Fear of Not Finding Love

Craving Couplehood?  Afraid of Never Finding Love? How do we get over our fear of never finding love? Here is the short answer: Be more loving. The long answer? It could be that the real fear is never finding love with ourselves and becoming the most loving people we can become. If you think you already are, think again—does your love come with hooks? Either way, changing our perspective can change everything.

The Miracle of Love Hokey? Hardly!

There’s a reason so many are looking for love and afraid of not finding it. Because when it happens, it is a miracle.

I enjoy reading Norman Vincent Peale and Guideposts (if you’re too young to know who that is, Google him!). The other day I read a story about a woman who was afraid of never finding a man. Her grandmother told her, “You’re looking for the wrong thing.” And she asked, “What should I be looking for?” Her grandmother answered, “You should be looking for a miracle.”

As she drove away, those words moved in her, and she soon found herself turning in a different direction than where she was supposed to be heading. While figuring out where she was, she came across a youth center with a big sign that said, “Are You Tired of the Dating Game?” along with an invitation to join the square dance going on inside right then.

She went in and stood quietly to the side—like the wallflower she had always been in high school—and watched everyone have fun. Then a redheaded man gave her the warmest, most welcoming look she had ever received.

Still too afraid, she was about to leave when something told her to give it another five minutes. She took her hand off the doorknob and went back.

An older woman came over and started talking to her. “Has anyone caught your eye?” And she answered, “That redheaded guy.” And the woman responded, “Well, that’s interesting because he’s been eyeing you the whole time.”

We know the rest of the story. He asks her to dance. She says yes. They fall in love and get married. That’s NOT the news. The news is that this woman had a big fear of not finding love, but she changed directions (literally), shifted her consciousness (thank you, grandma), and was led to a miracle—the transformation of fear into love.


Do You Know What’s Good for You? (Hint: It’s NOT More Sex!)

I suspect so many marriages and partnerships end in divorce because people don’t. They don’t know the difference between attraction and who would be a good partner for them. How can we know what’s good for us in a relationship if we’re not entirely conscious of it? Because, let’s face it, most of us are not.

Our unconscious minds are always ready to convince us that physical attraction is a PERFECT clue to finding our next best relationship. Physical attraction is the realm of our unconscious mind and, believe it or not, our unconscious minds are the least helpful thing we have for finding love, but they are perfect if finding the perfect person to prick our unfinished business. In spades! (Respect and caring for ourselves are WAY more valuable.)

Yes, sex is irresistible, but it’s not the most helpful indicator of long-lasting love. What turns us on could very well be what should turn us off. For example: Before I was the happily married man I am now, the women I was attracted to were cold and rejecting. Cue: Though my mother had many good qualities, she could be cold and rejecting.

I had to learn (and keep learning) that what turns me on is problematic.

Then I had a professor tell me, “You must get over thinking there is a scarcity of sex. There is actually an abundance of sex.”

That changed everything for me. Suddenly, I didn’t have to say “yes” to everything my unconscious mind was leading me towards—which was rejecting problematic women.

And I could instead start looking for my miracle, which I found in Judith Wright—to be sure, classy, and somewhat aloof like my mother but an improved version.

We all need to get over our belief in the scarcity of love because there IS abundance all around.

We’re like puppies looking for someone to pat us on the head and say we’re the one! But we’re not as willing to be as vulnerable as a little puppy would be. Why? Because we are too busy hiding out in an edited version of who we are, our false selves.

So, what does that mean?

Swipe right on YOU and learn to love yourself radically.

To Know You is to Love You

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

– Marianne Williamson

We must know ourselves before we can begin to love ourselves. And we must love ourselves before we can begin to know and love someone else.

Most of the time, we’re trying to sell the world an “us” that’s not wholly “us.” So, if we want to be loved for all of who we are, we must find out more about who that is and bring it to the world.

It starts with learning and following our deeper yearnings. These are the longings of our hearts: to love and be loved, to touch and be touched, to matter, to make a difference, to create, to connect, to serve. Yearnings are what keep us from playing small. When we begin to spend time getting to know ours, things start to change.

We stop looking for satisfaction on the outside and start nurturing it from the inside.


But What About That Fear?

Fear is everywhere all the time.

But if we don’t stay with our fear and do the exact thing that we’re afraid of, we won’t grow.

The thing many of us fear the most is being alone, which is why we are always searching for the next relationship. BUT the more comfortable we become spending time alone with ourselves and facing exactly as we are, the better we’ll ultimately feel in a relationship. And the deeper that relationship will center around genuine love.

Love does NOT mean never having to say you’re sorry, as a famous movie once told us. Love means not having control. Love means letting go and being vulnerable.

Love means knowing who we are so we can really know others, and celebrate ourselves, whether we are in a relationship or not.

And that is the miracle.

What Do You Want Out of Life: Navigating Big Change

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

Why are We Here?

Forget the meaning of life – focus on the meaning of this moment!

I have good news, and I have great news.

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

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

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

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

Can that really be it? It seems too easy.

Yes—that’s why it’s great news!


Our Presence is Requested

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

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

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

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

Why is that?

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

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

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

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

We Can’t Make This Stuff Up

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

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

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

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

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

– Frederick S. Perls


Let’s Not Pretend We Know the End

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In other words, you should fire them.

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


Coach as Ally: How Allies Differ from Friends

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

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

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

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

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

Forget Outcomes, Focus on Becoming

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Back Before God Was a Man: The Power of Spiritual Travel

In spiritual travel, we explore ancient sites, and look to connect and play our part in the human journey towards greater consciousness.


I’m a homebody.

If I’m going to travel somewhere, I need a really good reason.

And I’ve found one.

If you know me, you know that it’s NOT the big tourist attractions—the “top hits” of a country—that get me to grab my passport. It’s the people.

I travel to experience people. Their culture. Their creativity. Their connection to the divine. To understand just a little more than I did before I got there, what ties them to me, and what ties me to all of humanity. I call it “spiritual travel.”

At the Wright Foundation, my life’s work is about developing human potential, and I believe spiritual travel is a fantastic way to develop human potential, starting with my own.

Soul Souvenirs

Every year we travel as a group with the Wright Foundation to a different country. Not to visit their outer sites but to nurture our own inner sites. We step off the plane, boat, or train with bags full of deep longing for connectedness and love.


“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”
Albert Einstein

Our openness to learn new ways of informing our own spiritual journeys is why we are there.

When we engage in spiritual travel, we meet people living their faith—whatever that faith may be—each day in ways we would never have known about otherwise.

Sure, we can read about it in books, but it’s the difference between reading about the ocean or standing in front of it and feeling its power rushing through our whole selves.

When we travel, we allow ourselves to begin challenging some of the core assumptions of our spiritual background, and look at, what Paul Tillet calls “The God above God.”

To be uplifted and inspired by the loving engagement of each other. To learn and grow in a world that works for everyone.

How Did I Get Here?

I was raised Presbyterian, and when I was thirteen and preparing to be confirmed, our minister had us study world religions. He believed we should know how our faith fits into the larger world. It was an excellent introduction that planted a seed deep within me.

Out of curiosity, I began attending other services in other churches in our town—Catholic, Latter Day Saints, and more. I noticed that although they seemed very different, they also had something very much the same at the core: being a better person.

I started taking classes in religion. I started meditating. I went overseas and studied with different teachers there. When I returned to the states, I studied humanistic psychology and the human potential movement. Eventually, I met my wife and the Wright Foundation was born.

Seeing religious truths from different points of view helps me see the core truths of humanity. Exploring our differences helps me more deeply embrace how we are all connected. And that’s what I want. To be increasingly in contact with the source of life. With the source of everything that is.

By respecting and learning from each other, we can move through our limiting beliefs and become the most loving beings possible.

The Business of Spirituality

¬¬In Spain, we visited a town brought back by the love and dedication of a young Catholic priest, Jose Maria Arizmendiarietta. In 1941, he settled in Mondragón, which had not yet recovered from the Spanish Civil War. The town was originally built around a factory that manufactured paraffin stoves used for heating and cooking and had since become obsolete.

In 1955, Jose Maria Arizmendiarietta selected five young people to become the first company of the co-operative and industrial beginning of the Mondragon Corporation.

He spent several years educating young people about a form of humanism based on solidarity and participation, in harmony with the Catholic Social teaching. He also taught them the importance of acquiring the necessary technical knowledge before creating the first co-operative and establishing a technical college.

Fast forward to today, and the Mondragon Corporation is a twelve-billion-dollar company and an extraordinary example of what consciousness and humanity can do for your bottom line!

After All, We Are All One

It is particularly awakening to realize the sadness that happens when religion divides us rather than helps us to experience our oneness.

Spiritual travel allows us to reclaim ourselves as belonging to the family of humanity. To become the most inclusive, honoring societies we can become.

On one journey, we participated in an Arati ceremony. During another, we traveled to the Ganges River on a boat to watch family members lovingly wash and prepare the corpses for the funeral pyre in which they would cast off their physical bodies.

Did you know there’s an island in the Cyclades in Greece that was considered so holy, no one could be born or die there?

And did you know that there are ninety-nine names for God in Islam?

Buddhism, Hinduism, Shaivism. What a blessing to see all the different ways that we care about each other—to witness the universal yearning to be our best, most loving, conscious selves.

And what about atheists and agnostics? Is spiritual travel for them? Great question. And yes! Those that travel with us teach us how they translate “God” into “Life.” What better thing to worship than the whole of life?

As we explore the most ancient spiritual sites, traveling back from before God was a man to when God was a woman, we intentionally look to connect and play our part in the human journey towards greater consciousness and love.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Prepare, and You Won’t Despair

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

What did he do? Follow these steps:

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

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

While You’re Away….

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

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

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

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

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

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

Re-Energize Your Re-Entry

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You may be surprised how refreshing that can be!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Especially when we learn to make fear our friend.

The Guard Dog of Our Fear

Fear is omnipresent. Like a guard dog.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Everything we want is on the other side of fear.

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

“I fear the intensity of life lived this close”

– Jason Silva

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

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

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

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

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

And that story begins and ends with fear.

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

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

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

Where I Should Have Let Fear Stop Me

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fear is here.

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

Overcoming Imposter Syndrome: How to Get Past a Fear of Success

Most of us have experienced imposter syndrome at one point or another. We might have success in our career or receive accolades from our boss, and in creeps the sneaking suspicion that we really don’t “deserve this.”

Overcoming imposter syndrome isn’t easy. It’s based on self-doubt, untruths that we tell ourselves, and feelings of inadequacy that we may have been building for years. So how do we do it? How do we kick imposter syndrome once and for all and accept the kudos and compliments that we’ve earned without feeling like a phony?

What is Imposter Syndrome Anyway?

Many of us get the feeling that we’re about to be “found out.” We might feel like our success is a mistake. When we do something right, we assume we’ve managed to “trick” others into believing that we’re actually good at what we’re doing. We’ve deceived everyone into believing that we’re great salespeople, an incredible CEO, fantastic artists, or talented writers. We think, “if they only knew the truth,” or we dread the day we’re found out.

When we experience these thoughts and self-doubts, they’re symptoms of what’s known as imposter syndrome. What is imposter syndrome, and where does it come from?

The term “imposter phenomenon” was coined by clinical psychologists Dr. Pauline R. Clance and Suzanne A. Imes in 1978. For many, the term resonated with feelings that they’d long held. It was used to describe the feeling that many successful individuals get. Despite plenty of contrary evidence, many successful people feel like “frauds,” or as though they don’t deserve the success they experience in their chosen profession. Even when these individuals were shown proof of their success, they dismissed it as good fortune or suggested they deceived others into believing they were competent. What’s more, they often feared being discovered or found out.

This may sound familiar to many of us. Why do we feel this way? Why do we experience imposter syndrome?

The reality is that many of us have some type of underlying anxiety and fear. We all feel worried from time to time. Sometimes our worries are reasonable given the circumstances. Sometimes they aren’t.

Many of us may experience worries about our health, finances, social lives, loved ones, and more. We may wonder if other people like us; we may feel lonely and disconnected; we may worry about how we can take care of others in our lives.

A little bit of fear, worry, or even anxiety is a natural part of being human. Most successful people are driven in one way or another by their sense of discontent and uneasiness. They’re driven by a need to do well and may have anxiety about success.

However, a healthy amount of worry can spiral out of control when we encounter foundational ideas in our heads known as limiting beliefs. Some of these beliefs are good. They keep us safe. They may keep us from quitting our job and running off to join the circus. They may prevent us from hurting ourselves or from hurting those around us.

But our limiting beliefs can also prevent us from trusting ourselves. Many of these beliefs aren’t accurate. They keep us from reaching our potential and fully developing ourselves. We may find that we’re holding back because we want to stay nice and cozy in our perceived “safe zone,” even if we aren’t reaching our maximum satisfaction. Our limiting beliefs can keep us from fully living our best lives.

Understanding the Origins of Our Limiting Beliefs to Beat Imposter Syndrome

We might not be able to beat our imposter syndrome right away. It’s not something that can be wished or reasoned away with the snap of our fingers. Instead, we have to examine where our limiting beliefs originate. They’re part of our very core, and the first step to overcoming imposter syndrome is to dig down and look at them. These beliefs were typically formed very early in our childhood, and while some of them may have applied to our world at the time, they’re often untrue, especially in adulthood. If we don’t pinpoint them and work through them, they can hold us back from reaching our fullest potential.

We may hear limiting beliefs in our head, and they make us have thoughts like:

  • “I’m not good enough.”
  • “I am too much. I overwhelm people.”
  • “I’m too sensitive. I’m too needy.”
  • “I’m not intellectual.”
  • “I’m a follower, not a leader.”

When we say these beliefs aloud, we may even think they sound a little unreasonable, but they tend to follow us around. These beliefs can haunt us. Sometimes we don’t realize our limiting beliefs because they’ve been buried and intertwined so deeply within our subconscious. We might be blind to them, but they shape many of our choices and our confidence. These limiting beliefs may steer our decisions toward or away from things we may otherwise want.

So how deep are these beliefs? Most of our limiting beliefs were formed before we were even aware of them. They may have originated from our interactions with our parents, siblings, grandparents, teachers, caretakers, or even friends.

Much of our social and emotional makeup is formed by the time we reach age six or seven. We carry that with us for the rest of our lives, using it to form the basis of the way we see ourselves and our world. We tap into it when we make choices.

Why One Person Felt Like an Imposter

I was coaching a very successful young man. He had references and accolades from many respected people within his industry. He had recently received a promotion to a higher position where he earned more money and had a chance to manage a global network of team members. By all accounts, he was doing extremely well.

But despite his evident success, he was still haunted by the fact that he didn’t have a college degree. He flunked out of his program. Not because he couldn’t keep up, but because (at the time) he didn’t care. He was more interested in sports in his younger years. He went out and partied. He’d since turned his life around and found great success, but in the back of his mind, he felt like he was just waiting to be found out.

He believed that he was an imposter. Now, he’d been very upfront with his bosses and let them know that he didn’t hold a degree. Yet, he still was promoted and did very well in his position. He relied on his life experience and personality to drive him to success. He built a strong rapport with his clientele and coworkers. He had innate leadership skills. But the idea that he wasn’t good enough still kept coming up until it was tainting the joy of his success.

As we worked together, we learned that it all went back to his relationship with his parents when he was a child. He was living out a self-fulfilling prophecy that he would never be good enough. His mom was a higher performer, while his dad was less so. This experience led him to believe that as a man, he was inherently lazy. He didn’t even live up to his father’s standard—especially after his grades went downhill in college.

In his head, he was still hearing all these doubts. He had a desire to rebel against others’ performance standards and had a hard time with authority. Despite the money, promotions, and success, he was still holding onto those early childhood limitations.

How to Let Go of those Limiting Beliefs and Ditch Your Inner Imposter

To become really successful and take our lives to the next level, we have to shake up those limiting beliefs. Discovering them is the first step, but we also have to realize that we need to let them go at a certain point, or they will always hold us back.

So how do we let go of imposter syndrome? We have to challenge what we think about ourselves. If we feel like we don’t deserve our success, we can examine why we have that belief. Where does it come from? How can we challenge it? Test the waters to see what happens when we choose not to believe it anymore. Challenge it!

Every step we take away from our limiting beliefs is huge. It builds momentum, and with each new success, we start to rebuild our confidence and acknowledge that these beliefs don’t apply to us anymore. We can tell ourselves that we’re embracing our best lives and deserve what we have. When we are working toward living up to our fullest potential, we can and will make it happen.

Educational Theorist Lev Vygotsky taught Social Development Theory. It is the idea that kids develop by playing and through social interactions. It’s how they learn about the world. Kids first pretend something, and throughout their cognitive development, the play turns into real-life social interactions. Anyone who’s watched kids play house has probably observed some very elaborate social interactions planned and then carried out. Kids imagine different scenarios and then play out their reactions to the scenarios. They become what they first pretend.

Like kids, we can try to “fake it, ‘til we make it.” We can acknowledge that our limiting beliefs are there and hold us back, but we’re going to move forward anyway. We can know that we can achieve whatever we want by working on our skills and continuously challenging ourselves.

If we’re in a constant state of growth, challenging ourselves and being honest, authentic, and intentional, we can become what we want to be. It doesn’t matter our age or our situation. There is very little that is out of our reach. It’s not about deserving success or fitting a certain mold. It’s not even about being lucky. It’s about having integrity, dedication, and intention. If we work to create the best and bring out the best for those around us, they will reciprocate because they will also want the best for us.

So the next time that doubt creeps in, let go of the idea that you don’t really deserve your success. Instead, savor the way it feels good and embrace it!

For more ideas about living your best life, don’t miss the resources we offer at Wright Now. We have many courses and materials available for download. Check it out today so you can start to get the life you want!

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

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.



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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Is there a cure for boredom?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What’s the Point? Purpose

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

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

So then, how do you find it?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Maybe yes, maybe no.

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

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

Forget Pseudo. Go for Authentic

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

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

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

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

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

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

Transformed! The Science of Spectacular Living

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

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.

F**ck Up at Work? Here’s Why You Shouldn’t Hide Mistakes at Work

Have you made mistakes at work? We’ve all made mistakes, and often the first impulse is to try to hide them under the rug. Here’s why you should admit to mistakes and make amends.

We've all made mistakes at work, and often try to hide them under the rug. Here's why you should admit to mistakes and make amends.

Ah, the hot potato of mistakes! I’ve had more freedom to make mistakes than most people I know – so I have a lot of experience f**cking things up.

One of the blessings I’ve had in my life is the freedom to be the age I am (and at 73, I still feel a little immature). To mess up and live to see another day. To be around long enough to know that I’ve learned MORE from messing up than I ever would have from not messing up.

How can we live a successful life unless we embrace failure? How can we learn without being allowed to make mistakes along the way?

We live in a blame culture. We’re quick to point the finger at someone or something as “the problem,” falsely thinking that if we fix that one thing, everything else will fall into place and be just fine.

But pointing a finger IS the primary mistake we make instead of understanding that we are in a complex system. And hopefully, one we can learn from sooner rather than later.

Mistakes Can Break Us OR Make Us

Whatever the mistake is, we ALL have a part of it. We each have some degree of responsibility.

We had a pile-up of trucks on a hill on our campus last night. With a quarter-inch of ice on everything, the Amazon truck got almost to the top then slid back down into a tree. The pizza delivery guy came over the hill to go down while the Amazon guy was walking up the hill to keep anyone else from coming down. Unfortunately, the pizza guy was going too fast and slid down into the tree next to the Amazon truck. And the tow truck only had 50 feet of cable, and he needed 100 feet to pull them up the hill.

I’m grateful to the Amazon truck guy for bringing our stuff, but he wasn’t going fast enough to get up the hill, and he didn’t understand he could have gone over to the side to get his tires onto the grass for more traction. Instead, he stayed in the center of the road and slid down. So, was this his fault?

The pizza guy was going too fast, and he didn’t follow the sign at the top of the hill that said, “Keep Right.” It says “Keep Right” to guide you into a turnout so you can look down the hill to see if anyone’s coming BEFORE heading down yourself. So, was it the pizza guy’s fault?

Well, my sign did NOT say, “Keep Right so you’ll be guided into a turnout so you can look down the hill to see if anyone’s coming BEFORE heading down yourself.” My sign just said, “Keep Right.” So my sign wasn’t good enough. And I had an ice-covered hill! Was it my fault?

Yes, yes, and yes. We were all part of the mistake.

I then paid $400 to have the entire driveway salted. Why wasn’t it salted before last evening? Our salt machine wasn’t working, and our caretaker was having surgery. The truth is, I could make any number of excuses, but if we take a good hard look at it, we can see there’s any number of problem points that could have kept what happened last night from happening.

Mistakes are simply a symptom of how a system needs to function better. That’s it.

Instead of pointing a finger, what if we looked instead at what each of us could have done better?

Shifting from a Blame Culture to a Problem-Solving Culture

One of the greatest tools we have RIGHT NOW to help us shift from a blame mindset to a problem-solving mindset is social and emotional intelligence. Social and emotional intelligence invites conversation rather than encouraging blame. It allows us to be with what is, instead of what we think should be or could be or once was or may never be.

We all have acceptable aspects of ourselves and unacceptable aspects for ourselves—for me, fear and hurt are those zones.

As the one who carried the anger in our family, I was very comfortable being mad. I picked a lot of fights (some might say I do still!) But what I wasn’t comfortable with and failed to look at growing up was my fear, hurt, and sadness.

Ideally, we’re all like giant love sponges that get filled up with positive affirmations. Then, when we’re full, we spill over onto others, offering affirmations to them and, when needed, problem-solving.

But we all have dry parts of our sponge where the positive affirmation never gets into. Those dry parts are what Freud refers to as our false selves.

Our false selves are based on certain beliefs we take on to fit into our world better. For example, if we’re pretty, we’ll be more likable. If we have a lot of money, we’ll be successful. If I work hard/achieve more, we’ll have more value.

The blame culture needs our false selves to thrive.

At the Wright Foundation, we practice what we call the assignment way of living to help put cracks into our false selves. Each day our students embrace a new assignment to challenge their limiting beliefs and mistaken perceptions—for example, thinking we won’t be valuable/accepted/loved if we make a mistake.

The more we crack that façade, the more our sponge can get filled with love, and the more we can contribute to a world that works for everyone.

See the Flaws, SAY the Flaws, Be the Flaws

This post has gotten me more likes than most. Why? I imagine those pink socks give us all permission to take pleasure in who we are – the parts of ourselves we usually hide under our pant cuffs.

I also imagine those pink socks could easily have been a mistake—perhaps I didn’t pack enough dark ones? Maybe it was dark when I got dressed and grabbed the wrong ones? Who knows? But I owned them in that photograph. I let them lead me into pleasure instead of shame. They became my success instead of my mistake.

That’s why we should embrace our mistakes instead of hiding them or hiding from them. When we make excuses, we don’t learn and grow. AND we miss out on potential joy and connection.

Don’t let your false self run the show. Let the anxiety of making mistakes at work go. Put on a pair of pink socks and start looking for the solution instead of the culprit. Let your mistakes make you, not break you.

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.

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!

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.