How To Find Love:
You Must Discover
Yourself First

Do you ever feel like you’re in a dating rut? Maybe you’ve made some resolutions this year to go on three dates a week, update your profile with better pictures, or stop dating girls you meet at the gym.

Hold up. Instead of making resolutions you won’t keep or trying to quantify and bargain your way through dating, it’s time to work on your dating vision. If you really want to know how to find love, it’s time to decide if you’re being honest about what’s really holding you back from getting what you want.

We all have a vision of what we want our dating life to look like. We can choose to spin our vision into something positive, where our yearnings are realized and we’re engaged, honest, and going for what we want…OR we can turn it into a negative and tell ourselves there “just isn’t anyone out there” or we’re “never going to find the one.”

If you’re dating to simply find “the one,” you’re putting yourself in a losing situation. As we all know, there is no ONE person out there waiting for us. There are actually many people out there who are right for us. Your life is your own design. So dating is all about discovering your own yearnings, then sharing those findings and knowledge about yourself with others in an honest, engaging way.

There’s No Magic Formula —But Here’s How To Find Love

There’s no magic number of dates or websites or profile pictures. There’s no formula you should be using to manifest the perfect person at your dating doorstep. Instead, you should be focused on trying to connect with different people.

If you find yourself drawn to a “type” and you’re ready to break out of the rut, explore your limiting beliefs and the things holding you back from dating outside your type. It’s not about “bearded guys” or “girls under 5’4”” but there are patterns that can emerge in personality types. (For example, maybe you find yourself dating women who withhold affection. Or maybe you’re always drawn to guys who disappear into their work.) These patterns can tell us something about who or what we’re drawn to or seeking out—or they may even reveal the things we feel we don’t deserve.

If you’ve done your own exploration and you’re working on yourself, you can break out of these patterns or communicate your feelings clearly. Give yourself permission to engage and tackle conflict head on, rather than shying away from it.

Be honest in your dating profiles and challenge yourself to be upfront about what you’re looking for. It can be scary to say at first, but you just might find if you’re truly honest and open, you’ll end up getting MORE responses, not less. Stop telling yourself what you “should” do or say in your interactions and focus on what you WANT to do or say.

Look for people who challenge you intellectually. Rather than thinking you should be going on “this many dates” with “this type of person,” look beyond the surface level. How can you shake things up from a deeper place? How can you become the person YOU would want to be with—the person you would want to date?

Getting What You Want: Stick To Your Dating Vision

So once you’re dating someone and it’s going well, how do you keep your vision rolling forward? Maybe it’s not to a point where you want to go into major future planning, but you’re definitely in new territory and you’d like to keep things going on the right path.

Revisit your vision. As it unfolds before you, ask yourself if you’re both fully engaged. Are you communicating and working toward a shared vision? Are you comfortable with both your time alone and your time together?

Relationships are messy because they’re all about bringing scary stuff into the light and being honest with each other. As you get to know someone better, you should continue to assess if you’re being honest and if your yearnings are being met. It’s more than simply having fun and going on dates. Or maybe you’re comfortable with working on yourself now and simply dating people, learning more about them and enjoying your time with them. That’s okay, too. It’s all about seeking what YOU want in the situation.

Make this year your year to realize your dating vision, learn how to find love, and get what you want out of your dating life (and life in general). To move toward visioning and discover more about transformational leadership, click here to learn more about our next More Life Training. You’ll learn all about visioning and how to get what YOU want out of your life.

Let us know how your dating is going! Tune in to our podcast every Wednesday to talk about dating, relationships, and how to bring out your best self. Listen to this episode here on BlogTalkRadio or here on iTunes.

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About the Author


Rachel Zwell is one of the core coaches in the Year of Transformation program. She is an emergence coach specializing in empowering individuals to increase their fulfillment and satisfaction in their lives, to achieve their professional and personal goals, and to develop their leadership skills. She coaches and mentors people to develop self-awareness, vision, strategies, and to build skills in social and emotional intelligence. She believes in full engagement and aliveness, and trains people to see and overcome the barriers that prevent them from living fully.

Blog image courtesy Flickr user image-catalog.

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.

How To Love
What You Do
(What If Your Job
Was More Than
Just a Paycheck?)

Do you slog off to work every day just to bring home a paycheck? Instead, what if you were to make just enough to cover your bills and take your partner out to dinner once in a while, but love what you do every single day?

Which option sounds better? Truth is, if your job only serves as a way to bring home a paycheck, no matter how much money you make, it will never be enough. You’ll always be unhappy at work. On the flipside, if you truly love what you do, you’ll feel alive and fulfilled, so you’ll be focused on much more than just your next paycheck.

Oftentimes, we feel like we might as well throw up our hands and go through the motions in our careers and in our lives. It’s easy to go to work every day, do what you’re supposed to do, and come home. You can punch a timecard and bring home a paycheck, but are you really working toward a higher purpose?

When you reach the end of your life, will you look back and say, “I’m proud of all I did for humanity”…or will you feel regret?

Finding Your Purpose: Going WAY Beyond the Hollow “Mission Statement”

Before you reach “success,” you have to define what success means to you. We talk a lot about learning to lead from wherever you are. What we mean by that statement is that we’re ALL capable of leadership, whether we’re new to the job or a well-seasoned CEO.

Becoming a visionary leader requires you to unlock the depth of your personality and drive. You must understand and articulate your purpose—“the why” of what you’re trying to do. Not only do you need to have a clear understanding of your purpose, mission and vision, values and goals, but you must also be able to share it with your employees and/or fellow team members.

The majority of personal mission statements are hollow. They lack intent. They don’t take into account the full scope of human experience or our spectrum of strengths and weaknesses. Too many mission writing exercises insist we only examine one side of our personality—our wants and desires. We’re imagining what we think we “should be,” rather than assessing our abilities and aptitudes and exploring areas we may need to develop.

I can have a mission to change the world through theoretical astrophysics, but I need to be realistic about my abilities, experiences, and in this case, my intellectual capacity and education.

When it comes to finding and defining your purpose, THINK BIG. Is your purpose to create stronger families in your community? Is your purpose to bring more authenticity and honesty to journalism? Is your purpose to help more women escape domestic abuse?

Your purpose is your own. Find it, focus on it, and live it. Every day.

Escape the Trap: Love What You Do AND Earn a Living

Time and time again, I see people trapped with golden handcuffs. They make money, they look good, and they’re “successful” on paper, but on a very basic level they’re lacking satisfaction and happiness. They feel they can’t move on because they can’t let go of the money. We all love having abundance and feeling like our needs are well met, but if it’s only about the money, it will never feel like enough. You’ll keep spending more to try to keep up.

Like King Midas, you’ll end up locked in a prison of your own success: mortgages, bills, even vacations—but without purpose and devoid of joy.

I see others who have the vision, the drive, and the heart, but they forget they also need to find a way to make their company turn a profit. If you have a plan with no vision, you’ll soon find yourself left spinning your wheels. Or, you can have a great big vision and want to change the world, but if you can’t feed yourself and meet the needs of your family, you might need to reassess.

Fulfillment lies in your ability to unlock your higher purpose and balance it with your grand plans. It’s all about finding that sweet spot: the point where you tap into your full potential—when you become an asset to those around you AND fulfill your needs.

Alfred Lord Tennyson said, “I am a part of all I have met.” When it comes to unlocking your purpose and truth, you have to understand and factor in all of your experiential pieces. This isn’t always pleasant. It means growth, hard work, and self-examination…all things most of us don’t like to do.

Purpose is the Roadmap to Fulfillment

Purpose can be difficult to define for many people, but it’s so worthwhile—finding your purpose can allow you to achieve a whole new understanding of how you approach life.

I hear from people over and over who tell me they are successful. They say they’re doing well in their careers. For all intents and purposes they should feel excited to go to work every day, but instead they feel empty. They blame those in their life for shortchanging them. They blame their education for falling short and not providing the direction they needed.

It’s like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz: the answer was inside us all along. The roadmap to get to where you’re going, to understand the joy of intentionality, and to become a true blessing to your customers, clients, coworkers, bosses, and employees is to discover your purpose.

From newbie employee to CEO, those who are driven by purpose are excited to come to work. They’re eager to make each meeting their own—not to be the center of attention, but to own the room and help everyone around them discover their vision. They’re positive. They understand their limitations and challenges, and they’re actively working to overcome them. They are growth-focused.  They serve those around them and make the world a better place by bringing out the best in others every day.

To continue the conversation, unlock your leadership potential, and discover ways to bring out your best self, click here to join us for our next More Life Training.
Want to boost your career? If you’d like to learn more about what the Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential has to offer check out:

Want to improve your sales? The Wright Sales Program is a hands-on, experiential program that provides sales professionals with an opportunity to boost their sales performance through the application of social and emotional intelligence to their selling techniques. [Learn more!]

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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 Couples Fight
About Money Problems

What’s one of the most common couples’ arguments? You guessed it: money problems. We call it “dueling over dollars.”


These financial feuds range from, “You’re such a tightwad!” to “What were you thinking? We can’t afford that!” When we mix money and relationships, it can seem hard to get on the same financial page as our partner.

(We discuss this and 14 other common couples’ fights in our book, The Heart of the Fight—available now.)

Why Couples Fight About Money: It Runs Deep

What are the real reasons we fight about money? Some of us have a fear there will never be enough. This scarcity mentality can cause us to be tightfisted with our budget. Perhaps you often witnessed your mother or father struggle to pay the bills, so this concept of ‘never having enough’ was deeply ingrained into you from the time you were a child.

On the other hand, maybe money came easy to you, so you never had to worry about it. Consequently, you still don’t sweat it much (but your partner does, much to your frustration). Or perhaps spending money and shopping is a soft addiction you use to self-soothe and zone out rather than deal with problems. I’ve seen couples where one member is so driven to spend money that he or she attempts to completely hide it from their partner, even going as far as to intercept credit card statements (indicating a larger communication problem).

Whatever your views on money, it goes much deeper than simply enjoying shopping or being fiscally conservative. Our “dueling over dollars” (like many common couples fights) is tied into our yearnings. Perhaps you yearn to be socially affirmed, so you want to “keep up with the Joneses,” or perhaps you’re yearning to be appreciated. Perhaps you yearn for a sense of security and stability.

Our yearnings stem from our early primal instinct to always be sure we have enough and our fear of scarcity. Because money is attached to our very survival and our ability to acquire food, shelter, and even a mate, these primal impulses take over, sending off major alarms in our brain, which can cause some real knock-down-drag-out fights.

Couples Fighting: A Lack of Honesty and Trust = Serious Symptoms

One of the common undercurrents of financial feuds is the sense that one partner isn’t being completely honest with the other. If your spouse withdraws money from your account or hides purchases from you, there’s definitely deception going on. Similarly, if you find out your spouse is complaining about how broke you are, but your bank account is flush, you might feel they’re withholding information or vying for control.

At the true heart of these financial miscommunications is a lack of trust. It has nothing to do with a few dollars spent or unspent, and it can’t be resolved with a half-hearted promise to “do better next time.”

We call these broken promises “deception perception” fights. These can be extremely painful fights, but to really understand the conflict, the couple must drill down to the heart of the matter and realize what they’re really, truly fighting about.

After these areas of insecurity, distrust, and deception are unveiled, it can be very healing for couples to address the core of the problem. While deception and broken promises are painful to discuss and discover, they can open up the pathway to greater understanding and communication in the future.

Understanding & Identifying Our Core Beliefs

Our core beliefs are formed when we’re very young. The majority of our personality is actually formed by age 6 or 7. These early beliefs are often based on our limited perceptions as children. We’re not able to discern that Dad’s anger had to do with a rough day at the office or that Mom’s stress wasn’t directed at us. As children, we’re the center of our own universe. Each experience comes in, gets processed, and forms the basis of our beliefs about ourselves and the world around us.

As we get older, we add in societal beliefs and practices, plus the way we perceive our role within our social circle. Cumulatively, these experiences add up to our core beliefs, which can also be limiting beliefs. For example, when we feel we need to hold ourselves back or suppress our emotions, a limiting core belief might be the root. Fear of taking risks can stem from a belief of inadequacy, or a belief that we’re “not enough” or “too much.”

Similarly, fears about money often stem from a belief that the world is a place of scarcity and there is not enough to go around. If you didn’t have enough food, your needs weren’t met, or you didn’t feel secure in your living arrangements during childhood, you might carry those feelings over to today, even if reality dictates these beliefs aren’t true. With a healthy and full bank account, you may still have a scarcity mentality.

The Real Reason Why Couples Fight About Money Problems

We’re inherently drawn to those who trigger our core beliefs. Relationships are the crucible with which we are formed into a more complete person. During the transformation process, we’re forced to face some of these inner conflicts and beliefs, which manifest themselves in our interactions with our partner.

The great thing about conflict is how it forces us to really examine ourselves. Productive, meaty, hands-on conflict engages us. It forces us to look deep into our own abyss and understand where our beliefs come from and why. Living a full, engaged life means having a partner who brings out these conflicts and is a great sparring partner.

We can bounce our beliefs off our partner and wrestle with them to find our truths. This struggle and constant provocation is actually how we grow and evolve. If our partner doesn’t challenge us, we become stagnant and stop developing. We often choose a partner because they’re able to help us complete our unfinished growth and development, so we can find out who we can truly become.

So the next time you find yourself dueling over dollars (or engaged in any conflict), take a step back to examine your yearnings and core beliefs. It’s never just as simple as wanting a balanced checkbook. The conflict may be born from a desire to be acknowledged or to feel safe and cared for. It might stem from our belief that we don’t have enough or that our needs aren’t being met. Uncovering the deeper core to our conflicts is exciting because it’s the way growth is launched—it opens the path so the real work can begin!

To find out more about strengthening your relationship and unlocking your personal power, please join us for our next More Life Training. Visit to learn more about this opportunity and others. Email us at if you have a question or if you’d like us to address a specific topic during our Wright Living weekly podcast. Let us know how you’re finding your own happiness!

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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.



How Do You Deal With
Conflict in Your Relationship?

We’re all faced with two forms of conflict in life: 1.) Productive and creative conflict, which moves us toward our goals, and 2.) Destructive and unresolvable conflict that builds up without resolution.

In our latest book, The Heart of the Fight, we explore how many of us are raised with the notion that conflict is always bad and should be avoided. In reality, if you follow the rules of engagement and fight FOR the relationship (rather than against), conflict is healthy and productive.

The Conflict Monster

When we avoid conflict, our resentments become bigger and bigger, growing into this explosive monster ready to leap out full-force at our loved ones sometime down the road. Conflict has to be aired and brought out in the open. Otherwise, we see passive-aggressive actions, bitterness, and resentment eroding that connection between two people and creating distance over time.

There’s also another kind of monster: the person who ignites destructive conflict in a relationship because they’re a bully or acting too dominant. Beating the other person up emotionally or constantly tearing them down can also destroy a relationship. Relationships are based on mutual respect and love. If you love someone, you don’t dominate them. You might not agree with them, but you don’t engage in overt bullying or mean behavior.

In either case, it’s time to rid yourself of your monster. Most often, bringing conflict into the open is a win-win situation. Conflict brings out our deeper yearnings and feelings that might not already be in the light. When everyone is open and honest and engaging in the conflict, issues can be addressed and discussed. And yes, you can even fight about them (as long as you follow the rules of engagement)!

The Rules of Engagement

We’ve developed a set of rules to help you better engage in productive relationships. (We talk about these a lot in The Heart of the Fight!) Three of the most important are: 1. You must assume 100% responsibility for your own happiness and satisfaction, 2. No one gets more than 50% of the blame, and 3. Agree with and express the truth, always.

Think about how you engage with your partner when you’re fighting. Do you follow these rules of engagement?

When we start slinging around blame or saying, “It’s all your fault,” or “You did that on purpose,” we aren’t taking responsibility for our part in the situation. Similarly, if we cower down and say, “You’re always right, and I’m so stupid and wrong,” we’re taking more blame than our fair share. Blame is always equal for both parties.

Why is blame equal? Because each party is 100% responsible for their own satisfaction, meaning that if something isn’t satisfying you, it’s your job to bring it up and get it out in the open. If you are 100% responsible for your own satisfaction, you can’t blame the other guy for “making” you feel a certain way. It’s up to you to take control of your emotions and get your yearnings out there. If your yearnings aren’t being met, it’s up to you to speak up and say, “Hey, I need this!”

You must always agree with the truth as it comes up in conflict. This can be difficult, but it’s also a matter of trust. It’s okay to be angry about the other person’s rightness in the argument or be annoyed about a situation and express that, but you still have to admit the truth when it’s there. Admitting the truth shows you are trustworthy and keeps trust in the relationship.

Understanding the Deeper Conflict in Your Relationship

We each come into relationships with our own history and baggage. Maybe it’s something you’ve experienced from siblings, the way your dad reacted to finances, or the way your mother withheld physical affection. Everyone has a past, so when we walk into a relationship, we’re not a blank slate—we’re the whole of our history, our interactions, and our emotional experiences.

We have to understand that our partner is walking into the relationship carrying his or her own history and emotional “stuff.” When we put them together, conflict is going to rise. There’s always a balance for power and control. We spend the first years of a relationship just trying to get a handle on our dynamic and wrestling with how we can resolve our needs and meet the needs of our partner.

Essentially, we are bound to be involved in conflict. Conflict can either result in growth and productivity or damage and destruction. The choice is all yours.

If you’re communicating honestly and openly with your partner, then you’re going to let them know when they do something hurtful. You’re also going to let them know you appreciate them and try to listen to their truths carefully and openly.

We hold back because we fear the reaction or the conflict. Then we go around giving our partner the hidden middle finger, expecting them to pick up on our cues and sense something is wrong. This kind of hidden behavior doesn’t get the message across. Instead, we need to take 100% of the responsibility for our own emotions and tell our partner how we feel.

Engage in the conflict and allow it to help you discover your personal power and energize your life.

Join us our upcoming More Life Training (March 11th-March 13th in Chicago, Illinois) to learn how you can ignite the world around you.

Email us at if you have a question or discussion for our weekly Wright Living podcast.

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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.

Relationship Myth #1:
If Only I Had a Relationship,
Then I’d Be Happy…

When you’re single, it’s easy to think, “If only I had a relationship, then I’d be happy…”

Does this sound like you…?

  • I’d be happy if I had a boyfriend.
  • I miss my ex-girlfriend. She made me so happy.
  • I need to find someone first, then I’ll get the rest of my life on track.

Sure, it’s perfectly normal to miss some of the good things about your previous relationship, and of course, to miss the connection and closeness. Perhaps you’re spending a lot of time reflecting on the good times, experiencing a sense of nostalgia.

Truth is, relationships are not what makes a person happy. WE are what makes us happy, and we are in charge of finding our own happiness. This is an inside job; it’s something we have to work on with our own feelings, desires, and yearnings.

When we’re looking for another person to affirm us, tell us how we should grow or what we should do, or validate our feelings, we should really be looking within. We must first learn to affirm ourselves. Understanding ourselves and doing our own set of work helps us learn how to generate our own sense of wellbeing and happiness.

Many of us have this idea that there’s some kind of “soulmate” out there for each of us. But really? There are BILLIONS of people in the world we could connect with and work on a relationship with. It’s really about working on who you are and your own self-validated intimacy, and then taking it out into the world and finding someone who will help you continue to bring out your best and grow as a person.

Who is responsible for my happiness?

We all feel a broad spectrum of emotions—hurt, fear, sadness, joy—and these emotions are all true and positive. If we constantly seek only joy and avoid other emotions, it can actually dampen the joy! Joy is beautiful, but it’s not everything.

So often when we’re dating, we run into our date’s parents or friends and hear, “Oh, you make him so happy,” or “I’ve never seen her like this before.” We’ve found that when you hear this statement (especially early on), it just might mean the person you’re dating isn’t such a happy person in general. Maybe they aren’t being true to their emotions.

We all get stuck in a honeymoon period at the beginning of each relationship. We’re euphoric with the idea of the new person and our attraction to them. It’s exciting to connect and anticipate the things to come. It’s a time of joy and exploration.

This is happiness, but it’s a temporary state. Think how happy you would be if you won the lottery. How long do you think your newfound happiness might last? A 1978 study by Brickman, Coates, and Janoff-Bulman measured the happiness of lottery winners vs. a control group. The results? After one year, lottery winners were not happier than controls and took significantly less pleasure from a series of mundane events.

We frequently see this effect in newlyweds and post-partum—once the excitement over the big deal has passed, they go back to the state they were in before the festivities. Positive and happy people are generally drawn toward that state of being, while negative and fearful people are generally drawn to their state as well.

Does that mean you should brush someone off just because you hear you make them happy? No, of course not. However, it’s probably time to examine the validation you receive from that statement, and realize you’re not responsible (or even capable) of “making” someone else happy.

We are each in control and in charge of our own happiness.

Seek a partner who can meet your yearnings and with whom you can be honest and open with. Don’t look for someone who you think you can “mold” into the “perfect” person. (The perfect person doesn’t exist!)

“If I enjoy being single so much, why do I need a relationship?”

So what about the flipside? Well, relationships are congruent for many of our life goals. If we want children and a family someday, then having a relationship with someone who shares the same goals and motivations will get us to our destination.

At the same time, it’s totally okay if you need some time to get to a place where you really want a relationship. Sometimes we’re so focused on our growth and personal development, the thought of worrying about another person, understanding their feelings and yearnings, and working on goals together seems a little overwhelming or even distracting.

If you’re enjoying being single, and the playground and adventure of dating lots of people—then go with it! Be certain you aren’t avoiding relationships simply because you’re afraid of intimacy or being open with other people. Allow yourself to be honest with others about your needs and yearnings and to “own” your feelings.

Dating around is a great opportunity to engage with a lot of people. You can explore your reactions with different people and how you feel in different situations. You can learn from good dates (and even from bad ones) and it doesn’t necessarily need to lead to anything bigger down the road. Maybe you just discover friendship, a business connection, or someone who is interesting.

In a relationship, we seek a secure base from which we can go forth and explore the world around us. When we’re meeting different people, we’re seeing how we are compatible, but also how we comfort each other. Ask: Is this person someone who sees me for who I really am? Are they someone who I can express my desires and frustrations to? Can I be completely open and honest with this person?

Your conflicts and emotions should be embraced and explored as you journey toward bringing out your best, whether it’s your best single self or your best in-a-relationship self. It’s all about you!

If you’d like to learn more about bringing out your best self and getting a deeper understanding of who you are, we urge you to join us for our next More Life Training, coming up this weekend, March 11th-March 13th. Visit to learn more about this opportunity and others. Email us at if you have a question or if you’d like us to address a specific topic during our Wright Living weekly podcast. Let us know how you’re finding your own happiness!

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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.



Love Is Messy:
Learn the Secret to
Awesome Relationships

Life is messy. Love is messier. Why? Because life and love are full of conflict. Conflict is the very basis for life as we know it; we are born of struggle and growth.

Whether you tend to embrace it or shy away from it, successful, happy relationships require conflict. When we don’t develop our engagement and conflict skills, we end up as bullies or wimps: either we avoid everything or we plow over everyone in our path. That’s no way to live.

Time and time again, I hear people say they want intimacy, but they don’t want the mess. To have real intimacy, there must be conflict and vulnerability. Intimacy involves putting yourself out there, engaging, and letting yourself be seen in the truth of who you are.

“If you want true love, you will need to feel everything: the fear, hurt, anger, and sadness, as well as joy and bliss.”

–from The Heart of the Fight

Getting Real and Fighting Fair

Here are a couple of the common relationship myths we bust in The Heart of the Fight:

  • Conflict resolution doesn’t lead to great relationships.
  • The purpose of a relationship ISN’T to make you happy; it’s to make you your best.

That’s why conflict is so important. It’s the root of lasting satisfaction. Conflict isn’t just about being right or wrong. It’s not about agreeing or disagreeing, either. It’s about letting out the truth and making your truth known.

When we avoid fights and stop engaging with each other, we become passive aggressive. When this happens, we try to act like we’re being nicey-nice toward our partner, when we’re actually holding back and bottling up our feelings. Those feelings have to come out somewhere, so we end up doing all kinds of little things just to “show them” how we feel—without actually showing them anything. We call it the “hidden middle finger”—we get silent, we do things to purposely piss off our partner. We pout around expecting they’ll get the hint.

These actions don’t help the relationship grow. Instead, when we’re being honest and agreeing with the truth—always (one of our rules of engagement), there’s no room for passive aggressive actions.

Here’s another great rule of engagement: we must fight FOR the relationship, not against it. That means sometimes you have to outright declare what it is you’re truly fighting for. Maybe you’re fighting for acknowledgement. Maybe you’re fighting to meet a yearning, like to be seen and heard, or to be valued. Whatever you’re fighting for, you have to embrace the messiness. Fight hard for the things you want, and get your partner to fight alongside you. If you’re both fighting for, rather than against the relationship, you’ll be able to resolve conflict in much more satisfying and growth-focused ways.

Really Going At It? Anger is OK!

Ever since we were little kids, we’ve been told to get along, not to fight, and to agree with things as much as possible. We’re told to listen to each other and not to interrupt. Unfortunately, this can lead to conflict-avoidant behavior, which becomes the complete opposite of intimacy.

When you need to be heard, it’s okay to yell. It’s okay to be angry and let it all out. Your partner has the right to express their feelings as well—as long as you each take 100% responsibility for your own emotions and feelings and you’re not placing more than 50% of the blame on one side (two more rules of engagement from our book). Too often, we find ourselves bitching and moaning about our partner, “venting” about the things they aren’t doing. The essence of complaining is to punish someone for something we want that’s not happening.

Complaining doesn’t get us anywhere.

Instead, we should be expressing our yearnings to our partner. We should be telling them what we want and how we feel. We should both be engaged and fired up, because our relationship is so important to us that we’re willing to take the gloves off and go all out to improve and grow within our relationship.

The Real Secret to Awesome Relationships

Healthy relationships are dynamic, alive, and engaged. Everyone in the relationship is expressing themselves and saying what they want. They’re putting their yearnings out there and taking responsibility for their satisfaction. They aren’t blaming someone else for the way they feel and no one is playing the victim.

In healthy relationships, we’re always caring about our partner’s needs as well as our own. We assume goodwill in the relationship. We want to help our partner meet their yearnings. We’re both fighting toward the health and evolution of the relationship. We are honest and we’re being seen for who we really are.

Love is a complex and messy dance. It’s revealing ourselves, shifting, and learning how to get closer and gain a deeper understanding of our partner. It’s exciting as we develop increasing trust. We can be vulnerable and honest about who we are, and we grow to let our guard down and be truly intimate with each other. We evolve with our partner and move towards a deeper and greater understanding—and that is a beautiful thing.

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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.