Let’s All Embrace Truth in the New Year


Do you know how to embrace truth in your life? You may think, “Sure! I’m always honest.”

In a world where everyone lies, what would happen if we all resolved to embrace truth in the new year? Here’s how to live your truth.

As I often point out to our students at the Wright Foundation, everyone lies. In fact, we may get so used to bending the truth that we don’t even recognize when we’re lying. Think of the last time you were late somewhere. What did you say?

“Traffic was crazy,” or,” Sorry, I got held up at the office.”

Are those statements really truthful, though? If you had left ahead of time, would you be late? If you valued the meeting enough, wouldn’t you do everything in your power to get there on time, come hell or high water?

The thought of responding, “I didn’t care enough to get here on time,” or, “I knew you’d wait, and I don’t value your time very much,” sounds almost laughable and harsh, right? But isn’t it the truth?

Are Your Pants on Fire?

Now, it’s not only about punctuality and showing up when you say you’re going to. There are many instances when nearly everyone lies. Think you’re the exception? Think again.

As I tell our students during More Life Training, anyone who tells you they aren’t a liar is demonstrating that they’re an unconscious liar. In fact, they may not even realize it. They may genuinely believe what they’re saying. They don’t consider the excuses or justifications to be lies. After all, don’t we all tell white lies? Little lies? Half-truths?

If we could all relax and recognize we’re all lying—get honest with ourselves first and foremost—we may stop doing it.

On average, people lie about seven times an hour. We’re lied to around 200 times a day. College students lie in about 50% of their talks with their parents. 80% of people lie on their resumes. 41% of college students lie to get a job. 70% of doctors lie to insurance companies. 71% of people keep secrets from their spouse. Everyone lies when they go on dates. (I often cringe when I think of the ways I tried to look good to Judith when we started dating.)

Think about it. The last time someone asked you what you thought of their presentation; you probably said, “It was terrific!” But was it?

Or the last time someone asked, “how was your weekend,” what was your response? “It was fine,” or “It was good.” Or perhaps you say something humorous, “Not long enough!”

Chances are, you don’t say your weekend was mediocre, lonely, dull, or unmemorable. You didn’t admit to binge-watching Netflix, skipping the shower, or eating a pint of ice cream.

In fact, we’ve become so used to these little lies that it’s actually jarring when someone gives us an honest answer. When we ask someone how they are and they tell us the truth, we may feel taken aback and startled. We don’t know how to respond. We’re so used to the canned, go-to answers we expect.

The result is we’re all milling around, telling others these half-truths and questioning the validity of our true feelings. We may have had a crappy weekend. We might think the presentation stunk. We may not be having a good day.

On the flip side, we may suppress our urge to get too exuberant with our answers, as well. When someone asks us how we’re doing, we rarely reply, “Spectacular!” Again, it feels almost comical to respond with such enthusiasm, right? But by not sharing our truth, we’re diminishing our joy. We’re putting our true feelings aside to offer up an answer we’ve deemed normal or acceptable.

Why Do We Lie?

The real question is, why do we lie so much?

The short answer is because we’re so used to it, we do it automatically. We’re wandering around unconscious (or half-conscious), and we actually believe what we’re saying. Why do we believe these lies? We have what Freud called an ego ideal. We call it a false self—the way we want the world to perceive and see us.

Each of us has what’s called the accepted self and the denied self. We tell lies to cover up our denied self and present our preferred or idealized image to others (as well as ourselves). Another way to think of it is a narcissistic image—it’s the image we want to see in the mirror. We lie to manage perception.

We may lie to get what we want. We lie to avoid what we don’t want, like criticism and conflict. We lie to make ourselves feel better, and we lie to make those around us feel better too.

We may believe gossip over facts. In fact, we may believe a lie and the circumstances around a lie so adamantly, we refuse to see even the most obvious truths.

One of my heroes, Will Schutz, Ph.D., wrote a book called The Truth Option. He says, “To be truthful and honest is a fascinating adventure. I find it a task of extraordinary difficulty. A lifetime of learning not to speak the truth, combined with a real difficulty in knowing what, in fact, is true of me, makes living the truth a formidable challenge. The rewards are remarkable. I find I must relearn over and over again how really effective truthful living is, but virtually every time I am honest with myself and others, I end up feeling exhilarated. Some of the body tensions that keep me from being fully open let go. I feel a little freer and lighter and breathe a little deeper.”

He goes on to say, “Approaching a person with the intention of really being honest often reminds me of taking a cold shower. The anticipation is frightening. The initial impact shocking, and the outcome refreshing, cleansing, and invigorating.”

What will it take for us to step into the cold shower of truth? How do we start living honestly and openly?

It begins by acknowledging the truth to ourselves and accepting what we’re afraid of. Maybe it’s rejection, loneliness, embarrassment, intimacy, or something else that frightens us. So we build up insulation by offering the answers we think others want to hear, and the answers we want to give and hear ourselves.

When I was growing up, my father and uncle got into a huge fight (I was about five-years-old). This was a real knock-down, drag-out battle. I remember my father had a black eye the next day, but the situation was never mentioned or discussed. My mom, sister, and I were aware something had transpired, but we all pretended everything was status quo.

I’ve talked to so many people who have similar stories with their families. Whether it’s an incident that was never discussed, a family secret, or unexpressed feelings, many of us learn, we should sweep these situations and feelings under the rug and move forward.

I often share this story during our More Life Training, and people always come up to me after and tell me how much they appreciate my sharing the truth. They often relate very similar experiences.

Truth Comes from Accepting Flaws

We’re all human beings, and we’re all flawed. It’s perfectly okay. Not one person is without flaws. So imagine what life would be like if we could all identify and accept those flaws. How much more would we learn and grow, from looking at who we truly are, rather than who we’re not?

As I work with my coaching clients, we often look at a particular goal they want to achieve. It seems many people quickly identify their big goal but can’t pinpoint what exactly the goal will do for them. They want wealth so they have freedom, but they already have all the freedom in the world if only they’d step forward and take advantage of it. They want respect and affection. They want to be liked by others. But they don’t realize liking and respecting yourself comes at a much lower cost.

Judith has an exercise when she works with people where she has them express what they want rapid-fire, and they go through “want, want, want.” Then she has them express what they really YEARN for. Yearning is to be seen, to be known, to be acknowledged to be affirmed. We explore how yearnings are deeper than wants—the longings of our soul. People often see their yearnings as something distant that they must strive for.

Our yearnings are available all the time. We don’t need to prove or accomplish anything to receive the affirmation we need. It’s there for us to reach out and accept. Often, it’s ourselves keeping us from getting the affirmation we’re longing for.

We serve students from all different backgrounds and faiths. One quote that resonates with all students is from Fr. Gregory Elder. He tells us we all yearn to see the unconditional love of Jesus (or God, or the universe, if you prefer). The only thing keeping us from feeling the loving, adoring, accepting glance is that we’re afraid to look into those loving eyes because we have already judged ourselves and thought that the loving God was the one judging us.

No matter your faith, you can see how we often long for acceptance and love from the world around us, but we block the love, believing we’re unworthy. By our very humanity, we’re worthy.

So, how do we start to look at ourselves as worthy? How do we embrace the truth and get the love and truth we deserve?

It starts by discovering and committing to truth. Challenge yourself to answer truthfully the next time you are asked a question, results be damned. If someone asks what you think, what you want, or how you are, tell them the honest answer.

Stop lying to yourself. Acknowledge you are worthy of the truth and express the truth in all situations.

Moreover, listen to the feedback of others—even the difficult truths you don’t want to hear. That’s one of the biggest struggles we all have. There are truths others offer that we don’t want to hear. Sometimes these are positive attributes we may not believe. Other times, they may be truths we’d prefer to ignore.

Truth isn’t frightening. It simply is the reality. The sooner we embrace the truth, the sooner we will feel free to live in harmony with our true selves. Let’s all resolve to embrace truth in the new year!

For more on living your best life, please visit the Wright Foundation. Please join us for an upcoming More Life Training, where you’ll learn more truths about yourself and others. 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 Avoid the Holiday Blues This Season

The holidays bring time with friends and family. This is often a time of celebration and reflection. But sometimes, the holiday blues set in and cause us to miss out on the joy.

Hoping to avoid the holiday blues? If you’ve had a challenging year, here's how to work through the events of the last few months and embrace the holiday season.

When you take a look beneath the surface (no matter what faith and season you celebrate), this time of year probably evokes both hope and unspoken elements of pain and withheld feelings. Some of us cope with shopping, avoiding, maybe even occasionally overeating, sports binging, or other soft addictions. Unfortunately, these strategies don’t really do much for us if we’re avoiding the holiday blues. In fact, they may leave us feeling emptier and more stressed out than before.

Don’t fret. There are ways to have even more fun and move to new visions of the holiday. Rather than avoiding the holiday blues by hiding or running from them, what if you explore your feelings and find new ways to form magic memories this holiday season?

Take Off the Pressure and Take in the Pleasure to Avoid the Blues This Holiday Season

Are the holidays stressing you out? You’re definitely not alone. The American Psychological Association discovered 69% of people are stressed out during the holidays. What’s worrying them?

  • 69% feel stressed by having a “lack of time.”
  • 69% feel stressed by perceiving a “lack of money.”
  • 51% feel stressed out over the “pressure to give or get gifts.”

When you combine these stressors with the feelings stirred up during family get-togethers, as well as end-of-year reflections, it’s no wonder people often report feeling down or blue during the holiday season. In fact, with all the pressure, you may begin to question why we repeat these rituals every year!

Whether you celebrate Kwanzaa, Chanukah, Christmas, Solstice, New Year’s, or simply celebrate the season, the holidays are often fraught with unconscious stress and frustrating dynamics.

First, there are the parties with your family members (Uncle Roger’s bringing up politics AGAIN), and your in-laws (with your mother-in-law’s thinly veiled critiques of your parenting style). There are varying traditions around the office and different expectations among friends when it comes to gifts and giving. Plus, there are so many events on the calendar, you may wonder when you’ll find time to wrap presents and prepare meals, let alone, drink a peppermint latte.

Compound this with feelings we get when we’ve experienced challenges over the past 12 months. If you’ve had a loss, a setback, or a breakup, this time of year might amplify those feelings. As you look ahead to the new year, you may feel regrets or wonder how the year passed by so quickly.

The holiday blues are a totally normal phenomenon. In fact, avoiding the holiday blues isn’t always the most strategic approach. Often, when we avoid our feelings rather than address them head-on, they snowball, making us feel even worse. We throwback another glass of wine, get out the credit card to shop Amazon, or spend time binging on Hallmark movies, hoping we’ll forget all the feelings we’re experiencing. We end up feeling overwhelmed and worse.

It’s important to remember—your feelings are valid and important. Even if you feel down or if you’re worried, your feelings aren’t in line with those around you; your feelings are still meant to be embraced. If you feel like crying, go ahead! If you feel like yelling, it’s totally okay!

Why the Holidays Get So Stressful

So why does our holiday break sometimes feel like more stress and pressure than our days at the office?

The truth is, this holiday hell we’re putting ourselves through isn’t a necessity. Most people tend to set holiday habits we fall into year after year. We may think we need to do certain activities out of a sense of tradition, obligation, or even fear, but stressing out isn’t part of the season or something we need to go through. It’s often a result of poor planning or no planning at all.

Our holiday feelings of failure often start with failing to plan what we really want out of the holidays. We may plan our logistics—what will we eat, what presents will we buy, what activities are we scheduling—but rarely do we plan how we want to feel or what we want to get out of the holiday. So, how do you take your holiday spirit from worry to wonder? It starts with setting up a vision for what you want.

So many people never take the time to set up a plan or vision for what they want. Then they’re stunned to discover themselves in a whirlwind of unsatisfying activity and drama. The best gift to give yourself is actually an enjoyable experience. Dr. Thomas Gilovich, a psychology professor at Cornell University, conducted a 20-year study and concluded that happiness from purchases fades quickly, whereas positive experiences become an integral part of our identity.

It’s important to set up for success with an idea of what you want. What is your intention for this holiday season?

Many people end up doing what they always do; they get stuck in a rut or routine. Unfortunately, when this happens, our holiday ends up feeling like another burdensome “to-do list” rather than a joyous experience or an opportunity to connect with the spirit of the season. We become so wrapped up and focused on pleasing family and friends, that we end up doing what others want, rather than what we really want.

What would help the holidays feel meaningful and nourishing for you? What are those moments when you really feel joy, connection, and happiness during the holiday season? Is it when you hear music? Look at the lights? Decorate your house? Is it spending time with family and friends?

Anything you haven’t dealt with, be it within yourself or your relationships, often comes into focus or gets amplified at this time of year. It’s so important to go into situations with a strategy for how you’re going to be with people, rather than assuming everything will go well, playing it by ear, or toughing it out through the tension.

Take the Pressure Off

We put too much pressure on one holiday or event or time of the year.  We build and build up our expectations, imagining the perfect Christmas morning, a flawless Chanukah dinner, or toasting a New Year’s party for the ages.

This same concept plays out at Valentine’s day, or on our wedding day, graduation, or other significant events in our lives. We start believing a specific day must be completely “magical.” We imagine that to be perfect, there must be no pressure, no stress, and nothing going wrong.

But when we step back for a moment, we might ask, why would we—in any rational way—expect one day of the year of our lives to become so utterly different from any other day in terms of stress, challenges, or bumps in the road? Things might always go a little off track, and that’s life. Perfection is an unrealistic concept.

When we pressure ourselves to keep a happy face, no matter what’s going on around us, it’s not real. It’s never satisfying, especially when there are so many other options.

The holidays are particularly high-pressure because we may try to make up for what we don’t get the rest of the year. Maybe you feel your spouse doesn’t appreciate you, so without realizing it, you’re expecting a big gift to make up for those feelings. These unconscious expectations—especially in terms of gifts and money—get in the way of us enjoying the opportunities for magic.

Maybe you grew up in a family where they exchanged lavish gifts on holidays. Those gifts become your expectation, so when others don’t do that for you, you feel disappointed. On the flip side, maybe gift-giving isn’t an essential tradition for you. When your spouse is disappointed or angry you didn’t do more, you’re left feeling hurt and regretful. Or perhaps you love giving big gifts, but this year it’s not an option for you financially. If holidays are all about the gifts, then without a plan, it feels like someone sucked the delight right out of the special day.

Plan for a More Satisfying Holiday

The good news is, a happy holiday is within your grasp! With planning and a shifting outlook, you can create a holiday that’s more satisfying and fulfilling.

It all starts with your vision. Create a vision of how you want YOUR holiday to be. Imagine the details. Take a few moments to think about how you want to be and how you want to feel. What is your vision and purpose for this holiday? A good vision will take you from worry to wonder and from pressure to pleasure. Rather than planning logistics, plan on what you really want.

Having a tough time figuring out what your holiday vision looks like? It may require reframing what you REALLY want. For example, do your decorations need to be perfect or are you hoping to invoke delight in others when they experience what you created? How will you contribute to the enjoyment of others around you, rather than putting the pressure on a perfectly placed Santa?

Do you always go to your in-laws but dread it all season long? Have you been unwilling to embark on the conversation? Remember, you aren’t a victim of your life. Set aside your feelings of martyrdom and have those tough conversations about what matters to you.

If you find yourself stressed out by a jam-packed schedule, rushing between events, ask yourself, what is your vision for the quality of contact you create with others? Sometimes a meaningful touch, a concern expressed, or confidence shared, has a massive impact on the fulfillment you experience at a holiday party.

If you feel stuck in a rut or routine in your holiday, consider starting a new tradition. There are so many delightful possibilities! You can start a new tradition by choosing it! It’s in your power!

The point is to plan—not what you are doing, but HOW you want to feel and what you want to create. Once you get a little clarity, include the significant people in your life, so they can share their vision with you and get on board as well.

This year, plan to savor the entire holiday season, not a date, or a single event. Remember, no magic lies in any calendar date. The beauty of the holidays is often in the heart-opening opportunities that occur. When people remember to be a little lovelier, a little more generous, and a little more giving of themselves, none of these characteristics have a date attached. You may stand in a long, stressed-out line of people making gift returns after the holidays. You can choose to be frustrated, or decide to be open, to share, and connect.

The only thing that makes one day different from the others is your mindset. Plan a lot of lovely sweet, savoring moments for the entire winter season. This takes unnecessary pressure off the actual holiday dates themselves. Choose to have a wonderful holiday this year!

For more ways to live a life of fulfillment, visit the Wright Foundation. Join us for our upcoming More Life Training. You’ll connect with others on their transformational journey and learn more about yourself. This is a great way to bring peace, meaning, and happiness to your life in the upcoming year ahead!

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.

Emotional Development and Your Family Relationships

The holidays are almost here. It’s time for parties, music, lights, and food.

As the holidays approach, here’s what your interactions with your family can show you about your own emotional development.

With all the joy and festivity comes time with our nearest and dearest. For many of us, the holidays include time with our families.

But family time isn’t always calm and drama-free. In fact, it may cause us to reflect quite deeply on our relationships, our feelings about ourselves, and the emotional development within our family.

As adults, we may feel we’re past the emotional development stage. We’re developed, right? In reality, our emotional development continues well into adulthood and throughout our lives. We can continue and learn and grow even as seniors.

So, this holiday season, use this time of reflection and family gatherings to explore your emotional development.

Why is Our Emotional Development Tied to Our Family Background?

When we become adults and move out of our parent’s homes, we may feel like we’re finished with our development. After all, we’re all grown up—we see ourselves for who we are as adults, right?

When the holidays roll around, we may find we’re right back in those roles we experienced growing up. Suddenly you’re jealous of the way your parents lavish praise on your sister. You’re irritated with your mom’s unsolicited advice about the way you should style your hair. Your dad is droning on about the news and politics, and suddenly you feel like you’re 10-years-old!

It makes a lot of sense why we feel this way. Our family background is deeply ingrained in our identity. Freud said this too. We’re pretty much programmed by the time we’re six or seven-years-old.  There’s a huge amount of programming and conditioning that happens in our families while we’re growing up. Some of this programming happens before we’ve developed language, or can even speak.

As very young children, we’re getting these hundreds and thousands of experiences in our code, embedded in our neuropathways. We call this internal code our matrix. Our matrix is our beliefs about the world and ourselves and how we translate those beliefs into our actions.

The brainwaves of a child are quite different from the brainwaves of an adult. As children, we’re in a beautiful, imaginative state where a broom becomes a horse or a lightsaber. We pretend and mimic—it’s how we learn. Our brainwaves are more hypnogogic—they’re easily programmed or imprinted to our sense of the world around us. Our perception sets our foundation. As Adler tells us, all of this is laid down in the early stages of our lives and forms our unconscious beliefs. There are four distinct beliefs set up through our interactions and programming: beliefs about ourselves, beliefs about our world, beliefs about what the world expects from us, and beliefs about what we expect from the world.

All of this is getting laid down, and we’re getting constant feedback—how we’re treated by others, how we’re responded to, what’s okay and what’s not okay within our family. These beliefs stay unconscious unless we later decide to give them some conscious attention.

So, you see, our family roles don’t just play a role in our belief about ourselves; it lays down the very foundation of who we become as adults.

How Do You Discover and Uncover Your Beliefs About Yourself?

Now, when we discover beliefs about ourselves that aren’t so great or aren’t exactly true, it doesn’t mean we’re bad, or our family did a bad job. It doesn’t mean our relationship with them was terrible. In fact, we may think we had a very good childhood. These mistaken beliefs still become ingrained in our thinking as part of our matrix.

We often don’t even realize these beliefs exist. Sometimes we don’t know what we believe until we observe how we’re reacting and behaving. For example, if you feel insecure, inferior, or have thoughts like, “I’m not enough,” or, “I can’t handle this,” it may indicate you have some core unconscious beliefs that you aren’t enough. Or if you think, “I was too loud,” or “that was too much,” or “oh jeez, I’ve got to hold back,” you may believe you’re too much.

You can see how your behavior and the thoughts that run through your head come back to these core beliefs that were set up so long ago in your childhood. Those feelings of I’m not loveable, or I’m too much, I don’t matter, or I’m not worthy stick with us. We all have them. We can look at them by examining how we go about our lives.

The holidays are a perfect time to explore these beliefs because we’re often returning home to our families, so a lot of feelings come up for us. It’s incredible how quickly we can fall back into the familiar patterns of our childhood. It truly makes sense, though. After all, we were raised in a certain environment and used those experiences as models for our future relationships.

Why It’s So Hard to Change Our Beliefs

I’ve watched myself sitting in a meeting, not speaking up or talking, feeling more and more left out. Sometimes, I hold back from voicing my opinion. There’s still a belief deep within me that I don’t belong there. The minute I recognize this is my mistaken belief kicking in and I speak up, I always realize people ARE listening to me. I DO belong there! Often though, I don’t realize I still carry those beliefs until I catch myself holding back.

I grew up a middle child; I was a quiet little ghost growing up. So I have a belief I carry with me that I don’t matter, or people aren’t seeing me. As soon as I recognize it, I can act to counter the belief.

If we want to work on changing our beliefs, we must become aware of them first. Then when we’re aware of our beliefs, we can start to shift them.

It’s essentially a rewiring job to figure out how to rewire our hardwired beliefs. We have to strategically identify those thoughts and counter them so we can start building a new, more empowering belief.

For most of us, our family relationships go back to our first days of life. We’ve known Mom and Dad since we came out of the womb. Siblings may have been in the picture already or come along a few years later, but our family relationships go way back.

So, it’s challenging (but not impossible) to objectively explore and break out of these deep-set patterns, especially when we’re spending time with our families. It feels comfortable and even familiar to drudge up the same conversations and styles of interaction.

But what if this year you decided on a different approach? What if this year you decided to explore some of these feelings?

Does this bring up images of slamming doors, plates flying across the room, and tears in the turkey? Don’t worry! As adults, we can engage in productive conflict that will actually help us strengthen our connections and get closer to those we love. It’s all about starting the conversation.

So, how do you start talking to your family about these beliefs? Identify those patterns in your family you can point out. Maybe your family isn’t good at taking risks. Perhaps they aren’t great at communicating.

At the Wright Foundation, we have our students map their family roles. Most families can reach a pretty quick consensus on which sibling was the popular one, which sibling was the rebel, the bad kid, or the family pet. You can identify who played which roles as discuss those patterns with your family. Which parent was the authoritarian, the enforcer, the diplomat, or the good cop/bad cop?

Identifying the roles within your family is a more neutral way to approach the conversation, and your family can often agree who played which roles in your relationships. You’re not blaming anyone, simply exploring these feelings.

Starting these conversations can help you address challenging family situations and express your feelings responsibly and openly. Look at this opportunity to appreciate your family for the positive aspects they bring into your life too. That doesn’t mean you brush hurts under the rug or ignore them. Address them and move forward.

As you start to grow in your emotional development, you may discover your family rises to meet you. How incredible is it to live your life in such a way that your approach inspires others?!

This year let’s make the holidays more honest and meaningful. Express your feelings, explore your beliefs, and find new ways to strengthen your family ties.

For more on exploring your beliefs, please visit the Wright Foundation. Join us for an upcoming More Life Training weekend, where you’ll connect with others on their transformational journey. Happy holidays to you and your family!

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.