How to Say No to Your Kids (Without Feeling Guilty)

It’s a common dilemma many parents face. How do you say no to your kids without feeling bad?

Saying no to your children is necessary and doesn't need to make you feel guilty.

When parents are too permissive, they may worry about what message they’re sending to their son or daughter. Are you encouraging tantrums by saying yes to candy at the checkout? Are you the only parent who allows their kids a flexible curfew? Does everyone else really have a cellphone/car/tattoo, and are you the worst if you say no?

Parents often walk a fine line between too much leniency and holding the reigns a little too tight. So, how do you empower your kids to make the right choices when you say yes? And how do you live with the guilt (and the tantrums) when you decide to say no?

The “No Thing” is Going to Happen

First of all, like there are no perfect relationships, perfect jobs, or perfect people, it’s important to realize—there are also no perfect parents.

If you’re holding yourself up to perfection, it’s not realistic for anyone. In fact, the very nature of childhood is to struggle for control and autonomy. Even if you attempt to parent by the book, your child will still struggle with empowerment simply because they’re small and the world is big.

So, let yourself off the hook and out of the perfection trap. As a parent, there’s no winning the battle between over-controlling and under-controlling or over-permitting and under-permitting. Accept that it will happen and there’s truly no perfect balance.

Studies show the average two-year-old hears the words “no,” “stop,” and “don’t” every nine minutes. Any parent dealing with the “no phase” will tell you they wish their child had never learned the word, but the fact of the matter is it’s part of the socialization process.

Children are constantly learning, moving, and discovering. They’re testing boundaries and exploring what they can and can’t do. They’re torn between the desire to be close to mom and dad and stay safe, and the desire to discover themselves and the world around them. For their own safety, especially when they’re young, mom and dad must intervene with stop words.

Saying “no” is going to happen whether you like it or not. However, the clearer you are on your boundaries and expectations, the less reactive you’ll need to be about saying no.

When kids are held to clear cut expectations, boundaries, and even routines, they learn to trust you. They know what you expect of them and are less inclined to push limits and test the waters.

Adler tells us the importance of a child’s will to their well-being. Children need agency and will in order to learn to build confidence and to feel empowered.

However, their sense of will also needs to correlate to a result Mom and Dad can live with, one that works for the world around them. This means offering children choices but within the boundaries of their situation.Do you want peas or carrots for dinner? Do you want to wear your red pajamas or your green pajamas to bed? Do you want to bring this book or that book to Grandma’s house?”

The choice isn’t whether to eat vegetables (or dinner at all), whether it’s bedtime or not, or if they’re going to grandma’s. This allows children to feel both empowered and learn to live within the boundaries set in front of them.

It’s also key that kids learn logical consequences. Depending on the age of your kids, they can be both part of the discussion and part of the solution. Logical consequences aren’t limited to punishments either. They’re simply consequences of behavior.

A friend of ours took her two kids to the Art Institute for the first time. Before they went, they discussed museum behavior and what was expected. She told them, “here are the ground rules and this is how we behave while we’re there.” The children were told three warnings meant it was time to go home.

What happened when the kids used up their three warnings? Mom simply gathered them up without fanfare and said, “Okay, it’s time to go.”

It’s not about leaving in a huff, getting angry, shaming, or berating kids when they go off track. They’re learning and mistakes will happen. Simply set expectations and always follow through.

Kids will get upset. They may throw a screaming tantrum. But if they know it’s futile and you stick to your follow-through, they quickly start to know the boundaries. If certain behaviors matter to you, then it’s important you teach your child to act that way.

Consistency Is Key

One situation we see a lot among parents is inconsistency. One parent is the “fun parent” and the other parent is the rule enforcer. This sends a mixed message to the kids and leaves everyone confused (and likely frustrated all around).

While it’s hard for anyone to stay consistent all the time, consistency is critical when it comes to kids. Intermittent discipline simply reaffirms to the child that his or her behavior is okay sometimes. It tells them they won’t always get reprimanded.

Similarly, when one parent is permissive and the other…isn’t, parenting gets tough. This is especially challenging for couples who are co-parenting but are divorced or split up.

When we hold our Family Adventure Weekends and do family work, we remind parents it’s not about dissing their co-parent or teaching the kids which parent to ask which question. (i.e., “If Mom says no to the sleepover, ask Dad because he’ll say yes.”)

Because we focus on the rules of engagement in all relationships (not simply romantic ones), parents learn blame is a two-way street. One of the rules of engagement, as we outline in our book, The Heart of the Fight, is no one gets more than 50% of the blame in any given situation. This means you can’t blame your kids’ behavior on the other parent.

So how do you reach a consensus on parenting decisions? We encourage parents to always go with the higher denominator (and really look at it honestly). Who has a higher standard and a higher value system at work? Even if it’s not yours, concede and go with it.

It’s normal to want your kids to like you. You may want to please them because it feels like you’re winning their affection. This is particularly common after a divorce or breakup. But remember, it’s more important to teach your kids appropriate and consistent boundaries. While it’s uncomfortable at first, in the long run, it will help your relationship all around.

Allow Space for Mistakes

As a parent, there are times when you’ll long to reel in your kids’ behavior or you may want to steer them in a certain direction to protect them from making mistakes.

It’s vital to realize kids are often more resilient than we may think, and mistakes are part of growing up. If your child brings home a test score that’s not their best or gets in trouble for acting out, it’s tempting to protect them or intervene on their behalf.

We should also ask ourselves, what lesson are we sending to our kids when we fight their battles for them or don’t allow them to advocate for themselves in a situation? We may think we’re protecting them from a bad report card or preserving their reputation, but what lesson do they draw from the situation?

Instead, it’s okay for your child to face consequences for their behaviors at school. If they didn’t do their homework for two weeks, you can’t bargain with the teacher on their behalf. At the same time, if your child is struggling with a topic, ask how to help them feel empowered and successful. How can you help them navigate the situation so when they succeed, their success feels earned?

Discuss the lessons from situations with your kids but let them draw their own conclusions. Why should they follow rules or behave a certain way? Why is it important for them to do their homework?

Parenting is hard; it’s an ongoing process of learning for you and your kids. Set appropriate boundaries, stay consistent, listen to your kids, and offer clear-cut expectations. Empower your children to become the successful adults you know they were born to be.

For more ways to strengthen your relationship with your family, please visit the Wright Foundation. Join us for an upcoming parenting seminar or our More Life Training, where you’ll connect with others on their journey.

 and the Wright Graduate University.

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

Can We Agree to Disagree and Still Get Along?

Today, there’s a lack of dialogue and productive disagreement.

How do you agree to disagree on important topics (like politics) and still preserve a relationship with your family and friends?

Many people stick to the idea that we can’t find common ground on anything if we don’t agree on a topic. There’s no more agree to disagree consensus.

What is driving all this disagreement? Is conflict necessarily bad? And if we disagree, how do we express it openly and honestly without burning a bridge?

If you’re wondering how to agree to disagree (and still get along) with your friends and family, it’s important to get real with yourself first.

Are You Adding to the Problem?

We’re seeing a shift away from agreeing to disagree. The question is, can we disagree and still come to understand and respect each other?

What people tend to do when there’re an argument and oppositional culture is to become uninterested in nuance culture. Either the other person is good or bad; right or wrong.

Leon Festinger’s cognitive dissonance theory says we get stuck in an immature psychological development where we seek consistency among our beliefs on opinions. Whenever there’s a dissonance or inconsistency, we try to change our way of thinking back to this idea of black and white, right and wrong, good and bad.

When we look at disagreements, many people can’t see any angle to reach a consensus. We can’t accept there are kernels of truth within someone’s viewpoint, if it doesn’t align with our own.

To touch on the political topic of the day, look at the people who attack the president. While there are a great number of controversial actions he’s taken, there are some good, intelligent actions he’s taken too (albeit not so eloquently). But for most people who disagree with him, they refuse to even admit any positives.

The same goes for the other side, too. A student I was working with has a father who’s a big industrialist and he completely disagrees with anyone who has even a slightly liberal point-of-view. Instantly, those people are automatically discounted and dismissed.

Unfortunately, we’re living in a time when the United States, and the world as a whole, needs to engage in dialogue. Conflict is productive and positive. It moves us toward what we want and helps us to reach a mutually satisfactory state. The problem is, we’re in a situation now where many people completely refuse to get there.

Most issues aren’t simple. They’re nuanced and complex. There’s no simple black and white.

The idea in any disagreement, political or otherwise, is there are always two sides. As we discuss in our book The Heart of the Fight, it takes two to tango when it comes to disagreements. In each conflict, we must learn how to battle responsibly. This means obeying what we call the rules of engagement, including the rule no one gets more than 50% of the blame and everyone is 100% responsible for their own emotions (including happiness).

But what does this really mean? If your uncle brings up a topic you don’t agree with, you may know in your heart of hearts he’s wrong. In fact, you may disagree with everything he’s saying with every fiber in your body.

Here’s the deal, though. People don’t fight with their friends and loved ones simply because they want to be right. You may end up right and still walk away with a destroyed relationship, leaving you empty-handed with a shallow victory.

Instead, we should fight to find common ground. Will you convince your uncle the world is round, the sky is blue, or whatever else he’s disagreeing with you on? No, probably not. Is it worth winning the argument to burn the bridge and destroy your relationship?

In most cases, we would say no. Most of us want to preserve our relationships. This is often why it pisses us off so badly when someone we care about expresses a difference of opinion.

We WANT to find a way to get along, but we also can’t set aside our own thinking of right and wrong long enough to find consensus.

Of course, it also doesn’t mean we should lie about our position, concede, or acquiesce simply because we want to play the peacemaker. This isn’t an honest position and eventually our true feelings will bubble up and resurface.

Instead, it’s important we fight honestly and fight fair. We take responsibility for our role in the conflict. If it’s a debate, we lay out the ground rules before we start discussing the topic. Maybe it’s announcing we probably won’t come to a consensus, but it’s important to us the other party listens to us respectfully and we plan to do the same for them. We’ll consider their evidence thoughtfully and respectfully.

When Attacks Get Personal

What happens when attacks turn ad hominem and personal? There are many times when we’re debating someone on a topic and suddenly the conversation turns from, “I don’t agree with your statement because of X, Y, and Z,” to “You’re an idiot.”

As soon as attacks get personal, we may want to put up the stop sign. We can let the other party know we plan to listen to them with respect and in turn, we expect they will listen to us with the same consideration.

Then what do we do? We stick to our agreement. We may want to explain why this topic is so important to us, why it strikes a nerve; how we feel about the other person, including why we care about them and why it’s important to us we reach common ground.

Today, there’s a tendency to remove debate and dialogue from our discussion. As soon as there’s a point of contention or conflict, people are ready to flip the table and storm out of the room. There’s nothing wrong with feeling angry or upset toward someone if you disagree with them on a topic, but it’s important we express our feelings honestly.

Always come back to the larger vision of your relationship. Do you want your mother, father, or brother to agree with you on the current political climate because you want their support? Is it because you love and respect them and therefore want them to acknowledge your point of view and validate it?

This may or may not happen. Unfortunately, in some cases, you may end up at a point where you simply agree to disagree and change the subject in order to preserve the relationship. As long as you’re honest and looking toward the larger vision of how you want your relationship to be, there’s no reason to beat a dead horse, especially if the other party shows no signs of coming around.

How to Agree to Disagree

If you’re ready to reach an agreement to let go of a topic, then it’s important both parties hold up their end of the agreement. When you say you’re going to agree to disagree, that means the little jabs and backbiting or passive-aggressive comments need to be checked at the door.

Many people say, “well, we’ll just have to move on,” but then continue to dwell on the subject at hand. If you are confronted by this type of person, don’t be afraid to pipe up and remind them of the agreement.

Say, “We agreed to put the topic to rest, because we can’t find common ground. When you continue to offer up passive-aggressive comments, I feel angry and I feel like you aren’t keeping with your side of the agreement. If we continue this way, we may damage our relationship, which isn’t something I want.”

Usually, when we lay out our feelings for the other person, it helps them regroup and check where they’re coming from. This type of honesty or “call out” is all we need to do to silence the passive-aggressive comments.

Now, what are the chances they will stop completely? Probably not likely, but as long as you’re holding up your end of the bargain and truly sticking to your word, then agreeing to disagree is a perfectly healthy way to deal with unresolvable conflict on certain topics, but it must be done in a respectful manner.

There has likely never been a time when dialogue has been more important. We see it in issues of race, economics, and especially politics. We need to actively engage on important topics like the environment, economic disparity, healthcare, and addressing issues of equality. Yet, we get so stuck in this state of expressing our opinions the conversation degrades and becomes a hot mess before we ever find a productive ground.

It’s important that we express our feelings openly and honestly in all interactions. Part of authenticity is being true to who we are and saying what we feel. When we try to hide our feelings or suppress anger, it will likely erupt at inopportune times and in other ways.

Instead, speak honestly and tell the truth. Let the other party know how you feel. If you face a difference of opinion and reach an impasse (but want to preserve the relationship), agree to disagree and move on.  Go into the conversation agreeing not to simply disagree, but to walk away with a greater understanding and respect for each other.

For more ways to express your feelings, please visit the Wright Foundation. Join us for an upcoming More Life Training weekend, where you’ll learn how to live a life of more purpose, personal power, and meaning. Go forth and ignite your world with truth.

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.

Are You Living Out a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy?

“Live! Live! Live! Life is a banquet, and most poor sons of bitches are starving to death.”  – “Auntie Mame

Learn how to stop living a self-fulfilling prophecy.

…And why are they starving to death? The reason they’re starving to death is because they’re preprogrammed to miss – and don’t even see – the food at the banquet. Many people are stuck living out a self-fulfilling prophecy where they only reach for the limits of what they can see.

So how can we break out of this cycle of falling into the self-fulfilling prophecy trap and take back our personal power? We have to start seeing the whole picture.

What is a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy?

Another way to think about self-fulfilling prophecy is to compare it to a new, modern grocery store. Now, when I was a kid, we had a corner market. You’d ride your bike there and pick out some candy. The selection was limited to the major brands. Often if you wanted, say, dish soap, you’d be stuck choosing between Lux and Dreft—two options, if you were lucky!

Now, look at the modern grocery stores! We can get fresh-cut flowers, ready-made dinners, pre-made foods. We can choose from hundreds of different brands and options for nearly every product. If we want organic fruits and vegetables, there are entire sections. You can get sushi, jicama, kombucha, and dragon fruit…you name it and you can find it at almost any market!

Modern stores pre-packaged food and create delicious bakery items to tempt us by the checkout. If most of us were left to our own devices, we’d stick to the list, but grocery stores are built on encouraging the impulse buy. They’re designed to spur us to crave purchases we didn’t even realize we were looking for.

The seat of our consciousness is our frontal lobe. It doesn’t have much bandwidth to recombine new variables. When we enter the grocery store, we scan the aisle looking for items we recognize. We aren’t looking for all these new and amazing treats, because we don’t even know they exist yet!

The same is true for any meeting we’re taking part in. It applies to any relationship and interaction we have. This same truth applies to anywhere we go and any experience we have. We look for sameness, the items we recognize, and the familiar.

But we have to ask ourselves why. Why does this limited perception happen?

Way before neuroscience had let us know all the ways we were pre-programmed to become how we are, Alfred Adler identified that each of us had what he called a “lifestyle.” This lifestyle was determined by what he called “apperceptions.”

He identified two types of apperceptions: empowering and limiting.

  • Empowering apperceptions are “I believe I can do X, Y, and Z.”
  • Limiting apperceptions are “I’m not big enough, not strong enough, etc. to do D, E, and F.”

Coming back to our banquet or trip to the grocery store, this gives us a way to think about our neurology. We’re not choosing new experiences because we don’t realize they’re available to us. We have limiting beliefs, which define the limits to which we can use our positive beliefs and positive skills. These beliefs determine the actions we take.

When we base our actions on these limiting beliefs, the world confirms exactly the way we act. We get stuck in a cycle of self-fulfilling prophecy, where we act in such a way that the world constantly reinforces our beliefs, even if they aren’t correct or true.

For example, if I believe I’m not good enough, then I will carry myself as such. People around me will view my timidity and self-doubt as confirmation I’m not up for the task. As they treat me like I’m not good enough, it reinforces my limiting belief…and the self-fulfilling prophecy cycle goes around and around.

If we’re lucky and our bosses, friends, and partners don’t buy into our limiting belief—if they see beyond the vibe we’re putting out and challenge us instead of accepting it—then our limiting belief gets put to the test. Through the challenge, we discover we ARE good enough. The tide starts to turn on our limiting belief and self-fulfilling prophecy; we start to internalize and believe we are actually worthy of the life we want.

Stop the Voice That Says “I Can’t”

The good news is, we don’t need to wait for our boss, our friends, or our lover to change our limiting beliefs and stop the self-fulfilling prophecy. We can start to work on them ourselves, right away. One of the first ways to fight limiting beliefs on your own is by assessing your good ol’ internal monologue.

What are some of those statements you say to yourself (that you don’t always say aloud)?

  • I knew I couldn’t do it.
  • This always happens to me.
  • I knew this wasn’t going to work out.
  • I’m terrible at this.
  • I always screw this up.

Those statements right there are reinforcers of our limiting beliefs—they prophesy what we can’t do. We can’t do it, because we believe we can’t. These beliefs cause us to feel like failure, mistakes, and missteps happen more than they should. They stand out to us and reinforce our limiting beliefs. Rather than learning from the situation and moving forward, we throw our hands up in the air and say, “I can’t.”

If we want to fight those self-fulfilling prophecies, we should start looking for evidence to contradict those limiting beliefs.

How can we find contrary proof that those beliefs are wrong? How can we identify all the times when a situation goes better than expected, where we do a great job, or where we find a fantastic learning opportunity amidst the challenge? We can start to prophesy the positive rather than predicting and expecting the negative. When we do that, our prophecies still come true, but they’re propelling us forward instead of back.

One of the ways to reinforce our new beliefs about ourselves is to start hanging out with and surrounding ourselves with those who see us differently; those who challenge us because they believe differently about us. Rather than sticking with the same interactions and patterns that no longer serve us, start seeking out those who push you toward your best self.

We can also call ourselves out on our own B.S. Start by saying, “I see I’m about to do what I’ve always done. This time, I’m going to choose to change what I’m doing. This time, I’m going to view the situation through a different lens.”

Don’t believe those new views on your potential? That’s okay. You can literally fake it ‘till you make it. Start reframing the situation and looking for proof to reinforce those new thoughts and beliefs. Start looking at the endcaps of the grocery store. Check out what they have in the deli. Don’t just go in and grab your TV dinner and leave—see if there are better, more nourishing options out there.

Even when we “fake it” or take a different path, we’re influencing the world around us. Like a mirror, the way the world sees us will be reflected at us and will reinforce our new perception.

Guess what—when you feel self-doubt, you’re in good company. In fact, there is absolutely no one in this world who doesn’t have limiting beliefs. Even the most confident, self-assured, and poised person you can think of still have limiting beliefs. Those people who claim they don’t, or even believe they don’t (because they believe they’re “superior”), actually have an inferiority complex at their core. Admitting your vulnerabilities and insecurities is the first step to stopping your self-fulfilling prophecy cycle.

You Are in Charge of Your Own Life

If we want to change our limiting beliefs about ourselves, we must realize we’re each the creator of our own life. We can choose from infinite possibilities. We may keep going into the same grocery store, buying the same list of familiar items, but we’re missing out on the banquet before us.

We could read all the self-help books in the world and take self-improvement classes, but they won’t change us unless we learn how to be truly vigilant in the way we talk to ourselves.

  • Do you affirm yourself?
  • Do you look for opportunities to acknowledge your success?
  • Do you stretch yourself to grow?
  • Do you learn from mistakes and look forward to the insights accompanying them?

These aren’t easy actions to take. We may feel defensive or disheartened at the prospect of taking these on at first. It’s important to remember, those who are constantly defending themselves are often caught up in their self-fulfilling prophecy. They aren’t allowing themselves the opportunity to learn and grow from experiences.

As you listen to your self-talk and affirm yourself, seek evidence your new beliefs are true. Surround yourself with people who push you to explore your boundaries and challenge these beliefs.

Friends become allies when they help us break out of our loops and become aware of the self-fulfilling prophecy trap we may be stuck in.

One of the great benefits of our personal development programs at the Wright Foundation is our students are surrounded by others who are also seeking to break out of their own self-fulfilling prophecy cycle. These people aren’t committed to accepting your limitations. They’re ready to help each other break out of boxes because they’re committed to breaking their own limitations as well.

It’s like training for the Olympics—you surround yourself with coaches and other athletes because they’ll push you harder. They’ll expect as much from you as they expect from themselves. This kind of support is necessary if you want to live an Olympic-sized life.

So, if you’re ready to break out of your cycle of self-fulfilling prophecies, take a hard look at your self-talk and limiting beliefs. When you walk into the banquet or peruse the aisles at the grocery store, are you trying all the new and exciting possibilities before you?

Visit the Wright Foundation for more ways to grow and learn. Join us for an upcoming networking event, where you’ll connect with new friends and allies who can help support you on your journey. Go forth and ignite your world.

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.


How to Get Comfortable with Being Alone

Wondering how to get comfortable with being alone? Maybe even start to enjoy your time with yourself?

Some people love solitude and others…don’t. Here’s how to get comfortable with being alone, especially if you avoid spending time by yourself.

Some people thrive on solitude and “me time,” while others avoid it like the plague. If you fall into the later category, you aren’t alone. (What a relief, right?) A study of 20,000 U.S. adults showed almost half of the people reported feelings of loneliness.

We’ve been raised to believe time alone is a negative situation. After all, what do parents say when kids misbehave? “Go to your room,” or “take a timeout.” Time alone feels like we’re being punished and isolated from the fun.

All humans crave social interaction in some form, which is why social media and other tools are so popular. Yet, many of these tools take up our time, masking as social connections but ultimately leave us feeling hollow. When we’re alone, we rush to fill the space with our online connections, media, and the noise of other soft addictions, because we feel uncomfortable.

So, if you’re avoiding alone time, here’s how to build your solitude skills and get more comfortable with being alone.

Why Being Alone Can Feel Uncomfortable

Being alone is a little uncomfortable for many people. In fact, it gets so uncomfortable some people start to fear alone time or take extra steps to avoid spending time by themselves.

What most people are really afraid of isn’t the state of being alone, but the feelings that come up when we’re by ourselves. Many people aren’t comfortable with feelings. We’ve been taught to avoid sadness, hurt, and fear. We find it’s more comfortable to express some feelings (like joy, satisfaction, and even anger or frustration) while other feelings we’ve learned to tamp down and avoid.

When you’re surrounded by other people, it’s easy to stay distracted from your feelings. You may feel like friends and acquaintances turn a situation into a party. You laugh, enjoy a glass of wine or two, and carry on conversations. Your mind is turned on and you’re busy. You may even be engaged with others and building healthy connections.

Then, the moment you’re alone, if there isn’t someone there to distract you, feelings start to bubble up to the surface. You may not even know where those feelings are coming from. In fact, it’s not uncommon to experience sadness, fear, or melancholy feelings when you’re alone, without an obvious trigger.

As you mull through the day, regrets may start to arise. You may reflect on something you did or said that didn’t go as planned. You might cringe at comments you made, an embarrassing moment, or a mistake. All of your unfinished business starts to move to the forefront of your thoughts; those uncomfortable feelings surface.

Honestly, it’s difficult to learn to simply be with yourself, especially if it’s new for you. For some people, it’s very challenging.

Some people are so uncomfortable with the prospect of loneliness, they can’t even stand in an elevator alone. They may even get out their phone or find another distraction to keep their mind busy.

Yet, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with being by yourself. In fact, it’s good for you. When you learn to mindfully spend time alone, you get to know yourself better. You reflect and become more in touch with your emotions and feelings. You explore your dreaded “unfinished business” you’re avoiding, and you start to work through it.

Remember, if you’re uncomfortable being alone with yourself, it’s likely you’re uncomfortable being with your feelings. The good news is, this gives you a great starting point to work from.

How to Enjoy Your Time Alone: A Chance to Connect with Yourself

If you’re uncomfortable with being alone, pat yourself on the back! Admitting and realizing that being alone is a struggle for you puts you on the path to working through it.

The first step to enjoying your time alone is to let go of the idea of being comfortable. Don’t expect to feel comfortable with being alone—in fact, being by yourself isn’t going to feel comfortable all the time. At first, it might even feel really uncomfortable, and that’s okay.

It’s more about shifting your goal from “comfortable” to exploratory. Think of your time alone as though you’re going on a date with yourself. What is your ideal date?

You get to know about the other person. You discover more about who they are and what makes them tick. You may learn about their yearnings, their fears, their goals, and their vision for the future. You may start to develop a rapport and build a connection with your date, right?

Dating is all about discovery and learning. It’s no different when you’re spending time alone. You will start to discover more about your likes and dislikes. Get to know who you are. Work to discover the wonderful person inside you. You may discover you really like yourself and even start crushing on yourself a little!

Now, of course, this may sound silly or daunting. Get to know myself? Of course, I already know who I am!

The idea is to really settle into a place where you’re mindful and aware of your emotions. What are you feeling right now? What emotions do you identify and why?

For most people, spending just a short amount of time alone, mindfully exploring their emotions will kick their craving for distraction into high gear. Don’t get surprised if the urge to check your smartphone, turn on the television, or rush to the store and shop hits you hard.

Our discomfort with being alone plays into our soft addictions—those activities we use to distract ourselves from really feeling our feelings and tapping into our emotional core. It’s not that shopping, TV, or even social media is bad, per se. All those activities are used in healthy ways in moderation, but when we use them to distract ourselves from our thoughts and emotions, they become destructive rather than constructive.

There’s a real benefit in spending quiet, mindful moments with yourself. Your creativity goes up. Your imagination becomes stimulated and alive. You may connect with your spiritual side and find healthy outlets for your energy. Alone time becomes beautiful and productive.

How to Spend Time with Yourself

If you’re ready to spend quality time with yourself, use it as a chance to explore your creativity and self-expression.

Exploring creativity in your alone time doesn’t necessarily mean you need to paint, sketch, or draw. There are plenty of other creative ways to stimulate our brains. Problem solving, resolution, journaling, reflection, studying, and learning are all great ways to tap into your creative side.

You may find quality time in powerful silence or you may prefer music during your time with yourself. You may enjoy cooking, creating, gardening, or other activities that allow you to still get in touch with your emotions and thoughts. Find a mindful flow and aliveness during your alone time, rather than leaning on distractions and escape methods.

Not only does this increase the quality of your “me time,” but it will help you in other activities throughout your day. You may discover a higher focus at work, more engagement when you’re connecting with others socially, and a deeper connection with your significant other.

When you’re in a path-positive brain center you’re focused on a task. You’re consumed by doing, achieving, getting items done on your to-do list. You aren’t aware of where you are—where your “being” is—you aren’t in the moment. You’re simply getting through the job at hand.

As you become more mindful, you’ll move to another brain center. You’ll become more sensory-aware. Colors may become more vibrant. Your senses may feel heightened. This is because you can’t feel as deeply when you’re driven and busy doing rather than mindfully being. You’re distracted from the beauty of your surroundings.

Meditation is a helpful practice as you’re tapping into your mindful side. It helps to train our brain to watch, become more present and aware in the moment. At the same time, you want to incorporate mindfulness in all your activities, not just those ten minutes when you do your meditation app. You want to become aware of those thoughts and feelings throughout your entire day.

Our goal should be to increase our mindful living when we’re alone as well as when we’re with others. Inside us is a rich and beautiful universe. If we don’t take time to discover ourselves and look under the surface, we may miss the wonderful potential that exists inside each of us.

Find more ways to connect with yourself and build your connections with others by visiting the Wright Foundation. Join us for our upcoming More Life Training, where you’ll explore new ways to get in touch with your emotions and explore unfinished business. Discover your limitless potential and start living your best life today!

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