How to Have Accountability in Your Relationships

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 


“To know thyself is the beginning of wisdom.”

– Socrates


 

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

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

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

 

Let Your Longings Guide Your Contracts

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

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

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

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

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

Next:

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

THEN:

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

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

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

As well as:

Limits—how far can a fight go?

Boundaries—what are the no-fly zones?

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

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

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

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

 

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

How do you learn to trust your partner?

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

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

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

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

 


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

– Judith’s Grandmother


 

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

 

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

How to Get the Love You Deserve

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


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


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

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

What Kind of Love Do You Want?

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

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

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

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

Following the Rules in Relationships

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


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


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

The Rules of Engagement for Fair Fights

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

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

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

Applying the Rules to Get the Love You Deserve

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

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


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


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

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

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

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


About the Author

Kate Holmquest

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


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

 

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.

Liked this post and want more? Sign up for updates – free!


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.

The Joy of Truth: Express Your Likes and Dislikes to Get More of What You Want in Your Relationships

Do you ever wonder what likes and dislikes you should express in your relationship–or HOW you should express those feelings?


Are you ok? Do you need something to drink? How about a pillow? I want you to be comfortable while you’re reading this!

For most of my life, I’ve been so focused on OTHER people—what do they like? What do they need? I was so focused on what others like, I wasn’t aware of what I liked or needed. Even now, I want you to be comfortable while you’re reading this–and didn’t check in with myself to see that I am comfortable writing this!

But a lifetime of not being in touch with myself and not tending to my own needs eventually started taking a toll. I was feeling empty, unsatisfied, unhappy. I felt alone even when I was with someone–because I wasn’t with me. I wasn’t expressing my true thoughts, needs, or desires.

I went on dates and smiled at the right times and nodded my head at the right times, and said, Oh, that’s so interesting, but inside, it was SO not interesting to me. My real self was utterly bored and gagging.

The absurdity of that when I look back still blows me away. I wanted to be liked and loved for who I was, for someone to know ME, but I wasn’t even there. How could they know me, or know my likes and dislikes in a relationship? I was so focused on their experience, I wasn’t expressing my true thoughts, needs, ideas, opinions, or feelings.

Can you relate? Have you ever done something that felt completely NOT you just to fit in? To not make anyone else uncomfortable? I wanted to find true love, but how could I find that when I wasn’t true to myself?

Why Do We Lie?

Do you know that each of us experiences 200 lies a day? That’s seven lies an hour!

Do you also know that 100% of dating couples lie? 100%! And how about this? We’re more likely to lie to our co-workers than strangers.


Why are we so afraid to say what we like and don’t like? Because we want to look good, we’re afraid to be vulnerable, or we don’t want to make others uncomfortable.


Somewhere in our lives, most of us have been taught consciously or subconsciously that certain parts of ourselves were NOT ok. So, we created false selves–only presenting certain aspects of ourselves to the world around us and hiding the parts we thought were not ok. These false selves were formed by the time we were seven years old, and we continue to build on them throughout our lives.

But imagine how powerful we could be if we let ourselves be vulnerable and honest—if we showed up, and kept showing up, as our authentic selves.

“This above all, to thine own self be true.”
– William Shakespeare

Once we understand that our authentic selves are exactly who we need to be–and ultimately what the world wants and needs us to be–we can realize that we don’t have to hide behind our false selves anymore!

Tell the Truth and Deepen Relationships

My awakening came when I had my first blind date with Bob. I had decided I was going to tell the truth on dates. Finally, I was done smiling and nodding and pretending to like whatever the person sitting across from me was saying.

I was done being fake, and I decided to tell the truth. My likes and dislikes in relationships, what I agreed or disagreed with, to give my dates my true reactions to what they were saying and how they were being.

And dang if he didn’t respond in the same way!

It was kind of shocking at first. But it was also kind of electric. Something real was happening here. This wasn’t about two people trying to impress each other.

This was two people being exactly who they were and discovering exactly who the other person was. We were getting to know each other AS OURSELVES.

And that’s where the sparks are.

I wasn’t trying to please him, and I wasn’t trying to present myself in some false way. And neither was he.

It was scary to go against the grain. To say what I liked and didn’t like. But it was also fresh and alive, intimate, and real. And when that is the truth of the moment we’re living, we’re way more likely to get what we want!

You can apply this in a lot of ways (wink wink).

And this is not only true for romantic relationships, but for our relationships with our families, friends, and co-workers too.

Our Dislikes are as Powerful as Our Likes…

…And letting them both be known is crucial!

Of course, I’m not saying we should just dump all over people. But often in relationships, people expect us to be mind readers. Or we expect them to read our minds. We complain that this person doesn’t know what we want, but we never told them what we want to begin with!


Here’s the deeper truth: the real purpose of relationships is not to make us happy. The real purpose of relationships is to help us learn and grow and become MORE of who we are.


Yes, of course, relationships should have happy moments, but WE are 100% responsible for our happiness and satisfaction—in AND out of relationships.

And we are 100% responsible for our likes and dislikes in our relationships.

Early in our relationship, Bob and I decided we would have a “no secrets” contract. Was it challenging? Yes. Does it continue to be? Yes! There are many times I don’t want to divulge the truth. I don’t always want him to know even how much I’ve spent on a pair of shoes. But because of our commitment to no secrets, I must dig a little deeper and explore why I don’t want him to know. Is it because I don’t think I deserve to spend that money on myself? Is it because I’m afraid he might judge my decision? Am I worried that this purchase might somehow make me less loveable?

Now I’m getting somewhere. One of my deepest yearnings is to be loved. I’m risking that he will stop loving me by telling him this truth. Or at least that’s what my mind is telling me.

But our relationship is built on being real, sharing everything, telling the truth, letting each other know what we’re feeling and thinking. And also, being responsible in our communications­–cleaning things up when we’ve been out of line. We’ve built a foundation of trust that allows me to take that risk.

And if something does happen, I know we’ll handle that. And get to know ourselves and each other better because of it.

Conflict helps us grow. In the book Bob and I co-wrote, The Heart of the Fight, we identify that the common thread of most conflicts is unmet yearnings. Those longings we wish our relationship would satisfy for us. But when we accept that we are 100% responsible for our own happiness, that conflict shifts too.

Can you see how the ripples of being ourselves can so powerfully affect every part of all our relationships?

You Do You

The risk of being ourselves in our relationships is a big one. But it’s worth it.

After practicing it for so many years, I now WANT people to tell me what they like and don’t like. And I rarely (because we are all works in progress) try to fake my way through a conversation or a meeting just to make someone more comfortable. I value forthrightness—in others and myself.


“Love takes off masks that we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within.”
— James Baldwin


We don’t have to be anyone else.  Come on—let’s take off our masks and let our real selves shine! To discover more about living up to your full potential, don’t miss our resources on Wright Now. We have many different courses available to help you discover more about yourself, your relationships, and your career. Get MORE today!


 About the Author

Dr. Judith Wright

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 The Wright Foundation and the Wright Graduate University.


Loving the content and want more? Follow Judith on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest!

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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.

4 Self-Empowerment Tips to Empower Yourself Today!

We all experience moments where we doubt ourselves, beat ourselves up over something we did or said, or hold back from going for what we really want.

Want to tap into your personal power? Follow these 4 crucial self-empowerment tips to help you discover your inner strength.

 

 


We might hear a lot about empowerment these days, but what does it really mean to be empowered?

Inside each of us is a vast reserve of personal power and influence. When we tap into these self-empowerment tips, we can greatly affect our path, attitude, and actions with a shift in our thoughts. Even better? We can influence and empower others in our lives as well.

Are you ready to tap into your reserve of power? Follow these self-empowerment tips to summon the strength and courage to go for what you want!

What Does it Mean to Empower Yourself?

Empowerment has become something of a buzzword of late. Many people talk about empowering themselves or empowering others, but what does it really mean? Power means to do work or have influence. So if we want to empower ourselves, we need to understand how we work and recognize the influence we hold over ourselves and those around us.

We may think we don’t have a big circle of influence, especially if we work from home or in a small office. After all, how do we empower and influence others when we only see a few people each day? Well, believe it or not, each of us has an extensive circle of influence—much broader than we may think.

We directly influence those we interact with each day, creating a ripple effect. This influence works with both positive and negative actions. For example, a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that we’re 61% more likely to be a smoker if a friend smokes. Even more surprising? If a friend of a friend smokes, we’re still 11% more likely to smoke!

Amazingly enough, the same levels of influence hold true for our happiness and satisfaction too. If the friend of a friend OF A FRIEND is happy with their life, we’re 6% more likely to feel happy with our own life. Granted, 6% might not seem like a significant percentage, but if we surround ourselves directly with several happy friends, our chances of satisfaction continue to rise!


When we realize the scope of our influence, we’re likely to discover that we’re far more powerful than we initially thought.


We’ve all heard the theory that we’re separated by 6 degrees—meaning that we’re only six connections away from every person on the planet. Recent research has found that this may be even closer, and most of us average between 3.5-4.5 degrees of separation. With social media and an increasingly global society, this number continues to shrink.

Learning to empower ourselves means tapping into this reserve of personal power and influence—examining our relationship with that power. As we recognize, embrace, and grow in our personal power, we are likely to have even more impact on those in our world. In other words, the more we are ourselves, the more power we manifest into the world and the more influence we have on others. The more we’re guided by what matters to us, the more personal power—self-empowerment—we have.

So how do we tap into our power? When we discover our strengths, preferences, likes, and dislikes, it helps us find the path to self-empowerment. The better we know ourselves, the more attuned we will be to the things that empower us. Many people aren’t sure what they really want out of life. They’ve tried to go with the flow, allowing life to happen TO them rather than creating the life they want to live.

During our Year of More program, our students tackle weekly assignments where they challenge their worldviews. They examine different aspects of their personalities and explore new ways to elicit actions and reactions from those around them. We call the work “the assignment way of living.” Each day in life, we’re choosing to try something new, work on a new project, make a new discovery, and take steps to unearth our potential.

Students often find out that they didn’t know what they wanted before starting the Year of More. They may have believed that they wanted money, a bigger house, an attractive partner, or lots of friends, but those wants weren’t really meeting their underlying yearnings. Our yearnings are bigger, deeper spiritual wants and hungers that we each hold.


We may yearn to be loved, to love, to be needed, to be respected, or to feel safe. We may yearn to be seen by others, to be heard, to be valued. Yearnings are universal longings of the heart. Every person holds certain yearnings that must be met to feel fulfilled.


When we explore our yearnings, it also helps us explore our preferences—what do we like? What do we prefer? Most of us try to read and cater to the wants of the outside world. In the back of our minds, we may wonder, “What do they want me to be? How can I please them? I don’t want to make them upset. I want to fit in. I want to belong.”

These ideas and beliefs guide our behavior. We want to make others comfortable. We don’t want to make them upset. But we’re not asking, “What would please me? What would satisfy me? What are my preferences?” These questions can guide us toward our personal power.

4 Self-Empowerment Tips to Increase Your Personal Power

1. Ask, “What do I like? What do I agree with?”

One assignment we explore during the Year of More is to discover what we like. Each student spends time exploring the question, “What do I like?” It sounds simple, but the discoveries are often profound. They also explore, “what don’t I like? What do I agree with? What don’t I agree with?” and then take on the challenge to voice those feelings.

Most of us haven’t practiced awareness of what we really yearn for, what we care about, and what we need to feel satisfied. When we dive into these questions and start expressing our feelings, we may be surprised at how quickly we actually get what we want.

As we think about these questions, we can dig in deeper by adding “so that” to the end of the want. The “so that” technique helps us drill down beneath the want and uncover the underlying yearning. For example, “I want a promotion so that I earn more money. I want to earn more money so that I can pay my bills. I want to pay my bills so that I feel more secure about my finances….” In this case, the underlying yearning is to feel secure.

Once we identify our yearnings, we can start seeking multiple ways to get them met by asking for them and recognizing opportunities to address our needs. This self-empowerment begins by identifying what we like and don’t like; then, we can better empower ourselves to become the person we want to be.

2. Displease Others

Another tough assignment we tackle in the Year of More is to empower ourselves by learning to displease others willingly. Let me say this is a TOUGH assignment for many students. But as they start to explore the power of “displeasing,” they often realize that it doesn’t mean being a jerk. Letting ourselves displease others often means learning how to set appropriate boundaries and learning to say no.

For example, maybe we’ve received a really difficult work assignment with an unrealistic deadline. Rather than being a Yes Man or Yes Woman and then stressing out about the impending failure, we can find more self-empowerment by speaking up and setting parameters. We can say, “I don’t know if I can complete this project in the given timeframe. I’m willing to work on it, but I will need these resources,” or, “I’ll take this on, but I will need more time to give it my best—can I have until Friday afternoon instead of Wednesday morning?”

It may sound daunting at first, but we can ask ourselves, what’s the worst that could happen in the situation? Our boss could say, “No. It has to get done.” And yes, that’s a real possibility, but isn’t it far more likely that when we express our concerns calmly and realistically, our boss will respect our candor and facilitate our success? This is especially likely if we’ve built a trusting relationship with our boss.

When we learn to negotiate in a way that works best for us, it’s empowering. We can learn to negotiate in a conversation with our spouse—“I’ll pick up the dry cleaning, you pick up the groceries,” or, “I’ll do the dishes, you get the kids ready for school.” By learning to speak up rather than acquiesce, we’re empowered. Our time becomes our own.

3. Seek Satisfaction Over Avoiding Loss

It’s quite human to operate with loss aversion. Most people will go to greater lengths to avoid loss than to make gains. We’re often more afraid of what we’ll lose by taking a risk and trying something new than the joy we could gain from the experience.

So what do we do? We avoid asking for things. We think, “I don’t want my friend to feel upset with me, so I’d better not ask.” We skirt issues. We don’t express our feelings.

On the other hand, what if we empowered ourselves to go for what we wanted? When we worry about others’ reactions, we might lose sight of what really matters. We’re often making unfounded predictions about their feelings too. We forgo the possible satisfaction because we don’t want to disrupt a norm or rock the boat.

But instead of avoiding loss, what if we allowed ourselves to fire up the motor on the boat and move towards what we really wanted? Think of the reward—the pleasure and satisfaction of getting what we really need and what would please us in the situation. We can empower ourselves to move toward the reward rather than fearing and avoiding the possible risk of loss.

4. Explore Your Limiting Beliefs

We all hold mistaken or limiting beliefs. It’s part of being human. Since childhood, we’ve carried these ideas with us, and they’re often challenging to identify and let go.

Mistaken beliefs might include thoughts like:

  • I’m not worthy.
  • Other people are more important than me.
  • I won’t be loved unless I’m perfect.
  • People won’t like me unless I please them.
  • I’m not enough.
  • I’m too much.

These are all mistaken beliefs that can profoundly affect our sense of self. These come from a belief that we’re undeserving, less than others, or must earn love and support. If we felt worthy, we’d feel empowered to ask directly for the things that satisfy and nourish us.


By becoming aware of our mistaken beliefs and working to counter them, we will start increasing our self-empowerment.


First, we can recognize that these beliefs are totally normal. Everyone has them. But we can speak kindly and lovingly to ourselves, saying, “I might not feel worthy right now, but I am a gift to others,” or, “If I believed that I had value, what would I say? How would I speak up?” or, better still, “what would I tell a friend in this situation?”

We often empower our friends and help them feel better about themselves. Then when we speak to ourselves internally, we are critical and harsh. When we start to become our own friends, we will start to talk to ourselves with kindness and understanding. Our mistaken beliefs are often synonymous with disempowering ideas. But the truth is that each of us is worthy and valuable. We are a gift to the world with a vast amount of influence and potential. When we shift our focus to remind ourselves of our worth, we can tap into that essential personal power.

To discover more about living up to your full potential, don’t miss our resources on Wright Now. We have many different courses available to help you discover more about yourself, your relationships, and your career. Get MORE today!


 About the Author

Dr. Judith Wright

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 The Wright Foundation 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 Foundation performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.

Yearnings: Follow Your Inner-GPS to Express Your Wants and Needs in a Relationship

Do you feel like you’ve been fighting over nothing lately? Does every little thing become a nitpicky fight between you and your partner?



Are you expressing your wants and needs in your relationship? It’s a tricky question, but one that most of us have pondered before.

We believe (or maybe expect) that a relationship should meet our wants and needs. We hope that our partner will “get” us and do those things that help us feel connected, happy, and fulfilled. But most of us have probably realized that our partners aren’t mind-readers. We have to express those feelings to get them on the radar—but how?

If we want to meet our wants and needs in a relationship, we need to dive in and discover our yearnings. Here’s how.

When the Thrill is Gone

It may sound harsh, but even the best relationships hit rough patches. As the old song goes, “The thrill is gone,” and some of us might be wondering where it went

When a relationship starts, we’re often energized, engaged, and ready to put our “best foot forward.” But after a few months or years, we shift out of the lavender haze and may start to feel a loss of connection. We may feel like we’ve been fighting over nothing lately. Every little thing becomes a nitpicky fight between our partner and us.

After we cool down and step away for a minute, we might think,

  • “If we could just get away for a few days, we’d probably get along better,” or…
  • “If we’d just have sex, I’m sure we would feel reconnected.”

We may feel dissatisfied, but we can’t pinpoint the actual problem. We know that neither partner is having an affair. No one has a substance abuse problem. We still genuinely love and care about each other, but we don’t get the same sense of excitement we once did. We may even find ourselves thinking about other people or remembering other relationships fondly.

Essentially—the thrill is gone. But is it really? And more importantly, can we get it back?The good news is that all of these common relationship feelings are rooted in our yearnings.


We long to have our wants and needs met in a relationship, but we might not know how to get there. These longings are what we call yearnings. They are feelings that we all have—hunger of the soul. They go deeper than “I want to look good naked” or “I want to go on vacation.”


Yearnings speak to the desires of our heart:

  • We yearn to be acknowledged and known.
  • We yearn to be seen, valued, and loved.
  • We year for respect, connection, intimacy.

For most couples, yearnings and unmet yearnings are at the root of dissatisfaction and at the heart of every fight. Our yearnings drive us. Like GPS, they steer us toward the direction of greater happiness and satisfaction. Our yearnings push us toward the things we want.

We often say that yearnings make couples tick, and unmet yearnings tick couples off.

We can imagine for a moment: what it is like when our yearnings are met in our relationship. Think of a time when we got home, and our partner’s eyes lit up when they saw us. They told us how much they missed us and couldn’t wait to hear about our day.

Imagine telling that partner about something extraordinary that happened during the day and knowing our partner is thrilled for us. Envision asking them for something that we really wanted—a dinner, a long walk, a conversation, physical contact—and having them enthusiastically agree. Or imagine telling them something we’re dissatisfied with, and they acknowledge our feelings and work together on a resolution. These would be examples of interactions that speak to our inner yearnings.

When our yearnings are ignored or unmet in our relationship, we may find ourselves drifting in opposite directions. Maybe we’re feeling distant from our partner, but we aren’t sure why. We might be afraid to bring up problems and discuss our feelings because we’re sensing a hidden middle finger (or giving one ourselves). We might withdraw from the relationship and feel a sense of disconnectedness.

Expressing Your Yearnings: It’s Not Actually About His Socks on the Floor

Our yearnings are extremely powerful. They go deeper than wishing that our spouses would stop putting their socks on the floor. But sometimes, something as simple as socks on the floor can make us feel like our yearnings are ignored and brushed aside. If having a clean, organized home is important to one partner but not the other, there might be an incongruency. That difference is underscored when the preference isn’t something that’s been clearly expressed. Often one partner doesn’t realize the importance of picking up the socks, while the other partner feels ignored and frustrated.

Years of socks on the floor pile up, and so do frustrations. Each night the irritation builds as we silently pick up our partner’s socks and seethe about it. Eventually, this can lead to resentment. We make a crack about our spouse’s sloppiness to friends. We make something he hates for dinner. We ignore his comments about his day. We’re silent and angry, and our spouse is confused about why we’re so cold and annoyed with them.

But at the root, we probably grew up in different households with differing standards of cleanliness. To one partner, socks are no big deal—a sign of feeling relaxed and comfortable. To the other partner, socks on the floor are an affront that says, “I don’t care about the work you put into our household. I don’t respect you or notice your efforts.”

We’re often engaged in these little power struggles in relationships, and we aren’t even aware that they’re happening. These little resentments and actions build up and can even cause explosive fights that seemingly go nowhere. Our partner might start picking up the socks, but it doesn’t resolve the underlying issue. At the root of the fight is often an unmet yearning.

Yearnings are significant wants and needs in a relationship. They may be:

  • Yearning to be respected,
  • Yearning to be cared for,
  • Yearning to be safe and secure,
  • Yearning to nurture and grow, and
  • Yearning to be appreciated.

Notice that nowhere on this list is “yearning for picked-up socks.” That’s because the true yearning isn’t really about the laundry pile. It’s something more poignant that runs much deeper. Yearnings are connected to the core of our humanity, existence, and identity.

Wants and Needs in a Relationship vs. Yearnings

It’s important to understand because there’s a difference between basic wants and needs in a relationship and yearnings. We often express what we think are our wants and needs, but when we get them met, we still feel unsatisfied, as though the larger issue still looms.

  • We can want our spouse to have sex with us more frequently.
  • We can want her to clean out the car when she uses it.
  • We can ask him to stop splashing toothpaste on the bathroom mirror.

When we express our wants, our partner often complies, but we may still feel annoyed. We feel like we’re nagging them or like we always have to tell them what we want. That’s a sure indication that we haven’t addressed the deeper yearnings behind our desires. A superficial action, like putting down the toilet seat or rinsing a dinner plate doesn’t really address the heart of the issue. We find ourselves running around mopping up water without fixing the broken pipe and addressing the source of the leak.


Real, true satisfaction and intimacy come from expressing our yearnings and understanding why they matter to us. This can happen in or out of a relationship. It’s about first doing the work to understand what’s going on inside our hearts and minds.


The great part is that when we identify our yearnings, we can find many different ways to get them met. It’s not just about relying on one person to do a specific action. We may yearn to connect with others, and we can do that by connecting with friends, coworkers, family, or our spouse.

If our partner simply complies with our expressed demand without understanding or learning our underlying yearning, the interaction might feel hollow or superficial. We aren’t getting those feelings of being acknowledged, appreciated, or loved. We’re simply training someone to pick up socks.

Our Yearnings Matter!

So, what about when we fight? We don’t really yearn to “win” the fight when it comes to fighting. Yes, we may want to express our point; we may think we want to win. But after we feel briefly superior and proud of our status as the “winner,” we might realize that we haven’t solved anything at all.

At the heart of many of our conflicts is fear (or the simple fact) that our yearnings aren’t being met and that we aren’t clearly expressing and requesting them from our partners. Yearning is at the core of our survival. Yearning to love and bond keeps mothers caring for their children. Yearning to be safe, sheltered, connected, and respected all have a biological imperative behind them. When our yearnings are met, we experience a rush of feel-good emotions and chemicals. When our yearnings are ignored, we experience a flood of fear, adrenalin, and stress hormones.

When we understand the neuroscience beneath our yearnings, we can quickly see why they’re so powerful and why they play such a strong role in our conflicts, especially with our partners—the people we rely on and trust.


When we feel frustrated about something our partner did, we can step back and ask ourselves, what is the underlying yearning? What do I really want from them? Is it that I want to be seen? Heard? Respected? Connected? When we identify those yearnings, we can try expressing them.


What would happen if we asked our partner for more physical contact? What if we explained why a clean house makes us feel more secure? What if we “went there” in conversation and brought our yearnings out into the light?

If we want to build stronger connections and get our yearnings met in our relationship, we must first identify them within ourselves. Then we can take steps to express our yearnings to our partner. Acknowledging our yearnings is the first battle, one we must wage within ourselves. As we come to a better understanding of what drives us, we can start expressing those wants and needs to our partners. Ultimately, when we say what we really want in our relationship, we’ll strengthen our bond and start getting closer.

For more ways to strengthen your relationships, visit Wright Now. We offer an array of courses to help you build stronger connections, discover more about yourself, and move towards the life you want—a life of more. Start getting what you want today!


About the Author

judith

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.


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.

4 Tips on How to Be Your Partner’s Best Friend

Are you wondering how to be your partner’s best friend? Their closest ally? Their sidekick?


 

Wondering how to be your partner’s best friend? Here are 4 tips to follow for an unbreakable bond and a supportive relationship connection.


 

While, of course, it’s essential that we have strong connections outside of our romantic relationships, there’s something wonderful and important about two partners who work together as a life team. When you and your partner are best friends, it feels like you’re an unbeatable dynamic duo. You have each other’s backs, and you’re pushing each other forward to reach your full potential.

Being one-half of a power couple doesn’t always happen naturally, though. Both partners need to be committed to the idea that life is about seeking more—more adventure, more discoveries, more intimacy, and more personal growth. When you’re both focused on gaining a greater sense of purpose, you’re well on your way to couple greatness!

Here are four tips to help you learn how to be your partner’s best friend today!

Why the World Loves a Power Pair

Have you ever looked at great adventure stories and wondered why we find the hero’s quest so inspiring and motivating? These stories are prevalent across every culture. There’s often a hero tasked with an epic goal in these stories, and they set out on their journey.

Think of Odysseus in the Odyssey, Luke Skywalker in Star Wars, Frodo in Lord of the Rings, or Katniss in the Hunger Games—all of these heroes faced vast challenges. They went on epic journeys, where they came face to face with realizations about themselves and the world around them.

But these heroes all share another commonality. Each of these heroes had allies. Odysseus had Athena. Luke Skywalker had Obi-Wan Kenobi. Frodo had Samwise, and Katniss relied on Peeta. In each heroic tale, there are always people who support our protagonists and help them along the way.

Allies bring out the best in each other. They help us see ourselves for who we truly are. They hold up a mirror to our potential but also call us out on those moments when we’re not pushing ourselves to be the best we could be.


True allies not only support each other when things are tough, but they also inspire and challenge their partners when all seems calm and well.


On our own journeys, our partner can be our strongest ally. When we’re in a relationship, we’re often headed in the same direction and working toward similar goals. So who better to be our companion on our life quest than our partner?

4 Ways to Be Your Partner’s Best Friend

Wondering how we can be our partner’s best friend? Here are four ways we can build up an epic connection that will take us through all the twists and turns that life has to offer.

 

1. Support Your Partner’s Vision

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

We can be our partner’s best friend by exploring their vision and aligning our goals. That doesn’t mean we all need to have the same goals as our partners, but we can discuss them to see how they overlap. How can we be an ally to our partners by supporting them to be their absolute best selves? How can we help them orient to their desired path?


We mirror the vision our partner inspires in us, and it is consistent with our own goals for ourselves. It’s not about changing our partner to our “standards,” but believing in their potential and supporting them as our partner moves in the direction of their dreams.


We often need our loved ones to activate our yearning—it’s hard to yearn for something if we don’t even know it exists or if we’ve ruled it out because of our limiting beliefs. When each party affirms their partner’s ideal self and helps them hold that vision for their personal growth, both experience more satisfaction. When one partner has an individual victory, so does their other half. Couples celebrate the wins together, and these triumphs bring them closer together.

 

2. Take Every Opportunity to Work on Your Relationship

Relationships of any sort take work, and partnerships require both sides to do their part. However, the work doesn’t need to feel like drudgery. Instead, it means that both parties are thinking of the relationship’s health, putting in the effort to improve and grow individually and together, and working to strengthen intimacy.

Working on our relationship doesn’t mean that we never fight or feel annoyed with each other. On the contrary, we can still support our partners and help them achieve their dreams, even in moments where they get under our skin. As we explore in our book, The Heart of the Fight, couple’s conflicts can actually bring us closer together and create more intimacy, as long as we’re fighting fair.

Whether we’re fighting with our significant other, playing, doing chores, or making love, every interaction provides an opportunity to grow, connect, and transform. Each time we communicate, we influence and “sculpt” each other toward something new. So ensure those interactions focus on moving the relationship forward (even if there’s a conflict).

 

3. Appreciate Your Partner (and Express It)!

Great allies appreciate each other for who they are as individuals. They express appreciation for their counterpart’s help, insight, and dedication. If we want to be great partners, we need to remind ourselves why we’re thankful for the respect, love, and assistance that our partner offers.

When we’re working with a partner, we may occasionally fall into the pattern of thinking of them as an extension of ourselves. As a result, we may take their efforts for granted or forget that they’re choosing to partner with us and work with us on our life journey.


Occasionally stepping back and acknowledging that our partner is a separate person who loves us, respects us, and is helping us move toward our goals can help us keep perspective.


Remember that even if we appreciate our partner in our hearts and minds, sometimes vocalizing that appreciation and expressing it with words can be affirming and supportive. Assume goodwill and acknowledge the good!

 

4. Work on Becoming Your Best Self

If we want to be a good ally, we need to work on becoming our best selves. The best partners are those who are focused on their personal growth as well as the growth and health of their relationship. They’re working on learning and growing both in and outside their partnership.

When we’re focused on becoming our best selves, we will bring out the best in our relationship. The more we grow, the better our relationship becomes because we’re contributing to our partner’s expanding horizons too. The more experiences we have together and on our own, the more we’ll have in front of us to explore.

Whether we’re working on new ideas, different ways of being, having novel experiences, perspectives, or knowledge, we’ll be more satisfied in our relationships when we’re more satisfied with ourselves. The great thing about working on ourselves is that we can start doing it right away, even if our partner isn’t entirely on board yet. Once they see us achieving our goals and making new discoveries, chances are they’ll want more too.

Power partnerships happen when we’re working toward goals together and separately. When we’re both curious about the world around us and viewing each new day as a chance to learn and discover new things about ourselves and each other, we’ll feel engaged, interested, and connected.

Emotional intimacy comes from partnering on the big, deep stuff, not just the day-to-day tasks and logistics. So if we want to have an epic romance, a stronger connection, and an unbreakable bond, set out on a hero’s quest together. You and your partner may discover the best friendship and allyship you never thought possible.

To learn more about connecting with your partner, exploring your best self, and achieving your career goals, don’t miss our courses at Wright Now. We have an array of classes, webinars, and resources to help you get started on your journey today!

 


About the Author

judith

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.


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.

Netflix Night Again: How to Fix a Boring Relationship

Has your relationship gotten a bit stale? Do you feel like you come home on the weeknights, plop on the couch, and scroll through your phones while you watch TV? Are you wondering if the thrill is gone?

How to Fix a Boring Relationship

 


 

If you’re wondering how to fix a boring relationship, don’t despair! There’s hope! Our relationships can often fall into a rut or routine because we’re not engaging and communicating our true needs and feelings.

So if you’re ready to enjoy a deeper connection again, it’s time to turn off the TV and start to tune into each other instead!

Is it Bad to Binge Watch?

First of all, it’s not bad for couples to enjoy watching TV together. It’s no secret Bob and I are cinephiles. Anyone who’s heard us speak, attended one of our events, or read one of our books, learns that we’re constantly referring to films as cultural touchstones.

Movies give us all an escape from reality and a chance to take a break, it’s true. What’s more important, though, is that film helps us learn about the world around us and even engage on a deeper level. Since the dawn of time, humans have used storytelling and fiction to teach lessons. We can think of parables in the Bible, ancient cave paintings, and oral traditions passed down in Native cultures. Stories are interwoven into the fabric of our lives. They teach us about ourselves, how we think, and how others think. Books, lectures, and films help us explore our collective anthropology and the very origins of our humanity and emotions.

We’ve all walked away from a movie feeling strong feelings. Perhaps a film has made us cry, touched us in a way that resonates, or taught us something about a situation in our own lives. Think of the beautiful scene in Goodwill Hunting, where Ben Affleck’s character is an ally and true friend to Matt Damon by giving him some tough love. Or the great scene in the Matrix, where Keanu Reeve’s character, Neo, makes the CHOICE between the red pill (reality and truth) and the blue pill (a life of blissful ignorance).


Many different moments in film stick with us and make us think differently about people and our relationships—film and even television series can be excellent platforms for deeper engagement.


But like any escape, film can also be abused and overused. When does our binge-watching go from entertaining and stimulating new thoughts to simply finding a way to zone out and pass the time? As with most activities, there’s a line where it can turn into too much of a good thing.

On a similar note, what should we do if we want to go out and start engaging with the world, learning, growing, and having new experiences, and our partner would rather stay back on the couch? We’ve all been phubbed—phone snubbed—where someone would rather stare at their screen or check their social media rather than really socialize. In our relationships, this can become a real concern. How do we get our partners to cut back on screen time and tune back into the real world? How do we break out of a comfortable (but boring) rut?

How Much Screentime is Too Much?

When it comes to any activity—shopping online, eating dessert, even working out—there can almost always be too much of a good thing. So when we engage in an activity, we have to look at how we’re using it. Are we learning something? Are we using it as a method to engage with others?

In the example of film, we can ask ourselves if we’re really engaged in the movie. Are we using it as a platform for deeper exploration of ourselves and the world around us? Do we walk away from the experience, eager to discuss the nuances, lessons, and takeaways? Is that discussion our favorite part of our movie date night?


Whether it’s film, books, opera, theater, or any other entertainment, we can decide to turn it into a powerful tool. We can use these cultural endeavors to keep our conversation fresh, and keep our relationship from getting boring. We can discover new insights about ourselves and others.


On the other side, if we’re not sure how to fix a boring relationship, we may want to examine our activities with our partner. Are we taking on new experiences with enthusiasm, a sense of wonder, and curiosity? Are we ready to explore? Or do we use movies, books, and concerts to substitute for real connection—a way to zone out, escape, or disengage? When we find ourselves using these experiences to cope or avoid, that’s when we’re abusing them. That’s the line when they become soft addictions—time fillers, or worse, timewasters.

In the Soft Addiction Solution, I explore how we use soft addictions to tune out rather than tune in. We may have an addiction of choice—social media, watching the news ad nauseam, flipping mindlessly through fashion magazines, binge-watching, or another activity. It’s not so much the act as the intent behind our time-waste.

There’s nothing wrong with entertainment. We all love to be entertained, and it holds a positive place in most of our lives. However, there is something wrong with using entertainment, like screen time, to substitute for real interaction and intimacy. This can be especially challenging when we feel disconnected from our partner and use our soft addiction to soothe the loneliness or emptiness.

Make Date Night More Meaningful

After exploring the idea of soft addictions, we may wonder how we can reconnect with our partner—is it as simple as turning off the TV, or is there more to it? Do we need to book a vacation together? Should we plan an extended getaway?

Every date doesn’t need to include windsurfing in the Caribbean or even a trip out of town. Dates with our partner don’t need to be costly, elaborate, or time-consuming. We can find moments to meet over lunch, grab dinner at our favorite restaurant, attend a lecture, or go to see the latest blockbuster. As with time-wasting activities, it’s not about the activity as much as the intent.


We can ask ourselves how we plan to make the experience meaningful? How can we find the message and the lesson? How can we use that lesson to fix a boring relationship?


For many of us, that means breaking out of our comfort zone and doing something different. Even if we aren’t sure that our partner is totally on board with a higher level of engagement, we can start the ball rolling by beginning a more meaningful conversation.

We can try a new dish at our favorite restaurant, explore something new on a wine list, or ask how the chef prepared the food. If we go to a movie, we can make the experience meaningful by having a lively discussion after the film. What did each person take away from the movie? What did they think of the plot twist? Rather than a simple like-or-dislike conversation, take the critique further. Explore the why behind the assessment and share opinions.

The key to breaking out of a relationship rut or fixing a boring relationship is to try new things. For example, we may know that our partner loves movie night, but why not go to a play or concert instead? Maybe we love taking walks around the block, but what if we invite our partner and talk about what we see as we stroll? Try a new spot for dinner, taste a different type of cuisine, or do something a little unexpected.

When we experience something together with our partner, it creates a bond. These new experiences might be small risks, but they add up to greater strength. Like building muscle—we have to break down some of the fiber to grow back stronger. We have to push our minds beyond our comfort zone, so our brains grow and develop in new ways. Made up of BILLIONS of neurons, our brains are amazingly pliable. These neurons form different pathways with new experiences. Just as driving over the same route repeatedly would lead to a deep groove or rut, doing the same activities and habits over and over leaves our brains dulled as well.


Keep in mind that growth isn’t always comfortable. We may run into conflicts along the way, but that’s part of fixing a boring relationship.


Conflict isn’t a bad thing. In fact, it can strengthen our relationships and lead to greater intimacy. Relationships can be messy and challenging, but they’re also fun and fulfilling. When we focus on ways to break out of the routine, we’ll discover more about ourselves and our partners.

So if your relationship needs to bust the routine, try something different. It doesn’t have to be huge. It can be a small, deliberate activity like a walk, a meditation class, or simply enjoying a new food or a new experience. Push both of you out of your comfort zone and away from your soft addictions. Your relationship will grow stronger because of it!

For more ways to build your relationship and connect with your partner, don’t miss our courses on Wright Now. We have webinars and resources to help you grow in your relationships, career, and personal life. So get the life you want today—a life of MORE.

 


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.

Want a Playful Relationship? How to Keep the Playfulness Alive

Do you ever wish you had a more playful relationship? Do you worry that your relationship seems to be fraught with conflict? Or worse, that things feel “blah” and boring?

 

Want to have a more playful relationship? Here’s how some of the closest couples keep their connection strong and fun.


 

Playfulness is crucial to a healthy relationship. It’s that playfulness that helps us build a connection with our partners and grow together. When we experience stress or conflict, we may worry that it’s a sign that our relationship is damaged—that it’s no longer enjoyable and fun.

Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to keep the passion alive in your relationship. Here’s what you need to know about enjoying a playful relationship where both partners get what they want.

Playful Relationships Don’t Avoid Conflict

We may assume that fighting is a sign that our relationship is broken. Maybe we grew up avoiding conflict or never seeing our parents fight. On the other hand, maybe our parents fought often, and we fear that we’re repeating certain patterns in our own connection.

First of all, it’s essential to recognize that there are conflict, awkwardness, and moments where we’re ready to just freakin’ throttle the other person in every relationship. It’s totally normal and comes with the territory of sharing a life where each person is emotionally invested. So whether the relationship is new or decades-old, conflicts will come up.


In most relationships, we faced some real rip-roaring moments, but we should use those moments as a platform to awaken our connection, make it deeper, and yes, even laugh and play along the way.


John-Paul Sartre said playing is part of being alive and being engaged. Having a playful relationship isn’t simply the act of playing games with your partner or seeking entertainment—going on dates and doing the routine dinner and a movie. Instead, a playful relationship is full of adventure and discovery! It’s about taking up new hobbies, exploring new places, going for walks and hikes, and getting yourself out of the mundane. New and fresh experience is critical to relationships (romantic, friendly, and even our relationship to ourselves).

Fighting is also crucial to relationships. Conflict keeps us passionately engaged. Most of the time, we fight because we care. We’re fighting because we want more! Conflict helps us express our yearnings and get them met. When we express our desires to our partners, we know and understand that they see and accept us for who we are. We stop holding back and holding in and instead explore the dynamic, the control, the power, and the behaviors together.

On the flip side of the fighting, couples who learn to mix fighting with a balance of play are happier. When you have more play in your relationship, the fighting becomes less of a big deal. Of course, the message is still important, but it’s the playful side tempering us and helping us take down our guard and defenses so we can truly hear what the other person is trying to say.

Playfulness Might be Hard to Find When Couples Are Always Together

We work together and live together. We spend a great deal of time together. When a couple is in a situation like ours, they may find conversations about work taking over. Even if couples don’t work together, if they both work from home or focus on home tasks (like raising kids), conversations can start to feel monotonous and logistical.

It’s important to mix things up and experience new, exciting activities together. If the focus is always on work and the day-to-day minutia, we miss out on all that other interesting and exciting stuff—the shared experiences that help us connect. As they say, all work and no play make for dull relationships.

We spoke with Jennifer and Eric, married 17 years, parents of teens, and co-owners of a business. They both reported a “dulling” of their relationship. The conversation was becoming boring. Fights and arguments surrounding work (where Eric is Jennifer’s manager) spilled over into their home life. The boss/employee dynamic wasn’t translating well into their daily life, and there were feelings that they needed to bring to light.

Power struggles can be a common source of conflict when couples work together, like Jennifer and Eric, and even when they don’t. Sharing a home office or simply sharing the tasks of managing a household together can permeate every interaction and lead to arguments.

Suddenly couples find themselves simply talking about bills and “to-do lists” or zoning out with soft addictions in front of the television. One person takes the lead as the “boss,” and the other resents them for being so damn bossy. The fun of the relationship has disappeared. If this has become your relationship, it’s time to WAKE UP!


Couples need to break out of the routine and find new ways to orient towards aliveness. New experiences are essential—and we don’t need to go around the globe to get them.


We can find many unique and engaging experiences right in our own backyards. We can think back to what we did when we were first dating. Maybe we loved spending time outdoors, antique shopping, or dancing. It’s time to reengage in the things that stimulate both members of the relationship.

When both sides of a couple are committed to learning and growing, they can often find many activities to strengthen and nourish the relationship. We enjoy cross-country skiing and visiting the symphony, but each couple is different. We have to discover the activities that make our hearts leap for joy! As they engage more in these exciting activities, most couples find that they’re reminded of all the things they truly appreciate about their partner.

How to Find Playfulness When Relationships are in Constant Conflict

Other couples may feel like their relationship’s joy and playful side is buried by layers and years of conflict. The good news is: conflict is a good thing! It doesn’t usually mean the relationship is broken (or even damaged). Conflict is stronger than apathy, so conflict means both sides are still concerned about how things turn out in the relationship. The key is to put the energy into fighting FOR the relationship.

As we learn in the Rules of Engagement, no one takes more than 50% of the blame, and both members of the couple are 100% responsible for their own happiness. Productive conflicts help us “battle towards bliss,” but they require that we fight fair and assume goodwill on the other party’s part. When conflict arises—and it will—use it as an opportunity to discover more about each other.

In our book The Heart of the Fight, we discuss the many ways that couples can have productive conflicts and arguments. We shouldn’t avoid arguing or fighting, but we should recognize that when we go into the battle, we’re hoping to come away stronger and more deeply connected.

Of course, when someone says something critical, most of us get defensive. We can be frustrated and hurt if a partner tells us something we don’t want to hear (like, “you’re just like your dad”). This may lead us to shutting down or slinging mud right back at our partner. Underneath it all, though, part of what REALLY irks us? There’s a kernel of truth to most criticism.


To really engage and approach couples’ conflict from a transformational perspective, put away the “you said, I said” laundry list of arguments. Instead, we can tell our partner what we really want out of the situation—our truest yearnings.


What is the thing that we’re yearning for? Maybe it’s to be loved, to be secure, to be respected. These yearnings are often underneath our upset. Once we pinpoint that, the battle is halfway toward resolution.

When both parties are honest about their feelings, a lot can come to light. Expectations can create vulnerabilities, and past resentments and unmet and unexpressed yearnings can eat away at us.

Part of transformational living is to express these yearnings and get them out in the open. We don’t need to express them in an accusatory or mean way. We can even approach the expression playfully. When we allow ourselves to share truths with another person, those walls start coming down. Suddenly we find ourselves getting back to the dynamic that drew us together.

Find Playfulness When a Relationship Feels One-Sided

Unfortunately, sometimes we’re more committed to transformation than our partner. We may be ready to express new ideas and work on our relationship while our partner is fine with the status quo—and that’s precisely the problem! One way to keep a partner where they are is to make it very comfortable. When we do whatever they ask, never complain, and wait on them hand-and-foot, why would they change?

We’re being a little tongue in cheek here, but you’d be surprised how many people tell us how awful their partners are, and all the things they ask of them and all the things they resent—yet they CONTINUE TO DO THEM! Usually, one person is seething and completely upset, and the other person has no clue that there’s even a problem.


If this sounds familiar, we need to stop being passive-aggressive. Stop making it easy for the other person to ignore our yearnings and needs.


Leave the dirty laundry on the floor, the toilet seat up, or the dishes in the sink. Stop doing the things that lead to resentment. When people do this, their partner will usually realize that things are uncomfortable, and it’s time to change!

Surprisingly, this too can actually be a fun “game”! Many couples take the challenge to see how long it takes to get their partner to notice a few of their frustrations. The key is to be honest and express feelings openly. When we tell our partner we’re going to change our behavior, we must follow through. Don’t threaten or withhold or continue to stew in resentment.

When we’re honest about our feelings, we can often get back on the same page—we may even find reasons to laugh about the situation. Bringing playfulness back into our relationship can help keep the spark alive and bring us even closer together with our partners.

For more ways to connect with your partner and strengthen your relationship, visit Wright Now. We have a huge selection of courses and webinars to help you live the life of your dreams. Start moving forward in your relationships, career, and personal growth. Get more out of life today!

 

Beliefs in Our Family Background: Breaking Family Patterns

 

For most of us, our family background plays a huge role in our beliefs and perceptions about the world around us.

Wondering how to break the patterns set in your family background? Explore where those beliefs originated.


 

We may not even realize how much our family patterns show up in our lives today but exploring our beliefs and value systems can be a powerful exercise.

Just like you can’t choose your family, birth order, or parents, you can’t choose the beliefs and family background instilled during your upbringing. Chances are, these beliefs were passed down year after year, generation to generation. They may go back to the days of your grandparents and even before. Some familial traits are great—they make us feel like we’re a part of something.

But not all family patterns are positive or healthy. In fact, some family patterns are destructive and painful. So, how do we break out of our negative family patterns and explore our beliefs?

Figuring Out Your Belief About the World

Our beliefs and worldview are deeply ingrained from childhood. We may not even be able to pinpoint exactly how they originated. We may also believe that there’s no way we still share those familial patterns and traits.

I often hear from people who say they’re nothing like their parents or who really hate it when their spouse says, “you’re just like your mom/dad.” Why does that statement get under our skin? Because we want to believe we’re different. Many of us want to believe that we’re completely independent products of our own choosing. We want to think we’ve identified weaknesses and shortfalls in our parents, and we’ve altered our trajectory. We’ve broken away from our family background.

But it’s incredible that when we scratch away the surface and look a little deeper, almost without fail, there are similarities between people and their parents. These family patterns run deep. It’s not always a bad thing. Sometimes we may model many good behaviors, morals, and values passed down from our parents as well. Even family patterns may be positive, but it’s important that we recognize them and explore them to better understand how they tie into our lives today.


Our beliefs are set up when we’re very young. We may view the world as dangerous because our parents hovered around us in fear, warning us to be careful. We may see the world as open to us because our parents empowered us to go for what we wanted. These seemingly small moments in our childhood shape us well into later in life.


It’s not always our parent’s “fault” either. As Alfred Adler tells us, we formed limiting beliefs as children simply because the world is big and children are small. As a result, we faced restrictions and activities we couldn’t do because of our age or size, reinforcing the idea we were somehow inadequate.

Even if we had a perfect childhood (which no one experiences), the world around us reinforces our limiting beliefs when we’re young. So as adults, we must work to explore and even overcome those beliefs so we can live up to our fullest potential.

When people look at their family background and patterns, they often focus only on the surface. We put our siblings and parents into roles. Someone is the “good son” or the favorite. Another person might be the difficult parent or the challenging sister. We engage in the same interactions time and time again because we’ve set up roles that are comfortable for everyone. These family patterns come out when we interact with our family, and they show up in other areas of our life, too (like at work).

Addressing Family Drama

Stephen Karpman, MD, tells us about the drama triangle. In many relationships, we fall into a dramatic pattern of one of three roles: victim, persecutor, and rescuer.

When it comes to family, many of us look at our family members and quickly identify who falls into what role of the drama triangle. Mom, Dad, or an older sibling might act as the persecutor. There’s always a victim. Then there’s a rescuer who swoops in and fixes everything. Middle children often end up being the mediator or the rescuer. Sometimes, when the parent is the persecutor, the role of the rescuer falls on the firstborn—the one who fixes everything. But as we quickly learn about the rescuer, they will rescue others from everyone but themselves.

The drama triangle can be a sticky family pattern to break out of. It may feel deeply ingrained into our family background—so much so that we may have a tough time admitting which role or roles we play and how we’re repeating it even today.

First, the good news: we no longer need to fall into these family roles as adults. We can recognize these patterns and take responsibility for our role in the drama triangle. Instead of taking on the family background and pattern, we can choose to step out and refuse to participate. To break out of the pattern of the drama triangle, everyone needs to take responsibility for their own feelings and their own satisfaction in relationships.


Because we only control our own behavior, it’s incumbent on us to explore our beliefs and their origins.


We must each do the work to recognize our patterns and take responsibility for our role in the situations presented by our family background. But remember, we can only change ourselves. Unfortunately, we can’t force our adult siblings or aging parents to acknowledge their role or change their behavior.

We can, however, engage in honest, open discussions and share our feelings. We can express our wants and yearnings. Explain to our family members how we feel, where we’re planning to change, and our expectations for the situation.

When It Comes to Family Conflict, Don’t Avoid It

If we grew up in a conflict-avoidant household, chances are we don’t like to rock the boat. We may think it’s easier not to deal with these family patterns, avoid them, and keep moving forward. We may even deny that there’s anything there to acknowledge or work on.

Yet, the avoidance itself is still a continuation of those old family patterns and beliefs. We believe it’s easier not to express our feelings. Perhaps we think we’re bad, we’re wrong, we’re too much, or we’re not enough. We harbor these limiting beliefs and let them hold us back from expressing our truth.

These limiting beliefs and ideas continue to damage our relationships. They keep us feeling disempowered and helpless. They’re reflected in our beliefs about ourselves and our confidence. They keep us stuck in a self-fulfilling prophecy trap. Instead, imagine what would happen if we embraced honesty and expressed how we felt when we visited our family members.

Yes, there might be a family conflict. In fact, there might be several members of our family who aren’t thrilled about what we’re going to say. They might even be hurt, and it might result in the bubbling up of different feelings. But if we operate under the rules of engagement (as outlined in our book, The Heart of the Fight), we will have productive conflicts to bring us closer together.

In the book, we offer several rules of engagement. These rules are essential for any situation but are especially crucial in our most intimate, close relationships—our spouse and our family connections.

The rules of engagement are:

  • Accentuate the positive.
  • Minimize the negative.
  • No one gets more than 50% of the blame.
  • Each person is 100% responsible for their happiness.
  • Express and agree with the truth, always.
  • Fight FOR the relationship, not against.
  • Assume goodwill.

When we follow these seven rules, our conflict becomes productive, no matter the situation. No longer are we bickering or fighting to prove the other person wrong. When we use this approach to conflicts and discussions with our family, we avoid falling into the drama triangle and going through the same damaging patterns from our family background again and again.

Now, as I said, each person in your family only has control over their own behavior. A sister or brother may drive us nuts with the way they parent their children or their interactions with our parents. Rather than swooping in to critique (as the persecutor), fix (as the rescuer), or pout (as the victim), we stop the cycle by recognizing our role and choosing a different path.


How do we bring this idea up with our family members so we all have a better time during the next get-together? We can explain to them we’ve been exploring our behavior patterns and our personal growth. We can tell them we’d like to help set a different tone for this interaction. Then follow the rules of engagement above.


It can also be helpful to focus on the real purpose of the family interaction. For example, if it’s Thanksgiving, what is the real purpose? Is it to sit around and eat turkey with people who irritate us? Or is it to recognize the aspects of our family we love and appreciate? Could expressing our appreciation for them set a different tone?

When the inevitable drama arises, what if we break the family pattern by refusing to engage and instead say, “This upsets me. I want to discuss this more in-depth when we’re in an appropriate, one-on-one setting. Since today is a holiday, let’s spend time loving and appreciating each other.” Then move forward.

At the same time, if we want to change the situation, we should also commit to setting aside time to discuss the topics we want to address. Don’t simply ignore or bury the conflict. Address it, obeying the rules of engagement.

Breaking out of patterns in our family background is a huge, lifelong job. It takes work and self-exploration. It requires us to get to know ourselves and get honest with ourselves about our thoughts and behaviors. It requires us to be honest with our family too. But when we take the time to become more mindful of these patterns, we’re on the right path.

For more ways to find empowerment, please visit WrightNow, where you can explore our array of courses to help you get ahead in your career, relationships, and personal life. These courses are an excellent resource for anyone who wants to discover ways to live a life of MORE.

 


 

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