Break Your Negative Thinking Patterns

Maybe you’re sick or feeling achy. Perhaps the day hasn’t gone your way, or you’re frustrated with a situation involving a friend, coworker, or even your spouse. Perhaps your plans were canceled, or someone backed out on you.

A black and white picture of a woman with her head down. Ever get stuck in negative thinking patterns? It’s tough to break our patterns and stop “stinking thinking” but by adjusting your perspective you can make a positive shift.


 

What do we do when faced with frustrating situations? We start a reel of tape looping in our heads, a voice saying, “You’re a loser,” or “you’re lazy,” or “no one really likes you.” Call it depression and anxiety, stress, or negative thinking, it’s no fun, and it can become quite damaging to our mood, mental health, and outlook.

No matter how old we get or how much we attempt to stay upbeat, it’s hard to get our little voice to shut up sometimes—especially when we’re feeling down in the dumps. We’ve all had those moments when we feel down and crummy. We get stuck in negative thinking patterns, and it’s hard to break out.

Stop Your Negative Thinking Patterns—They Stink!

When we get stuck in this negative self-talk and spiral of negative thinking patterns, we refer to it as “stinking thinking.” Why? Well, because these thoughts really stink!


Not only do these negative thinking patterns make us feel bad about ourselves, erode our confidence, and destroy our mood, but they’re hard to turn off. In fact, many of us have been programming our brains for years—our whole lives—to play this negative tape.


This tape of beliefs is part of our makeup, or what we call our matrix. As I work with people on their personal growth, exploring their matrix is a crucial step. When we’re in the process of growing and learning more about ourselves, we often see and start to explore the side of our matrix that’s not-so-positive.

In fact, the more we examine our thinking, try to stop negative thought patterns, and work on shifting our mindset, the harder these negative thoughts seem to fight their way up to the surface. These misbeliefs and negative thinking patterns especially come up when we experience setbacks, frustrations, and mistakes that make us want to throw in the towel (or at least start listing off excuses).

These mental roadblocks are perfectly normal and part of the process. Change is difficult and often a little scary. However, the more we lean into making personal changes and focusing on our growth, the more our minds will throw up resistance. After all, it’s easier to go back to the status quo—it’s more comfortable for our brains (but in the long run, we’re not doing our mental health any favors).

Is Our Changing Negative Thinking Patterns Worth the Effort?

It’s simple to write off our potential future as requiring too much work or being too painful to achieve. It may feel safer to keep on going about our business as usual.

But the reality is that change is constant, and it’s part of life. Whether we’re evolving into our next best self or becoming more rigid and set in our ways, we’re still constantly changing and growing. We have a choice to embrace this shift as an opportunity to learn and to become even better, more engaged, and more confident, or we can choose to resist the change, rely on our old thinking patterns, and zone out with soft addictions and time wasters. It may easier to sit back and take whatever comes our way, or we can open ourselves to the possibilities and gratitude from making the most of our lives.


When we choose to live a life of MORE, then it’s time to roll up our sleeves and do the internal work. Part of the work is exploring our values and our beliefs. To start discovering more about ourselves, we need to peel back the layers of our matrix and expose these underlying misbeliefs.


Your matrix isn’t going to like it when you start exposing it. It’s going to assert itself when you think, I have unique gifts; I can go further than I ever thought; I’m not inherently unlovable; I’m desirable, and there’s someone out there for me, or maybe I’m a lot more spiritual than I think; I can try to find a connection with a higher power. This is why stating positive affirmations alone doesn’t work—in your conscious mind, you say to yourself, I am loveable, and your matrix reacts and fights it with an unconscious response of disbelief that, if translated, might sound something like, Yeah, right. That’s why you’re sitting home watching reruns on a Saturday night instead of being out on a date.

Your matrix will reflexively attempt to restore its version of reality when it hears these positive thoughts. It will be especially assertive when you try to do something that breaks from your programming, and it doesn’t work out. It may even resort to trickery, lying low until it can subtly reassert itself. For instance, you’ve been programmed to believe your limitations, such as you’re unlovable, but…you start a relationship you think might turn into a long-term one. Then the other person breaks up with you, and your matrix says, See, you are unlovable.

Transformed! The Science of Spectacular Living

It’s common to fall back into these negative thinking patterns about ourselves, especially when doing the work. When we start to feel hopeful about the future, we set up expectations. Once these expectations go awry, it confirms our fears. We become discouraged.

The truth is, these negative thinking patterns hold us back. They don’t move us forward in a positive direction. They don’t bring us happiness, fulfillment, or satisfaction. They stink. If we want to stop o negative thinking patterns, we must rally ourselves to keep pushing through. We can focus on the deepest desires of our hearts—our yearnings. It also helps to remind ourselves that we’re working toward getting those deep needs met. In other words, we should keep our eyes on the prize (our yearnings!).

How Do You Stop Negative Thinking When You’re Sick?

A while back, I came down with the flu. It was miserable. I was congested, tired, achy, and I felt awful. I came home, and there I was, all alone. I was left with me. In bed. Sick. Feverish. Tired. Listless…but my mind was still active, thinking…

What value do I have if I am just in bed? I’m worthless unless I’m doing something. I’ve got to go to work…

As the thoughts were swirling in my mind, my husband, Bob, called out from the kitchen that he loved me. I heard myself thinking: How can you love me if I’m not doing anything?

So, I asked him exactly that question, and he responded with a smile, “I love you just for being here. You are the sweetest little being I know, even when you piss me off. Right now, you don’t piss me off; I just want to hug you.”

Bob often helps me re-program my mistaken beliefs about myself and my value, which is a process we call rematrixing. All the stinking thinking I have, such as I’m not valuable if I’m not doing something, comes from my mistaken beliefs about myself.

One of the categories of stinking thinking I am most prone to is called emotional reasoning: I feel bad, so I think I am bad. When I am sick and feel bad, I’m especially susceptible to this form of stinking thinking. I realize I need to take this message in: I am valuable and lovable. I matter. I don’t have to earn love. These are the thoughts I need to let in. I repeat them to myself like a mantra, imagining Bob’s loving expression as I say them, soaking it in.


The more I can feel the positive thoughts, the more I can rematrix these positive beliefs to let them settle deeply within myself. The more conscious I am as I do this, the more these thoughts will become my beliefs.


And what happens when I do this? Well, suddenly, I’m relaxing and actually thankful I’m sick. Being sick is a good reminder that I am valuable, I am lovable, that my being is as valuable as my doing.

It happens. We get sick, and we have bad days. Getting through it means reminding ourselves (and listening when others remind us) of our worth.

When Bad Moods Happen to Good People

We all experience a range of emotions on a daily, even hourly basis. No emotion’s “bad” or “wrong.” If we’re feeling fear, sadness, anger, or hurt, it’s an important message our brain is sending us. Our emotions are a gift, a piece of the fabric of our human existence.

So when we feel stinking thinking, or negative thought patterns coming on, we shouldn’t beat ourselves up (falling back into our old line of thinking). Instead, we can think, “I feel this way. Why?” Acknowledge it and explore it.

Now, it’s hard to stop negative thinking patterns when we’re feeling down. When something goes wrong, we’re unhappy, annoyed, or irritated, and we start to fixate (or ruminate) on these thought patterns.

When you feel defeated or unhappy, you find that all sorts of distorted imaginings—what we call stinking thinking—get in the way of your insights. You’ll tell yourself you’re being naïve or that you’re just wasting your time. Being down is your matrix’s way of reasserting itself.

Therefore, reveal to others that you are stuck and ask them to help you create a more objective, more positive sense of yourself. If you are optimistic about yourself and your future, you’ll keep these distracting thoughts at bay and actually be rematrixing. We all need support to be emotionally focused and hopeful as we gain insights into our matrix. We’re not talking about mindless Suzie Sunshine ways of being, but instead genuinely engaged ways of living life.

Transformed! The Science of Spectacular Living

When I’m struggling, like when I feel sick, I’ll often ask Bob or even my close friends for affirmation. Sometimes it’s as simple as hearing I’m loved. Other times I’ll ask for a deeper, “Why?”

This affirmation helps me reset my negative thought patterns and reminds me of my value. It reiterates that I don’t need to earn love—I’m a person worthy of love just as I am.

When this is affirmed for me, I often really take time to soak the message in. I may repeat it to myself, envisioning my loving ally in my mind as I repeat the thoughts that I’m valuable. I’m loved, just as I am. My yearnings are being met.

So, when we’re feeling down, negative, and frustrated, we can lean on an ally to help confirm and remind us of our importance. We ARE important. Each person is a valuable gift with endless potential. Rather than focusing on our mistakes and shortfalls, which we all have, remember within each of us lies a unique, special person. What we bring to the world is only ours; our personal potential.

Turn down the volume on your stinking thinking and stop the loop of tape. Instead, acknowledge the ways you are growing and evolving into your next best self.

For more ways on how you can break your negative thinking patterns, please explore our courses available at Wright Now. We have courses to help you explore your potential, boost your relationships, move forward in your career, and live the life of your dreams.

 


 

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.

 

“I Hate My Job” …When to Leave Your Job

So, you’re stuck in a job that doesn’t thrill you (or maybe even a job you hate). Almost everyone thinks, “I hate my job,” at some point. We all have those days.

Although it can be a difficult decision, it's important to know when to leave your job.

 


When the days add up, it may be time to seek out something else. Being stuck in a job or hating your line of work can be demoralizing. It’s especially confounding if you like your coworkers or appreciate some aspects of your career but detest others.

So how do you know when to leave your job? When is it time to say goodbye? Are there ways to fix a frustrating job without leaving?

Finding Happiness at Work

Going to work at a miserable job is drudgery. If your job no longer fills you with a sense of growth and purpose, then you probably aren’t fulfilled or happy. Similarly, if your job doesn’t offer you a challenge or stimulation, you’re probably bored and easily annoyed with your workday. When a job loses its excitement, you begin to dread going to work.

Our work can’t be the only thing that gives us a sense of purpose and fulfillment, but all of us need to find some purpose from the work we do. No matter if you’re the CEO of a corporation, if you work in a restaurant, or on a factory line, having pride in the results of your work—and knowing you’re bringing people something they need—provides a strong sense of fulfillment.

I’ve known blue-collar guys who worked on the line at GM and found immense satisfaction in that. They worked hard and took pride in the results of their work. They paid attention to the details. They viewed the job with a sense of how it was helping the greater good, and they felt like they were a part of something bigger than the task in front of them.

These same satisfied workers also didn’t rest on their laurels, sit back and say, “Well, I’m just going to build this same thing every day and go home.” Those who were the most fulfilled came in every day ready to do a better job. They were constantly trying to up their achievement and growth. You can easily apply this same mentality to any line of work.


When we stop wanting to do a better job each day, we may find ourselves unstimulated and dissatisfied with our careers.


A lot of finding our satisfaction becomes a question of mindset. We have to break out of a self-fulfilling prophecy that says, “I hate my job,” or “I’m not going to do well.” When we put those ideas out there, we’ll see them continue to prove to be true. But when we shift our mentality and start to look at how we can do the best job possible, we’ll see a shift.

When I started in counseling years ago, I helped golf pros improve their game. Golf is a very psychologically fueled game—it’s a game where you’re actually playing against yourself. Even when golfers are in these big tournaments, they’re playing to beat their own score.

Jack Nicklaus once said, “Achievement is largely the product of raising one’s level of aspiration and expectation.” This applies to both golf and your career. It’s very much a mental game.

Golf is so psychologically driven that there’s even a condition called the yips. Golfers become anxious, and then, due to holding their club and the tension in their body, they start to shake. This condition can ruin their entire career, and it’s a very real issue.

Similarly, the pros that get the hole-in-one, the course record, and even the green jacket often say afterward that they KNEW they were going to win, even before they began the game. They envisioned the entire process. They were in their groove.

If you’re in your groove at work, raising your aspirations and expectations constantly, you will be successful. At the same time, if you’ve reached the top of your career potential, succeeded as far as you can, and reached a point where you can no longer grow, it’s probably time to liberate yourself and move on to the next opportunity.

I Love My Job, But I Got a Better Job Offer

We’ve all had a great offer come along—an offer we can’t refuse. Sometimes it might be difficult, because you may really love your job now. Or maybe you don’t like your job, but you love your coworkers and the environment. What do you do?

Well, weigh the merits of the new role. Will you be doing the same thing you’re doing now, just with more pay? Rather than making it all about the money, look at the opportunity and the purpose.


When we’re driven by purpose, money is just the icing on the cake. When we’re driven only by a bigger paycheck, we might never feel fulfilled in our work.


I’ve talked to CEOs and presidents who reported they simply felt hollow despite their success. Why? Because they were all about the money—and not about the purpose behind their work.

So if a better offer comes along, weigh it against what you’re doing now. What need will it fulfill within you? We all have deeper needs and desires called yearnings. We might yearn for acknowledgment, achievement, or security. While a raise can provide some of these things, deep human yearnings cannot be fulfilled by money alone.

A client I worked with, Ellis, discovered that working with a sense of purpose is more powerful than money:

From early on, Ellis wanted to be well known and make a lot of money. This was his highest conscious purpose for many years. He lived in a feast-or-famine world. To make ends meet, he even once traded his house for a less expensive one. Fear and chaos dominated his life. He began living by the principles of purpose, and then his career purpose took form.

Over the years, he discovered the joy of partnering with his clients in fulfilling their dreams. His sense of purpose expanded. As money receded in importance, he made more. As fame became irrelevant, his reputation grew. He became absorbed in meeting his clients’ needs. In doing so, his own needs were met or exceeded. His famine periods receded, and life became remarkably enjoyable.

When he moved from a limited purpose of making money and becoming famous to one of servicing clients and fully helping them succeed, he discovered unanticipated excitement. This enthusiasm caused him to conceptualize and develop new products at breakneck speed. He wanted to serve as much as possible. Clarity of purpose helped him prioritize product development and keep focused on the wellbeing of his growing organization. He even split off a major portion of his business because the key executives were not in line with his higher purpose.

—from Beyond Time Management: Business with Purpose

When you have purpose, the money will follow. Don’t be swayed by a “better offer” if it’s not a more purposeful offer.

When “It’s Not You, It’s Me”

Many of us get a chip on our shoulders at work. We start putting ourselves on the “pity potty” with what I call Stinkin’ Thinkin’. We shift the blame from our own inadequacies and under-performance to understand our own mistakes as everyone else’s fault.

As it turns out, YOU are responsible for your happiness. Not your wife. Not your husband. Not your kids. Not your employer or coworkers. YOU.

If you’re miserable in your job and you dread going in every day, you need to look at it just like you would a relationship. What got you to this point? Why did you pick a job that led you to this place of being so unfulfilled? What missteps did you take on your journey?

If your answers start with something like, “Well, it’s these coworkers of mine, you see, they’re just awful…” or, “Look, my boss is a jerk,” then you still need to step back and reassess. Why did you let it go so long? How did you fail to set up appropriate boundaries?

Now, I get it. Some bosses are jerks. Some people get off on power trips and like to torture their employees. In the business world, we still have problems with bullying, just like in elementary school.

But if a boss, manager, or coworker is truly abusive, why are you putting up with it? Most bullies, just like in the movies, back off the moment you call them out.

Level with your boss. Let them know you want to improve your performance, and you want to be successful. Ask them how you can get there before it’s too late or before things have unraveled too far. Get on the same page and have them explain their vision to you. How do they want the company to run? What does a successful department look like to them, and how can you help them get there?

If all else fails, resign but don’t leave and fall into the same trap as before. Leave and learn from the experience. What can you do differently next time to set yourself up for success?

When the Bridge is About to Burn

If it’s time to leave a job and you’ve found an opportunity that presents more possibilities for your own personal growth, developing your greater purpose, and achieving more fulfillment, great!

Just don’t let the door hit you on the way out. Don’t burn the bridge you might have to cross again. Cities are like big, small towns, so if you plan to stay in the same industry or if you might run into a crossover client, leave on good terms. Don’t run around spouting off to everyone about what an egomaniac or jerk your former employer was.

Keep connections strong with coworkers, particularly those who have shared your vision and who are supportive allies. Stay in touch and build on those connections outside of the work environment.


If it’s time to leave a job, leave things in the best condition you can. Don’t use your resignation and as an opportunity to give your employer a laundry list of grievances.


If there’s something concrete that needs to change, share it with your boss to help ensure the role is more successful in the future for the next person who takes it on.

We’ve all had the urge to walk out of a job or a meeting in a flurry—throwing things, yelling, or just disappearing for good. Unfortunately, unlike in the movies, these actions can haunt us later.

When you leave a job, even if it’s a job you hate, do your own mental evaluation and work through your own “stuff” before carrying it to the next job. Let your employer work through the company’s baggage themselves. If the company is good, vision and mission-driven, and just a bad fit for you, they’ll move on and be fine. If the company is truly terrible, chances are they’ll fold eventually anyway.

Leaving a job—no matter how stressful or negative the work environment is—can be done on good terms and lead to better things for you and your future. Keep your goals growth-oriented and focused on the big picture. Evaluate what YOU need to do to improve your game and continue to work on bettering yourself.

If you’d like to learn more about getting ahead in your career, explore our great courses available at Wright Now. We offer an array of options to help you learn more about yourself and your world. Start growing today to move toward a life of more.


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

Why It’s Your Choice to Live the Life You Want

Do you ever feel like you don’t know how to live the life you want?


Maybe you feel like there are too many odds stacked against you, too many logistics that you need to figure out, or too many roadblocks in your way.

Not only is it plausible to live the life you want, but it’s very possible and well within your grasp.

It may not sound believable, especially if you’re feeling like the life you want is totally different than the path that you’re on. But the truth is that we all have the choice to adjust on our life journey to reroute and get us where we need to be. Moreover, the ability to live the life you want often comes from making internal changes over external ones. Here’s how to live the life you want today.

One Life to Live

We all get one life to live. None of us know how long it will be or what will factor into our experience, but our ability to get what we want is within our grasp.

If we’re wondering how to change our life path and get what we want out of life, we first need to pinpoint WHAT it is that we truly want. Now, on the surface, the answer to this might be a laundry list of wishes—a beautiful house, a great job, an attractive spouse, dear friends, to fit into our “skinny jeans,” to excel at our hobbies.

While these external factors seem like markers of success, the reality is that success comes from within. Many people have huge homes, great jobs, and loving spouses, yet they still feel unfulfilled. There are plenty of other people who live in a small apartment, work a blue-collar job, and are single, yet they love their life. We’ve met with CEOs who describe how they could be happy if only they had a new boat, a bigger mansion, a newer car…and the list goes on. They’re at the pinnacle of success in their careers, and by all measures, they have all of the “things” they need. But at the end of the day, it doesn’t feel like enough.

So how can we figure out what we really want? How do we know if we get it, we’ll finally feel happy and satisfied?

Most of the time, when we get something new, it gives us a boost for a very short time. We get that little rush. It’s fun or exciting, but ultimately, it doesn’t leave us feeling whole or complete. It’s a shallow victory and a temporary fix. We’re miswanting. What we think we want really isn’t the thing that will bring us the most happiness and satisfaction.

Pinpointing Our Yearnings

If our wants won’t bring us happiness and fulfillment, then what will? How can we get the life we’re seeking—one that’s fulfilling, satisfying, and joyful?


The secret to getting what we really want is to figure out the underlying longing or “yearning.” We all have yearnings—deep desires of our heart that go further than wants or goals.


These yearnings are universal to all humans. Everyone yearns for something (or several things). It may be to be loved, to be respected, to be heard and seen, to be known. We may yearn to be secure. We may yearn to connect with others, to connect with a higher power. We may yearn to contribute or to achieve mastery of a skill.

So, how do we figure out these yearnings? How do we know what our hearts really want?

We often share a simple exercise with our students to help them pinpoint their yearnings; we call it the “so that” test. For example, maybe we think we want to lose a few pounds. But what is the real yearning underneath that desire? It goes further than wanting to fit into our pants or wanting to look attractive.

I want to lose weight so that I can fit into my favorite jeans.

I want to fit into my favorite jeans so that I can look good to that cute guy I like at work.

I want to be attractive so that I can connect with a potential date.

I want to connect with a potential date so that I can feel loved. I yearn to be loved.

We can apply this exercise to all sorts of wants or goals. Maybe we want a position at work because we yearn to be respected. Or perhaps we want a new car because we yearn for a sense of safety and security. Our yearnings are deep and strong drivers of almost everything we seek.

The great aspect of yearnings is that, unlike wants, they can be fulfilled in many different ways. For example, if we discover that we’re yearning to feel connected to others, there are lots of ways we can get that yearning met. We can connect to our friends. We can reach out to family. We can connect and feel loved by holding a pet, spending time with our nieces or nephews, or having a great interaction with a stranger at a coffee shop. We don’t need to lose weight, fit into our skinny jeans, or even have a relationship.

The more aware we are of our yearnings, the more we’ll discover that the universe sends us many ways to get these longings of the heart met. There’s not one path (that we could miss and end up unhappy for good). There are many different roads to living the life we want. Ultimately, we want a life where we feel a sense of purpose, where we find fulfillment. There are many ways we can get there.

Happiness Comes from Within

Once we pinpoint our yearnings and start working on getting them met, we can also begin finding ways to move toward more happiness.  Our happiness comes from within. In many ways, it’s a choice that we make.

We may look at our relationships or our career to “make” us happy. We believe if we only found the one person we could connect with, or if we had the corner office at work, we’d finally be happy. Or we might feel upset at our partner for not making us happy or fixing us when we’re sad.


If we’re looking to others to give us fulfillment, satisfaction, and joy, we will continue to come up short. We must seek it out and make a conscious shift to move towards a life of more fulfillment and more satisfaction.


To do this, we can seek out more opportunities to unlock satisfaction, engage with others, and seek more aliveness and fun.

How do we do that? We can shift our intention to bring more purpose into our lives. Intention is aliveness with purpose—with a direction. It’s an expression of our will. It’s a purpose in the moment. If we think back to our childhoods, we intended to get different things. We might have realized that if we cried, a parent would hold us. If we dropped a toy, it made a loud noise. We discover cause and effect, and we start to consciously create effects as we become the creator of our own world.

The same idea still applies. When we tap into deliberate, conscious, purposeful intentional choices, we focus on what we really want. In our brains, this takes place in our frontal lobe. When we’re acting unconsciously or reacting to situations, we’re operating from our limbic system. When we shift to focusing our intention, our frontal lobe helps “turn the volume down” on the external world to keep us from being distracted. Through that frontal lobe, we focus on what we want and achieve our dreams and goals, despite obstacles or failures. Rather than reflectively reacting or mindlessly operating, you are the intentional planner of your destiny.

Just like when we were kids, we’re the creator of our world through our reactions. Our life reflects our intention. What we see in our lives—what we have, how we live—results from our intention. While we might not be able to control the circumstances in our life, we can control our responses. We can take responsibility for moving away from the things we don’t like and set an intention for more positive actions and situations.

When we narrow our focus to the things we really need—our yearnings, we will realize that it’s within our power to seek them out and get them. It’s important to understand that they may not always look the way we idealized them—for example, maybe the relationship with our crush isn’t possible, or maybe our dream job isn’t available. But what if we found ways to love ourselves and bring more love into our lives by acknowledging the beautiful love in the universe all around us? Or what if we dedicated ourselves to doing the best job possible in our current position at work, winning the respect of our boss and colleagues, and bringing in the acknowledgment and security we yearn for?

By shifting our mindset from a place where happiness seems scarce to realizing that happiness and satisfaction are abundant and all around us, we will bring more of it into our lives. We’ll start to notice the gifts of the universe everywhere.

Does it mean nothing bad will ever happen? Does it mean we’ll suddenly feel our life is exactly as we want it? Probably not. We will still face obstacles and challenges. But if we view them as a chance to flex our muscles, stretch, and grow, they become lessons and opportunities rather than roadblocks. Even in the toughest situations, it’s possible to learn profound lessons and extract great purpose. We can even find reasons for happiness, joy, and satisfaction.

If you’re hoping to live the life you want, it’s before you for the taking. Decide to go forth and get what you want out of your life. You will find that the universe is ready to give you exactly what you need.

For more ways to find satisfaction and happiness, don’t miss our courses on Wright Now. We have an array of classes and webinars available online. Discover more about your relationships, your career, and yourself as you work towards living the life you want—a life of MORE.


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.

Oversharing Online: The Real Cost of Embarrassing Yourself on the Internet

We’ve all heard the horror stories and reputation damage that can come from oversharing online.


There is a real cost to oversharing online.


It happens repeatedly—people send a selfie, offer up their private information, or can’t resist the siren song of social media.

It’s not to say that the internet isn’t a fantastic tool. It allows us to work, communicate, learn, and access endless information. But like any tool, it can become dangerous if we use it in the wrong ways. Oversharing online can result in irreparable damage to one’s career, relationships, and sense of self-worth.

So what are some online safety tips we can follow to avoid oversharing online? How do we connect with others without putting ourselves in dangerous territory? Moreover, how do we avoid the soft addition of the internet and use the tool for good?

The Dangers of Oversharing Online

Most of us already know the dangers of oversharing online. How many times do we hear about yet another incident where someone shared something personal, only to quickly regret it? Try as we might, once something has been shared into the online universe, it’s nearly impossible to retract. It’s vital to protect our online reputation by avoiding dangerous behaviors.


Not to say that we should avoid the internet altogether, of course. The internet is one of the most amazing communication methods and cultural advancements we have as a species. We can use the internet for all sorts of positive and quality activities.


Yet, all our time online puts us in a precarious position. In the internet age, our privacy isn’t really ours anymore—and that doesn’t refer to the NSA viewing our conversations, Facebook algorithms, or foreign hackers stealing our credit card information. These are dangers, to be sure, but the threats are relatively benign or out of our control for most of us.

The real danger of the internet comes for the teen girl who sends a topless selfie to her boyfriend, only to find out he shares it with friends, classmates, and eventually the entire school. Or the college-grad that shares his extreme political views online and loses out on a job opportunity.

We see politicians destroy their careers by posting nude pictures on the web. Not only do they embarrass their families and their spouse, but their career is often ended too. We hear about it happening with celebrities too. Famous people overshare and end up paying the price. But for every high-profile scandal that we read about, there are hundreds of other unfamous people who ruin their lives by oversharing online.

We’ve all heard the saying that “you don’t want to be caught with your pants down,” but people are literally pantsing themselves and putting on the internet for all the world to see.

Now, the counterpoint to this is often, “Well, I’m not ashamed of my body,” or caution against a too puritanical view of the human form. But for the teen girl who overshares with a nude selfie, it’s not an example of self-acceptance and pride. There’s no artistic expression to a coerced photo, hastily shared. Instead, it’s an example of demeaning oneself. Oversharing online is often a sign that we’re insecure and we need to approval of others.

Oversharing Online and Protecting Our Careers

Oversharing online can lead to several dangers. One of the most significant areas of concern is our careers. When we overshare online, we’re putting our jobs and our reputations in jeopardy.

In job interviews, employers often search a potential employee’s online profile. Even if we’ve adjusted our Facebook settings to “private,” we may not be safe. Online search and online reputation management can go very deep to discover nitty-gritty details about past actions.

Look at the politicians who have engaged in questionable behavior years ago. When they run for office, it still comes up. Someone discovers an old Facebook photo, a poorly considered Tweet, or comments in an online forum that can get the person into hot water.

For sensitive jobs, employers will pass if they think a potential candidate can’t protect their online reputation. Employers want to know they aren’t going to face a scandal a few months after hiring, so they won’t hire a liability.


Undoing a misstep online is like putting toothpaste back in the tube—we can’t do it. The best way to protect our online reputation is not to allow ourselves to get in the position in the first place. Just don’t do it.


If we want to protect our online reputation, keeping it clean goes a long way. Before we post something, we should always ask ourselves if a potential employer saw this, would it be embarrassing? If we wouldn’t share something with our employer in person, we probably shouldn’t be sharing it online either. If there’s something out there now that seems questionable, remove it before it becomes an issue.

What Does Your Selfie Say About Your Relationship?

Not only can our online missteps haunt us from a career perspective, but they can damage our relationships and crush our self-image. Many people think that sharing a nude photo is a way to flirt, connect, or express ourselves as sexual beings. But the truth is when we send that photo, there’s no guarantee that it is safe.

Moreover, a nude photo is not intimacy. It’s a lie. It’s a cheap way of trying to seduce another person without getting to know them or really being our authentic selves. If we love ourselves, we don’t send out naked pictures to “trick” someone into liking or validating us. We realize that intimacy comes from authentically and unapologetically expressing ourselves.

A nude photo is avoiding engagement. It’s avoiding openly telling someone, “I really want you to know I hunger for your approval. I really want you to know I want you to be with me.” It’s not true to who we are.

The nude photo isn’t a one-sided problem, either. The onus is on both parties. If a young man, for example, coerces another young person to share an intimate image—he isn’t doing it because he cares about them or longs to see them. He’s requesting the photo because he wants to know he can make a demand and have it met. The person who complies with his request hands him a free pass to destroy their reputation because they’re desperate for approval. If the requester genuinely cared about the person, they wouldn’t make a request that would put them in this dangerous position. This phenomenon is especially problematic in young people who don’t yet grasp the ramifications and permanence of an online scandal.

Handing an intimate photo to someone who doesn’t care about us is risky and not in line with common sense internet safety. How can we trust what the other person will do with that photo? Will they show it to their friends? Share it?

Even in long-term relationships, the risk of recording and sharing intimate photos is high. If we’re trying to spice up our sex life or deal with a long-distance and full schedule in a relationship—we can find an alternative to putting something out there that could be discovered by someone else! Have phone sex—do whatever you do, but a photo can be found on a dropped phone at work or when a kid unlocks a screen password.

Addressing the Soft Addiction of the Internet

The other internet safety tip to avoid oversharing online is to pull back on using the internet. If we find ourselves unable to resist the urge to share photos of every meal, tweet every thought, or spend hours scrolling through Facebook, it indicates we’re experiencing a soft addiction.


As remarkable a resource as the internet can be, it can also be a big distraction and time-waster. Even though it seems like a harmless habit, constantly going online can destroy our productivity and focus.


Productive people don’t spend hours on social media each day catching up on the latest comments and news from their friends they haven’t seen in twenty years. They’re too busy being mindfully in the moment. Productive people know how to harness their potential and keep themselves away from these soft addictions.

Social media leaves us feeling empty. It can leave us feeling like we have overflowing inboxes we need to “manage” and responses we need to field. We may feel like we need to respond to every comment or get the feeling of “FOMO” when we look at photos and start comparing ourselves to others. Instead of picking up the phone and learning to connect with people and engage in genuine, honest, and authentic conversation, the internet provides a passive way to communicate and avoid deeper connections.

To avoid getting sucked into a soft addiction with the internet, we can set up a timeframe, limit our distractions, and use the tools we’ve amassed at our disposal. Most importantly, we can look at where we aren’t feeling fulfilled. If we’re looking to soft addictions to meet our yearnings (to connect, to love, to be seen, to be respected), we’re not truly getting the nourishment we need. Often when we find “real” ways to get our yearnings met—through better engagement, learning, growing, and building authentic connections—we’ll find that we’re no longer drawn to our time-wasting habits.

The internet can be a powerful tool to connect us, teach us, and help us work. It will never have the power of face-to-face interaction, but we can indeed harness it for the positive. Similar to the contrast of zoning out on a Netflix binge to attending a great film and discussing the details after, we can find many ways the internet can bring more beauty and new ideas into our lives.

We can protect ourselves from collateral damage and the peripheral costs of too much sharing. If we avoid putting anything online that we wouldn’t want to end up in the wrong hands, it’s a good start. We can learn to be smart on the internet and avoid letting our desire for affirmation or distraction drive us to do something we may later regret.

For a positive online experience, don’t miss the array of courses we have to offer on Wright Now. We offer courses to help you overcome soft addictions, learn more about yourself, strengthen your relationships, and get ahead in your career. Join us for an online experience you can feel good about!


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.

Discovering Your Purpose: How to Find More Meaning Each Day

We’ve all gone through times when we’ve felt aimless, unfocused, or maybe a little empty. We might wonder what is the meaning of it all? Or feel like is this all there is?


 

Find more meaning in your life every day by discovering your purpose.


When life becomes challenging and sometimes even boring, we can become disheartened and untethered. We might feel empty or wonder if we’ve somehow lost our sense of purpose. When this happens, are we doomed to wander through the days as the years speed up and pass us by? Is there a way we can get back that sense of meaning?

For some of us, these feelings spur us to take drastic measures. We might take them as a sign we need to quit our jobs, end a relationship, or move to a different house. We might believe if only we made some change or had some “thing” new and novel in our lives, we would find fulfillment and happiness. But as most people find out, getting more stuff and even making drastic changes doesn’t result in discovering your purpose.

Discovering Your Purpose By Definition

What is purpose anyway? It’s a big, big question. The simplest answer? Purpose is the wonderful capacity in each of us to joyously take our place in the progress of humanity and do our part to help all of us reach our full potential.

Purpose is the heart of the matter—it’s the “why” behind what we do. Our purpose summarizes our reason for doing what we’re doing with our lives. Purpose is the answer to questions like, “What is this all for?” and “Is this it? Is this all there is?”

When we experience these seemingly hard-to-answer questions, we might find ourselves looking in strange places for the cure. Some folks buy a motorcycle, take a sabbatical, or quit their day job. Other people might simply try to drown out their feelings of dissatisfaction by turning to soft addictions—binging on television, zoning out on social media, overeating, shopping too much, and generally pursuing activities that act more like a salve than a panacea.

Without purpose, we won’t find satisfaction in our activities; no matter how fun, how delicious, or how pleasurable, the moment they are over, we’re returned to the nagging sense of emptiness. It’s like an itch we can’t scratch. We’re longing for more but try as we might quite hit the mark.

Why We Must Have Purpose

To be successful in life, we must find our own purpose. It looks different for everyone, and no two paths are alike.


Without a sense of purpose, we’re just floating around…lost. We’re going through the motions; we’re checked out and zoned out. We’re filling our lives with pacifiers. We’re disengaged and disconnected. Maybe we’re finding little successes and joys along the way, but without a true sense of purpose, we get the sense we aren’t quite there.


When we feel lost or unfocused (or simply “blah”), we should check our sense of purpose. Maybe we’re pretty fulfilled at work and love our job, but our marriage has lost the fire. Perhaps our marriage is okay, but we think our social life is lacking and dread going to work. Maybe all areas of our life could use some work, or perhaps there’s a specific part that doesn’t seem to be hitting the mark.

Purpose is something that’s got to exist in all areas of our life. It’s a 360-degree goal. Purpose transcends our entire being. It’s one of those things: we’ve either got it, and it spills over into all facets of our lives, or we’ve lost it, and it starts to suck the meaning and fulfillment out of all our activities. Yes, it’s true–if we notice a lack of fulfillment in one area, we can be sure that, like dominoes, other areas will soon follow.

Purpose matters.

Discovering Your Life Purpose: The Big Picture

You might be wondering, “what is the purpose of my life, then? How do I discover this great sense of purpose?”

A clear life purpose gives meaning to all activities. When we have purpose, we’re fully engaged and all-in in everything we do. We’re firing on all cylinders. When we find purpose, even mundane activities become opportunities to mindfully learn and explore. Our days become an adventure, and our world becomes anew.


Life purpose is the container into which we fit our goals. It’s our vision—the whole picture. Our purpose is the summation of what we’re working toward.


For some, finding purpose means connecting with God or religion or discovering a higher power. For others, it’s about making a difference, connecting with humanity, and feeling secure that we’re working from a place where we help all those we touch. It can mean engaging in challenging and stimulating relationships, connecting with others, and pushing ourselves in our work and our play. For many of us, it’s all those activities and more. Purpose goes even deeper than just participating in religion or giving to charity; it’s more than just finding success in our work and having all of the checks on our “bucket list” ticked off. It’s MORE.

At first blush, “finding our life purpose” sounds like it’s all about personal satisfaction and how we individually want to be fulfilled. But true purpose is beyond our own ego and super-ego. It seeps into and goes beyond the essence of our actions and personality. Purpose is everywhere.

Our purpose is about the way we’re fulfilled, but it’s through the fulfillment of others’ needs and our role in the lives around us. It’s about elevating those around us and bringing out their best—which in turn, brings out our own best self. Purpose challenges us and leads us to discoveries, insights, and realizations. Purpose connects us and strengthens our relationships.

If we think of a projector shining concentrated light through film onto a screen, life purpose is the lens through which life flows to project our highest vision.

It’s about becoming visionary leaders. It’s about being the light to those around us.

True transformational leaders have vision, but their singular goal isn’t to simply achieve that vision. It’s to embrace and share their vision with those around them. It’s to listen, connect and engage with those they come in contact with to help them realize their vision as well.


Transformers live purposefully and with intent. They don’t meander through their days; they are on purpose—to follow and fulfill their yearning to learn, grow, love, and be loved, to matter, to make a difference. Transformers care so deeply about living with intent and pursuing their purpose that they can preserve through extreme hardship. Their yearning is so powerful that they feel compelled to engage…To develop the sense of mission and purpose, dedicate yourself to follow your deeper yearning—substantial, real, here-and-now yearning—and your purpose will emerge. Purpose is not an escape, and rarely is it a charity or cause alone—it’s a way of living. It is something that is a unique expression of you.

Transformed! The Science of Spectacular Living


Getting Fulfillment Now

Most of us wait, not feeling fulfilled until we accomplish certain goals or hit milestones—rather than experiencing fulfillment in every moment and every situation. By orienting to purpose, we see greater possibility in every situation and stop waiting to live and love because we are living and loving our fullest toward our highest, honoring life in all its manifestations.

Purpose provides the focus for the fulfillment of our heart’s desires, which automatically leads us to even more extraordinary accomplishments.

Now you’re probably thinking, “Well, that sounds all well and wonderful, but okay, how do I DO it? How do I unlock MY purpose?”

To find your purpose, you must truly understand yourself. It requires us to explore our yearnings. We must look into the history of where our innermost desires and the longings of our hearts come from and identify them. Do we want to be loved? To be respected? To be heard? What is our truth?

We need to dive in and explore our social and emotional intelligence to identify our yearnings. It takes work. Our selves are sometimes our greatest mystery. We can be so aware of those around us, the world we live in (current events, politics, the financial climate), and the state of our social circle—and yet, we might be blind to what’s genuinely driving us. We might not understand our capacity for emotional intelligence and how to unlock our hidden superpowers of empathy and understanding.

Is it simple to gain a deeper understanding of ourselves? No. It can take years of work and growth. It can mean facing some hard truths and working through the baggage and limiting beliefs we’ve been carrying around and laboring under. It means opening up and starting to change and grow. Finding purpose means pushing ourselves WAY outside our comfort zone and into a whole new world of possibility.

The first step of the journey is to WANT to change—to have a desire for more. By simply wanting to find your purpose, you’re already opening yourself to the possibility that there’s a greater answer and more to unlock than meets the eye.

So start today! Roll up your sleeves. Engage in the world around you! It’s never too late to find your purpose, unlock your hidden yearnings, and lead your best life!

To learn more about finding your sense of purpose, please explore our courses on Wright Now. We offer an array of interactive resources to help you learn more about your relationships, your career, and yourself. If you’re ready to start living a life of MORE, there’s no better time than now!

 


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.