Emotional Cheating: Is It Really So Bad?

You probably wouldn’t dream of having a physical affair. But what about emotional cheating? Isn’t it a bit of a grey area?


Sure, maybe your head’s turned now and again when you see a hot guy or gal get on the elevator, but realistically, most of us remain loyal to our spouse. After all, we know the grass isn’t greener on the other side, no matter how appealing the grass looks.

Avoiding a physical affair is actually pretty easy. Stop thinking with your libido and just don’t do it. It’s black and white: Don’t have sex with someone else.

What is Emotional Cheating?

Emotional cheating is a slippery slope. We might go out with our buddies, coworkers, or girlfriends and end up venting and bitching about our significant other. Then later, when we’re home with our spouse, we’re cold, distant, and disengaged. We argue. We give them the cold shoulder or the hidden middle finger.

You start to feel like you’re a different person when you’re at home than when you’re at work—and you start to prefer work.

It happens frequently. We’re confident at the office. We’re successful and we know what we’re doing. We went to college and grad school to learn to do our jobs and we’re good at them. When it comes to social and emotional growth, though, most of us missed the college-level education and some are still working on our GED.

It turns out, relationships and social-emotional connections can be even more difficult to grow than our intellect. We’ve worked on honing and fine-tuning our work skills and our knowledge base, but we may have ignored our emotional intelligence. We study hard and get a top-notch education, yet we still walk away emotional idiots because we don’t know how to grow emotionally.

Emotional intelligence is just as important and vital to our leadership skills and growth as our intellect. So many leadership training courses are offered in areas of emotional growth and understanding because it’s so key to our ability to be effective leaders and managers. It’s something we have to want to learn and embrace before we can “get it.”

So, while we’re good at our job skills, we’re not as evolved when it comes to expressing our emotions and needs in our romantic relationships, or meeting the needs of our partner. Unfortunately, this leads us to a path where we feel inadequate and bad.

Rather than addressing the problem, we avoid and distance ourselves. We close ourselves off to our spouse and look to others to stroke our emotional side.

Here’s where the emotional cheating comes in…

Maybe you’ve found a friend at work you can confide in. While you’d never “go there” with them (and by there, I mean to the bedroom), you might find they become the person you’re most connecting with on an emotional level. You find yourself looking forward to spending time with them. Maybe you’re attracted to them or maybe you won’t admit it, but you’re at least attracted to their personality.

You’re entering a danger zone. If you value your marriage and want things to work out with your spouse, just don’t do it. Put the kibosh on any dalliances, roll up your sleeves, and do the work required to figure out why you’re getting your emotions stroked by someone else.

You can have friends, but friends are different. An emotional affair happens when your friend connects with you emotionally and intimately in a way you aren’t getting from your significant other. Chances are, it’s a connection and a way of interacting that would make your spouse uncomfortable if he or she were standing there in the room.

How To Stop Emotionally Cheating

Truth is, there’s no such thing as a fairytale romance. So no matter how sexually attracted or emotionally connected we are to another person, our social and emotional intelligence helps us realize these feelings come and go. Fleeting physical attraction isn’t worth throwing away a marriage or long-term commitment, right? Well, the same goes for over-the-top emotional connections.

People rarely jump from a physical affair into a healthy relationship. Why? Because it isn’t about the sex. While we all need human touch, an affair is usually about something else. So once we get over the physical excitement, we discover our deepest yearnings and needs still aren’t being met, because we haven’t done the work and we don’t know how to express what we really, truly want.

Sound familiar? Most of the time, emotional cheating works the exact same way.

The good news is you can figure out how to reengage in your marriage before it’s too late and something physical happens with another person. Keep in mind, it’s not often just about sex or need to rekindle the fires with your spouse. (Although, let’s face it: it doesn’t hurt!)

It’s about getting down to the heart of what’s missing in your marriage or relationship and discovering what you need to work on.

Before you begin any conversation, always assume goodwill. One of our “rules of engagement” is to assume goodwill on the part of the other party—and it’s true. You can safely assume your spouse isn’t out to make you miserable. They don’t hate you and they aren’t hoping your marriage falls apart. Chances are, your spouse or partner is probably wondering how to reconnect with you as well. They’re probably asking themselves why you’ve been so damned distant.

The first step is to have a conversation and get out what you’re feeling. This conversation might not be easy—it might even be downright miserable. You might hear things you’re doing that hurt your spouse and he or she might tell you you’re being a jerk. It might end up being a fight rather than just a conversation—and that’s okay.

Instead of fighting against each other, starting these tough conversations means you’re opening up and fighting FOR your relationship. Even if it’s a fight about how to reconnect and things get nasty and ugly, at least you’re moving in the direction of figuring out how to make things work. You’re expressing your needs and they’re expressing theirs.

We call this battling towards bliss, and once you start down that path, you’re moving in the right direction.

“Dedicating to being your best and living your vision takes courage as well as skill and practice. Dedicating requires that you face your fears as well as embrace your joy, that you become even stronger and more loving as you create even stronger and more powerful, loving partnerships.” –The Heart of the Fight

Where to Draw the Line

As for your emotional connections with your friends and coworkers, take a step back. We all engage with different people on different levels. I have some buddies I can talk to about subjects that bore Judith to tears, and she has the same. No one person can be everything to someone else.

The truth is, though, Judith knows who these people are and how intimate our conversations are. If she was standing in the room, she might be bored, but she wouldn’t be uncomfortable, and that’s where we draw the line when we commit to someone else.

If you’re emotionally connecting with your significant other and using conflict to move your relationship closer, rather than driving a wedge between you, chances are you’re on the right track. Realize you’re going to have to work on your emotional intelligence before you can evolve within your relationship, let alone outside of your relationship. Once the two of you get on the same page and start getting down to the heart of the fight, you’ll end up even closer.

For more on how you can energize your relationships, connect more deeply to your significant other, and bring out your very best self, please join us for our upcoming More Life Training.

Dr. Bob Wright

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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.

Defining Company Culture :
Do You Fit In?


“Company culture” is a phrase we’re hearing a lot of these days. But what does “culture” really mean in this instance?

If we were talking about a country’s culture, we’d be talking about its customs, people, history, social infrastructure and traditions. So defining company culture sounds straightforward at first. It’s the office environment: the attitudes, personalities, and atmosphere of the office. But truly defining company culture goes beyond even that.

A big part of defining company culture is examining the story that the company tells to the world. For example, what makes the company unique? What is the history of the company? Who are the company’s employees? Who are the company’s customers and how do they feel about the company?  What is the overall “attitude” of the company? Is it hip? Edgy? Serious? Professional? Is there a culture of caring or a culture of competition?

Fitting In, Aligning With, and Defining Company Culture

When we easily understand and naturally fit into our company culture, we tend to take it for granted. It just works. Fitting in feels effortless.

When we don’t fit in, chances are we feel like something HUGE is missing. Like the song says, “You don’t know what you got ‘till it’s gone.” When you work somewhere with a company culture you love, then you move on to a company where you feel like a round peg in a square hole, the importance of a great company culture becomes clear.

A foundation we’ve helped with professional development recently brought in a successor for their Director, Stan. The plan was she would train alongside the Director for a year to “learn the ropes” and then move into his role when he retired. The Director-To-Be, Jamie, was highly qualified, experienced and educated. On paper, she seemed like a perfect fit and a natural for the job.

After about six months we received a desperate call from Stan, asking if we could mentor or train his successor. Several employees had approached him with concerns about Jamie. While these concerns were varied and seemingly unconnected, none of them pointed to a problem with her qualifications…it was something more ambiguous.

Stan said, “I just don’t understand. On paper she seems great. She’s a very nice person and she seems likable enough, but it’s almost like our employees are adverse to her approach to things. The board is happy with her qualifications and direction. I can’t quite explain it, but she just isn’t fitting in. In fact, I have employees threatening to leave our foundation if she’s promoted as my successor. I may have to delay my retirement plan. I don’t know what I did wrong.”

We assured Stan he didn’t do anything wrong. In fact, the succession plan worked out perfectly! How lucky to be able to steer the train back onto the tracks BEFORE it really crashed and burned. This gave us plenty of time to get to the root of the problem.

When meeting with Jamie, after some discussion, it turned out the foundation had a very tight-knit and specific culture.

For example, they kept a plush squirrel on their conference room shelf as a running joke and metaphor for how their team approached new ideas. As in, in the middle of brainstorming sessions, someone would always pop up with an “Oh look a squirrel!” idea and chase off after it. Chasing after new ideas was a vital and an encouraged part of their company culture.

Stan, an Energizer personality type fit in perfectly: he was always excited about new ideas, enthusiastic, and quick to lead and make decisions. He let people run with their plans and share their visions, then helped them find common ground. Employees felt a great deal of personal investment in the foundation, not only because they could see the results of the foundation’s work, but also because they could clearly see their roles and ideas play out. They felt ownership.

Jamie, on the other hand, was a classic Analyzer. She had great credentials and experience, and she could look at reports and data like a crystal ball. She had high standards for perfection and accuracy and was cautious about change. She expected employees to give her frequent updates and she wasn’t allowing for the autonomy they were afforded with Stan. She was frustrated by what she perceived as a lack of focus and planning, while the employees felt stifled and miserable. In some organizations Jamie might have flourished, but in this environment she was floundering.

What was missing? A clear definition, alignment, and understanding of the importance of the existing company culture.

Understanding Your Own Company Culture

Defining your own company culture can seem nebulous. Is it a team where everyone is “in” on the joke? Does it mean everyone gets along as friends? Is it a team built from only certain personality types?

While it would be amazing if we could all find the perfect office environment and corporate culture to align with our different personalities, it’s not so realistic. It’s much more feasible to simply grasp the company culture of your office and learn how to thrive and grow within the environment—bloom where you are planted, so to speak.

In Jamie’s case, it meant she needed to be self-aware enough and willing to do leadership work it would take to get where she needed to be. Fortunately, she right jumped in, working hard to deeply understand her personality and how she fit in with the atmosphere of the office. We used our CARE personality profile to determine her strengths and which areas she needed to pay more attention to. She became much more aware of her interactions with employees and the energy she as putting out. She worked hard to give more autonomy to individual team members and to be more open and willing to hear new “squirrel” ideas.

While Jamie wasn’t going to turn into Stan the Energizer, she was able to play into her other area of strength—her Cooperator side—to find commonalities and share her vision with her fellow team members and to realize each person in the organization had their own vision, ideas, and hopes. Rather than working with a black-and-white/right-or-wrong approach, she was able to find the grey areas where her vision overlapped with theirs.

Jamie worked hard to adapt and to become the leader the foundation needed her to be, and fortunately, Stan was still able to retire on schedule.

When you come into a new office, there’s an existing culture. Depending on the size and structure of the company, you might be able to sway and influence the culture as you grow together, or, you may have to adapt and learn to grow to align with the existing structure. It doesn’t mean changing your personality or getting lost. It means learning how to listen, adapt and grow with those around you.

Finding Your Shared Vision to Grow

One of the best ways to get a handle on the culture of your company is to understand the vision and mission of company leadership. This might be clearly articulated or it might mean you need to have a conversation with your boss. Your goal is to understand the greater, ultimate vision for the organization and how you can help your team achieve it.

Not only will understanding leadership’s vision help you to become more invested and connected to your office, but it will also help you become more valuable and endeared to your boss. After all, every leader wants great people supporting them and working with them to carry out their dreams for the company.

Once you understand the vision of leadership, talk about your own vision and how you can align your career goals to help propel you and the entire office forward. Invest your energy into the company as if it were your very own. Take ownership and leadership over your projects. Offer to go the extra mile and do what it takes to help make your successes the company’s successes.

Don’t shy away from speaking up when you have an idea or when you feel something needs to be addressed. Just because you see something different or have a conflict with a plan doesn’t mean you’re not fitting in. The idea is to find a productive resolution to the problem together. Follow one of our favorite rules of engagement: “assume goodwill” and realize everyone wants the project or company to be successful—but you may just have different ideas of how to get it there.

You represent your company or organization so you reflect its culture. Even if you aren’t a “team player” by nature, when you’re part of an organization, you have to let go of the “my way or the highway” mentality. Focus on the big picture and the ways you can help your company reach its goals.

For more information on defining company culture and leading wherever you are, check out our Career Coaching Program in Chicago, visit our website at www.wrightliving.com, or join us for our next Foundations Training Weekend.

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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.

Feeling Alone and Isolated?
How to Stop Holding Back
& Really Connect

Do you ever feel like you just aren’t clicking with those around you? Maybe you’re even feeling alone and isolated when you’re with your spouse, your friends or your coworkers.

Perhaps you were once close, but you’ve started drifting apart. Or maybe the culture of these relationships seems as foreign to you as if you were a stranger in a strange land.

I was recently meeting with my client, Arri*. He described how he felt like he was always going through the motions, but never really connecting with anyone. This guy was the head of his department and a leader in his office. He was married for fifteen years, with two kids and a beautiful wife. He seemed to have a big social circle—and even if you met him on the street, you’d probably describe him as well liked, even popular.

Yet, he sat in my office and said, “I’m feeling alone and isolated. I feel like everyone’s having a party and I’m not invited. I just don’t feel like I click with anyone anymore.”

As we talked, he told me about how there were, in fact, several things bothering him in his relationships. His kids were teenagers (who are by nature sometimes difficult to “click” with). He no longer felt like they needed him and they just weren’t close anymore.

There were some things bothering him about his wife, too. He felt like she was often critical and distant. Not mean, necessarily, but he felt like she thought he was bothering her “all the time.” They weren’t as passionate as they once were. While he had always been a great provider for his family, his wife had recently changed her career and was now the program director of a foundation. She was making nearly as much as he was, and their relationship had shifted.

At work, he reported similar situations. He was doing well, but he didn’t really have anywhere to move up. He was feeling alone and isolated in his managerial role because he had to keep a healthy distance between himself and those under his supervision. Yet he didn’t feel like he was in the inner-circle with the CEO and CFO of his company.

He felt he just wasn’t connecting with anyone anymore. So, I asked him if he’d brought any of this up with his family or his coworkers. Had he tried not holding back and getting his feelings out in the open?

Arri’s response? “No, of course not. It’s just me. It’s all in my head. I don’t really like confrontation and I feel like it would make things worse.”

So instead he suffered in silence.

Feeling Alone and Isolated Due to Bottled Up Emotions

Don’t all of us feel this way at some point? Things bother us and get under our skin, but we don’t want to rock the boat or seem like the squeaky wheel, so we just swallow it. We avoid conflict at work and at home. Our significant other makes a comment that rubs us the wrong way, and instead of saying something, it’s just easier to try to let it go. A coworker brushes us off or takes credit for our idea, and instead of advocating for ourselves, we feel like it will just make things worse.

but do we really let it go?

Silently, we feel like we’re imploding inside. It often starts with the little things. We don’t get invited to lunch with a group of coworkers or our spouse makes a hurtful comment off-hand. We seethe about it and get quiet. Someone asks what’s bothering us and we say, “Nothing. I’m fine.” But really, we’re becoming more frustrated. We’re feeling alone and isolated, and like more and more of an outsider. We think by saying nothing we’re taking the upper hand, but really we’re just holding it in.

In my experience, clients often find they’re giving their spouse what I call the “silent middle finger” without even realizing it. They’re ignoring them or acting cold. Rather than addressing problems and embracing conflict, it becomes a standoff. Both parties pretend like nothing’s bothering them, as they toss little insults and cutting remarks toward each other and bottle up their emotions.

Engaging in Conflict & Speaking Up

It’s time to end the standoff!

Instead of holding those emotions and feelings inside, adding to the feeling of distance, it’s time to recognize that we need to engage! We need to embrace conflict and speak up if something’s bothering us!

When you’ve suffered in silence for a while, it’s no easy task. But chances are, if you think you’re hiding your frustrations from the world, you’re really putting up a wall between you and those around you—not just to keep your emotions in, but to keep other people out.

Part of working on your social and emotional intelligence is learning how to embrace conflict and use it as a tool to move yourself forward, not simply toward resolution, but toward evolution. There are rules of engagement, as we discuss in our book, The Heart of the Fight. These rules help couples fight fairly and constructively. They can be applied to relationships across the board—from home to work, from your spouse to your children.

When you’ve been holding in your frustrations for a long time, it can be hard to express your emotions. It can even be scary. You might have a belief that no one will listen to you or people will think you’re a jerk. In reality, when you’re being open and honest, even in confrontation and conflict, those around you will also rise to the occasion. If you’re fighting FOR the relationship rather than against it and expressing your feelings while taking responsibility for them, you can actually use conflict to strengthen and reinforce your relationships and connections.

In Arri’s case, he started to find his voice. He learned to say, “You know what? This bothers me.” Once he started speaking up, he found he was feeling more alive, more engaged and more visible. He reported he started to feel like he mattered to others, and that his feelings and opinions mattered because he mattered to himself.

As he began to reengage, he noticed he became MORE connected and closer to those around him—his wife, his coworkers and even his teenagers. Rather than living life from the passenger seat, he took the wheel and saw good results. He was amazed to find out no one thought he was a “jerk” when he spoke up. Instead, they worked to acknowledge his feelings and find resolution. His relationships were strengthened.

If you’re feeling alone and isolated in your relationships, or if you feel like things are bothering you and you’re not speaking up, it’s time to embrace the conflict and get back in the game!

*names have been changed.

Join us for our upcoming More Life Training where we’ll examine ways to clear the air, strengthen our relationships, and keep living life to the fullest.

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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 To Impress Your Boss
and Reinvigorate Your Career


If you want to learn how to impress your boss (or anyone, really), the real magic happens when you start working on YOU, transforming yourself from within..

Does this sound like you?

  • I feel bored or uninspired at work.
  • I think I do a good job, but no one seems to notice.
  • I want to be a better leader.
  • I’m ready for a challenge that will inspire me in my career.
  • You want to know how to impress your boss.

Most of us really want to do a good job. Almost all of us want to get noticed for a job well done or be singled out for going above and beyond at work. But some days, work feels kind of blah. We start to think things like, “No one notices my hard work anyway, so why bother?”

Making an Impression 101

Impressions are often thought of as the first step in the beginning of a journey. We make a first impression when we walk through the door on our first day at a new job. We make an impression at work when we join a new team or embark on a new project. Those are the moments when we really get noticed. But after a while, we might feel like we’ve stopped making any impression at all. (In fact, sometimes we feel like we’re hardly noticed at all.)

Remember when you were in grade school and it was all about making an impression on your teacher and peers? Maybe you were thrilled when you got called on in class because you knew the answer. Or maybe you dreaded getting called on because you were worried your classmates would get the impression you didn’t understand the problem. You probably wanted to make a positive impression on your friends and on the “cool kids.” Your carefully cultivated image was honed from the very first day of the school year.

Ever since we were young, we’ve all wanted to make an impression (of some sort) on those around us.

Even though you’re all grown up now, it’s perfectly normal and very common to want to stand out. Like so many of us, you want to impress your peers and learn how to win over your boss. We all want to be at the top of our field, even those of us who work in education, medicine or psychology. When we aren’t “closing deals” or “making hot sales” every day, but instead helping others, it’s easy to feel satisfied but still a little blah at the same time. Sometimes it feels like we’re just doing the same processes over and over.

After you’ve been with a company or working in a job for a while (or if you’re in an industry that’s less dynamic), you might lose some of that “go-getter” or rockstar status. You know you’re doing a good job, and you’re satisfied with your work. Your boss seems happy with you, but you’re no longer the head of the class. Maybe you run your department or you’re the lead on your team, but you’ve got to ask: “Is that all there is?” When we hit that wall, it’s easy to feel like we’re just phoning it in.

No matter what your industry, or how big your office is, there’s something highly satisfying about being recognized for a job well done. Of course none of us want to sound like we’re sucking up to our boss or being too much of a supplicant to their wishes. Nor do all of us agree with our boss all the time. Most people are seeking some sort of healthy balance.

Getting yourself noticed, reengaging and focusing on making an impression at work can help you feel like you’re back on your game. Not only can it make your boss stand up and take notice, but it can re-energize you and help you feel excited about going to work again. So, how do you do it? Roll up your sleeves and get to work!

Recognize Your Personal Vision

When you’re going through the motions and going unnoticed, it’s a big-time sign you’ve lost your passion for your vision. It’s time to reexamine what it is about your job you really love. Name those specific moments when you really feel connected to others. When do you feel most engaged, most energized?

Work on your personal vision plan. How do you see your life and what are your goals? What can you do to reach those goals? What greater purpose gives you the most job satisfaction? Helping others? Solving problems? Making your customer’s life easier? Step back and rediscover your big picture.

Part of becoming reengaged involves working on your life goals and your vision, and tackling areas of social and emotional growth. All aspects of our lives are deeply intertwined: our relationship with our spouse or significant other, our role as parents, our social lives and our careers. Often, feeling disengaged or disconnected in one area can lead us to feel the same way in other areas of our life.

In reality, this disengagement comes from deep within ourselves. It can stem from our childhood and from the things we’ve come to believe about ourselves—things that might not even be true. We call these “limiting beliefs.” They can be things like, “I’m not a confident person,” or “I’m not as smart as everyone thinks. I’m just fooling them,” or even “I’m not worthy of respect and love.”

These limiting beliefs hold us back from reaching what we long for (our yearnings)—the same things that drive us toward achieving our goals and realizing our vision. If you find continuous roadblocks on your journey or you can’t quite pinpoint the ways to break through a rough patch, it’s time to enlist the help of a career coach or life coach who can help you work toward your goals. Doing your own transformational work can help you ignite the motivation and spark you need to get re-engaged and back in the game.

How To Impress Your Boss: Make an Impression and OWN IT

When you walk into a meeting, are you a participant or just an attendee? Better yet, challenge yourself to be the conductor. Rather than sitting back and waiting for someone to call on you or ask your opinion, jump in.

Treat each meeting as though it’s your own. When you find you’re holding back because you want to avoid conflict or stay “under the radar,” try speaking up and expressing yourself. So often we avoid saying things because we don’t want to rock the boat, but if the boat is stuck sometimes it’s got to be rocked to start moving forward.

Ask your boss for a review or ask a mentor to help you set some professional milestones. Sign up for a professional development course to get enthused and excited about what you’re doing. Yes, you might be teaching the same class or seeing patients with the same ailments day after day, or you might be selling the same products to the same clients—but adding something new to your job and pushing yourself to learn will make you feel energized.

It can seem daunting to take on “one more thing” or to push yourself to grow professionally, but when it comes down to it, growth keeps us energized. Growth isn’t always easy and it can take work and time, but it’s the secret to engagement and igniting the fire within ourselves.

How to impress your boss? Polish your impression at work by practicing self-care like eating healthy, exercising, and avoiding soft addictions, like zoning out watching television or scrolling through social media. Make sure you’re dressing for success and projecting confidence by taking time to look your best. There’s much truth to the adage “dress for your next promotion.” Be a little more professional than your peers and show more initiative and you’ll stand out from the pack. No kissing up required.

Consider taking on an extra task or two as well. Offer to mentor a younger colleague who needs professional advice. When the boss needs someone to throw out a big idea in an important meeting, be the one who steps up to the plate. It doesn’t take a huge effort, but these little “yeses” can add up to big results.

Always keep your vision in mind and work toward your goals. Think of your career path as a mountain. Many people reach the first summit, stop to rest and never move on. Push yourself to go to the next peak, and the next, and the next, until you’re tackling the whole mountain range. Life is a journey and you’re at the very beginning!

Learn more about realizing your vision, making an impression at work and moving ahead in your career by visiting www.wrightliving.com. Join us for our next More Life Training, so you can learn how to engage in day-to-day life, ignite the world, and transform your existence into the life you want!

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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.