of money, but shortly into the marriage, she learned it was his mother who had the money and he hadn’t a dime. She had a child with him, but the marriage crumbled and they ended up divorcing.

She quickly met a second guy, a wealthy widower whose mother was dead (so no mother-in-law concerns there). Thinking she’d overcome the problems from the first marriage, she married him. Low and behold, the source of his wealth turned out to be his dead wife’s mother. Once again, with a marriage built on no affinity beyond wealth, they divorced.

She then met and married a very financially stable self-made man who was the CFO for a series of increasingly important companies.  Thinking he was upwardly mobile and driven, she was thrilled he had the financial stability she craved. Every two years, he’d move up to a new company. He owned real estate all around the US. Little did she know, the real estate was all leveraged and the reason he was moving “up” every two years so rapidly was because he was always running just ahead of getting fired.

This led to her third divorce, when she sought me out to address what was going on. I helped coach her through these issues. During our discussions, she realized that deep in her unconscious mind was a false belief that marriage was about existence or survival, not about caring for each other. She entered each relationship expecting men to be dishonest, and she was drawn in and attracted to men who weren’t forthright—setting up for failure from the start.

She began dating differently. Now with a daughter in high school, they were taken care of through the divorces and her lucrative employment and didn’t need to worry about money any longer. Having worked through the core issue behind her divorces, we parted ways, and I hadn’t seen her for several years.

About a decade later, Judith and I were delivering a talk on couples, when I saw her. She came up to me with a smile and a man on her arm. She said she wanted to thank me and introduced me to the man she had been with for the last ten years. She was very proud to tell me how well they were doing together including the fact that they were learning and growing, and actively pursuing opportunities to explore together.

These are just two examples and there are many more: The top asset you have in your relationship is an assessment of your investment.

So if you’re the “solid one”…how did you avoid becoming more alive? How did you move from stability to anchor (to dead weight) in your spouse’s vision?

If you happen to be the “alive one”…how did you avoid becoming more solid in a way that freed up the other person from always having to be the rock? How did you become a helium balloon to his anchor, pulling in opposite directions?

Similarly, what unconscious programming did you bring into the relationship? What beliefs did you have that held you back, and what fears kept you from moving forward? What do you need to address to learn the lessons that are there to learn in the situation?

School Your Relationship

If you’re in couples counseling, one of the ways you can go about doing this is to look at your relationship as a four-year course of college. Identify all the classes you had, what you learned, and what you didn’t learn in those classes. One of the classes might be Understanding My Unconscious Programming 101. Another class could be An Intro to Challenging My Limiting Beliefs. Another could be An Advanced Study on Taking Full Responsibility for my Own Happiness…and so on.

I want to conclude this conversation with a story of one of our students who learned to take responsibility for her happiness.

She had been married for over 35 years and her adult children had successfully launched. When I first met her, she referred to her husband as, “What’s His Name” and he spoke about her as “My First Wife.” She blamed him for her unhappiness at home and general misery in the relationship. He was uninvolved, unaffectionate, and distant.

As she learned to take responsibility of her own happiness, even though he never took a single course with us, she began coming home happier every day. She didn’t come home with her guns ablaze, ready to blame him for her unhappiness. Consequently, he didn’t seem as zoned out and addicted to the television. He started to pay attention to her and they started talking more and communicating more. In fact, they became closer and closer. They are deeply in love and have weathered incredibly difficult health situation where he was near death. Her emerging confidence and assertiveness skills enabled her to be direct and challenge the doctors and nurses, as well as his treatment protocols in the hospital. This, they both credit for him being alive and healthy today.

No matter where you are in your relationship, divorced, divorcing, considering divorce, or just in a rough patch, do an inventory of all of the courses. What are you learning?  Understand what transformation really is. A partnership, when fully engaged, will be a womb to facilitate your development as well as a crucible to burn off your unfinished business. It will serve you on the way of you becoming the most magnificent human being you can become.

For more on how you can continue to explore yourself and your relationships to become your best self, please visit the Wright Foundation website.

 


About the Author

Dr. Bob Wright is an internationally recognized visionary, educator, program developer, leadership and sales executive, best-selling author and speaker. He is a co-founder of Wright and the Wright Graduate University.


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The Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential is a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Living performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.

Finding Happiness
as a Mother

At Wright, we like to focus on the age-old saying, “If mama isn’t happy, nobody’s happy!”

Happiness as a Mother


 

When I was a graduate student at Wright Graduate University, I wrote my dissertation on Expanding Mothering: Raising a Woman’s Awareness of the Opportunities for Personal and Psychosocial Growth and Development in Mothering—A Curriculum Evaluation Study.

A mother of two daughters myself, to say the program and my EdD journey was a profound personal exploration would be an understatement. The program and my studies deepened my relationship with my daughters, as well as my sense of self.

As a coach for sixteen years, I’ve seen time and again the way parenting can both halt and expand personal growth, particularly motherhood. (Although fatherhood isn’t without its own set of growth opportunities.) Mothers, as caretakers, are often balancing what Dr. Judith Wright refers to as the Trifecta of Mothering—mothering children, mothering career and interests, and mothering yourself.

It’s not hard to guess which area is often avoided, put on the back burner, or hidden away during our years as young mothers.

For myself personally, this was the case—I found that I avoided my own emotions, needs and yearnings, often deferring to the needs of my children and my clients, rather than caring for myself and doing my own personal growth work.

Through my doctoral studies at Wright, my coaches, advisors and allies were able to help me reawaken this sense of myself and stir within me the strong desire to help fellow mothers and women in my life stop delaying their own yearnings.

The Parenting Program at Wright

The parenting program at Wright takes foundational work…and brings it to focus in the arena of parenting.

In this program, students engage in coaching and trainings that are deeply rooted in proven theories and methodologies—most particularly Adlerian psychology and methodology.

Dr. Bob Wright has designed parent and child weekend training programs that are laboratories for parents and their children to live the Wright Integrative Model. These fun, structured weekends give a safe place to really strengthen parent connections and apply insights to parenting skills.

On these weekends, parents are challenged to look at what they are satisfied with, or not, in their role as a parent. Mothers receive training and learn skills on how to engage with their children so they are satisfied and have the opportunity to practice those skills immediately on that weekend with the support of other mothers and facilitators.

Wright parenting also includes family system analysis, which fosters deep understanding of the current family system and coaching to bring out the best in each member of the system. Everyone has a different role within the family unit, and it’s important to understand how these roles play out and where they can lead.

The Wright parenting model uses the rare approach of focusing always on the mother’s own self-improvement and having her practice at the task of mothering. In doing so, the Wright model is a framework based on mutuality, focusing on the mother-child dyad and specifically on the mother’s growth and learning in the process.

It charges the mother with becoming aware of her own emotional manifestations and to focus on her own satisfaction, all the while clearing the limiting beliefs that underlie less than optimal thought, feeling, and behavior patterns.

In this new model of raising children, the mother is engaged in her own growth and development as she also nurtures the development of her child. This personal growth focus empowers her to “grow up” with her child(ren)—what the transactional analysis theorists refer to as re-parenting herself.

SOFIA Women’s Program

Founded in 1990 by Judith Wright, SOFIA – the Society of Femininity in Action – is the Wright Foundation’s program for women. Members of SOFIA are trained in feminine leadership harnessing the power of values based in feminine principles such as caring, beauty, cooperation, and feelings at the same time honoring masculine principles as the support to get things done.

In the trainings and curriculum of SOFIA women are exposed to the following concepts: the state of feminine values in our world, the way we as women get in our own way of valuing feminine gifts, an exploration of the limiting behaviors that keep us from becoming who we were meant to be, inspiring examples of women who have broken through the mold to create lives of meaning and purpose, and context about emotional charges and responsible expression.

For a woman who is engaged personal growth and transformation, it is critical she align with her feminine values as they are the medium for deeper connection with her most genuine self. This is incredibly challenging in our culture that values masculine principles over feminine. SOFIA does not propose one is better than the other, rather it shares with women a vision of the two forces working powerfully together for fulfilling and productive outcomes.

It is through the women’s trainings and curriculum developed by Dr. Wright that a woman is exposed to new ways of thinking of herself in the world.

One concept in particular that was introduced to women at the seminar was that because they are women they are already mothers. A woman does not have to birth a child to be a mother when mothering is seen as a feminine quality and something all women share.

A woman can best manifest herself in her full feminine when she uses masculine values to accomplish her deeper desire. Wright calls it, “using the masculine in service of the feminine.” A simple example would be where a woman is in touch with her feminine value of beauty and she uses the masculine value of results and orders flowers to be delivered monthly to her office.

Embracing Our Role as Women

Many times women might feel their status of “motherhood” IS their identity. While motherhood of self, career or children (or a combination) is a powerful role, it’s only a part of who we really are at our core. Our potential goes beyond simply nurturing and caring for others.

As we explore our relationships with others and ourselves, it’s important to look both internally and externally—to gain inspiration and engage with our children, but not to live through them; to be examples of women leading fuller and more expressive and engaged lives; to be leaders and find strength within our femininity.

Doing your own personal growth work and exploration is fundamental uncovering our full potential. If you’re seeking a deeper fulfillment, a stronger connection with those around you, or even to find the power within your role as a mother and nurturer, the Wright parenting program is unparalleled.


If you’re ready to explore these themes, please contact us at Wright. You can work with a life coach to help discover your path and articulate your vision. For more information, please visit us at wrightliving.com.


About the Author

Gertrude Lyons is a human emergence coach and adjunct faculty member at Wright Graduate University. Her academic career spans from a bachelor’s degree in Finance and Accounting, a master’s in psychology from Antioch University, and a newly completed doctoral degree from WGU. Gertrude is wife and mother of two and resides in Chicago, IL where she continues to learn, grow, and develop her skills as a human emergence coach with the Wright team.


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Wright Living is a division of the Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential, a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Living performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.

Family Relationships:
Why is Honest Talk on Family Off Limits?

Do you cringe when someone brings up your family? Was your mother a saint? Was your father your hero? Do you hate the thought of “going there” when people ask you questions about your family?

family relationships


 

When it comes to working on our personal growth, figuring out our baggage, and resolving the things holding us back, why are we often SO afraid of addressing our family relationships? Maybe it’s the fear of having to confront our parents about things we had no control over, or perhaps it’s confronting our own fears and the realization that there are parts of our makeup we cannot control.

Yet, when our spouse says, “You’re just like your dad,” …Oh boy! Those are fighting words!

Oh, We’re Going There

Our family relationships are often seen as “off limits”—they’re the elephant in the room. They’re the reason why you see Harley bikers with “Mom” tattoos and you see grown men come to blows over “yo’ mama” jokes. It’s this feeling of “say what you want about my friends, my spouse, and even my kids, but don’t say anything about my parents!”

“You don’t know what my mother went through!” or “I was a rough kid to raise and my parents did their best. I’m not going to blame them for my issues!”

Our relationship with our parents is often sacrosanct. We just don’t go there—and we don’t want others to go there either.

What if I told you that your family relationships are exactly where you should go? Scary right? I know, but hear me out.

Whether you like it or not, your emotions, your internal makeup, and your beliefs about yourself are largely completed by age six. Yes, experiences and particularly traumas can change us and cause us to have more fears and more internal “stuff,” but for the most part, our emotional fabric is made up as children and very early on.

Scientists, psychologists, and researchers have studied this extensively, and it’s the reason why programs like “success by six” and parenting classes are so heavily promoted in kids’ early years. Infants have a bond with their parents (and particularly their mother) that’s like no other. If that bond is shaken or broken in any way (and there’s no perfect parent, so there will always be a few cracks in the facade), it can lead to beliefs that hold us back. We call these deep-seeded yet false beliefs “limiting beliefs.”

What Are Limiting Beliefs?

Your limiting beliefs might be things like:

  • I’m not good enough.
  • I’m not safe.
  • I don’t deserve to be heard.
  • I’m “too much.”
  • It’s not okay to share my feelings.
  • It’s never okay to cry.
  • Being angry is unacceptable.

You see, our limiting beliefs might prevent us from resolving them. If we believe it’s not okay to question our parents and that they’re always right—then we may never move forward. If we can’t get angry or if we hold back our emotions or if we feel like we always have to be positive and perfect, we can’t address the real root of what’s going on inside of us.

When I was young, I was a perfectionist. (I’m still a “recovering” perfectionist, to be honest.) I was the girl who did everything right. I got straight A’s. I was a leader in the marching band and the color guard. I was popular. I worked hard. I tried to constantly do the right thing.

Deep down inside, though, I had the limiting belief that I wasn’t measuring up.

I believed I was “faking it” and if I wasn’t careful, I would be found out as a phony. This is a common belief that plagues even top executives and CEOs (and particularly women)—it’s called “imposter syndrome.” It’s the feeling that you aren’t REALLY as smart, professional, talented, or even as attractive as you’ve “tricked” everyone into believing.

Even through college and the early parts of my career, this feeling of being an imposter haunted me. It held me back from my personal transformation and growth. Ultimately, it kept me from feeling fulfilled. Through every success and every milestone, I still felt I didn’t quite deserve it. I felt like it wasn’t real because I was faking it. There was this fear I would be found out and *poof* it would all be gone.

Where did this belief come from? Well, like any limiting belief, it was founded before I was even aware of it. It came from my wanting to be noticed as a child. It came from my longing for praise and acknowledgement…from parents who were proud, but not “too proud.” …Parents, who encouraged me to always strive for more. While this was a positive thing in some ways, it also created and reinforced this limiting belief that I wasn’t enough, and that I needed to be perfect, to try harder, to always be more.

Why Address Our Limiting Beliefs?

So why do you really need to deal with your family relationships? Can’t your relationships with your parents and siblings just be swept under the rug? Can’t you just “get over it”?

The answer is no. If these relationships and their effects on us aren’t explored and examined, they’ll continue to hold us back. We will continue to see these patterns repeat in our lives—in our careers, in our relationships, and within our social circles. We often recreate these connections and we’re drawn to them, because they’re so comfortable. They reinforce ALL the things we already believe about ourselves.

During our Year of Transformation program, we spend a whole quarter on Family & Intimacy. Why? Because it’s THAT important to helping you discover who you are and how you can be your best self.


“I had a lot of fear going into Family and Intimacy, my third quarter. There are certain fears and pain I was running away from. Even identifying my family’s rules and beliefs was challenging, realizing that I will continue to project my belief through others, whether it’s my wife, my siblings or perhaps even my newborn child.

The other realization was how I always desired to have a more forceful mother who would stand up for herself and go after her dreams and desires. I projected that “wish” onto my wife and would get upset when I didn’t see that happening.

As a result of that realization, I shifted my actions. I dug into several historical pains. After building up a lot of feelings and emotions throughout the quarter, I finally broke into tears with my mother, mostly from the pain over the loss of my father 22 years ago. I felt like it was the first time I fully expressed that sadness. I also had a heart-to-heart conversation with her regarding her goals and my vision for her.

That was the first time I had a conversation like that with her in my life.”

-Noah, Senior Research & Development Manager and Year of Transformation Student


As you can see, the benefits to tackling these beliefs and addressing our relationships with our family can make our connections stronger. It can guide us on our journey and help us transform our lives. All of us want more personal fulfillment. We want more growth. We want to be great.

To reach our full potential, we have to train and exercise our emotions. We have to learn how to be more open, more aware, and more engaged. We need to stop living a life where we question each success, or feel undeserving or as though we aren’t enough.

You are a gift to the world! You may not believe it yet, but within each of us is vast untapped potential and purpose. What you bring to the world is unique to you. It’s that je ne sais quoi, that “special thing” about you that makes up who you are.


“We can provide 101 reasons why personal transformation is beneficial, but the best one of all is this: You will give birth to a greater you.

Regardless of your age or personal development to date, you don’t know who that greater you is, but you’ve probably had glimpses. You’ve thought to yourself, if I only did x, I could have achieved so much. Or you imagine having a different, much more satisfying relationship with your spouse, our children, your parents. Or you dream about all the good you might accomplish for humankind if only you had the right team, or you didn’t have all the responsibilities, the financial concerns, the self-doubt. Somewhere deep inside of you, you understand that you could be greater than you are.

Transformation is the path to releasing this greater person from the recesses of your mind and bringing him or her to life. There’s nothing egotistic, inauthentic, or delusional in wanting to have a great life. In fact, it’s a perfectly natural impulse. Cultural evolutionists such as Andrew Cohen and Ken Wilber talk about how people want to participate in their own evolution and reach the next level of development. We’re not made to settle for good over great, to accept comfort instead of challenge. We all have a drive to explore and learn, but society or our own upbringing often dampen that drive and we believe we can only do or achieve or be so much and no more.”

Transformed! The Science of Spectacular Living


So, it’s time to stop holding back! Explore those beliefs. It’s time to “go there” and look at your family relationships. You may find by addressing things and bringing them out into the light, they aren’t nearly as scary as you once thought. In fact, they may bring you closer to your parents and siblings. They may also bring you closer to your true self with all of your amazing potential.

At Wright, we have several classes and options to help you improve your relationships with your family and yourself. We offer Family and Parenting workshops to help you improve your parenting skills or to take along with your kids to improve your relationships. If you’d like to learn more about personal growth or our Year of Transformation classes, or if you’re be interested in joining us for a free Foundations Training weekend, please visit www.wrightliving.com. Take the first steps toward unlocking your potential for a better you and a better tomorrow!


About the Author

Dr. Judith Wright is a media favorite, sought-after inspirational speaker, respected leader, peerless educator, bestselling author, & world-class coach. She is a co-founder of Wright and the Wright Graduate University.


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Wright Living is a division of the Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential, a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Living performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.

Why You Need More Allies, Instead of More Friends

Do you think your coworkers have influence over you? What about your significant other? Your friends? Could they get you to do something just because you’re following the crowd?

more allies


 

You’re probably thinking, “Eh, maybe a little, but I’m a pretty tough, independent guy/gal. I’m beyond being suckered in by others’ influences. Influences are for Junior High kids.”

Think again, buddy.

Surprisingly, we all have a wide circle of influence—larger and stronger and more powerful than we may realize, think or believe.

We’re Less Than Six Degrees Apart

Remember a few years ago, when the game “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” was all the rage? People were fascinated by the theory that any Hollywood actor could be connected back to the actor Kevin Bacon through six connections or less. It became a popular party game. People would sit around trying to link back to Kevin Bacon.

Truth be told, this separation? It’s not limited to just actors, and in fact, it doesn’t even go as far as six degrees. Not even close! In fact, a Facebook study revealed that users in the United States were separated by only 3.46 degrees! Everyone—from the lady at the coffee shop, to the mechanic in Arkansas, to the elderly woman in Salt Lake City—you’re connected THAT closely to the people in the world around you.

The people we surround yourself with have an impact on our actions and our achievements. Look at “herd mentality” when it comes to trends, the stock market, and more. In fact, there are plenty of consumer studies out there on the way we influence each other’s’ choices in purchasing, how we dress, and even what we eat.

The thing about herd mentality and the influence of others is that we all think we’re “above” it, right? We ALL think we’re independent thinkers. We control our own minds and choices, right? Well, guess what?

As it turns out, our circle of influence is much stronger and broader reaching than we think or realize. If you go into a room with a bad attitude or feeling like you’re having a crappy day, your influence will spread. Rapidly. Like an infection, you’ll actually bring every person down you come in contact with.

The reverse is also true. In phone sales training, you may have heard the phrase “dial and smile”—because your smile can be heard in the pitch and tenor of your voice. Even without seeing you, customers can literally tell when you aren’t smiling or happy to be selling something. Your influence even extends through the phone!

So what can we take away from all this? Are we just products of our environment? Is it time for an existential crisis?

Do we have any free will at all?

Surrounding Yourself with Transformational People

Of course the point isn’t to scare you into feeling helpless or powerless. In fact, the knowledge of your influence should actually make you feel MORE powerful and even MORE in control.

You are a person of great influence!

As it turns out, you have incredible power over the people in your life.

For example, in a study called The Spread of Obesity in a Large Social Network over 32 Years (PDF), it was found that people who were obese were more like to have friends who were also obese. In turn, the friends-of-friends of the obese people were also more likely to be obese. And here’s the kicker: almost unbelievably, the friends-of-friends-of-friends were ALSO more likely to be obese. This isn’t a lesson on obesity, of course—it’s about the power of our influence. Our habits can affect not only our family and friends, but also our friends’ friends…and even our friends’ friends’ friends. If just our habits can do that, imagine what our attitude can do!

Right now, you have influence over somewhere around 1,000 people. Your habits, your actions, and your attitude—they all have an influence on over 1,000 people in your circle.

YOU have the power within you to influence all those people with your positive choices, your goals and your actions.

…and you also have the power to be a stick in the mud and bring everyone down. It’s up to you.

This is why the importance of surrounding yourself with transformational leaders cannot be understated. If you want to be MORE, to feel MORE, to GROW, learn and engage, you have to surround yourself with not simply friends, but allies.

Friends vs. Allies

Friends love you for how you are. Your friends might be good influences…or they might look to you to co-conspire, to be an ear and a sounding board, or to listen, nod and smile. Friends bitch and moan to us, and yes, they care—but sometimes they’re too polite. They have their agenda. Hey, they’re friendly.

Allies, on the other hand, bring to mind a different image. We think of allies as partners in war, right? World War II, we think of the Allied forces—those who came to the aid of partner countries and helped hold the line and fight against the Axis powers.

Allies have your back. They fight with you. They call you out on your shit. They’re tough. They’ll tell you when you screw up and when you’re not doing the job you should be doing. They’ll tell you when you aren’t living up to your own expectations.

We can find allies all around us. An ally might be your life coach, your partner, or your mentor. Yes, an ally might be your friend, but a friend might not always be an ally. To truly be someone’s ally, you might need to give them tough love—not warm and fuzzy acceptance and permissive leeway, but brutal honesty.

Greatness is in each of us. Our allies know that, and more than that, they expect it. Surround yourself with allies and you will win each battle and continue to forge ahead. Allies believe in us because they can see the truth of who we are.

So look at your circle. Who influences you and whom do you have influence over? Are you their ally and are they yours? Are you pushing your friends, your partner, and yourself to be the best you can be? Are you being an ally to yourself as well as to others, or do you listen to your own excuses?


For more on how you can become a transformational agent and ignite your world, please read more on our blog at Wright Living. You’ll learn more about how to connect with those around you, expand your circle of influence, and push yourself beyond your comfort zone to a place when you can truly be your best self.


About the Author

Dr. Bob Wright is an internationally recognized visionary, educator, program developer, leadership and sales executive, best-selling author and speaker. He is a co-founder of Wright and the Wright Graduate University.


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Wright Living is a division of the Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential, a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Living performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.

New Year, Stronger Relationships: How To Truly Connect

Maybe you’re married or in a relationship, or in the words of social media, maybe “it’s complicated.” Whatever your relationship status, whether you’re single, dating or long-attached, chances are you wouldn’t mind bringing more passion and a stronger love connection into the New Year!

truly connect


 

How many of us would like a stronger connection with our partner in the year ahead?

They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results. So if your current actions aren’t resulting in the connection and charge you’re hoping for, why keep doing what you’re doing?

Time to change it up! Ignite or reignite the passion and get fired up!

Those in long-term relationships and marriages, might be thinking, “Yeah, yeah, but after a while, don’t you just get kind of…comfortable? Isn’t all this ‘fiery passion’ just for new couples?”

How boring! Who wants to be in a passionless relationship?

What if I told you, you could have the same connection, the same passion and the same attraction for your partner today that you had when you were first dating? For those of you who are still playing the field or who might be re-entering the field after a breakup or divorce, wouldn’t you like to REALLY connect with someone else?

What it Means to Truly Connect

What does it mean to truly connect with another person? It’s more than sex or attraction. It’s also more than just “getting along.” When you see couples with a real connection, you might notice that they have a great back-and-forth or rhythm they follow. They just “click.”

The great thing about the click is that it’s not limited to just long-term couples or certain personality types. Everyone can click with another person and truly connect. In fact, you’ve probably clicked with quite a few people in your life already, whether they’re good friends, siblings, and yes, significant others.

Now, of course there are factors like physical attraction, fundamental values, and other things that help us form bonds and create new relationships. If you’re dating online or if you’ve been “fixed up,” chances are you’re well aware that not everyone you meet is going to offer a love connection. Some are simply friendships, and some people have too many fundamental differences to bridge the gap.

However, two people who are self-aware, and who each have an openness and desire to engage, have a great chance at finding that “click.”

We have to get beyond the idea of a fairytale romance. The idea that someone else can “save” us, change us, or be the answer to what we need, sets us up for a false expectation and disappointment, leading to eventual resentment and distance. There’s no “one” person out there for any of us.

While this might sound unromantic or harsh, in reality, it’s the opposite! After all, if there were only one person out there in the world for each of us, what are the odds we’d ever find them (and find them at the ideal time in our lives to make the connection)? How sad would it be if our happiness hinged someone else or on simply one other person in the world?

Instead, when we open ourselves up to the possibility that there are many humans to connect with and learn from, the world seems like our oyster—a giant playground where we can test our relationships and connections, where we can learn from each other and experience new realizations about ourselves and about those we come in contact with.

Together, we can explore, learn and grow.

Similarly, if you resent your significant other or spouse for not being the answer or your “everything,” then this realization that there’s no “one” person out there should enable you to let that resentment go as well. Your spouse is just a person, just like you. They have their own wants and needs. They have their own yearnings and they’re made up of their experiences and interactions.

Viewing your partner as someone to explore, to get to know, and to learn about can help you shift away from the boredom or the feeling that your relationship is drifting along a passionless shoreline. There are things about your partner you have yet to learn. Even couples who have been married for fifty years still surprise each other and can discover and unlock new things about each other. Get back that sense of wonder; it’s the desire for growth and exploration that will propel you forward!

Embrace Differences

Each experience we have and each person we meet helps us form new context and opens up new neuropathways in our brains. Our brains are constantly growing and changing! As children, we’re always in a state of development and discovery because we’re confronted with so many new opportunities and new situations. As we age, these situations and opportunities come up less and less frequently. We get up, go to work along the same route, do the same job, come home, eat the same dinner and go to bed.

That routine, as comforting as it might seem, sets us up for boredom and discontent. As it turns out, we all need and desire new experiences! New experiences keep us feeling smart, engaged and alert. We want to continue to grow and learn. This growth and forward momentum is at the core of our humanity. We crave new experiences and with each discovery, we feel more alive and more connected.

So guess what? If you want to change the status quo with your spouse or if you want to feel invigorated and impassioned, you need to find a way to wake up your brain! This might mean trying a new activity like getting outdoors, going for a walk in a new neighborhood, exploring a new restaurant, or learning something together. You don’t have to fly to Giza to explore pyramids or take up skydiving; just a simple change of pace and new experience will set the wheels in motion.

Stop Avoiding. Start Engaging.

Whether you want to reform and strengthen your long-term connections or build a new connection, you have to get in the game. Dating sets up the perfect context for new activity and experience. Each moment is a new opportunity to explore something together. After a few years, you might be used to the same restaurants and the same patterns, and that’s when boredom can settle in.

Instead, we have to engage! Budding and established relationships both require engagement. This also means embracing conflict. For so many of us, in our relationships, new or old, we shy away from conflict and confrontation. We want the other person to like us and we don’t want to fight. Maybe we were raised in families where fighting was scary or avoided. Maybe our parents taught us to ignore problems or pretend things were always “fine,” even when they weren’t.

If you want to feel MORE in your relationship, let the emotion in! That means it’s okay to say to your partner, “You’re really pissing me off,” or to tell them when you don’t like something they did or said. You can engage in a little debate and discourse. Just be sure to fight fair. Conflict is healthy!

Sometimes, when we’re conflict avoidant, we’re just building up resentment and distance. To snap out of it and reverse the trend, we have to let it out. As you explore your yearnings, you may start to identify areas where they aren’t being met. When you reach for ways to meet these yearnings, bring it up to your partner. Speak up and tell your partner how you feel!

Make this year the year you reignite your passion. Do the things that speak to you and keep you feeling vibrant and engaged. Open yourself to new experiences and explorations, and invite your partner to do the same. If they’re hesitant, don’t let it hold you back. Often, as you grow, you create a ripple effect to those around you. When they see you happier, more creative, more alive and more alert, they’ll want to “have what she’s having…”


Go forth and engage in self-exploration and discovery! Unlock what makes you happy and connect you with the world around you. For more information on ways to grow and transform your life and the world around you, read more on our blog here.


About the Author

Dr. Bob Wright is an internationally recognized visionary, educator, program developer, leadership and sales executive, best-selling author and speaker. He is a co-founder of Wright and the Wright Graduate University.


Wright Living is a division of the Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential, a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Living performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.
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How to Survive (and Thrive!)
this Holiday Season

Picture your happiest holiday, your most idyllic scene. Whether it’s Kwanzaa, Chanukah, Christmas or the New Year…close your eyes for a moment and envision what the “perfect holiday” would be for you.

holiday season


 

Does it look like a serene scene right out of your favorite holiday movie? Or maybe it looks like a Norman Rockwell painting…?

We all have an idea of what the “ideal” holiday looks like. Just like a fairytale romance, this scene has been ingrained into our minds by thousands of similar Hollywood tropes, saying, “This is what the holidays should be. This is what a perfect holiday looks like.” In Hollywood, even the stressful holiday moments are part of the storyline—they always work out with a laugh and a happy ending.

You may be feeling a certain amount of stress or pressure to live up to these expectations, so when the holiday doesn’t turn out exactly as you planned or when it feels less meaningful than you’d hoped, it can feel defeating and disappointing…even depressing. Compound these expectations with the additional stressors of the season, like end-of-year work pressures, time management issues, dark days, cold weather, financial strain—it’s no wonder you might be feeling more “bah humbug” than “fa-la-la-la-la.”

According to the APA, at least 69% of people are stressed out over the holidays! Yet, what do we do? We repeat the process every year! We take on the same expectations and ideals. We set the bar higher and higher to find the perfect tree, cook the perfect dinner, hold the most festive party, or give the most amazing gift.

I’m going to let you in on a little secret—it’s not about reaching the singular pinnacle of the “perfect moment,” it’s about finding the joy in all of the moments throughout the season!

Truly Feeling Joy All Season Long

When we put too much pressure on ourselves or build up an ideal scene in our minds, we might be removing the joy, wonder, and excitement from the other moments surrounding it.

Instead, practice mindfulness this holiday season. Wrapping gifts with your daughter, decorating the tree with your spouse, or lighting holiday candles might be just as satisfying as carving the turkey and raising a glass. The weeks before Christmas can be just as festive and filled with happiness as the moment you unwrap gifts from under the tree. They don’t have to be jam-packed with Santa and literal bells and whistles either. The quiet moments and connections can have the most meaning.

In fact, sometimes the anxiety over that pinnacle “perfect” moment can be built up so much that we can barely enjoy the moment itself. Brides and grooms often describe their wedding day as going by really fast or “a blur,” and it’s even common to feel a little letdown after. It’s for the same reasons: when we become narrow and singular in our vision, working on an ideal day or even a single moment for months, we take the joy and satisfaction out of the journey and the learning process.

Planning, shopping, cooking, preparing—these rituals of the holiday season can bring satisfaction, too. Engaging in a great conversation at a party or really connecting with a loved one over the season can be the true highlight. You might not have a Tiny Tim “God bless us, everyone” moment at your dinner table…and that’s okay. You can still have a wonderful holiday season.

Redefining the “Perfect” Holiday

Instead of picturing the single perfect holiday moment, try to picture what your ideal month would look like. Are there family members and friends who you really want to engage and connect with? Are the activities you’d like to do to celebrate the season?

When you have the opportunity to see friends, really listen, and engage with them. Express your appreciation for them and make time for those who elevate you and bring out your best. Make these friends your priority, especially during times when you can otherwise brush off social engagements because of too many other commitments. These are the moments that will renew and revive you.

If holiday lights really give you the sense of magic you long for, make a priority to take a winter walk with your spouse and enjoy the lights around your neighborhood. If you love the windows downtown, keep a place in your shopping schedule to take a walk by all the shops and really be present in the moment—take it in. Treat yourself to a sensory delight like a peppermint latte or a gingerbread tea, and really focus on the memories and feelings it conjures. Don’t worry about snapping the “perfect selfie” or documenting the “perfect” moment. Simply enjoy it!

During these busy days we can forget about self-care and giving ourselves little “gifts” of mindfulness and renewal. Listen to music, get outdoors and get some exercise. Don’t zone out with too much alcohol and food to quell your anxiety—enjoy a treat, and move forward. Keep yourself mindful and in the moment, getting plenty of rest and keeping your schedule from becoming too jam-packed.

Encouraging Meaningful Connections & Engagement

The best part of the holiday season is the opportunity to connect and engage with friends, family and those around us in a meaningful, deliberate and celebratory way. Make the most of it!

Rather than tackling baggage and confronting every issue when you go home, approach even strenuous situations with honesty. If you’re worried about a confrontation with a sibling or dreading criticism from your mother, set up the situation for success. Tell them, “I want to spend today appreciating each other and focusing on the joy of the moment. We have some things to talk about at a later time, but let’s enjoy each other’s company for now.”

Before you head into a particularly stressful family situation, take the time to think of, and even write down, what you appreciate about your family member. When you spend time with them mentally refer back to your list, tell them what you’ve discovered and what they mean to you. Make the holidays about appreciation and connection.

Does this mean you have to let go of rude behavior or become a punching bag? No way! You can express your emotions and feelings (and should)! Just know that once-a-year around the brisket, you’re probably not going to resolve deep-seated concerns and personality conflicts.

If there’s something eating away at you that needs to be addressed, or if a family member gets out of line or does something upsetting, step in and be the voice of reason. Let them know you’d like to discuss things after the New Year (if you feel it needs to be addressed and can be resolved), and for now, you’d like to focus on appreciation and building connections.

When it’s all said and done, there may be family members that we just don’t get along or agree with…perhaps we can’t come together on our core beliefs or attitudes. During the holidays, however, we may end up in each other’s presence because we both care about the same people (other family members). Use this commonality as a platform for connection, and if worst comes to worst, you can both agree that no one wants to ruin Christmas for Grandma, and make the best of mutually appreciating and enjoying her.

Take time to give yourself a break when you need one. Go for a walk. Build your intimacy and bond with your partner by making them your ally. Turn a stressful moment into a challenge you can tackle and use to learn and grow from.

Throughout the holidays we’re given opportunities to stretch ourselves and really tap into our emotional intelligence. We can worry and stress out, or we can rise to the occasion and come through the holidays with a greater understanding of ourselves and those around us—building some great memories to boot!

This holiday season, commit to really engaging in those moments and learning opportunities. Stretch yourself emotionally and express appreciation for the people in your life. Listen, engage, and grow all season long. Look at this season as an opportunity to build your momentum and propel yourself into a successful New Year of transformation and connection!


For more on making the most of the season, please join us for a special Holiday Workshop this Thursday, December 8th—Home for the Holidays: Creating Meaningful Moments Throughout the Season. We’ll help you get the most out of your holidays!


About the Author

Dr. Bob Wright is an internationally recognized visionary, educator, program developer, leadership and sales executive, best-selling author and speaker. He is a co-founder of Wright and the Wright Graduate University.


Wright Living is a division of the Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential, a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Living performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.
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The Holidays: Reflect,
Rejoice, Renew!

Amidst all the festivity and frivolity this season, there’s still an element of stress, and for many of us, the pressures of the holiday can become overwhelming, taking over our feelings of joy.

the holidays


 

Picture your happiest holiday, your most idyllic scene. Whether it’s Kwanzaa, Chanukah, Christmas or the New Year…close your eyes for a moment and envision what the “perfect holiday” would be for you.

Does it look like a serene scene right out of your favorite holiday movie? Or maybe it looks like a Norman Rockwell painting…?

We all have an idea of what the “ideal” holiday looks like. Just like a fairytale romance, this scene has been ingrained into our minds by thousands of similar Hollywood tropes, saying, “This is what the holidays should be. This is what a perfect holiday looks like.” In Hollywood, even the stressful holiday moments are part of the storyline—they always work out with a laugh and a happy ending.

You may be feeling a certain amount of stress or pressure to live up to these expectations, so when the holiday doesn’t turn out exactly as you planned or when it feels less meaningful than you’d hoped, it can feel defeating and disappointing…even depressing. Compound these expectations with the additional stressors of the season, like end-of-year work pressures, time management issues, dark days, cold weather, financial strain—it’s no wonder you might be feeling more “bah humbug” than “fa-la-la-la-la.”

According to the APA, at least 69% of people are stressed out over the holidays! Yet, what do we do? We repeat the process every year! We take on the same expectations and ideals. We set the bar higher and higher to find the perfect tree, cook the perfect dinner, hold the most festive party, or give the most amazing gift.

I’m going to let you in on a little secret—it’s not about reaching the singular pinnacle of the “perfect moment,” it’s about finding the joy in all of the moments throughout the season!

Give Yourself the Gift of Self-Care

Don’t stretch yourself so thin this holiday season that you lose sight of the things that make you feel healthy and strong. Ensuring your basic needs are met is crucial to keeping yourself in the game and feeling great. Get plenty of sleep. Get exercise.

Sure, enjoy culinary delights and drink eggnog, but don’t approach it as a way to numb yourself or escape from your stress. Don’t zone out in front of the television or fixate on social media. When we use these soft addictions to “feel better” or cope, we’re simply prolonging the stress.

Instead, give yourself a gift by getting outdoors to revel in the beauty of the season. Commune with nature and appreciate the wonders of the world around us. A brisk walk or outdoor activity can do wonders for your mental well-being. Take your partner along or undertake a winter sport, like snowshoeing, skiing or another opportunity to connect with your partner, get some exercise, and move your body. Bask in the awe and joy of the winter world.

An important part of self-care is giving yourself forgiveness and understanding where you need to set appropriate boundaries. While you may feel you need to say yes to every invitation or opportunity that comes your way, it’s perfectly okay to say no, especially if obligations feel like a weight or a chore. Give yourself some flextime to enjoy the time you have with friends and family, rather than trying to pack in a full schedule.

Find Wonder in the Season

Ever wonder why Christmas, New Year’s or other holidays lose some of their luster when we get older? Those feelings of excitement, happiness and discovery get lost along the wayside, and things might seem empty, ho-hum, lonely or even obligatory, rather than fun.

As children, the holidays are full of mystery, new experiences and opportunities to grow. When we’re young, we process each experience as something new. We sense the potential and the possibilities. It can seem almost magical at times, as we wait to unwrap presents and revel in the excitement of the holidays. From a scientific point of view, our brains are growing and mapping each new experience. We’re forming our matrix and our neuropathways.

When we are older, however, we forget how to savor these moments and feel that same sense of mystery and wonder. Experiences aren’t as new or fresh or filled with the unknown. To get back to that state of bliss, we must learn how to grow and stretch ourselves further. We must open ourselves to new experiences and feel the awe of the season.

Our brains have neuroplasticity—the ability to grow and form new neuropathways and connections—throughout our entire life. It’s through this new stimuli we feel alive, awake and energized. Rather than focusing on the future or fixating on the past, we need to learn to be mindful in the moment and aware of the value of each experience.

This can be a challenge when we’re faced with the “same old” family situations, getting sucked into family drama and stress. We might go home to discover that we fall into patterns we’ve experienced since we were very young. We might feel disappointment and frustration when we return to these familiar routines.

Instead, try something new. Go into each experience with an openness and renewed enthusiasm. Rather than telling yourself it will be the same problems you’ve faced in the past, instead “check your baggage at the door” and go into the moment with a sense of new possibilities and self-awareness.

Truly Feeling Joy All Season Long

When we put too much pressure on ourselves or build up an ideal scene in our minds, we might be removing the joy, wonder, and excitement from the other moments surrounding it.

Instead, practice mindfulness this holiday season. Wrapping gifts with your daughter, decorating the tree with your spouse, or lighting holiday candles might be just as satisfying as carving the turkey and raising a glass. The weeks before Christmas can be just as festive and filled with happiness as the moment you unwrap gifts from under the tree. They don’t have to be jam-packed with Santa and literal bells and whistles either. The quiet moments and connections can have the most meaning.

In fact, sometimes the anxiety over that pinnacle “perfect” moment can be built up so much that we can barely enjoy the moment itself. Brides and grooms often describe their wedding day as going by really fast or “a blur,” and it’s even common to feel a little letdown after. It’s for the same reasons: when we become narrow and singular in our vision, working on an ideal day or even a single moment for months, we take the joy and satisfaction out of the journey and the learning process.

Planning, shopping, cooking, preparing—these rituals of the holiday season can bring satisfaction, too. Engaging in a great conversation at a party or really connecting with a loved one over the season can be the true highlight. You might not have a Tiny Tim “God bless us, everyone” moment at your dinner table…and that’s okay. You can still have a wonderful holiday season.

Redefining the “Perfect” Holiday

Instead of picturing the single perfect holiday moment, try to picture what your ideal month would look like. Are there family members and friends who you really want to engage and connect with? Are the activities you’d like to do to celebrate the season?

When you have the opportunity to see friends, really listen, and engage with them. Express your appreciation for them and make time for those who elevate you and bring out your best. Make these friends your priority, especially during times when you can otherwise brush off social engagements because of too many other commitments. These are the moments that will renew and revive you.

If holiday lights really give you the sense of magic you long for, make a priority to take a winter walk with your spouse and enjoy the lights around your neighborhood. If you love the windows downtown, keep a place in your shopping schedule to take a walk by all the shops and really be present in the moment—take it in. Treat yourself to a sensory delight like a peppermint latte or a gingerbread tea, and really focus on the memories and feelings it conjures. Don’t worry about snapping the “perfect selfie” or documenting the “perfect” moment. Simply enjoy it!

During these busy days we can forget about self-care and giving ourselves little “gifts” of mindfulness and renewal. Listen to music, get outdoors and get some exercise. Don’t zone out with too much alcohol and food to quell your anxiety—enjoy a treat, and move forward. Keep yourself mindful and in the moment, getting plenty of rest and keeping your schedule from becoming too jam-packed.

Encouraging Meaningful Connections & Engagement

The best part of the holiday season is the opportunity to connect and engage with friends, family and those around us in a meaningful, deliberate and celebratory way. Make the most of it!

Rather than tackling baggage and confronting every issue when you go home, approach even strenuous situations with honesty. If you’re worried about a confrontation with a sibling or dreading criticism from your mother, set up the situation for success. Tell them, “I want to spend today appreciating each other and focusing on the joy of the moment. We have some things to talk about at a later time, but let’s enjoy each other’s company for now.”

Before you head into a particularly stressful family situation, take the time to think of, and even write down, what you appreciate about your family member. When you spend time with them mentally refer back to your list, tell them what you’ve discovered and what they mean to you. Make the holidays about appreciation and connection.

Does this mean you have to let go of rude behavior or become a punching bag? No way! You can express your emotions and feelings (and should)! Just know that once-a-year around the brisket, you’re probably not going to resolve deep-seated concerns and personality conflicts.

If there’s something eating away at you that needs to be addressed, or if a family member gets out of line or does something upsetting, step in and be the voice of reason. Let them know you’d like to discuss things after the New Year (if you feel it needs to be addressed and can be resolved), and for now, you’d like to focus on appreciation and building connections.

When it’s all said and done, there may be family members that we just don’t get along or agree with…perhaps we can’t come together on our core beliefs or attitudes. During the holidays, however, we may end up in each other’s presence because we both care about the same people (other family members). Use this commonality as a platform for connection, and if worst comes to worst, you can both agree that no one wants to ruin Christmas for Grandma, and make the best of mutually appreciating and enjoying her.

Take time to give yourself a break when you need one. Go for a walk. Build your intimacy and bond with your partner by making them your ally. Turn a stressful moment into a challenge you can tackle and use to learn and grow from.

Throughout the holidays we’re given opportunities to stretch ourselves and really tap into our emotional intelligence. We can worry and stress out, or we can rise to the occasion and come through the holidays with a greater understanding of ourselves and those around us—building some great memories to boot!

This holiday season, commit to really engaging in those moments and learning opportunities. Stretch yourself emotionally and express appreciation for the people in your life. Listen, engage, and grow all season long. Look at this season as an opportunity to build your momentum and propel yourself into a successful New Year of transformation and connection!


For more on making the most of the season, please join us for a special Holiday Workshop this Thursday, December 8th—Home for the Holidays: Creating Meaningful Moments Throughout the Season. We’ll help you get the most out of your holidays!


About the Author

Dr. Bob Wright is an internationally recognized visionary, educator, program developer, leadership and sales executive, best-selling author and speaker. He is a co-founder of Wright and the Wright Graduate University.


Wright Living is a division of the Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential, a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Living performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University. Liked this post and want more? Sign up for updates – free!

The Power of Silence :
Purposeful Passiveness

 

There’s a great quote from Eastern philosophy: “Silence is the most powerful scream.” We often talk about the importance of expressing ourselves, engaging in conflict and making our presence known—but the purposeful use of silence can also be a powerful tool for getting our message across. 


When we think about someone who projects a powerful stance, expresses their power, and ensures their voice is heard, we typically think of a more…assertive personality and approach.

Perhaps you even think of someone who’s aggressive, domineering, and who yells and speaks loudly. Perhaps an assertive boss comes to mind, or a speaker captivating the room, or an in-law dominating a conversation, or maybe someone who drives and conducts in a meeting.

Power comes from expressing your voice and freely offering your feelings and opinions in life. When we think of power, we think of someone who makes a statement—someone who ensures their voice is heard.

This typical definition of power is one we see in the media and learn about in school, so it becomes an integral part of our psyche. We see “powerful” in media moguls, politicians, and businessmen. We learn that people who are loud and famous get heard.

Consequently, when we’re silent, we feel powerless. When our voice is quieted, we feel dominated and under someone else’s control. We feel like we’ve lost our ability to speak up. Maybe we’re silent to “show them” or to make a point, but in the silence, there’s desperation or a loss of power.

We’ve discussed the danger and even the weakness in giving “the silent treatment” when it comes to our relationships. When we silence our own voice and try to control others by giving them the cold shoulder, we’re actually picking the passive aggressive route. This “hidden middle finger” is unproductive at best, and can be highly damaging and detrimental at its worst. It doesn’t go anywhere, as both sides engage in a standoff, trying to “show” the other just how much they can withhold.

Yet, on the converse of all of this, there’s another side to being silent.

The Other Side of Silence: Powerful Silence

Have you thought about the concept of passive power? There’s silence and power that attracts, rather than projects. In the Eastern philosophy of yin/yang, this is the feminine vs. masculine concept (although it’s not necessarily gender-related or specific). It’s the power of being open, encompassing and bringing things in rather than pushing them out.

This passive power is often overlooked—and it includes the power of silence.

Active and purposeful silence isn’t about being disengaged or shutting down. It’s about listening. It’s allowing others in the space to respond, and allowing them to talk their way through and reason out their response before jumping to a conclusion. This isn’t silence used to control the space or conversation—this is strategic silence deployed to allow the conversation to blossom and move forward.

Not only does your positive, silent presence make a huge difference in how others feel toward you and how they respond, but research shows it also impacts the quality of information you receive from others. Actively listening, showing interest, and truly hearing and relating to others gives you untold power, plus the ability to share your vision and relate to and learn from others.

When your silence conveys a positive attitude through smiling, nodding, and open body position, people use more interpretive abstract language. They go deeper into the conversation and they share their opinions more openly. If your silent presence is frowning and you appear more closed off, the person or people you’re listening to may tend to be more careful and analytic and only share concrete, descriptive facts.

Have you ever had one of those conversations with a powerful person? Where you feel compelled to keep talking and share, simply because they give you an encouraging “vibe” or let off an aura that just made you want to keep going? You might not have realized it until you walked away, or after the conversation when you had time to reflect. You may have thought, “Wow, why did I just share so much?”

It was because you were in the presence of a powerful listener. You were in the presence of someone who understood that silence is the most powerful scream.

How to Use Silence

So how can you learn to harness the power of silence? Is it simply listening and nodding? Is it just staring at someone while they continue to wax on and on? How do you get your point across, too?

Like all kinds of power, there are times to use silence and times not to use it. Many times, silence is powerful, even when it’s being used passive-aggressively. That’s why giving your partner the cold shoulder or sitting back in a boring meeting and being despondent gets your point of irritation across. Silence always speaks volumes, but not all volumes are productive or responsible. Not only that, but sometimes silence can lead others to simply shut down, ignore you, or decide to withdraw themselves because they’re tired of the standoff.

So ask yourself in any given situation: “Does my silence create a sense of security, comfort, and affirmation, or lead to a greater sense of self—or is my silence intimidating, punishing, threatening, or withholding? Am I being silent to manipulate, or is my silence creating a space for others to express their yearnings and make their point?”

Many of us might have learned to withhold or suppress our voice while we were growing up. Perhaps your parents used the “silent treatment” to let you know they were hurt or angry with you, or to send the message that your behavior wasn’t acceptable. As adults, this kind of “disapproving parent” silence isn’t a responsible use of power. It doesn’t include an expression of your judgments and feelings directly. It’s simply a way to keep the other side guessing at what they’re doing wrong, with no clear way to resolve it.

Many of us weren’t trained to be a powerful, positive presence with our silence that results in a productive outcome, but fortunately, we can still learn. We’ve learned to talk and to express, but we haven’t learned to use our silence to listen.

Try to intentionally and purposefully use the power of silence in your business meetings and at home. Rather than jumping in to express your opinions and lead the conversation, sit back, actively listen and affirm, but stay silent.

Your silence can be profoundly powerful. Try engaging fully—being present, awake and alive, and in the here-and-now as you interact with others. Harness the power of your silence and experiment with the positive power of your very presence!

 

Learn more about how to engage your empathy and active listening skills at WrightLiving.com. Join us at our next Foundations Weekend Training to learn how to strengthen your relationships and grow within all of your interactions.

 


About the Author

Judith

Dr. Judith Wright is a media favorite, sought-after inspirational speaker, respected leader, peerless educator, bestselling author, & world-class coach. She is a co-founder of Wright and the Wright Graduate University.


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Wright Living is a division of the Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential, a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Living performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.

Passive Aggressive Silent
Treatment: How To Break
the Cycle & Free
Your Relationship

Ever been so pissed off at your partner you put up a wall and enforce “the silent treatment”? (…who hasn’t?!) Or, are you sick of being on the receiving end of the cold shoulder?



Or maybe the two of you are BOTH guilty of this type of passive aggressive behavior. It’s time to break the cycle.

You know the drill. Your partner does something that annoys you, so you think to yourself, “I’m so irritated right now. I’ll show him! I’m not going to speak to him until he notices just how wrong he is—and how frustrated I am.” Then you skulk around, huffing and making just enough noise so he notices you’re there and hopefully realizes you’re ticked off.

Or maybe you’ve been on the receiving end of the silent treatment. Half the time, do you even know what you did wrong? Nope! You can usually sense your partner is mad. While they say they don’t want to talk about it, you’re definitely aware they’re upset. So you tiptoe around passive aggressively and wait until one of you finally snaps and says what’s bothering you.

When this type of silent treatment standoff happens, it goes nowhere. The two of you sit there battling it out, unsatisfied and unproductive. The silent treatment is useless. It satisfies neither of you, and it doesn’t result in any positive outcomes.

The silent treatment is like creating a field of landmines. You’re not waging a war. You’re tiptoeing around trying not to trigger any major explosions. It’s like walking on eggshells—and it can really take a toll on your relationship. In fact, it can be even more damaging than cleaning up the aftermath of a healthy fight and productive confrontation.

Navigating on a silent battlefield leads to paranoia, indifference and frustration. It creates greater distance and pushes the two of you further and further apart. You’re never quite sure how to step or where to go, and so eventually you either become anxious or you just stop caring. Neither one is a great outcome. While no relationship is perfect, the silent treatment can damage even the best relationships beyond repair.

Why We Give Each Other the Silent Treatment

So if it’s so bad, why do we do it?! Even more, why have we done it since we were in grade school and why did we see our mothers and fathers give each other the silent middle finger so many times growing up?

Many of us are raised to believe that passive aggressive silent treatment behavior is just part of being a couple.

The root of our propensity toward the passive aggressive silent treatment begins in childhood during the terrible twos. We’re just learning how to exercise our own will and to establish boundaries. We want things and we’re demanding. When we demanded something from our parents, our siblings or a friend, chances are we were probably shot down. We didn’t always get what we wanted. As children, when we don’t get what we want, we establish the belief that people don’t want to please us—a belief that lasts into adulthood.

What did we do when we didn’t get what we wanted as a two-year-old? We threw a raging temper tantrum, of course! We probably yelled and cried and stomped our feet. Maybe it worked and maybe it didn’t, but we definitely got someone’s attention. We learned that we could stomp our feet to clue someone in to our displeasure. They might not give in, but in a way, we could punish them. It gave us a sense of control.

So with this belief that people didn’t want to give us our way, we learned to give and accept punishment. Flash forward to adulthood and we’re still engaged in the same self-fulfilling prophecy. When our partner doesn’t give us our way, we’re going to punish them by being silent. Then, our partner gets mad that we’re silent, so they punish us—and round and round we go.

It’s an endless cycle:

  1. My partner doesn’t want to please me,
  2. So I act in a displeasing way,
  3. Which causes my partner to believe I’m a jerk,
  4. So my partner acts in a way that doesn’t please me,
  5. Which confirms my belief that my partner doesn’t want to please me.

Sound familiar?

Recognizing the Limiting Beliefs Behind the Silent Punishment

Unfortunately, none of us were blessed with psychic abilities (and if we were, we’d all be lottery winners). Our partners aren’t mind readers, but yet, we hold out and wait for them to do the things we want them to do. We’re afraid to tell them what we want. Then when they don’t do what we want, we punish them for not reading our minds.

Why? It goes back to our limiting beliefs established well before we were even aware. People that come from mind-reading families tend to believe: If you really love me, you would do X. If I have to ask for X, X becomes less worthwhile. It sounds so adolescent and outlandish, but think back to the last time you or your partner gave each other the cold shoulder. It felt pretty juvenile, didn’t it?

Giving your significant other the silent treatment is really a reflection of your own limiting belief that you’re not strong enough to just ask for what you really want without fear of rejection. When you punish your partner, you’re really diminishing yourself. You’re saying you aren’t equal, you’re weak, and you have to resort to passive aggression over confrontation and conflict. Instead of engaging, you’re disengaging and your relationship is paying the price.

Coming to a Win-Win Outcome: Overcoming the Silent Treatment

So how do we fix this silent minefield we’re battling on? Is it about just letting go of your frustration and irritation?

NO! It’s about embracing what you want, not diminishing it! You need to be able to ask for what you want freely so your partner knows what you want, and then you can make decisions together that make BOTH sides happy! Get to the heart of the fight and embrace the conflict.

When you bristle at something your partner does, like leaving dirty dishes in the sink, teasing you at a party, or not holding your hand in public, get down to the real heart of the issue. What is it you want from your partner? It’s not clean dishes, a better sense of humor, or even a warm hand. It’s respect! It’s appreciation! It’s affection! Those deeper yearnings that counter those limiting beliefs and say, “Yes, I am worthy of respect and I deserve it!”

Articulate your feelings to your partner and let them know what you really want! It takes skills and time to learn how to fully listen to each other and to have productive fights with win-win outcomes, but it can definitely happen! Rather than shutting down, speak up and put it out there on the table. Talk about the situations rather than glossing over them.

Stop Giving Each Other the Silent Treatment – Go For What You Want!

Judith still remembers a moment early on in our relationship when I told her, “I want you to go for everything you want in this relationship—but that doesn’t mean there won’t be times when I’ll want to stop you. So I’m not promising to meet all your wants and needs, but I am saying that, as a ground rule of this relationship, both of us should seek out the fullest satisfaction from each other.”

Many people are more aware of what they don’t want, rather than what they do want. Stop giving each other the silent treatment, and start pleasing each other and going for what you really want in your relationship. Soon, you’ll be battling toward bliss, rather than walking on eggshells.

Learn more by visiting Wright Living. Discover how you can engage, strengthen your relationships, and get more out of your interactions today and every day. You can also join us for our next Foundations Weekend Training, where you’ll jumpstart your social and emotional intelligence skills and learn how to be your best self!

About the Author

Bob-300x250-1

Dr. Bob Wright is an internationally recognized visionary, educator, program developer, leadership and sales executive, best-selling author and speaker. He is a co-founder of Wright and the Wright Graduate University.


Liked this post and want more? Sign up for updates – free!

Wright Living is a division of the Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential, a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Living performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.