How to Have Accountability in Your Relationships

We build trust when we are honest and accountable in committed personal relationships. But when we are not, our relationship suffers, and mutual respect wanes. Here’s why accountability is crucial in relationships and how to assess if you are taking enough responsibility for yours.

Are Your Relationship Contracts Clear?
How to Have Accountability in Your Relationships

Few things feel as nourishing as coming home to a partner who knows you. Who gets you. Who loves you just for who you are, as you are.

But that doesn’t just happen. The first years of relationships are often a power struggle that may never resolve itself, especially if you don’t have a relationship contract in place.

I’m not talking about a piece of paper that you both sign, although you could absolutely do that! I’m talking about verbalized and tacit agreements with your partner that lead to a minimum AND an ideal acceptable level of satisfaction for each of you.

These contracts or agreements need clarity on three primary functions: Limits. Boundaries. And expectations. What are your roles in this relationship? How ARE you going to deal with conflicts? What ARE your minimal acceptable requirements? What are THEIRS?

 

Accountability to yourself—know your yearnings:
Why the First Contract Needs to Be with You

When Judith and I first dated, we visited her family. One night we were going out to eat and packed like sardines and waited for her in their car. And waited and waited as they told me this was standard fare. They had long ago given up on her being on time. We were yet to marry or even talk about it.

Even though I did not like being late, her beautiful spirit and gifts outweighed any irritation. BUT I especially didn’t like being late to church, which was almost an hour away at that time. I got tired of slinking into the back. Eventually, I told Judith that I enjoyed going to church with her, but if we were going to go together, she needed to be in the car on time.

I made it clear that if she were not in the car at that time, I would go without her. If that sounds mean, it might be because, as I said earlier, too many of us would rather be unhappy and complain than commit to our satisfaction and honor our contract with ourselves.

 


“To know thyself is the beginning of wisdom.”

– Socrates


 

The end of the story is that I went to church alone only once. By clarifying my needs and actions, I was being authentic and trusting Judith to prefer being with me over being late. She could join me or not. Would it be inconvenient for her to get to church on her own? She only went alone that once. I yearned to be with her, and being angry at being late meant I was not with her anyway; I was with my anger, and I steamed through too many church services.

When you are in touch with your deeper yearning, you come to know yourself at the essential level. You become increasingly accountable to yourself. You take crucial steps to relationship satisfaction: being accountable to your relationship with yourself.

Once you can do that, the road to becoming accountable to someone else is much smoother.

 

Let Your Longings Guide Your Contracts

If you’re like most of us, you were probably never taught how to know yourself or even why you should. That’s why the most challenging contract to keep is the one with YOU.

Knowing your yearnings is no easy task. They emerge from the deepest longings of your heart—to love and be loved. To touch and be touched. To matter, connect, create, and serve. To do what we came here to do. They are not wants. Yearnings can be met all the time.

Everyone has them. Yearnings are universal, which is why they are crucial in creating relationship contracts. It’s important to understand because there’s a difference between basic wants and needs in a relationship and yearnings.

So, before you create a relationship contract, you need to:

  1. Know what you yearn for and what feels good to you.
  2. Share this information with your partner.

Next:

  1. Your partner needs to know what they yearn for and what feels good to them.
  2. They need to share this information with you.

THEN:

  1. You need to know what you yearn for together and what matters to you as a couple.
  2. How can you please each other?

Now you’re ready to discuss the three primary functions of a contract, as I stated earlier: Limits. Boundaries. And expectations.

These include: What are both of your roles in this relationship? How will you deal with conflicts, individually and as a partnership? What are each of your minimal acceptable requirements?

As well as:

Limits—how far can a fight go?

Boundaries—what are the no-fly zones?

Expectations—what are the minimally acceptable behaviors we can expect of each other and trust in personally responsible correction if there are clips

Honoring your yearnings in a relationship requires that you work out mutually acceptable limits, boundaries, and expectations. What does that mean? Here’s an example. It might make me sound like an ass at first, but if it helps you understand what I mean, then I am good with that.

I like my slippers by the door when I come home so I can kick my shoes off and put them on., but Judith would always put them by my clothes in the back closet. I fought with her for four years about this to no avail until I told her that having my slippers by the front door was symbolic and made me know that I matter. Knowing that I matter is one of my yearnings (plus, I do not like cold feet.) To which she replied, ‘Why didn’t you say so? I understand now.”

Why did it take me four years of fighting to communicate my yearning? That is for another blog.

 

Do You Really Love Me?
Trust Is the Heart of the Contract

How do you learn to trust your partner?

By trusting yourself first and learning to recognize your yearnings. Express those yearnings. Honor those yearnings. And then experience your partner honoring them as well. But don’t expect your partner to honor yours if you don’t honor theirs. Do unto others what you will have them do unto you.

A relationship contract means you are both conscious and committed to learning, growing, and being your best selves for yourselves and each other.

Judith and I knew that we both truly wanted to be partners in our relationship. We knew that did NOT mean each of us doing half the shopping, half the laundry, half the cooking, and half the cleaning.

We were not two halves. We were already whole. Being partners meant we would hold each other accountable for our relationship by creating a contract that evolved with us—a contract we could grow with so that we could each continually become a better version of ourselves.

 


“Don’t marry a man unless he lets you do something you couldn’t do without him. And you can have children without him.”

– Judith’s Grandmother


 

The truth is, we must marry each other exactly as we are. But if we can learn to keep our contracts with ourselves first, honor our yearnings and commit to our authenticity, then we have a great beginning.

 

Dr. Bob Wright is an internationally recognized visionary, educator, program developer, leadership and sales executive, best-selling author, and speaker. He is a co-founder of Wright and the Wright Graduate University. Follow him on Instagram and LinkedIn.

What Do You Want Out of Life: Navigating Big Change

What do we want out of life? For most of us, a sense of purpose is high on our lists. But how do we find that? By stepping back and looking at the larger picture of our yearnings. These universal longings can lead us to everything we’ve always wanted for our lives, including our purpose!

Why are We Here? Forget the Meaning of Life.
Focus on the Meaning of This Moment

I have good news, and I have great news.

Here’s the good news: we don’t have to meditate on a mountain top to discover our life’s purpose. We don’t have to become Mother Teresa or Gandhi. We don’t have to save the whales or find the cure to cancer (though that could be part of our calling).

As human beings, we may wonder, “Why are we here?” We worry about what our purpose is and whether or not we’re achieving it.

So, here’s the great news. To discover our life’s purpose, all we have to do is focus on THIS momentfocus on what our purpose is in THIS moment.

Maybe it’s making breakfast for our kids before they head to school or finishing writing a document for a meeting later today. Maybe it’s checking in on a friend who’s having a hard time—or enjoying a moment of quiet and gratitude before we go to bed.

Can that really be it? It seems too easy.

Yes—that’s why it’s great news!

 

Our Presence is Requested

All our spinning and racing and putting our lives under a microscope to find out what they mean is NOT going to get us to that meaning any faster. Instead, it may do the opposite—distract us and slow us down.

I know plenty of people with a big life purpose who rush around trying to achieve that mission  24/7, to the exclusion of other aspects of life. I have done it, and maybe you have too. But when we do that, our moments aren’t meaningful. We’re not paying attention to what’s happening RIGHT NOW, which leaves us surprisingly lost, and unfulfilled.

I say surprisingly because so much of our culture encourages us to do exactly that—live in the future, not in the moment. However, listening to what is being asked of us RIGHT NOW—and responding with our whole selves—WILL lead us to our bigger purpose.

When we learn to live each of our moments more purposely, the bigger purpose of our lives will begin to emerge.

Why is that?

The purpose of our moments will always be tied to our deeper yearnings. Yearnings are the universal longings of the heart that we all share—to connect and create, to serve, to matter, to love and be loved, to matter, to be seen and understood, to make a difference.

When we are focused on meeting our yearnings, we’re focused on connecting with our hearts. And when we connect with our hearts, we are aligned with our divine flow, and we can’t help but fulfill our purpose.

Sounds good, doesn’t it? So, the only question we need to ask is, “HOW are we focusing on our yearnings at this moment?”

Because that’s where the nourishment is! That’s what keeps us fulfilled and striving. That’s what leads us to that beautiful future we are constantly scrambling to create. That’s what gives us momentum.

 

We Can’t Make This Stuff Up

The momentum of our lives happens by being present in the moment—by allowing what’s happening to happen.

I didn’t pre-decide that I was going to cofound a graduate university. Or write a best-selling book. Those realities unfolded because I was present in the moment. I was listening to my yearnings. And the more I listened, the more a future bigger and better than anything I could make up was “suddenly” presenting itself to me.

The truth is, I couldn’t have dreamed big enough to achieve what I’ve achieved by simply living in the moment.

When we have faith in the present, seek engagement in life, live in the delight of what can happen, and are led by our whole hearts, the opportunities arise.


“Don’t push the river, it flows by itself.”

– Frederick S. Perls


 

Let’s Not Pretend We Know the End

Full-out engagement in life means we let ourselves explore our curiosities, AND we don’t assume we know how it will feel or turn out.

It turns out we’re not very good at forecasting what will make us happy anyway. We tend to inflate or exaggerate the intensity and duration of the good feelings we will experience when we get what we want. Researchers Daniel Gilbert and Timothy Wilson coined the term “mis-wanting” to describe exactly that.

What can we do instead? Trust that we are whole and complete as we are. Trust emergence.

So often (too often!), we think we need to have things figured out/edited/polished. But there can be a beautiful process when we live in the flow. Our successes don’t have to be forced. Instead, we can be curious. We can also hold others in that same space. We can be an agent of emergence for others.

We can choose to believe we have everything we need to solve our problems. Instead of asking ourselves, “How can we MAKE this happen?” we can allow what needs to emerge to emerge.

Our presence with ourselves and others, listening to and following our yearnings by being in the moment, allows the emergence.

Things DO unfold. Purpose does emerge. Afterall, purpose is really just listening to our yearnings as they exist in the moment!

In other words, we don’t need to learn the meaning of life. We simply need to learn the meaning of OUR lives, one moment at a time.

 

 

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Also, check out our upcoming events at events.wrightfoundation.org

Need an Ally? Here’s Why One-on-One Coaching Works

Wondering if you could use coaching to take the next steps in your life? Or if one-on-one coaching is even right for you? A life coach can be a powerful support partner, guide, and ALLY. Someone to help you navigate your future and create the life you know you are capable of living. 

An Ally Like No Other: The Hidden Bonus of One-on-One Coaching

Need an ally in your life? I cannot imagine anyone who would not want more.

We usually define allies as people with whom we share a common intent or outcome. 

  • Ally (noun): one that is associated with another as a helper: a person or group who support and help in an ongoing effort, activity, or struggle
  • Ally (transitive verb): to combine or unite a resource or commodity with another for mutual benefit.

And we often assume our friends are our best allies. But that is not the case. An ally can even be someone you do not like or who holds values you detest. Especially if they challenge deep, limiting beliefs you have carried around for a lifetime.

The first thing you should know about one-on-one coaching is that you are paying your coach to be an ally—to unite the resource of their expertise with your goals and desires. If a coach does not function as an ally, they cannot in good faith support you and should withdraw and refer you to someone who can. 

In other words, you should fire them.

But before we talk about firing one, let’s talk about why you should hire one!

 

Coach as Ally: How Allies Differ from Friends

Friends may support our goals and dreams. Allies always do. Their job is to be on your side 100% of the time—even when you want to quit your job working for a big corporation and pursue your lifelong passion for candle-making. (I am not hating on candle-makers! I am just using that as an example of an extreme decision.)

An ally’s job is to be on your side in the bigger picture. They support you to identify and overcome obstacles. For example, you might want to switch from your corporate job to becoming a self-employed potter, which might be a strong move, but an ally helps you explore the “why” of this move and reconsider or set you up for the greatest success.

Can’t our friends do the same thing? It may shock you, but your friends are likely NOT allies. They can actually be enemies to your growth and development. They may not want to see you change, or they can remain closed to seeing you in a new light. They are thinking, “Why can’t you just be happy the way you are?” Your desires may threaten them, though only the rarest might admit it. 

On the other hand, the coach/ally invests in helping you to emerge into an even better, happier, and more effective you. Here, we use the word ally as someone aligned with us succeeding in our ventures and growing into our best selves.

CAN your friends be your allies? Absolutely. Allies and friends are not mutually exclusive. But when you are thinking about expanding your life, changing significantly, or looking at where you want to go and how you want to get there, friends and allies often serve different purposes. Friends stand by you. Allies align around your desires and yearnings that empower you to become a better you.

 

Forget Outcomes, Focus on Becoming

When I, Dr. Bob Wright, am not happy with the coach/allies I pay, it is incumbent on ME to say what does and does not work. (It is one of the reasons I am so good at getting coaching. I let them know when and how I want something different and what I will and will not do!)

Too many coaches today are outcome-oriented and not emergence-oriented. That means they focus on what you do to accomplish your goal and often miss your yearnings and emerging self. Dr. Richard Boyatzis at Case Western’s research definitively highlights the superiority of vision over goal in accomplishment. Both CAN work together if driven by vision

Focusing on outcomes only leads to short-sighted goals that empower you LESS than visions and purpose. Vision and purpose help you focus on emergence—becoming who you can become, a person who achieves goals by looking beyond them

Emergence happens when you work from the inside out toward your becoming. It is a longer journey, but one that will pay off with better outcomes.

I said it earlier, but it is important, so I will say it again. YOU are in control of this relationship. You are hiring the coach/ally to help you emerge into your best self. If a coach cannot bring things to both your current and your emerging perspective, then they will not optimize both accomplishments and emerging into your best self.

That said, having a coach does NOT mean you just sit back and listen. One-on-one coaching is a relationship where you co-create the experience leading to your growth and learning.

An ally invests in your authentic self, being true to whom you could become—the existential definition of authenticity.

 

Business Coaching vs. Personal Coaching vs. Life Coaching: What is the difference?

Eventually, all coaching is whole life coaching. The point of departure is the only distinction.

Executive coaching starts in a business. Personal and life coaching can begin with physical health, self-esteem, relationship with your family of origin, connection to your friends and social network, principles and mission, life purpose, and spirituality.

It comes down to who you are and what you are facing inside, as it’s reflected in the challenges you face outside. A coach who is a true ally will guide you to learn and grow into greater unity with your inner and outer lives.

The most important thing to remember is that this coach should be your ally in the truest sense of the word—someone who invests in YOU and your authentic growth and emergence.

You do not want someone you can be so passive that they are able to put their agenda ON you. You want someone who inspires you to engage in your own growth—someone who inspires you to push them to push you.

Are you ready to take the next steps toward living your best life? Explore our coaching resources. You can learn about our Chicago-based life coaches and discover more about our workshops and educational offerings. In addition, we offer courses for download at Wright Now, so don’t miss the opportunity to get ahead in your career, relationships, and life.

 

 

 


Dr. Bob Wright is an internationally recognized visionary, educator, program developer, leadership and sales executive, best-selling author, and speaker. He is a co-founder of Wright and the Wright Graduate University. Follow him on Instagram and LinkedIn.

Why Am I Not Good at Anything: Finding Your Talent

Does figuring out a spreadsheet make you feel sick? When you cook, do your friends run for the take-out menus? Did you learn early in your life that you were NOT going to be a child piano prodigy, and have you held onto that belief ever since? Here’s why it’s time to let that all go. 

What Makes You So Special? Everything.

So maybe you can’t hold a tune. Or write a novel. Maybe you’re not a natural athlete or a technical genius. And maybe you occasionally find yourself thinking, “I’m just not talented”… “There’s nothing special about me…”I’m not smart enough”…”I’m not organized”…

I’m here to reassure you that yes, yes, you are!

We ALL have talents and gifts. Sometimes they are just less traditional, and they may take some seeking out. But the first thing you must do is move forward, knowing without a doubt that you have a divine role as a human being on this planet.

Your job is to find it and use it. To keep getting better at being YOU. Because that is what the world needs most of all.

 

Four Truths About You

Several years ago, I went on a spiritual journey to France. I meditated and prayed at ancient cathedrals. I discussed philosophy and divine worship with monks. I explored the countryside with Bob.

And as I sat in a café one day, I had a moment of divine inspiration—the idea of Four Loving Truths. (I wrote about them in my book, The Soft Addiction Solution.) I find myself coming back to these Loving Truths time and again whenever I struggle or need inspiration.

They open me up to the possibility of MORE in my life, and I want to share one of them with you here: the Fourth Loving Truth.

Gifts are given to us to develop and use in the divine symphony of life.

Even though there might be days when you feel like you were absent when the gifts were being handed out, you, like the rest of us, have been given them. What are they? This is where the adventure begins.

Because if you find yourself saying that “you’re not good at anything,” it’s time to embrace the Fourth Loving Truth and discover what those gifts are!

 

Redefine the Word “Gifts” to Discover Yours

Ask yourself: What do you excel at? What skills give you meaning and purpose? What do others appreciate about you? How are you helpful to others? Pause for a moment and make a list of answers.

Often your gifts can be something you wouldn’t normally consider gifts. Perhaps you have a kind heart—a rare gift in these challenging times. Or maybe you have a green thumb. Our planet needs every green thumb there is! Are you a good listener? Everyone needs a good listener in their lives.

Gifts can also surprise you. For example, if you had or have trauma in your life, you have a particular perspective that no one else has. You may have a deep understanding or sensitivity to others from your experiences, or value how people should be treated, or a much-needed empathic viewpoint. Mary Oliver reminds the reader of this in her poem, “The Uses of Sorrow.”


“Someone I loved once gave me
a box full of darkness.

It took me years to understand
that this too, was a gift.”

– Mary Oliver


As a culture, we tend to think of being “gifted” in traditional and obvious ways. But the gift of YOU is unique, nuanced, and 100% necessary to the divine harmony of life. Claim it proudly. However, if you can’t do that yet, simply act as if. Live your life being the best you possible.

I didn’t start my life knowing I was good at something. I began by knowing my purpose, my mission. I wanted to contribute to people and to make a difference. I felt there were things for me to share. So, I invested in learning how to write. I explored how to speak to larger audiences. I took classes, I hired coaches, I practiced. Because these things mattered to me, I asked myself, “How can I get better at them?”

I developed my gift.

Developing your gifts is very different from pre-deciding your gifts. When you develop your gifts, you let them emerge. I didn’t decide I wanted to be a speaker and author. I engaged in my life and listened to where I was inspired. What moved me? What was calling me to lean in further?

I also gathered clues from my childhood. Growing up I would do plays and big shows and put on crazy events for family and friends. When I was doing that, I wasn’t asking myself, “How will this work out? How will it ultimately lead me to my perfect career?” I was 4, 8, 12. I was becoming me by engaging with what naturally brought me joy.

As a child, you’re free to try things without worrying. You can experiment and PLAY without judgment. You can engage with what brings you joy. And if it doesn’t bring you joy, you can stop doing it.

Here’s the good news: you can still do that as an adult!  You can engage in your life to find out what your gifts are. You can play, explore, try things out, and laugh the whole time you’re doing it. There’s NOTHING you can do to mess it up!

So go back to your list of things you excel at and things that bring you purpose and meaning. What’s on those lists that also bring you joy? What matters to you? Circle those things. They’re your gifts starting to reveal themselves!

 

The Best Isn’t Always What’s Needed

You don’t need to be an opera singer to sing a lullaby to your child. You don’t need to be a math wizard to help your child with their homework. You don’t need to be a best-selling author to write a heartfelt note to a friend.

Being the best isn’t always what’s needed, although it might feel good to your ego.

And if it turns out that you ARE the best at something, celebrate it and find the best usage for that. Develop it. Grow it. Share it.


“The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”

– Frederick Buechner


Everybody has different gifts – you don’t need someone else’s gift – that’s theirs! When everyone develops and shares their gifts, everything is covered. You don’t have to know/do/be everything. It is enough for you to just be You.

Close your eyes and imagine a world where everyone develops and utilizes their gifts. Where everyone ‘sings’ the ‘song’ that is theirs to sing. This is the divine symphony of life.

You are the only you that ever was. And the only you that will ever be.  We don’t take that in enough, do we? Unique. Talented. Beautiful. And beloved. A gift.

That’s you.

 

 

 

Love the content and want more? Follow Dr. Judith on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest!

Also, check out our upcoming events at events.wrightfoundation.org

How to Decide What Kind of Life You Want

“What do I want to do with my life? And how much can I determine how it turns out?”

It’s a great question with a great answer: You can decide how you want your life to be and then take steps to create it. Choosing to have MORE life is not limited to your career or your relationship; it only requires ONE decision.

 

How Great Can Your Life Become? You Get to Decide

Have you ever wondered why relatively few people lead extraordinary lives, and most people lead average lives at best? Like it or not, you have the life you decide to have.

A great life requires a great decision—The One Decision—which results in in an empowering commitment to the quality of your life. Without that, life, well, it just kind of happens.


“Life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans.”
– John Lennon


I might have coined the phrase “One Decision,” but human beings have been making their One Decisions from the beginning of time. Buddha made it by sitting under the Bodhi tree. Moses made it and led the Jews out of Egypt to the promised land. Sartre deemed the process of shaping life through your decisions your “life project.”

At the Wright Foundation, the One Decision is a personal commitment to how you live a life of MORE—more satisfaction, meaning, abundance, love, vitality, and intimacy. And it has the potential to influence every aspect of your life—to become a touchstone for every other decision.

It’s yours to make and yours to live. And it’s different for everyone.

 

How I Made Mine

I’ve spent most of my life being “the good girl.” I worked hard, set goals and achieved them–making good grades, being a student leader, and celebrating academic achievement throughout my school years. I entered my adult life, worked hard and had great “success”—“right” job, partner, salary. To the outside world, I was flying high. But inside, I felt empty and unhappy. Even though I was reaching all my goals, I was numb. I found myself just going through the motions. I felt like I was wrapped in cotton. I thought, maybe if I just worked harder or achieved more or if I were better, then I’d feel better. But then I felt even emptier and more numb.

The thought of living the rest of my life this way terrified me! I was so sick of sleepwalking through my life. I wanted to be awake, alive, and conscious. I wanted to FEEL my life––but I didn’t know how.

Slowly those three words began to shape me. Awake, alive, conscious. They became my mantra, my slogan. My One Decision. No more deadness and sleepwalking through my life. I was going to be awake, alive, and conscious!

I didn’t really know how to live that way, but I started to use my One Decision to guide my life–and to guide my smaller decisions. What do I want to eat? If I eat that fried chicken and gravy, I’ll feel sluggish and blah. What do I enjoy that would feel better in my body, where I’d feel more awake and alive, not sluggish and deadened?

I’m zoning out at a business meeting. What can I do to realign with those words? I could engage, offer an opinion, speak up, or ask a question.

What do I want to do after work? Zone out? Or connect with my friends? Which aligns more with who I want to be? What makes me feel awake, alive, and conscious?

I kept asking myself, What makes me feel more awake, alive, and engaged? and my One Decision then guided my smaller decisions. From choosing what music to listen to, the books to read, the conversations to have, to what to eat, what to wear, who to spend time with, to how to attack a project at work…

I was soooo much more nourished. The quality of my life jumped exponentially. My days were filled with things that felt so much better to me. I was more awake, alive, and conscious. And when I wasn’t–when unconsciousness was creeping in– I’d catch it and reorient to my One Decision and choose again. I found that I was naturally dropping my bad habits—my soft addictions—that made me feel numb and muted. I was choosing things that made me feel awake and alive instead. I had so much more energy, satisfaction, fun, and fulfillment!

That One Decision still guides all my decisions and continues to lead me to a life of MORE.

One of my heroes, Abraham Lincoln, made his One Decision at the age of twenty-threeto live a life worthy of respect. He wrote it in a letter to his constituents, guiding him his whole life. In challenging times or moments of despair, Lincoln would remember his One Decision and choose a course of action that was worthy of respect. He is a beautiful example of what happens when you live by your commitment to yourself—you can’t help but contribute to a world that works for everyone.

 

The Opposite of One Decision? An “Undecision”

Your One Decision helps you become the most “you” possible as you live a more purposeful and conscious life. Purpose is the why of your life, and your One Decision is your how.

But here’s something my partner and co-founder, Dr. Bob Wright, and I have discovered in our work together: people don’t tap the full power of their purpose until they make their One Decision.

On the other hand, people that make their One Decision without identifying their purpose still end up living purposefully.

So, if you’ve identified your purpose, you’ll be driven to live it more deeply through your One Decision. But if you haven’t identified your purpose, don’t worry. Simply by making your One Decision, you’ll begin living it.

So, what happens when we don’t consciously decide?

We unconsciously make “undecisions,” allowing our limiting beliefs— formed when we were very young—to influence our thoughts, perceptions, and decisions.

For example: you may have unconsciously decided that you aren’t worthy, that you’re not enough, that the world is not a safe place. Maybe you decided that you are unlovable, or that the world is scarce. These decisions are made from inaccurately filtered data (your past!) and prevent you from having the life you deeply desire.

When you’re not conscious of your beliefs and your One Decision, you default to these undecisions, which keep your life LESS instead of MORE.

How do you become more conscious of your beliefs? Learn what you yearn for and follow those yearnings. Yearnings are the deepest longings of your heart: to love and be loved, to touch, to matter, to serve, to create, to connect. They are universal, and when you are in touch with yours, they help you form your One Decision.

 

Test Drive Your One Decision

Are you ready to see what it feels like to live by your One Decision? Here are a few examples of some you can try out. Just pick one and test drive it for a day, a week, or a month. The truth is when you choose one, ultimately, you experience them all.

Here are some possibilities:

  • I live my life as an adventure.
  • I orient to truth.
  • I follow my deepest desires.
  • I live as if every moment matters.
  • I’m awake, alive, and engaged.

Don’t worry—you’re not signing a contract. You’re not making a rigid decision. You can change it at any time! There’s simply no way you can do it wrong. Once you start living your One Decision, whatever that decision is, you’ll instantly be living with more purpose!

There is no situation where you cannot apply your One Decision. Just ask yourself, “How can I guide this smaller decision by my One Decision?”

Use it to change the quality of an interaction, a day, or an experience. When you do this, whether at work, with family, or with friends, you can let go of trying to control every moment and instead control how the moment feels.


“Listen—are you breathing just a little and calling it a life?”
– Mary Oliver


Doesn’t that feel better? Now life isn’t just happening to you. You are an agent of your Ife!

 

 

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Also, check out our upcoming events at events.wrightfoundation.org

How to Go on Vacation, and More Importantly, How to Come Back from Vacation

Learn how to take a vacation so that you return completely invigorated.


The word “vacation” comes from the word “vacate”—to be empty, to free.

The ancient Greeks defined the purpose of vacation as one of healing, gaining perspective, and re-focusing our life’s efforts.

Epidaurus was one of the most famous Ancient Greek seaside resorts. Vacationers would ask their gods for healing, life-directing dreams, then sleep in dream auditoriums until they received such a dream to guide them in returning to everyday life.

Um, how many of us take vacations that fit THAT description?

NOTE: I meditate, so I am always seeking mini-vacations during the day to tend to and be with myself. But that is another blog.

Taking a truly successful vacation that leaves you feeling refreshed, renewed, and re-focused (even if you don’t get a life-directing dream!) is a creative activity with three phases: Preparation, Vacation, and Re-Entry.

Prepare, and You Won’t Despair

One of our staff just took a vacation with a triple purpose. He wanted to prepare for his state licensing, personally recharge, and decide on whether to get married. When he returned, he said it was the most restful, rejuvenating vacation he can remember taking.

What did he do? Follow these steps:

  1. Think about the purpose of your vacation well ahead of time. Why are you going where you’re going and doing what you’re going to be doing? “To get away” or “Escape” is not a sufficient reason. Be specific. “To enhance my relationship with my family,” “to get a new perspective on my career” – are sufficient reasons.
  2. Set specific goals to fulfill your purpose. Our staff person had time goals with his girlfriend, his books, and himself. He also set content goals. He identified subjects he wanted to discuss with her, topics to review for his exam, and concerns to consider for himself.
  3. Discuss your schedule and come to alignment with anyone traveling with you. Share your desired outcomes and see how they can fit together.
  4. Anticipate problems and make contingency plans in case things don’t go as planned. This is crucial! It can be the difference between a new adventure and a ruined trip.

Vacation-planning mindfulness is the difference between coming back stressed out and coming back completely invigorated.

While You’re Away….

Smile, relax, and focus on the goals and purpose you already determined. You’ve done the work. Now you can reap the rewards. Remember to review with your travel companions regularly. Does everyone feel satisfied? Do you need to revise anything?

Also, make a point to talk about how you would like things to feel when you get back. What feelings and inspirations do you want to bring back with you?

And don’t over plan! This will NOT be the only vacation you’re ever going to take. Everyone needs some unstructured, dreamy time to rejuvenate (and get that dream from the gods.) Balance activity and rest. Engage in new experiences, unusual sights and sounds, thoughts, foods, etc.

One of the reasons people like to camp, hike, and canoe is because it’s stimulating without evoking a lot of our unfinished business back home. It allows us to approach our world with awe. It lets us escape the person we were in the city and discover the person we could be.

Engage in some activities that will add to your life skills. For example, I used to wonder at Judith’s ability to sunbathe and read for hours on end. Then I dedicated one vacation to learning to relax. That vacation has stayed with me ever since and has served me well.

Anticipate your re-entry with relaxed determination to carry all that felt good from your vacation into your daily routine. Pick easy behavior changes you can make. Let these changes flow from your original vacation purposes and goals. That staff member I mentioned earlier? He returned more rested than ever, asked his girlfriend to marry him, and aced his test.

Re-Energize Your Re-Entry

Let’s say I’m going to go on a two-week canoe trip into the Boundary Waters. For me, the purpose of that trip would be to experience a little bit of fear—the challenge of using a topographical map to portage in and navigate the area, and the excitement of experiencing myself doing exactly that!

How much of that trip can I keep living when I come back so that I’m a little more adventuresome AND a little more mindful?

Do I have a topographical re-entry map to help me recognize the rapids and the places that are dangerous and where I need to pay special attention? What would that look like?

When we pay attention to our re-entry into our day-to-day life, we honor our purpose for going on vacation in the first place. As a result, we re-enter with renewed inspiration, rejuvenation, and an expanded sense of ourselves. And we can bring that to our co-workers, partners, and all our relationships.

No one wants to come back from a vacation filled with resentment for our life, exhaustion from an over-booked trip, or finding ourselves in victim mode for having to go back to work. We all know what that feels like.

Next time you are on your way home from an extended trip, try this instead:

  1. Ease back in. Don’t let fear drive you to try and catch up on a week’s worth of work in your first hour at your desk. You don’t have to “pay the price” for taking a vacation. If you must, take an extra vacation day or come back early to ensure that the first day is not over-scheduled!
  2. Allow yourself to focus on the rest and relaxation you got. Rest is the natural balance to work. Feel your gratitude for it. Share your gratitude.
  3. Spend some time thinking about the successes and failures of this vacation. This way, you can plan an even better vacation next time!

Re-entry is about being able to be present with yourself, reflecting, and celebrating your life as it is, even though vacation is over.

To take an even bigger view, think of vacation as a metaphor for a period of time when you are more consciously and more fully present with yourself. Which is the opposite of how many of us think of it.

Instead of getting away, use your vacation to dive deeper into you.

You may be surprised how refreshing that can be!

Dr. Bob Wright is an internationally recognized visionary, educator, program developer, leadership and sales executive, best-selling author, and speaker. He is a co-founder of Wright and the Wright Graduate University. Follow him on Instagram and LinkedIn.

Does the Silent Treatment Work? Here’s What You Should Know

We’ve all had moments in a relationship when we silently stew about something our spouse says. But does the silent treatment really work in relationships? Are we “showing” the other person how we feel, or are we just creating more of a divide. Here’s why the silent treatment isn’t the answer–why you should speak up and engage, even if it gets messy!

does the silent treatment work

I remember one night when Bob and I had fought. I was SO mad, I stomped out of the bedroom and slammed the door.

There. That will show him, I thought!

It was winter, cold, and here I was pacing around the icy living room. But I was showing him, right? So, I kept pacing and fuming and freezing, all while he was warm and snug in bed.

But as I thought about our big pillows and cozy comforter, I got even madder. What was happening? Here I was trying to punish him, and there he was all cozy in the nice warm bed and I was the one who was freezing!

So, I shifted. That is the power of the social and emotional intelligence training we do at the Wright Foundation, and which Bob and I have been studying and practicing for years. I started to orient toward our shared vision for our relationship: to go deeper, talk about what’s bothering us, tell deeper truths, and work to understand ourselves and each other– and grow closer as a result.

Fortunately for me, our vision for US was, and still is, bigger than my foolish pride. I didn’t need to “save face” by continuing to stomp and fume in the freezing cold. I could simply go back in and talk about what had gotten me so upset in the first place.

What a gift!

 

Vision Helps You See Your Relationship Clearly

When I would give Bob the silent treatment, he said it was one of the things that would hurt him the most. I was punishing him without telling him what I was punishing him for! And in my heart of hearts, he was the person I wanted to hurt the least!

If I didn’t have my vision to orient myself towards every time I got angry, then stomping, fuming, and door slamming would have been all I had. And, I would have been too “proud” to back down and actually talk things through without a compelling higher vision to orient toward.

Every journey begins with a vision. When we want to achieve something, we often envision the outcome and work toward that idea, whether it’s buying a house, getting a promotion at work, or raising children. Nothing happens without first having a picture of the desired end in our minds.

When we begin the journey of a partnership, we can explore each other’s individual visions, AS WELL AS the shared vision of the relationship. When we align our yearnings and our hearts’ deep desires, we stack the odds in favor of the relationship growing positively in love.

For most couples, yearnings and unmet yearnings are at the heart of every fight. We often say that meeting yearnings make couples tick, and unmet yearnings tick couples off.

We all want to make our relationships tick as much as possible, right? No one wants a fight, but the truth is, seeking conflict SHOULD be a regular occurrence in relationships. Let’s not shy away from being ticked off!

Am I actually saying that we should get mad at our partners? Yes! Because we’re going to get mad at them anyway. Life IS conflict. So let’s get mad purposefully.

Being angry is simply an opportunity to speak our yearnings, our visions for ourselves, and our relationships out loud. To remember what is at the center of our hearts, individually and together.

When we can do that, our path brings us right back to love. And each other.

 

Is Silence Ever Acceptable?

The silent treatment is non-productive and hurtful. Think about it. You’re coldly punishing someone. You’re withdrawing your affection without telling them why.

The silent treatment, also known as stonewalling, is NOT a tool you want in your relationship toolbox.

Drs. John and Julie Gottman of the Gottman Institute, talk about stonewalling as one of the “four horsemen” that can rip apart a relationship. In the New Testament, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse is a metaphor depicting the end of times: conquest, war, hunger, and death. The Gottman’s use that metaphor by naming the four horsemen that represent the end of a relationship: criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling.

Not sure if you’re stonewalling or being stonewalled?


Stonewalling happens anytime the listener withdraws from the conversation and tunes out, turns away, acts busy, or engages in obsessive or distracting behaviors.


It’s important to recognize that when you are tempted to stonewall, you might be in a triggered psychological state and unable to discuss anything rationally. Think about it—you’re trying to get another person to feel as bad as you do by acting passively-aggressively.

What can you do instead of slamming the door and walking out? Have a Time Out! Ask for a 20-minute reprieve and take care of YOU. Love yourself. Go deeper inside yourself to know what is triggering you, what you are really feeling. Do whatever helps you feel more connected to your heart. Take a walk, read a favorite book, listen to a favorite song, hug a beloved pet. But make sure you go back to the fight or the topic within a certain amount of time–don’t use the time out as a stonewalling tactic!

This is SO important. Once you start, stonewalling can be a habit that’s hard to stop. Having an alternate plan to intervene with your triggered behavior is crucial.

But can silence in a relationship ever be acceptable?

 

When Silence Speaks Volumes

There is a way to use silence that CAN be productive.

This kind of silence occurs when we’re present. When we’re there to be a witness. To be witnessed. To allow our presence to speak and hear volumes.

When we use silence like that, we are saying that we’re delighted to have the privilege to be there just to listen. That we know that we, too, will be heard.

We are saying that we trust that each of us has everything we need to solve our own problems.

Marina Abramovich is a performance artist who spent seven hundred hours exploring this at the Museum of Modern Art in 2010. Seven hundred hours of sitting in a chair just being. Each day, she was present and silent while people came one after another to sit in the chair across from her. In this profound encounter of someone just being with them, beholding and seeing them, their faces filled with emotion–many spontaneously bursting into tears, others beaming with deep joy.

We don’t have to be silent for 700 hours. But if we could be willing to sit across from the ones we love for one minute of silence now and then, and take in everything about them without trying to change anything, just imagine what we might hear.

 

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Don’t Let Fear Stop You: Be Afraid and Do it Anyway

Don’t let fear stop you – be afraid and do it anyway. Everything we want is on the other side of fear. Making friends with fear is critical.


Don’t Be Afraid of Fear: It’s an Awesome Ally

Sure, changing your life can be frightening. There are many reasons why we get sucked back into the status quo. But the biggest reason? Fear.

Fear of failure, fear of uncertainty, fear of rejection, fear of what’s to come.

None of us can predict how things will turn out when we’re making a change. Maybe we’re embarking on a new job, a new relationship, or some other lifestyle change. Whatever it is, there are good reasons why we should approach it with optimism and excitement.

Especially when we learn to make fear our friend.

The Guard Dog of Our Fear

Fear is omnipresent. Like a guard dog.

Sometimes he is asleep and relaxed. Sometimes his ears go up, and he begins sniffing. Danger is being sensed. If no one does anything about it, he stands up. Then he growls. Then he barks.

The guard dog tells us when to pay attention. Maybe it’s false danger. Maybe it’s not. But we want to have a good relationship with that guard dog.

We want to notice when fear tells us to prick up our ears.

We want to pay attention to it because it’s giving us good information about our next move, our next choice.

Me? I’m still learning to pay attention to the nuances of my fear. Too often don’t listen to the guard dog, which leads me into conflicts I don’t need to have. I confuse communication with others. I shut it out and create dangerous situations.

I can’t say this too many times—making friends with the guard dog of fear is critical.

In our work at the Wright Foundation, fear is the most primary of all our emotions. Why? Because it’s about staying alive.

We’re afraid of so much, but ultimately, we’re afraid of being kicked out of the tribe.

So we get defensive and let our guard dog, our fear, go nuts.

BUT imagine if we had a relationship with our fear. Imagine if we could say BEFORE we said anything else: “I’m afraid this might be misunderstood. What I’m really thinking is _______, and I’d like you to be in on this with me. Can we talk about it?”

When we become partners with our fear, we can anticipate what we’re afraid might happen and choose a whole different approach.

And then the guard dog can lower his ears and lay back down.

Everything we want is on the other side of fear.

Jason Silva – the philosopher of our age – talks to us about our fear and aliveness


“I fear the intensity of life lived this close”

– Jason Silva


Our beliefs about who we are and what the world expects of us stop us from living our lives fully and with authenticity.

We make up stories out of our fear about stepping into unknown selves and an unknown.

Think about it. We go into a grocery store and pick the same 50 items week after week out of infinite ingredients and possibilities. Without even knowing it, we have stories about our dietary expectations of ourselves.

What’s that odd-looking fruit? What’s that strange fish? I don’t know about that spice. I’ve never tasted it before, but it doesn’t seem like something I’d like.

And we do the same things with our lives. We pick the same 50 options out of an infinite array of opportunities because we have a story about our lives.

And that story begins and ends with fear.

At the Wright Foundation, we help our students evolve this by teaching them the assignment way of living.

Why? As humans, most of us would rather have known pain than unknown pleasure. We’re afraid to let some aspect of ourselves die or expand.

So, would it be better for us just to ignore the fear and push through?

Where I Should Have Let Fear Stop Me

I had an enormously successful launch of a book on people skills in the beauty industry, and we were selling the book into beauty schools.

I was in a meeting with the heads of beauty schools, and they were all very engaged in the subject. Then one of them said something that sounded like horse manure to me (guard dog lifts his head.) And I immediately got into a debate about it (guard dog stands up,) causing this person to feel embarrassed (guard dog is madly barking.)

But I was insensitive to it.  I was insensitive to the danger. Why did I ignore the guard dog? I was too in love with my own thinking. I wasn’t aware of the danger in the situation. I could have sensitively addressed what was said with a question. But instead, I just went right at it. And that person got defensive, and I got more aggressive.

And I lost the room of about fifty very important people.

I don’t listen to my fear enough. I often don’t even recognize it until I’ve made the faux pas. I don’t adequately sense the vulnerability of other people.

Where I’m comfortable debating something, others find it as a put-down. Freud would call it an ego-insult. They would see me as a punitive parent. That’s where my self-fulfilling prophecy has come in. But that’s another blog.

Listening to my fear has been an ongoing lesson for me throughout my career. My problem is not befriending it to win more hearts and minds.

Rather than learning to meet YOU at your most raw and vulnerable, I’ve managed my fear by testing: will you take me at my most raw and aggressive?

I’ve had some pretty embarrassing experiences that I don’t really want to go into, but I think you get the point.

When we make fear our friend, the ending of the story may be a much more pleasant surprise.

Ultimately, We’ll Face Our Fear and Say the Right Thing, Right?

In 1951, Solomon Asch conducted a well-known conformity experiment. He told the participants it was a “visual perception test.” The participants didn’t know that the other participants were actors.

The test? Visually assess lines to see which two matched in length. The correct answer was obvious, and the rest of the responses were wrong.

When presented with the first few lines, everyone would choose the obvious answer. However, after a few turns, the actors began to select the wrong answer. At first, the participants would go against the crowd and choose the correct answer. But as the experiment went on, their resolve waned.

Eventually, 75% WOULD CHANGE THEIR RESPONSE to match what the rest of the room said—even though they knew it was wrong. Even more shockingly, half of the 75% would eventually perceive the wrong answer as correct—they would see the wrong line length!

Will we ever be able to face our fear and say the right thing, whatever that right thing feels like for us?

Yes, if we let ourselves have a relationship with our fear. If we are in good rapport with our guard dog. If we grow our social and emotional intelligence and learn to listen to our fear—not judge it or ignore it or revise it.

Fear is here.

How much we allow that to be true will determine how long it will be here.

Dr. Bob Wright is an internationally recognized visionary, educator, program developer, leadership and sales executive, best-selling author, and speaker. He is a co-founder of Wright and the Wright Graduate University.

Life’s Too Good to Be Bored: How to Cure Boredom for Good

Do you ever feel bored with life? Boredom and work or home isn’t uncommon. But when you forget how truly good life can be, it’s time to learn how to cure boredom for good.


Yes, I know. How can life be good if we’re still wearing masks? When there’s still great racial inequality and discrimination? When we have a climate crisis and a political divide so wide, we can’t even see the other side let alone hear it?

The challenges in the world right now might dissuade you from saying “life is good.”

But I want you to know this: life is good because YOU’RE IN IT, living it, right now. And, it’s impossible to feel your aliveness and be bored at the same time.

BORED, BORED, BORED

No, this is NOT all there is. Were you wondering?

But you’re bored. Bored, bored, bored. Bored at work. Bored at home. Bored in your relationship. Bored with YOU.

Is there a cure for boredom?

As a human being, you’re hardwired toward growth and adaptation. You WANT to learn, explore, and expand. Like your ancestors who forged new frontiers, you want to move forward, achieve, and discover. You’re constantly driven to interact, engage, explore, and transform.


Sometimes this desire for change might be loud and obvious. But sometimes, it manifests itself as a vague sense of dissatisfaction. A subtle nagging that your life as it is not “enough.”


As Psychology Today tells us, this condition is related to the “French ennui, an existential perception of life’s futility—a consequence of unfulfilled aspirations.”*

So perhaps you can thank boredom! You have unfulfilled aspirations that you might not have become aware of otherwise.

Welcome boredom as a warning signal. Recognize it as your mind’s alert system telling you that you’re not finding purpose in what you’re currently doing, so you’d better switch things up. The sooner, the better.

Boredom is like fear: No one likes feeling fear, just as no one likes feeling bored. But both give you crucial information. Fear pushes you away from harm. Boredom pushes you toward meaning.

Maybe it’s time to stop, listen, and learn how to cure boredom for good.

What’s the Point? Purpose

Purpose is the heart of the matter. It’s the “why” behind everything you do, whether you’re conscious of it or not.

Without it, you’ll never find satisfaction, no matter how fun, delicious, or pleasurable what you’re doing is. The moment it’s experienced, watched, ordered, or consumed, you return to the nagging sense of emptiness. Without purpose, you’re stuck in infinite “ennui.”

So then, how do you find it?


“Boredom is the root of all evil – the despairing refusal to be oneself.”
– Soren Kierkegaard


To find your purpose, you must understand yourself. And to do that, you must learn and explore your yearnings—your innermost desires and deep emotional longings of your heart. Perhaps you yearn to love and be loved or to touch and be touched. Perhaps you yearn to matter, to make a difference, to fulfill your purpose on this planet. Perhaps you long to create, connect, or serve.

Yearnings are universal, and they are the key to unlocking the mystery of the uniquely amazing being that is YOU. No one like you has ever existed before now, and no one like you will ever exist after.

Once you begin to believe that and act accordingly, you’ll see boredom backing off as aliveness starts filling up your days.

Is this easy? NO. And learning your longings isn’t a quick fix to boredom. But it’s a sustaining one. A transformative one. And the only one that ultimately matters.

Besides, you’re already familiar with the quick fix—soft addictions. Those seemingly harmless habits that distract you from your boredom long enough to make you think your life is thriving.

Twenty-five more episodes to watch? What a full evening of entertainment! Three new outfits on the way? How fun it will be to wake up and wear each of them! A new full bag of cookies? You deserve it after my long week of work. Zoning out on social media? What a great way to keep “in touch” with all your friends.

Maybe yes, maybe no.

But what’s more likely is what all of these have might have in common: pseudo satisfaction. A temporary high/buzz/thrill that comes and then goes, and before you know it, you’re left once again asking yourself, “Is this all there is?”

What’s a completely-bored-of-boredom human like you to do?

Forget Pseudo. Go for Authentic

The dictionary definition of authenticity is “genuineness; undisputed credibility; one who is worthy of belief.”

The existential philosophers defined authenticity as being true to who you could become, instead of being true to who you are—a view that suggests authenticity is being faithful to yourself internally as opposed to conforming to external ideas or norms.


Here’s MY definition of authenticity: forget what everyone else says and wears, reads, eats, and watches (take THAT social media) and find out what makes YOU tick.


How do you find that kind of sense of authenticity? Like Dorothy in Oz, you need to discover the answer has been inside of you all along. As you explore yourself and get to know yourself better, you’ll start to see glimpses and signs of who you really are. You begin “engaging.”

“It is the moment-by-moment practice of engaging that helps you become more spontaneous and more present in each moment. You step outside your comfort zone, try new things, take risks, and turn your life from a routine into an adventure…

…Just as emotions help us sense what we yearn for, they are the litmus test for full engagement. We feel an experience deeply when we’re fully engaged in it. So, when we ask if you’re engaged, we’re asking if you’re involved in a given activity with your heart, mind and soul. We’re asking if you are so intimately connected to a given task that you are willing to step out of your comfort zone and push yourself to get it done right. We’re asking if you’re taking risks and stretching yourself in ways that might feel uncomfortable but also provide you with such a spark that you feel as if you could set the world on fire with a touch of your hand.

Transformed! The Science of Spectacular Living

Enter whatever you’re doing, intending to be involved heart, mind, and soul. Then you can connect with truly being alive. Once you do that, you may never be bored again.


About the Author

Dr. Bob Wright

Dr. Bob Wright is an internationally recognized visionary, educator, program developer, leadership and sales executive, best-selling author and speaker. He is a co-founder of Wright and the Wright Graduate University. Follow Dr. Bob Wright on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn for more updates.


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 the Love You Deserve

We always get the love we deserve. The real question is: Are we doing what we need to do to earn the love we WANT?


Wondering how to get the love you deserve? Sometimes we may feel we’re not getting what we need, but here’s how to bring more love to your life.


We all deserve love. Now, the love we want to have in our lives and the love we actually receive may look a little different. We may want more romantic love from our partner, more supportive love and attention from our friends, or even more expressive love from our kids, parents, or siblings.

So, if you’re wondering how to get the love you deserve, it may be time to reframe the question—are you doing what you need to do to attract and earn the love you WANT?

What Kind of Love Do You Want?

When we ask the question “how do I get the love I deserve?”, it raises a few points. First of all, the word “deserve” is something to examine. We all deserve love simply by being human beings in this world. But the word deserve can indicate feelings of entitlement or inadequacy. Either we feel like we deserve more love than our partner is giving us, or we fear we don’t deserve the love we want in our life. So instead, we want to frame our analysis of the word “deserve” as earning the love we want.

When we talk about partnerships and relationships, we should look at engagement—not the type of engagement that involves a diamond ring. Instead, we’re looking at the kind of engagement that fosters a deep connection. Are we engaging in our relationship, and is our partner engaged with us? Whether we’re talking business, social, or personal lives, we can ask if we’re fully engaged with those around us. Do we use conflict to get the most out of our relationships?

Conflict gets a bad rap. We might think of conflict as a negative state, where we’re bickering and fighting, but really, conflict is a natural component of change and growth. We can’t change or get stronger without resistance. If we’re smoothly sailing along, going through life conflict-free, we’re missing something.

We’re either fooling ourselves, lying to ourselves, or burying our heads in the sand. By the very nature of being human, we will face conflicting wants, desires, and yearnings. Getting to the heart of these yearnings helps us connect while finding ways to fulfill the needs and desires we have.

Following the Rules in Relationships

Behind every ugly fight—the cycle of blaming and defending or moving around the drama triangle—is an underlying truth. Fights indicate that there’s something not being fulfilled. It could be an unanswered yearning or a built-up resentment.


Growing and transforming in a relationship is all about fighting fair. It’s not about avoiding the fight entirely but rather engaging in a productive, respectful discussion, where we express our feelings and issues to open up the heart of the conflict.


Both parties can follow a few rules of engagement to ensure the fights are productive and fair. The rules are rooted in personal responsibility and directed at both sides of the partnership. Even if only one side follows the rules, there will be a significant improvement in communication and engagement throughout the relationship.

The Rules of Engagement for Fair Fights

  1. Minimize the Negative: This means we should avoid passive-aggressive behaviors like disengagement (stonewalling, withholding, and secretive behavior) or the “hidden middle finger (actions to intentionally provoke). But avoid tiptoeing around conflict, focusing on soft addictions, or extreme fighting with blame, shame, whining, and justifying.
  2. Accentuate the Positive: This means sincere engagement, where each party approaches the situation openly, with humor, honesty, and responsiveness. It means staying truthful about yearnings, talking, sharing affection, and being real.
  3. No One Gets or Gives More than 50% of the Blame: Think of it as a no-fault relationship. No matter who instigated the argument or began the discussion, there’s no need to break it down into who did what. Each partner is part of the system. As they say, “It takes two to tango.”
  4. You Must Take 100% Responsibility for Your Own Happiness: When we feel hurt, we are 100% responsible for our own feelings of happiness. It’s not our partners’ job to make us happy. No one can control our emotions but us. Support is one thing, but personal responsibility is the foundation of transformational conflict and engagement.
  5. Express and Agree with the Truth: This means always being truthful in engagement. ALWAYS. Often there’s a lot of truth in an argument, but neither party wants to give in by acknowledging that truth. It’s okay to say, “You’re right, but I don’t like it.” When we acknowledge the truth in an argument, it often turns the tide.
  6. Always Fight FOR, Not Against: We can ask ourselves what we yearn for. For example, rather than arguing how our partner never helps out, consider arguing FOR our partner to help out. When we reframe the conflict, we turn it into a positive, growth-focused interaction that helps meet an underlying yearning. Go into each interaction by asking what are we really fighting FOR?
  7. Assume Goodwill: This is one of the toughest rules of engagement for couples to accept. But when we think about it, we often realize that our partner isn’t out to get us in most cases. In fact, they WANT to work things out. They want to make things better. That doesn’t mean that a cruel comment won’t come out, or we always get along, but for the most part, both parties are trying. Stop looking at each other as the enemy.

The above ground rules set the stage for fair conflict. When we sincerely apply them to our relationship, we can instantly start seeing a shift. Even if our partner isn’t on-board with the rules, the tone and tenor of the argument will often change quickly. Both parties feel more connected and less defensive.

If we’re looking for the love we deserve, the rules of engagement can help us move toward the relationship connection that we’re seeking.

Applying the Rules to Get the Love You Deserve

Each situation is different, and sometimes applying the rules of engagement won’t make someone fall in love with us or give us the emotional connection we’re hungry for. However, if we’re honestly expressing what we need in a relationship, we’ll quickly realize whether or not we’re on the right path.

It’s also important to recognize that we can bring love into our lives in many different ways. It doesn’t just come from a fairytale romance (in fact, the idea of a fairytale romance is a myth—there’s no such thing as a perfect relationship or partner). Instead, we can find love in our life by focusing on the connections and engagement that meet our yearnings.


The rules of engagement apply whether we’re single, married, or applying them at work or with friends. When we follow the rules for fighting fair, we’ll find that our conflicts become more productive, and they move us towards the things we really want.


Within the conflict, we’ll realize our personal responsibility and personal power. We’ll start to approach the situation in a way that will help us meet our yearnings to foster growth and deeper engagement.

Getting the love that we need and want doesn’t mean we have to be in a relationship to enjoy the closeness and a connection. Instead, we can learn to love ourselves and enjoy the love and connection we experience with our friends and family. There is beauty and love throughout the universe, and when we start to recognize it and apply it to our yearnings, we may realize that we can be seen, heard, and valued in many different ways.

If both sides of a couple are learning and growing together, following the rules of engagement, and sharing their yearnings, they’ll both get the love they want (and the love they deserve).

For more ways to enjoy a deeper connection with others, don’t miss the resources available at Wright Now. We have many courses and materials designed to help you get the career, relationship, and life you want—a life of MORE.


About the Author

Kate Holmquest

Kate Holmquest is a coach, curriculum developer, and campus director for Wright and the Wright Graduate University for the Realization of Human Potential who believes that dating is one of the best possible playgrounds for discovering and transforming yourself! Potential movie titles that describe her quest for satisfaction in single life are “40 First Dates” (a.k.a. dating with velocity), “Ten Things I Hate About You” (a.k.a. telling the truth on dates), and “The Thing About My Folks” (a.k.a. noticing and breaking the relationship rules I learned at home).


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