Here’s How to Ask Your Partner for More Intimacy

Got intimacy? If you’re wondering how to ask your partner for more intimacy and closeness, it’s important to explore what you’re really looking for.

Wondering how to ask your partner for more intimacy? Here’s how to connect with your partner to get the closeness you want and deserve.


Relationships are an adventure in intimacy and navigating our connections with others, but understanding how to get the intimacy we want can be confusing. What are we really looking for? Deeper conversations? More sex? A more attentive partner?

Here’s how to ask your partner for more intimacy and get the connection you crave.

Embark on An Adventure in Intimacy

Intimacy. It’s an often-misunderstood term. We may think intimacy refers to our physical connection. We may think of intimacy are romance, closeness, or sharing a deep conversation. Real intimacy is all these things and more.

Intimacy is about learning and growing together to fulfill our fullest potential. When we’re working on our best selves, relationships can be both a womb and a crucible. They form us and forge us into our best selves. So while it’s important that our relationships are nurturing, it’s also crucial to recognize that growth can also be a painful process.

When a butterfly emerges from a chrysalis, it must go through the struggle to build up strength. If we “help” the butterfly before it is ready, the wings will fail to develop the proper strength, and the butterfly won’t be able to fly. Similarly, when we emerge and grow into our potential, we must go through difficult challenges to increase our strength. While our relationship can support us through the lessons, our partner can’t take away our difficulties or “fix” us. In fact, our partnership is strengthened when our partner is an ally—pushing us toward our best self.


If our relationship isn’t challenging us and pushing us to grow, then it’s just a pacifier. We need the conflict to continue to evolve. Conflict is where growth and change really happen.


In our book, The Heart of the Fight, we discuss the many ways that love and intimacy are messy. It’s about embracing our roles in the relationship and working on ourselves to live extraordinary lives together. One partner may be a great parent, and one might have a great career. Relationships and intimacy are about bringing those strengths together to become transformational agents, engaged fully and intimately together, bringing out our best selves and the best in others.

Great relationships are all about engaging in the adventure of life together as partners and allies.

Yearnings and Understanding the Nature of Conflict

Our yearnings drive us. As human beings, we constantly try to fulfill our yearnings and listen to them. At times, we may deny our yearnings, but that becomes painful. We find ourselves shifting blame and being dishonest about what we want. This can cause resentments to build as we disengage from the relationship.

The truth is that many of us fall out of touch with our yearnings. We aren’t sure how to get what we truly want because we don’t know what it is. Yearnings are the deeper longings of our heart—to be loved, to be connected, to feel respected. Many of us mistake wants for yearnings. We think that we want to lose weight. We want a bigger house. We want to have fashionable clothes.

We may think that we want our partner to clean up around the house more often. We want them to take us out on a date. We want them to buy us gifts. However, the underlying yearnings go deeper than that. We want our partner to pick up the house because we yearn for the security that comes from an orderly space. We want our partner to take us out on a date because we yearn for intimacy and connection. We want our partners to buy us gifts because we yearn for love or admiration and connection.

When we confuse our wants for yearnings, we fall into a pattern of miss-wanting. We get what we thought we wanted, only to find that we’re still left unfulfilled and unsatisfied. We still long for more. We may even feel resentful or disengaged because our partner isn’t fulfilling the fairytale notion of giving us “happily ever after.”


Conflict helps us reengage with each other. It’s impossible to work for something—even a fulfilling relationship—without at least a little struggle and fight.


Think of any goal. We have to train and sweat for months if we want to run a marathon. If we want to get a promotion at work, we have to learn new tasks and work hard to get there. When we want something big, hard work is required. It’s likely going to be painful and even unpleasant at times. We can’t skip out the door one day and win a gold medal.

Most of us don’t enjoy fighting (and if we do, that can be detrimental too). Maybe we were raised to believe fighting wasn’t beneficial or that fighting would push others away. We call these types of situations “conflict-avoidant.” If we grew up in a conflict-avoidant household, it could be hard to see the merits and productivity of conflict. It’s difficult to let go of our limiting beliefs about conflict. We might feel like we shouldn’t express our yearnings or ask for what we need in a relationship.

Feeling conflicted isn’t wrong or bad. Engaging in conflict doesn’t make us mean or negative people. On the contrary, it can actually bring us closer together by moving us toward what we really want and need in the situation.

The skill in conflict is taking responsibility for our own satisfaction and then working together toward that satisfaction with a partner. People become so skilled at avoiding conflict that they avoid themselves right out of their relationship. When we avoid confrontation and conflict, we disengage. We become distant and disconnected. We might even resent our partner for not reading our minds or understanding why we’re upset.

Instead, rock the boat! Ask for more intimacy! When couples learn the rules of engagement, they learn to express their desires responsibly. They realize that conflict arises because they’re working for, not against, their relationship. Conflict is a means to strengthen our relationships and make our yearnings known.

Intimacy is Engagement

Intimacy is synonymous with engagement. If we want more intimacy, it’s not just that we want to have more sex (although physical intimacy can be an added benefit of reconnecting with our partner). It’s not that we want our partner to be more affectionate. That may be part of it, but we really want more engagement. We want our partner to connect with us, to see us, hear us, and know us.

If we think we’re moving toward our yearnings but expect our partner to get us there, we aren’t taking 100% responsibility for our own satisfaction. We are each responsible for getting satisfaction, and no one else can hand it to us. We must be learning and growing on our own, AND together.


We can get there by expressing what we want to our partner. We can tell them our expectations and share our yearnings. What would happen if we just asked? What is it that we want from our partners?


Ultimately, intimacy is about connection—loving each other and being close. It’s about wanting to have more of each other and gain a deeper understanding of the other person. Over time couples can become like systems engineers—working through the daily tasks of running a home, going to work, raising the kids. But within this scenario, intimacy is lost. We become two people bumping into each other and existing together. It requires deliberate action to get on the same page with a vision and connection. If we want it, we have to stop going through the motions and start doing the work. (It’s worth it!)

How To Get Your Partner Engaged in Your Relationship

What happens when one partner is ready to engage and get more intimacy, and the other partner is on the fence? What do we do when we tell our partner we want to build a deeper connection, and we get an eye roll because they think it sounds like B.S.?

First of all, this happens quite often. Change can be difficult and frightening, especially when we haven’t had time to process it. Our partner might be perfectly comfortable with the status quo because we’ve made them very comfortable. We’ve allowed them to ignore our yearnings and to be oblivious to our feelings. We can’t expect them to read our minds—they need to be uncomfortable too.

Too often, we get bogged down in a state where we feel sorry for ourselves and use it as an excuse for inaction. We think, “I’d love to work on myself and grow, but my partner isn’t into it. So it’s their fault that I can’t.” In reality, this is a lie.


We are each 100% responsible for our own satisfaction. If we’re learning, growing, and working to bring out our best selves, our partner must rise to the occasion. If we’re expressing our yearnings and acknowledging the truth in what our partner says, being open and honest, we will be a force to be reckoned with.


When we’re following the rules of engagement and engaging in conflict responsibly and honestly, it becomes uncomfortable for our partner to ignore our personal power and energy. They will engage with you because they have to.

It’s all about using conflict to get to the heart of what we really want. Just because one time we threw out, “I’d like to work on this,” and got shot down, we shouldn’t give up. Go for a different approach. Learn the rules of engagement and start engaging. Follow along in the book. We can get our partner to read the book with us, and if they won’t, we can start using the skills and following the rules. Eventually, our partners get curious about what we’re doing, and they will want to know more (even if they don’t admit it at first).

Relationships are beautiful and messy platforms to help us grow and change. When we’re working on our personal power, a healthy relationship is a launchpad for bringing out our next best self.

To learn more about living your best life and enjoying stronger relationships, don’t miss our courses at Wright Now. We have resources to help you discover more about yourself, your partner, your career, and your world. Get MORE today!


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.

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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.

Combating the Effects of Loneliness on Our Health

Is loneliness a health epidemic? The effects of loneliness have become so normalized that we might not even realize how dangerous isolation can be.

Can loneliness harm our health? Here’s how to battle the effects of loneliness on our physical and emotional health, as well as our relationships.

 


In his recent New York Times article, columnist Eric Klinenberg posed the question, “is loneliness a health epidemic?” Klinenberg goes on to document the effects of loneliness, and while he concludes loneliness is, in fact, dangerous to our health, it’s not an epidemic…yet.

But the effects of loneliness shouldn’t be understated. In some studies, loneliness can be as detrimental to health as smoking and more dangerous than obesity. Doctors, researchers, and epidemiologists may conclude that it’s more of a “social health problem,” but it’s still detrimental to our wellbeing. So if you’re battling the effects of loneliness, here’s how to move toward stronger social connections.

Why Has Loneliness Become “Normal”

Over the last several years, several sociological factors have moved us toward more solitary lifestyles. Technology is a significant influence on our time spent alone. The recent pandemic and a shift toward working from home have also caused to experience more isolation. For most of us, we can have groceries delivered, watch movies, work, date, and pursue our hobbies without seeing another human being in person.

From our perspective at the Wright Foundation, loneliness is a life challenge that we may face at different times and points throughout the years. We may be more isolated and alone during certain times in our lives, while other times, we may find ourselves more social. But building human connection is a universal challenge for all of us.


To avoid the adverse effects of loneliness, we must first get to know ourselves and then use that self-awareness and knowledge to nurture our connections with others, engaging in service-filled relationships.


Loneliness is a universal existential challenge. It’s a universal challenge for all of us as human beings to affiliate and connect with each other. In the NY Times column, Klinenberg attributes the increase of loneliness to neo-liberal social policies isolating us in our work and social lives. With the dissolution of trade unions, affinity groups, and civic associations, people increasingly find themselves lonely and disconnected.

Years ago, people lived insular lives. They were surrounded by their neighborhoods, families, and sense of home. They may never have traveled beyond the borders of their city, but their social lives were intricately connected. More recently, people have evolved away from the tribal and more toward the individual. As a result, our family and social circles’ definitions are looser and less defined. In some ways, we’ve expanded our social lives and made them more global, but in some ways, the distance can actually create more isolation.

Compounding the effects of loneliness in the modern landscape is, of course, technology. Many people—particularly adult men and adolescents—claim a vast network of friends and acquaintances “online” but are missing the benefits of authentic in-person engagement and rich social interaction. Yes, they may have friends on Twitter or their online chats, but the interactions are superficial and even draining. Screens become a soft addiction that doesn’t nourish relationship connections and intimacy.

In Japan, the incidence of loneliness-induced suicide has become an enormous concern. For many years, it was a problem amongst working men due to long workdays and a vast but ultimately hollow online social circle. In the last few years, the pandemic has caused hopelessness and despair to grow amongst women. The Japanese government has appointed a task force and a minister of loneliness to help address the problem.

But anywhere in the world, people can feel despairingly lonely. People may even be surrounded by others and have successful careers, fame, and fortune, but it doesn’t counteract their loneliness. It’s particularly a problem when people don’t feel truly engaged and connected with those around them. We’ve seen these situations in the suicide of Anthony Bourdain, Robin Williams, and even Marilyn Monroe. People may appear to “have it all,” but when they’re missing the engagement and social support they need, they may still feel very much alone.

Counteracting the Effects of Loneliness

No matter the social shifts and technology changes, we will continue to face an existential challenge. We must put forth a concerted effort to engage with other people. We can’t rely on readymade affiliations of the past. It’s incumbent on us to build real-life relationships and connections. To do so, we must deal with our internal and external conflicts in a way that brings us not only closer to others but closer to ourselves.


We must adhere not only to the adage, “to thine own self be true,” but also, “to thine own self be honest.”


If we aren’t honest with ourselves, taking the time to understand our needs and the longings or yearnings of our hearts, we will never engage and connect with others. Being true to oneself doesn’t mean doing whatever we want. It means exploring who we are at a deeper level. It also means looking at others for who they truly are and coming forward to meet their yearnings and needs as well as our own.

Our desire to affirm, be affirmed and exist, may collide with other peoples’ desires to affirm, be affirmed, and exist, and that’s okay. Instead, we must create win-win modes of nourishment and opportunities for mutuality. It doesn’t mean agreeing with everyone we meet or avoiding conflict, but rather seeing people as our fellow humans, respecting them, and engaging with them.

Perhaps the counterbalance to a loneliness “epidemic” is a social and emotional intelligence epidemic, where people learn how to identify their needs and the needs of others, where we grow in ways that will cause humanity to flourish. Where everyone starts to “go Wright.”

What It Means to “Go Wright”

When I say, “go Wright,” I don’t mean that everyone needs to be like me. I mean embracing the ideas we share with our students at the Wright Foundation on a day-to-day basis. In our work with students, we discuss the importance of identifying our emotions. We explore the realization that there are no “bad” emotions or emotions that are wrong, even if they don’t feel pleasant. We help students focus on emotional intelligence as a skill just as necessary as intellectual prowess.

One emotion that researchers often overlook is hurt. But the hurt is extremely poignant and often linked to feelings of isolation, loneliness, and rejection. We must learn to deal with feelings of being hurt by others and work through our fears of being hurt again. If we can’t deal with these feelings, we isolate to avoid them and thus continues the cycle of loneliness and isolation.

When we really look at isolation and the effects of loneliness, we see that solitude is often a protective measure. We’re always bumping into other people, but if we don’t connect, our interactions can result in hurt. We may avoid hurtful interactions in the future, which leads us to avoid gaining affirmation and nourishment that comes from our social interactions.


Learning to process and cope with our hurts and painful experiences is part of building a strong emotional intelligence. We learn how to deal with conflict responsibly—not avoiding conflict altogether—but using it in a way that serves both parties and helps us get what we want.


For example, recently, a student brought up a statement that I had made. Without realizing it, I’d made a statement that indicated and reflected my implicit bias. Once they called it to my attention, I realized it, addressed the issue, and rectified the situation. The more implicit biases we have, the narrower our world can feel, and when our world is narrow, loneliness is the only outcome.

The anecdote is to call it out. When we disagree with someone, say it. Drop the blame, shame, guilt, and justification. Instead, address your feelings openly and honestly. Many of our walls and barriers to communication stem from our unaddressed hurts and feelings that we’re afraid to bring up and discuss.

So bring them up. Remember that in the rules of engagement, everyone is 100% responsible for their emotions in any situation. At the same time, no one should accept more (or give more) than 50% of the blame. When we adjust our lens for viewing conflict, we will see it as a productive part of engagement. We start to fight for a mutually beneficial resolution to satisfy both parties.

Productive conflict is part of honest engagement. As we fight isolation and counter the effects of loneliness, honesty and authenticity are our best tools. We can explore what motivates us, what we really want, and what we expect from our relationships.

When we move forward, we may discover that although loneliness may be a widespread ill of today’s society, it’s not new and not something we’re fated to accept. We will start to strengthen our connections with others and enjoy richer, more satisfying social lives.

For more ways to connect with others, build relationships, and live your best life, explore our course on Wright Now. We offer an array of classes to help you get ahead in your career, boost your relationships, and discover yourself. Learn more today, so you can go forth and ignite your world!

 


About the Author

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.


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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.

Building Resilience by Helping Kids Learn from Mistakes

How many parents wish they could do everything perfectly?

By learning from their mistakes, children build up resilience.

 


 

How many parents want their children to be perfect as well? How many realize it’s not realistic, nor does it help in building resilience?

It’s tough to do everything right, especially when it comes to parenting. Perfection is an impossible goal. Humans are imperfect beings, but building resilience comes from those mistakes and missteps along our journey. Satisfaction comes not from preventing kids (and ourselves) from making mistakes but from helping children learn from mistakes and identify them as opportunities for growth.

We all know kids model their parents’ behavior. They see how adults deal with life’s dilemmas and challenges and whether they dwell in the mistake or move forward. Because we’re all imperfect, there will definitely be mistakes and missteps on the road of parenting. Still, we can set a powerful example by learning to celebrate mistakes rather than fear them—here’s how to open your mind to mistakes.

Building Resilience Requires Celebrating Mistakes

A friend of ours told me the beautiful way her father helped her embrace her mistakes as she was growing up. Every day when the family sat down to dinner, Dad would ask what mistakes she’d made. It wasn’t a negative conversation or a way to point out shortcomings. Instead, the discussion presented a chance for learning.

The only answer that he wouldn’t accept was, “None.” As long as she had mistakes to share, he would tell her how proud he was to hear what she learned.

I just love that as a conversation starter—one we could all embrace for building resilience and grit. Our mistakes should be celebrated as a chance to gain insight. Reflecting on them isn’t meant to drag us down, shame us, or replay our embarrassment over and over. Instead, it’s a chance to see what works, what doesn’t and measure your approach. It’s an opportunity to make connections.


Mistakes are proof that we’re really going for it. It’s proof that we’re taking positive risks—something that can be pretty difficult for us as adults.


Many of us veer towards playing it safe and trying not to “rock the boat.” We don’t like risks because they’re, well…risky.

The funny thing is that kids are often great at embracing their mistakes as part of their learning process. Because childhood is so fraught with new experiences, there’s no expectation that it will always go right. It’s a series of trial and error. By learning to embrace these trials and errors, they’re building resilience and grit—the ability to bounce back even stronger after a setback.

Often, kids don’t learn to avoid mistakes until they hit adolescence. As they get older, they learn to feel shame and embarrassment about their missteps and failed attempts. As a result, they may hide them or avoid them. Whereas little children are rarely embarrassed trying something new. They don’t worry about looking “silly” or “stupid.” Instead, they approach the task with the sheer joy and exhilaration of discovery.

Of course, if you’ve ever watched kids play, you know that it can be serious business too. Observe kids on the playground, and we’ll see very important interactions. They test the waters with friendships and explore social boundaries. Kids are learning all the time with each new experience. Every moment gives them a chance to examine the approach, consider what they’ve seen in the adult world around them, and apply it to their own social circle.


Childhood is a time of rapid transformation, growth, and evolution. Kids are forming their adult selves. They’re learning how to interact with other people, how to engage and build relationships. For kids, life is a great social experiment.


Anyone who watches kids for even a short time quickly realizes that arguments, frustrations, and even tears are part of the experiment too. Play is very emotional, and children are often extremely expressive. Kids haven’t yet been weighed down by the idea that it’s not okay to cry, or we shouldn’t express upset when our feelings are hurt. Instead, they let it all out. Intuitively, they know that feelings are part of growing and learning, and their emotions are okay.

Getting hurt, losing, and failing are all part of the big game of growing up. Play entails risk, whether it’s climbing on a jungle gym or running around during kickball. There’s a chance to fall, get hurt, and feel pain. Yet, kids keep right ongoing. They have determination, grit, and resilience to try again. Imagine if babies gave up on walking the first time they fell! Kids naturally know they have to keep moving forward. The important part is to help them continue to take risks growing up.

Sometimes kids may even teach parents how to learn from mistakes.

Watching and Learning from Kids About Building Resilience

At our parent and child weekend retreat, we often have the kids fix breakfast for the parents. During this exciting process, the kids are given access to food, the stove, knives, and more. They get to handle all those items they’re typically told not to touch. While the parents learn and work on their personal development, kids get busy learning and experimenting on their own in the kitchen.

Parents often struggle a little with the idea of allowing kids so much freedom. After all, they could make mistakes—breakfast could be ruined! The kids could get cut by a knife or burned by a skillet. They could spill something on the floor. They could mess up a recipe!

The kids, on the other hand, LOVE this experience. They go into the kitchen with their creative thinking caps on, happily embracing their freedom. They’re approaching the experience as another opportunity to learn and discover—to make mistakes and experiment. For kids, cooking a big meal in a kitchen is often fresh and new. They typically approach it with bravery, interest, and enthusiasm.

It’s always fun and rather satisfying to see the parents’ amazement when their children proudly present them with the food—an entire meal they’ve prepared on their own. They’ve planned and tested. They’ve made discoveries. Yes, there are always a few mistakes along the way, but each one is part of the experience.


Kids thrive on new opportunities. They are natural transformers because transformation is synonymous with growth. Kids are in a constant state of transformation.


As adults, we can embrace this same approach and continue to thrive in a transformative state. We can choose to continue to grow, learn, and evolve. We can allow ourselves to make a mess and try new things. Yet, we often shy away from tasks we aren’t good at. We avoid making mistakes because we fear them.

Mistakes are such an essential part of the growth and transformation process. As adults, we have to rediscover our inner transformer—that curious kid inside—and this often involves being more willing to engage with others, make mistakes, and even feel hurt.

 

Transformers are not just willing to make mistakes and displease others; they also celebrate the learning mistakes engender. If this strikes you as counterintuitive—if it seems like these actions will distance you from what you yearn for—understand that taking risks and failing is the best way to learn. And, in order to please yourself, you may have to displease other people. Your boss may not like it if you disagree with him, but to do the work in a way that has impact, you may have no other choice. Obviously, you don’t want to turn yourself into a mistake-making, displeasing machine; this is a path toward failure and misanthropy. Fortunately, making a few key mistakes and taking a few stances that run counter to others you care about is usually sufficient to jump-start the learning process. 

Prepare for hurt. With engagement, we experience embarrassment and hurt, and out of this comes genuine humility. As you take action in ways that are true to your yearning, you say and do things at times that others don’t appreciate or approve of. Like a child who is acting authentically and follows his urge to tell the teacher what he thinks of an assignment, you too may find yourself being misunderstood, rejected, or reprimanded.

Transformed! The Science of Spectacular Living

So, when we wonder how to help children learn from mistakes, we may want to adjust that thinking to teaching ourselves how to embrace our own mistakes. Most kids know that mistakes are part of the fun of the journey. It’s only later that they learn that they should avoid making them. Adults, on the other hand, shy away from new endeavors. We calculate our approach and measure our response. When our kids are concerned about mistakes, they may even be picking up on their parents’ fear of mistakes—modeling their parents’ behavior. If we want to learn strength, grit, and resilience, we’d be wise to observe our kids.

If we start to approach new situations as opportunities for trial (and error), our world opens up considerably. The world becomes our playground. A place where we can experiment, see what works, see what doesn’t. We can explore our interactions with others. But, best of all, we can learn to play!

To learn more about embracing new experiences and transforming your world, please explore our courses at Wright Now. We offer many courses to help you learn more about your career, relationships, and personal growth. Start living a life of MORE today!

 


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

 

Feeling Emotional? You’re Totally Normal!

How many of us feel mixed emotions about, well, our emotions?

Are you wondering if your feelings are normal? We may hear that feeling emotional is wrong, or embarrassing. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Emotions are important!


 

We may worry when we’re feeling emotional, it’s too much, or we’re somehow out of control. We may feel an array of different emotions and wonder if what we’re feeling “normal.”

How many times have you heard, “Don’t be so emotional!” or “Stop getting all emotional about it!”?

Rather than taking the implication that feeling emotional is a negative thing, we should embrace it as a compliment. You see, emotions are powerful. Expressing our emotions and learning to identify common emotions is vital to our personal fulfillment and growth. The next time someone accuses you of feeling emotional, thank them!

Embrace All Your Emotions!

Fear, hurt, anger, joy, and sadness are all primary emotions inherent to our humanity. These common human emotions help us identify what we’re feeling and what we want. They help us to communicate with others and to become the person we want to become.

When we discuss growth and transformation, we may think of it as a cognitive exercise—something we rationalize into place. It may seem cold and unemotional, but in truth, our thoughts and feelings are deeply intertwined and connected to our personal growth. Our thoughts and emotions influence one another and shape our decisions and actions.

Emotions help motivate us and help us to make choices. When we’re feeling emotional about a decision or a situation, it’s an indication that it’s really important to us. People who have experienced cerebral events like injury or stroke in the areas of the brain affecting emotion are often paralyzed from making decisions. Even something as simple as picking out an outfit for work or deciding between coffee or tea is impossible without the benefit of emotional input.

More importantly than deciding on our clothing and beverages, our common human emotions help guide us toward greater meaning. They help us to understand what we yearn for—what our heart wants to become fulfilled. Our emotions aren’t meant to be just a steady stream of happiness or joy—positive emotions are great, but feeling the full spectrum of emotion is part of growth as well.


As you yearn, engage, and take the other steps in the [growth] process, you must learn to ride–and enjoy—an emotional rollercoaster. This may sound scary, but as some of you know, rollercoaster rides can also be exhilarating. It is all in your perspective. The climb to the top is great, but it’s not possible without the plunge to the bottom.

Transformed! The Science of Spectacular Living


Many of us avoid feelings like fear, anger, and sadness, but these seemingly negative emotions are part of our makeup. They don’t always feel good, it’s true, but they are powerful drivers to help steer us away from danger and toward positive situations. Whether we choose to acknowledge or suppress these harder-to-feel feelings is up to us, but in doing so, we’re also numbing ourselves toward feeling the full spectrum of joy and happiness.

We may also find that some of our emotions are harder to identify. They might not fit into the category of those primary emotions, but they can still feel very strong. When we examine them closely, we may find that we’re experiencing secondary emotions—like guilt—which stems from a combination of the primary emotions of fear, hurt, and anger.

One of the points we repeatedly reiterate with our students is there are no “bad” emotions. Even if we aren’t comfortable experiencing certain emotions like anger, they’re still there in our unconscious mind, playing an important role. The more we deny our emotions or tamp them down, the more we reinforce limiting beliefs about ourselves and the world around us.

Our emotions clue us into the important stuff. When we feel anger, it’s an indicator there’s a situation that really matters to us. We’re feeling something very important and even passionate. On the same note, if we’re feeling sad or blue, it may stem from hurt or even anger we’re holding back. It can be helpful to really let ourselves feel those feelings—cry, yell, or whatever seems natural to us. One thing’s for sure, feelings and emotions are powerful even if we attempt to ignore them.

Let it Out: Feeling Emotional is Always Okay

We may have grown up thinking certain emotions weren’t okay. For example, maybe it was unladylike to feel angry or express anger. Perhaps we heard boys don’t cry or “man up and be brave.” Or maybe we grew up feeling like it was important to project an air of positivity all the time—that it wasn’t okay to feel hurt, sad, or frustrated about something. So we learn to ignore our emotions or hide them away.


What happens when we ignore our emotions or avoid feeling emotional, telling ourselves it’s invalid? We end up becoming disengaged.


We may zone ourselves out with timewasters (or what we call soft addictions); think of that Netflix binge, the bowl of ice cream, or the Amazon order we turn to at the end of a bad day. Soft addictions can even present as healthy behaviors—throwing ourselves into our work to avoid emotions or choosing to go to the gym because we don’t want to deal with feeling angry or emotional. While working or getting exercise are quite positive activities, they become soft addictions when we’re using them to avoid feeling emotional.

Even if we put our emotions aside or look for a temporary salve to soothe our feelings, they will rise to the surface again.

On the other hand, if we express our emotions freely and openly, we also open ourselves up to more experiences, connections, and growth. We become more present, more engaged, and more aware of each moment we experience.

Your feelings will spur the action of engaging…When you are more in the here and now, expressing what you feel, you often blurt out truths you weren’t consciously aware of until they come out of your mouth. Your feelings will guide you in breaking free from the bonds of what constrains you in liberating and guide you toward what you desire. It’s liberating to be spontaneous, expressing how you feel, and flowing with your emotional truth. Moments of intense feelings are some of the most potent elements…where we can re-encode beliefs, experiences, and memories with compassion, acceptance, and new interpretations. Recognizing and harnessing the passion of dedicating helps you carry on in the face of the world’s challenges and your own inner barriers. It yields a new you.

At the same time, when powerful emotions overcome you, you’ll need the skills to interpret and express them effectively. These skills may include comforting yourself, using anger to get rid of pain, or engaging in a whole host of other responses such as allowing the full process of loss in sadness and risking to reach out and share with others in joy. You’ll also need to develop the skills of comforting yourself since you will be hurt more as you transform. We all need to seek comfort and allies for the unpredictable emotional changes of transformation—not the surface solace of soft addictions like mindless gossiping or over-indulging in “comfort foods,” but the deeper succor of self-soothing.

–Transformed! The Science of Spectacular Living

We may think there is power in being emotionless. In fact, years ago, keeping a “stiff upper lip” and learning to be logical and unemotional was highly valued. Yet, the truth is, emotions give us true power and skill. Not only do emotions enrich our personal relationships, friendships, and connections, but emotional intelligence is now recognized as important in the business world as well. Emotions help us empathize, communicate, and even lead others.

The root of the word emotion is shared with the root for motivation. Literally, emotions spur us on to action and encourage us to move toward what we want. As humans, our emotional breadth has evolved to keep us moving forward and allow us to tap into the resources we require when facing new situations. Emotions help us anticipate what we need and take action. Our emotions help us move toward pleasure and away from pain. Hurt, fear, anger—all of these emotions help keep us safe and protected. They let us know a situation is uncomfortable, frightening, or not in line with our personal values.

Label and Feel Your Emotions

Our students at the Wright Graduate University learn the power of labeling and acknowledging their emotions as they experience them. Since so many of us are taught to ignore or tamp down our feelings, simply learning how to identify them, label them, and experience them is a huge step forward.


We encourage our students to even call out their emotions, for example, “fear,” as they experience it. It’s often quite eye-opening for many of them to realize the vast spectrum of emotions they feel in a day and even in an hour.


Once we start identifying our emotions, they become less frightening or worrisome. When someone hurts our feelings with an offhanded comment, we can acknowledge we feel pain and hurt. Following it further, we may realize the comment indicates we are feeling disrespected. If one of our yearnings is to be respected (a universal yearning most people share), it’s perfectly natural that a comment would cause us to feel hurt. Our yearning—our deep want or need–isn’t being met.

Similarly, we may realize that when a friend doesn’t include us, we feel hurt but also fear. Why? Because we’re left out. We yearn to be included, to be loved, to belong…being left behind results in a fear and hurt response.

We must realize that emotions are okay, and we may experience many of them over a day! Because we feel hurt or fear in a moment doesn’t mean we will feel this way permanently. It also doesn’t mean we’re weak or we’ve let down our guard. The truth is, we all feel the same primary emotions, even if we choose to ignore them or fail to express them. It doesn’t make them go away. “Feeling emotional” is positive—it means that we fully realize the beautiful array of human emotions that we’re all capable of. Becoming aware of our range of feelings is crucial to developing a stronger emotional intelligence.

Experiencing our emotions fully and expressing them is an essential part of growth. As we acknowledge all our feelings and emotions, we open ourselves up to greater experience. We are more present. We feel empowered, strong, and assertive.

The next time you’re told you’re too emotional or you feel too much, say thank you! Take it as a compliment. Feeling our emotions is a powerful step on the road to personal transformation and fulfillment.

If you’re looking for other ways to increase your emotional intelligence, don’t miss our personal growth courses at Wright Now. We offer an array of resources and classes to help you get ahead in your career, strengthen your relationship and live 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.

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.

 

Express Your Likes
to Get MORE

Are you pressing the “like” button in real life? Do you know how to express your likes? What are your likes anyway?

Express yourself and your likes and see how you can get more out of life.


When we hear “likes,” many of us think of social media. We’re always “liking” and “sharing” on Facebook and Instagram, right? Chances are if you’ve spent any time on social media today, you’ve expressed a few likes already. But are those “likes” really giving you the same satisfaction as telling someone what you like in real life?  What about receiving likes in return? Yes, we may get a quick thrill when we see that a friend liked our photo or commented on our post, but that boost is fleeting. We see it, and it’s quickly forgotten.

Suppose you’re looking for a deeper satisfaction than a “thumbs up” on Facebook. In that case, it may be time to explore how expressing, sharing, and receiving likes from your social circle can lead to greater connections and engagement. It’s time to boost your “like” life!

Why Don’t You Express Your Likes?

So we all express likes on social media, but when we like something in real life, we might not say anything at all. We could get even more of a mental and emotional boost from real-life likes, but they go unexpressed.

Many times, when we like something our friend, coworker or partner says or does, we hold back or let it go. Sometimes we even hold back from expressing simple likes—a movie we enjoyed, a song we like, an activity we enjoy. Why is that? It seems counter-intuitive, right?

There are several reasons we might not speak up about our likes (and dislikes). We may think it’s unimportant or unnecessary to speak up. Or we may fear the vulnerability that can come from expressing the truth. We know that when we express our likes, we’re opening ourselves up. We’re sharing something that touched us, spoke to our emotions, or struck our fancy. Stating that truth opens us up to another person coming along and saying, “What’s wrong with you. That’s stupid!”


In reality, if we enjoy something, then someone else’s feelings about it shouldn’t change our opinion. Liking is an emotional response that comes from within. There are no “bad” emotions. If someone doesn’t share our sentiment, it doesn’t make our feelings any less valid.


Sometimes, we may hold back from expressing our likes because we forget to appreciate the moment. We get busy, and mindfulness goes out the window. We zone out and become less conscious of what is happening around us. We forget about the power that comes from affirming and liking others. We overlook the positivity expressing likes can bring into our lives. We naturally move towards pleasure and away from pain—the more we intend and express our likes, the more pleasant experiences and things we’ll draw to us.

Sometimes we aren’t sure what we like, but we often know what we dislike. It’s also worth noting that sometimes “dislikes” can come from fear. When someone proclaims their dislike of an activity, it may be stemming from insecurity and uncertainty. We think we don’t like it, because we can’t do it well—the activity is uncomfortable or unfamiliar. It forces us out of our comfort zone.  We think to ourselves, “I don’t like this.”

To the same end, we should be careful about quickly judging what we don’t like. Often, those judgments reflect activities or behaviors that aren’t yet familiar to us, that we really don’t have experience with, or that are new and strange to us. To know what we like, we need to experiment even more to see how things truly affect us, rather than deciding ahead of time. Perhaps if we experimented, we might be surprised to find we actually like it!

Get More Likes by Giving More Likes

If you want to get more likes in your life, it’s simple. You need to put forth more likes first. When talking about likes, think of positive affirmations, compliments, pats on the back, and “way to go” cheers. When we compliment someone and share positive feedback, we’re creating a connection. We’re creating a ripple effect of positivity. We’re building a rapport.

The easiest way to start a conversation with a stranger? Compliment them! Now don’t just make it up, of course. Look at them, listen to them—be present and ENGAGE with them. When this happens, we’re seeing them for who they really are, and we will often notice real things we like about them. Speak up and even more positive aspects will come to light. Authentic compliments are powerful stuff.

When a person receives positive feedback or a “like” in real life, they instantly feel drawn to the person who gave it to them. They feel more positively toward the feedback-giver. Suppose you want someone to like you, then like them first–this is called reciprocal liking, and sociologists have found that this technique works in building friendships, relationships, and work partnerships. When we like someone, they often will naturally like us back.

Meaningful likes are even better for building that connection. Think about how great we feel when a coworker tells us that we did a great job in a meeting, or they were impressed by the way we handled a situation. Yes, it’s nice to get a compliment on our hair, shoes, or choice of outfit, but it’s even more fulfilling when another person notices us for our actions and positive attributes.


When someone recognizes our intent and meets it with positive affirmation, we feel seen and recognized.


Now, many of us may feel strange about giving affirmations to get, right? It’s not really a compliment if the intention is only to receive one back. But when we’re present, engaged, and in the moment, a genuine compliment comes naturally. We’re connecting with another person, and they will see us in the light for who we truly are. We’re putting forth positivity and will receive positivity in return.

Not only does affirming, liking, and giving out positivity bring positivity back to us, but it also simply makes us feel good. When we express likes for someone or something, we feel a surge of affirmation.

As we grow and seek a life of more fulfillment, we may find ourselves liking even more. The more satisfaction we have in our lives, the more we bring to us. We call this FLOW. The more fulfilled we are, the more we radiate and bring in even more positivity.  You will radiate and attract more of whatever it is you want—that’s the real law of attraction.

How Liking Speaks to Our Deeper Yearning

When we tell a coworker or friend we like what they are doing, they’re more likely to do it again. Our desire, expressed through our agreement, has encouraged them to continue their behavior or way of being. On many levels, our likes create momentum in the direction we desire.

Genuine liking reflects our deepest yearning—what nourishes and fulfills us. When we like, we’re expressing our yearning to be seen, to be heard, to be affirmed.


Our words have power because we’re declaring a position and making a commitment. A “like”—something we like or are agreeable to—suggests we have a desire, a passion. We feel attracted to or take pleasure in someone’s actions, and our “like” impacts that person.


Our agreements also hold great power. When we agree, it suggests harmony of opinion, action, or character. We strengthen the position of or increase the value of whatever we agree with. Conversely, studies have shown that when we disagree with others, they tune us out (and strengthen their own opinion).  We often influence an outcome by merely aligning to it or finding parts of it that we can align to.

Our agreement not only promotes a statement or concept but also reflects a position or a stand we’re taking. And agreements don’t always need to be spoken. Our silent agreement is just as powerful (sometimes more powerful) than our spoken words.

Discover the power of liking and agreeing. Experiment and develop more clearly defined preferences by expressing likes and agreeing in business meetings and with family. We can let people know our likes and agreements. Show people what we like and what we agree with by language like, “I really like…” and “I agree with…” Lead with the positive to build rapport throughout the interaction.

As we build up our “like” muscle, we’ll learn to better express preferences with employees, coworkers, family, and friends. We should like and agree with things that are good for us, serve us, empower us, and fulfill us. By doing so, we’ll reinforce movement, activities, people, and directions. We’ll get MORE of what we want in our life by learning to “like” in real life.

If you’re ready to receive more positivity and boost your “like life,” start expressing your likes today! Explore our personal development courses to help you get more of what you want out of life. We have an array of informative courses available for streaming on Wright Now. Start getting the life you want today!


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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.

How to Recover After
a Rough Day 

We’ve all had “one of those days.”

Not every day can be our best. Work stress, family problems, and a hectic lifestyle may leave you wondering how to recover after a long day.

 


Lately, many of us feel especially bombarded by bad news, stressful interactions, and the weight of the disruption of our norms. It may seem those rough days are more frequent over the last few months.

After a rough day, it may feel like the whole world is against us. We may feel angry, sad, and irritable. We may feel like crying. Many of us try to fight the bad day blues by choosing to zonk out on the couch with a movie or going to our phones for shopping or social media. Maybe we eat a pint of ice cream. In most cases, these actions only end up making us feel worse.

So what should we do instead if we’re trying to feel better? What’s the key to help us learn how to recover after a rough day? Is there a quick fix, or does it take time to recover from a bad day?

What is Going On Beneath Our Bad Day?

One commonly searched phrase right now is “shitty day.” It seems that many people are having a tough time, and with the current unrest, there are times when the world feels stifling and overwhelming.

But even in the times before COVID-19 disrupted our lives, we all experienced bad days. Everyone has had a rough day when nothing seemed to go right for us. When we were kids, we may have heard someone say we “woke up on the wrong side of the bed.” Some days feel off.

So if we’re having a rough day, the first thing we should ask ourselves is, “What’s going on?” Look at the day. What about the day is “shitty”? Are we frustrated or overwhelmed? Did one interaction or situation set us off? Are we tired? Hungry? What is causing the day to feel so crummy?


Each day has a series of moments. There are 1,440 minutes in a day. So we can break it down with a little perspective. Were there a few minutes that ruined the other 1,435 minutes? Can we still salvage the rest before we write off the day?


That’s said with a tongue-in-cheek. Of course, there are days when genuinely terrible things happen to us. We lose our job, a family member is sick, we get in an accident, or our pet dies. Those days are awful. We can’t (and shouldn’t) dismiss our sadness, hurt, anger, or fear that arises during a tragedy.

But most rough days are quickly recoverable. We may have heard people say, “Remember, you’ve survived 100% of your bad days before.” It can help us to get some perspective. Many days are rough, depending on how we deal with tough situations. Once we define what was truly challenging about the day, we can start to break out of our potentially negative line of thinking.

When we think everything sucks, everything will suck. Once we get pessimistic, we go down a rabbit hole. Suddenly the whole day and every situation feel insurmountable. On the other hand, if we pinpoint what happened in the day that was bad, we can look at other aspects of the day as well. Was there anything good in there that we can tease out?

“Well, my boss got frustrated with my mistake and chewed me out. BUT I did figure out a way to fix the problem after, and I’ve learned from the mistake. I finished with work, and there was a huge pile of laundry, but I managed to tackle it. I reached out to a friend, vented, and now I feel better.”

Look at precisely what made the day rough and see if there were at least a few redeemable moments.

Identify Your Real Feelings

One way we can recover from a rough day is to identify our underlying feelings. We often tell students that we can “name it to tame it.” When we name our emotions, they often feel less confusing and overwhelming.

We can take an example from young kids. When they have a terrible moment, they almost instantly feel a range of emotions—they might get angry, cry, or feel upset. But then they get it out and feel better. It’s the emotions we don’t let out and express that eat us up and make us feel crappy.

We can start by asking ourselves, “What happened, and how do I feel about it?” Look at where the feeling is in our bodies. Is it in our chest? Are we feeling it in our stomachs? Does our jaw feel tense? Are our fists balled up? Looking at our physical reaction can help us pinpoint exactly what it is we’re experiencing.


Whatever emotion we’re experiencing—fear, hurt, sadness, anger, or even joy (not as likely on a rough day)—we can remind ourselves that it’s valid and okay. Our feelings are never wrong or bad. We’re allowed to feel however we feel.


We can also look at what we really wanted from the situation. Each of us has deep longings, or as we call them, “yearnings.” Our yearnings drive us. These are significant universal desires. We may yearn to be loved. We may yearn to be respected. Maybe we yearn for security.

Often when our yearnings are denied, we feel emotional. We may feel angry because we didn’t fill our yearning for respect. We may feel fear because our partner is upset with us, and we yearn to feel affirmed. Our yearnings are extremely powerful, and we’re driven to get them met. When our yearnings are overlooked or thwarted, we often feel hurt, frightened, and even angry.

Reframe your experience to identify the underlying yearning. What are we really yearning for right now? We can ask ourselves, what would make me feel optimistic about this situation? Are there other ways I could look at this?

Everyone has bad days, but we all have the power to talk to ourselves about the day differently. When we think we’re the victims of circumstance, or we have no power, that’s when we may despair. We look at the day and feel helpless, hopeless, and out of control, but we really have much more control than we may realize.

What Can We Do Differently?

As we reframe our bad day, look at what we can do. Is there something we can do differently? Is there a new way of looking at the situation?

A fight with a friend becomes an opportunity to express our feelings and work out frustrations. A critique from our boss becomes a chance to learn a different approach, grow in our career, or learn to stand up for ourselves.


What we shouldn’t do after a bad day is to engage in a “pity party.” We’ve all had those moments where we feed into our sadness and melodrama. We sit on the couch, listen to sad music, and scroll through our ex’s profile on social media. Or we tell ourselves that we’re powerless and there’s nothing we can do.


The best way to deal with a bad day is to identify what was terrible and see what we can do differently. In every situation, we can learn something. We always have the opportunity to rebound. Even when we’re in a negative space, and it’s hard to see the lesson, we can examine our reaction. How could we be dealing with this situation differently? What do we need to get through? Do we need more emotional support, and can we reach out? Do we need more training or certain skills? How can we take steps now to change the situation?

Find New Coping Strategies

Right now, bad days feel worse because we don’t have our usual coping strategies in place. We can’t go out with friends after work to blow off steam. In some cases, we can’t even go to the gym, the library, a coffee shop, or any other places that help us connect with others.

But if we want to boost our mood and feel better about a rough day, we should keep and foster the connections available to us. That means, attend that Zoom party or take the virtual class we’ve been considering. Call a friend and connect with voices rather than texts.

When the opportunities arise to get some face time with others, whether it’s a brief, distanced interaction or a virtual meeting, make the most of it! We can really challenge ourselves to engage, share, and connect. Make eye contact, ask meaningful questions, push the moments to get a little more out of the situation.

Similarly, when we have a joyous moment, really soak it in! Jot down those compliments and save the nice emails and texts we get from family, coworkers, and friends. We can take a few moments after a great phone call with a friend to really savor the experience.

We’ll also find comfort if we practice self-compassion. Use positive self-talk to remind ourselves we’ve got this. We can address ourselves by name and reassure ourselves just as we would with a good friend.

One helpful tip is to write down insights and tactics we find nourishing or helpful. Jot down ways we adapt our typical coping mechanisms to fit the new situation. As the list builds, we have a go-to resource of things we can do to recover after a rough day.

Remember, we are all strong and resilient. We will make it through these challenging times to emerge stronger and even more capable than before. Even if today is rough, we can use it as an opportunity to hit the “reset” button and move forward with hope.

For more ways to connect with your true feelings and live a fully realized life, visit Wright Now. We offer an array of courses geared to help you learn more about yourself, your career, and your relationships. So don’t miss out on the life you want. Get it now!

Dealing with Decision Fatigue and Brain Fog During the Pandemic

Do you feel like your brain has “checked out”?

 

Are you experiencing brain fog lately? Decision fatigue and fuzziness are common during stressful times; here's why.


“I can’t think!”

“I feel like I’m in a brain fog.”

“I just can’t make any decisions—everything feels overwhelming right now.”

Have you caught yourself saying any of these statements lately? You’re not alone! During the last few months, we’ve all been dealing with many changes, stress, and confusion. Our brains are in overdrive, and many of us are starting to feel like we’re losing our minds.

Maybe our performance at work has declined. Perhaps we’re finding it tough to focus or challenging to stay on task. When we’re experiencing brain fog and decision fatigue, almost any job can feel overwhelming and hard to tackle. If you feel like your performance has been off track, here’s why it’s happening and what you can do about it!

Why Brain Fog Happens

Brain fog, confusion, discombobulation…call it what you will, but it’s essentially when our brains go offline. We can’t think. We may find ourselves forgetting what we were doing, losing focus, or getting easily distracted.

It seems many friends and colleagues lately are all experiencing a similar “mental block.” There have also been several recent articles highlighting what experts call decision fatigue. This common phenomenon is especially prevalent in times of stress (like we are all experiencing right now). It seems that brain fog has become an unforeseen side effect of the COVID-19 pandemic, even if you don’t contract the virus.

So why does this frustrating phenomenon happen? Why do our brains feel so dull and addled lately?


We’re faced with new situations on a nearly daily basis—is it safe to go to a family reunion? How will I juggle virtual school? Should I focus on contacting new leads at work or keeping up with my existing clients struggling to pay?


Our decision-making takes place in the area of the brain called the pre-frontal cortex. We may have heard that this area is responsible for “higher-level thinking” or executive functioning. In that part of our brains, we’re weighing out the risks, trying to predict what will happen as we move forward, based on experience. Our brain is a predictive organ—it feels comfortable putting situations in context and applying a similar response, expecting a similar outcome.

But we’re faced with a completely new situation. None of us have lived through a global pandemic like this before. It’s an unprecedented time, and it’s fraught with ambiguity and uncertainty. Not only does this mean we’re on guard, engaging the more primitive part of our brain that turns on our fight or flight response—the limbic system—but we’re also taking a lot of our mental and physical energy to process all of this brain function.

On top of our brains running in “overdrive mode” and throwing us into decision fatigue, we can’t implement our regular coping mechanisms. It seems there’s no escape to the usual activities that nourish us and help us bounce back from tough times.

In pre-COVID-19 life, we dealt with stressful situations by visiting a friend, grabbing coffee with a coworker, or visiting a parent. We also went to movies, attended concerts, and enjoyed theater productions. We enjoyed sports and spent time at the beach. Many of these activities aren’t possible at all or are significantly modified in this new normal. The disruption of our norms further compounds our confusion and stress.

So how do we manage? How do we cope with this brain fog and decision fatigue?

Give Self-Compassion

One of the most important things we can offer ourselves right now is self-compassion. For each of us, no matter our situation or circumstance, self-compassion is more crucial than ever to our wellbeing.

Now, self-compassion doesn’t necessarily mean a spa day, which might not be feasible at the moment. It doesn’t mean taking a vacation or eating a pint of ice cream in our PJs. We can practice self-compassion throughout our day in almost every situation. We can speak kindly to ourselves and give ourselves a break rather than beating ourselves up for mistakes.

Understanding that brain fog and decision fatigue is a natural, normal phenomenon we’re all experiencing right now may give us pause when we think, “I’m such an idiot!” Would we ever speak to our friends that way if they forgot an appointment or missed the mark? Of course not! Realizing we’re sharing a common disaster can help us have a little more compassion for ourselves. Recognize that what’s going on isn’t something “wrong with us.” This is part of dealing with the stress of the pandemic and current events.

We can speak to ourselves like a friend and even pause to give ourselves comfort. Put our hand over our hearts, and address ourselves by name, saying, “Everything is going to be okay. You are processing a lot of difficult thoughts right now, and you’re doing the best you can.” Touching our hearts or giving ourselves a brief scalp massage can help us soothe ourselves and raise those critical levels of oxytocin—the brain’s feel-good chemical. Soothing activities stimulate our vagus nerve, which calms us.

Practice Mindfulness

Another way to cope with brain fog is to avoid rumination. That means, stop the “doomsday scrolling,” where we focus on the news constantly and follow each distraction. Instead, come back to the present as much as possible.

Because things are uncertain, decision fatigue is prevalent. We only have so many resources in our frontal lobe to make decisions. We get tired and quickly use up our energy. So, our brain activity wanders off to where we don’t need to be super “conscious” of our activities.

Think of it this way—if we took a very challenging math test, we would have to focus on the test. After the test, if we were offered an apple or a piece of chocolate cake, we would be much more likely to choose the cake. Why? Because it required all our willpower to focus on the math test, and we’re left without the energy to make good choices. Then, because we have a sugar crash, we get even foggier. When we aren’t making clear, good choices, we need to “reboot” our brains.


If we recognize we need to reboot, we can engage in activities to bring us present to the current moment.


Take a deep breath. Touch our face with our hands. Put a hand on our heart, a hand on our tummy. When we do this, it brings us back to the present moment and stimulates our parasympathetic nerve system, bringing us a sense of calm and peace.

We can also practice mindfulness by grounding ourselves. Feel the floor beneath our feet. Identify what we can smell, what we can feel, see, hear, and even taste. Some find it useful to identify two or three of each sensory trigger. This helps us come back to the room and realize that we are okay at the present moment.

Honor Emotions

In our classes at the Wright Foundation, we often discuss the importance of our emotions. We’re fond of the saying, “Name it to tame it.” When we’re unsure what we’re feeling or feeling out-of-control, acknowledging our emotions can help us process them and really feel them.

Many of us may find ourselves avoiding our emotions right now. We’re trying to stay strong for our kids. We’re trying to brush off our irritation with our spouse. We may find ourselves feeling sad about parents we can’t see, family members who are ill, or friends who are suffering.

It’s okay to feel a wide range of emotions right now. Every emotion is essential, from fear to sadness, hurt to anger. We may even feel joy. Perhaps we enjoy staying home and spending more time with our spouse, but we feel a little guilty when everyone else is suffering. There’s no wrong or right way to feel right now. We don’t need to feel bad if our job is continuing to thrive, our kids love online school, or we’re soaking up the extra time with our partner.

Acknowledging our emotions, good, bad, and in-between, is essential. If we aren’t sure what we’re feeling, our body can offer clues. Tension may appear as a heaviness in the chest or shortness of breath—meaning maybe you feel anger, sadness, or fear. We may find that our jaw hurts, our limbs feel tired, or we have a headache. Ask about the root cause. Is there an emotional component?

Go ahead and feel emotions fully. Cry! Laugh! Yell! This is a new situation for all of us, and there’s no wrong or right way to feel about it.

Engage in Nourishing Activities

To combat brain fog, we need nourishment. We should get plenty of rest, eat healthy, nourishing foods, and find time to get outdoors. A simple walk or bike ride in the park can help us feel renewed and refocused. It’s all about finding activities that elevate us and help us reconnect with ourselves.

Some of us may find that listening to an uplifting or relaxing piece of music, reading a great book, journaling, or drawing can help us feel refreshed and renewed. Learning gives us a sense of purpose, so consider taking a course online or participating in a webinar. Our foundation is offering access to an array of courses and webinars right now online. Explore the options because so many of them are crucial to meet this moment.

When we take time for nourishment and self-compassion, we bring our thoughts back online and feel refreshed. Rather than engaging in timewasters like online shopping, Netflix binging, or reading the comment section on social media, find activities that bring joy and a sense of purpose.

It’s also important to remember that even if we’re socially distanced, we can still find ways to connect with our loved ones. Reach out to friends and family online or pick up the phone for a call. Many of us are struggling during this time, and it’s those critical social connections that can help us break through the brain fog and foster a sense of wellbeing.

Most importantly, don’t be too self-critical over a “foggy brain.” We’re all experiencing this commonality because this past year has been a new experience for each of us. There’s no wrong or right way to deal with such extraordinary circumstances. Continue to practice self-compassion and kindness. It may take some time before we adjust to this new normal, and that’s perfectly okay.

If you’re working through feelings of brain fog right now, reach out. We have many resources and events that can help you connect with others and feel less alone. We’re all in this time together, and we’re here to help each other make it, though, not only to survive but to thrive.

 

Dealing with a Sense of Ambiguity During Coronavirus

Rather than trying to mitigate the discomfort of unknowing, what if we focus on the areas of our life we can control? 


Many of us struggle with ambiguity. It’s human nature to yearn for security and safety, but when faced with uncertain circumstances, we feel anything but secure.

During the past several months, one certainty prevails: we’re not really sure about what tomorrow will bring. In January, could any of us have predicted that we’d be working from home in two months? Or that social distancing would become the norm? Did we ever suspect we’d know so much about Coronavirus?

When the news is deeply concerning and we’re receiving mixed messages from all sides, it can be confusing and disorienting. It may leave us with the sense that we’re untethered and don’t have control over our lives.

The Good News: We’re Never Powerless

If we feel powerless or out-of-control, the good news is we’re never truly powerless. We always have the ability to do work and to have an influence on others. We might face new circumstances and unfamiliar situations, but we still have power over how we choose to react.

When we were children, most of us hated when mom or dad would answer a request with, “We’ll see.” Sometimes, the idea of “we’ll see” feels worse than a flat-out no. Most of us probably pushed the point at least a few times to force a negative answer rather than waiting in limbo.

Even as adults, the idea of “wait and see” is tough. We’ve become accustomed to instant answers. If we don’t know something, we can simply Google it and find the information. We don’t have to wait weeks for purchases when we shop online because we have Amazon Prime. We don’t need to wait a week for the next show in a series because we can simply stream it on Netflix. All of this instant gratification is the antidote to “wait and see.”


We all prefer concrete answers and knowing rather than wondering. Speculation and guessing leave us feeling unnerved and discombobulated.


The discomfort of ambiguity comes from our longing to predict and reach conclusions. Humans are acutely aware of their circumstances. We imagine and anticipate constantly. We play out entire scenarios before they happen (sometimes resulting in our own self-fulfilling prophecies coming true).

We tell ourselves people at work aren’t going to listen to us, so we walk into a meeting with our defenses up in full force. We imagine that a new connection won’t want to go on a date, so we don’t ask or we approach the question sheepishly. When it doesn’t happen, we think our prophecy came true, proving how right we were about our mistaken beliefs.

Prediction isn’t always helpful, but it gives us a sense of control over our circumstances. Our brains are predictive organs. We’re assessing new situations and assuming what will happen next.

But right now, we’re in very unpredictable times. We’ve never been in a global pandemic

So, how do we deal before? Much of the information headed our way is new and hard to interpret. We don’t have any idea what tomorrow will bring. Experts can’t even predict how the outbreak will resolve or turn out.

Neuroscience tells us our brains make up predictions to deal with unfamiliar situations. We’re seeking answers because they give us a sense of security and control, but unfortunately, right now, there are no clear answers to be had.

Embrace the Discomfort

When we can’t predict the next scenario, it’s uncomfortable. When we don’t know what tomorrow will bring, it’s unsettling.

We must recognize that just because we’re uncomfortable, it doesn’t mean something is wrong. It might be upsetting, but we shouldn’t allow ourselves to become paralyzed by uncertainty.

So when we think, “I don’t know what’s happening.” Remind ourselves that it’s okay. No matter what comes our way, we can handle it. Set your intention to get through and not just survive but to thrive. We’ve handled every moment in our lives up to this point, and we will continue to move forward.

With our students at Wright Graduate University, we talk about the concept of self-efficacy.


Self-efficacy is the belief that we can handle whatever life throws our way. We will figure something out. Even if it’s frightening or we feel scared, we will do it.


It’s not about erasing our feelings or beating ourselves up for feeling scared or uncertain. Fear is a perfectly normal, healthy emotion that we all experience. There’s nothing wrong with our fear, but we should remind ourselves that we don’t need to let the fear of the unknown prevent us from going forward.

There’s no reason to crumble in the face of fear. Allow yourself to feel it, acknowledge it (as we like to say, “name it to tame it”), and then continue. Yes, we may feel scared, but we can keep going.

Focus on the Unambiguous Areas

Unless we’re directly involved in frontline work, there’s likely not much we can do about the Coronavirus outbreak. Rather than focusing on questions about when we’ll get a vaccine or worries about the numbers and spread of the virus, we can focus on the areas of our lives we can control.

For example, if your job situation feels uncertain, focus on the ways you can build your resume right now. There are plenty of classes you could take (explore Wright Now for some courses to help you make the next step on your career path). You can reach out to friends and professional connections. Ask a friend to do a mock interview over Zoom and give you pointers.

Similarly, if you’re feeling disconnected socially, consider the ways you can still connect with others. Send a friend a letter or card. Start a group where you share what you’re reading, watching, or listening to right now. Participate in a Podcast exchange and discussion. Hold a virtual dinner party or happy hour over Facetime.

If you’re unsure about getting outside and staying safe, consider spending time in your yard or your balcony. Take a nature walk in a peaceful area or go for a drive.

Whatever we decide to do right now may require a safe, cautious approach. Rather than focusing on the unknowns and restrictions, focus on the actions we can still take. There’s no risk in dancing, listening to music, gardening in the yard, or learning something new. We are never powerless.

Revisit Times of Strength

When we’re struggling to find our sense of self-efficacy, it may be helpful to review all the times we’ve faced challenges in the past and made it through. We may perceive our scars and traumas as painful wounds, but we can also examine them as powerful lessons.


Our experiences help us become more empathetic. We can relate to others who may also be struggling. How beautiful is it that from painful experiences, we can grow and become examples of resilience? Even in challenges, we can discover meaning and value.


When we feel like the headlines on the news and the comments are social media are too much to bear, we can find ways to distance ourselves. Stay informed, but don’t bombard yourself with all the stress and terror that you can’t control. Instead, focus on the lessons you can extract.

We can work to become more comfortable with not knowing. We can’t predict the future because we don’t know what’s to come. That’s true any time, not just during a virus outbreak. The unknown doesn’t mean something’s wrong. It means we have to focus on drawing our security from our sense of being rather than our sense of knowing.

In many ways, the gift of Coronavirus has been a chance to step back, to “fast” from our regular lives and activities. Many of us have longed to pause, but never felt like circumstances were right. Now we’re able to take a break and just “be.”

As we move forward, we’ll look at rebuilding. We’ll sort through what really matters and emerge with newfound priorities and purpose. We’ll design our lives so we don’t just go back to what we were doing before—so we can emerge as something even better.

Dealing with the ambiguity of Coronavirus may seem like a lot to process right now, but we can realize that life is often ambiguous. Instead of focusing on the areas we can’t predict or control, let’s focus on how to become the best version of ourselves.

 

 

Love in the Time of Coronavirus: Staying Connected During Social Distancing

Schools are closing, businesses are on hold, stores are empty, and we’re encouraged to practice “social distancing.” It feels like everything is changing so quickly (sometimes even hour by hour).

During the Coronavirus outbreak, we are told to avoid interactions. How can we stay connected during social distancing?


While social distancing may be good advice for maintaining our physical health and the health of our loved ones, it can make our soul ache. Feeling disconnected from those we care about counters our core yearnings—to be seen, to be connected, to love and to be loved.

So how do we cope? Better yet, how do we find ways to thrive during these troubling times? How can we stay connected when we’re practicing social distancing?

Reaching Out with Our Hearts

When we can’t reach out with our arms, we can still reach out with our hearts. Sometimes our presence and caring can actually be more nurturing and intimate than a physical hug.

Being sensitive and empathic starts with being in touch with our own hearts—when we’re aware of our own feelings, we can more easily connect with what others are feeling. As we let our hearts be softened, vulnerable, and open, we can then care more deeply about others. We can connect more deeply, reaching out heart to heart, whether by phone, video, or social media.


It’s not just engaging with friends and family who are close to us, it’s the incidental encounters that matter, too.


When we don’t stop in the corner coffee shop because it’s closed or we only pick up food curbside, we miss out on those little interactions throughout the day that help us engage and connect.

Those loose social ties may seem minor and even insignificant, but studies show they’re critical to maintaining our mood and positive outlook. In one study, commuters who talked to just one person on the train reported a boost from the interaction that lasted throughout the rest of their day. Despite predicting that a conversation with a stranger wouldn’t make a difference (or would have a negative effect on their mood), it actually had a profoundly positive outcome.

Now, in the days of social distancing, we miss out on these types of moments and opportunities, so it becomes even more important that we really reach out with our hearts.

How to Reach Out from Afar

How do we connect with others when we’re social distancing? We can still find many ways to touch those around us. It might mean setting up Facetime, Zoom, or video conferencing with your coworkers so you can SEE and HEAR them. Ask questions of each other, bring in talking points, and foster deeper, more meaningful engagement.

Send photos back and forth—share what you’re doing. Show your coworkers your new “home office” so you can picture each other in your environments, and get to know each other better.


Let your friends know you are thinking of them and you appreciate them. Find creative ways to connect!


You can still go out to dinner with your friends—virtually! Arrange a time to sit down for dinner and enjoy your meal by video. Have a deeper discussion, share your feelings, solve problems together, and toast each other.

On social media, share inspirational posts, music, and stories that touch your heart. Amidst all the news coverage, we need our spirits uplifted and to remind—and be reminded—of what really matters.

Maintaining our strong social connections may also mean reaching out more often to friends and family, not only on social media but also by calling and chatting. Check-in with those who are worried. People are facing tons of cancellations right now, and it’s affecting many livelihoods. It’s a frightening time and people cope with it in different ways. Open your heart to those people. Keep up your relationship and support them.

Finding Beautiful Moments in the Midst of Crisis

We may have social distance between us, but we can still find plenty of ways to foster human contact. While one village in Italy was on quarantine, neighbors began serenading each other from their balconies. Soon, many people were bringing out their own instruments and clapping along to the songs. In Spain, a fitness instructor offered lessons from his rooftop as people followed along on their porches.

It’s these beautiful moments where we see the best of humanity. We can share our gifts and our hearts, even from afar. You can take extra time throughout your day to cultivate your connections as much and as often as possible. Engage with your heart.

Despite feelings of panic and fear, this is a time we can come together—even from a distance—with love, support, and understanding.


About the Author

Dr. Judith Wright is a media favorite, sought-after inspirational speaker, respected leader, peerless educator, bestselling author, & world-class coach. She is a co-founder of Wright and the Wright Graduate University.


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