The Bullseye Exercise: Make Decisions Based Upon the Person’s Value to You

BullseyeToo often we feel pressure to do something because someone is “counting on us”, but we really don’t want to do it. The Bullseye Exercise helps to make that decision by identifying the degree of value we attribute to a particular relationship. In using the Bullseye to make these decisions, the farther away a person is from the center, the less we go out of our way for them. We put less energy into the relationship, and do not work as hard to work out disagreements. We put less energy into pleasing them. Conversely, the closer to the bullseye, the more energy and value we put into the relationship.

The Bullseye represents a private description of our relationships and what they mean to us. Our decisions of how much we do with or for that person align with their place on our Bullseye circles. Family in this case does not necessarily get preferential placement. The drawing is meant for our eyes only and therefore allows us to focus more easily on what we truly want regarding that relationship.

The Bullseye prevents us from exhausting our resources in a blanket application of our internal values. Without this guide, our decisions may come out of desire. Or sometimes they may come out of a sense of duty or loyalty. These internal values sometimes result in us doing an activity that we don’t particularly want to do. A blanket application of these values to the entire world leaves no time for ourselves. We need some kind of decision making for balance.

How do I know where to place someone?

Most people can easily decide who falls in what circle and how close or far that person is from the center. The person doing the exercise places themselves at the very center of the bullseye. If they are married and or have children at home, then they most likely place the “family” in the center as well. Therefore, my husband and I are in my bullsye. My Soul Sisters have demonstrated my value to them time and time again. Therefore, they are in my closest circle to the bullseye, alongside my adult daughter. The farther out from the bullsye, the less effort or value we attribute to that relationship. People can come in and out of the circles, moving closer or farther away. It is up to the person who owns the Bulleye Exercise.

Examples of using the Bullseye with friends:

  1. Your social group contains some friends that you are not as close to as others within the group. One of them puts pressure on you to do her a favor. She has not reciprocated in the past in terms of helping you. You might decide not to do that favor.
  2. You are getting married and need to decide who will be in your wedding party. This is a great time to see where they are on your Bullseye circles.
  3. A “friend” asks you to go drinking with him or her. You really don’t want to because they drink too much and you end up taking care of them. You might be less inclined to join them because:
    1. They are not one of your closer friends. Or
    2. You just don’t have fun with that person when they get so drunk. You decline the invite.
  4. This related example might be a tougher one. Your circle of long-standing friends habitually go out drinking and spend the next day not much use to themselves or anyone else. You are getting tired of not feeling well over the weekend. Your true friends will understand that you no longer enjoy being hung over, and that you do not judge their choice. You just don’t like spending money on getting sick. However, don’t be surprised if they don’t like your decision. Often in the 30’s the “gang” becomes divided between those who like getting drunk and those who no longer do.

Examples of using the Bullseye with family:

  1. One of your parents has a strained relationship with you. He always asks favors from you but never reciprocates. He has a history of often letting you down. You might again decide to decline.
  2. In-laws: Your in-laws expect you to visit them across the country for Christmas. You and your wife had talked about going away for Christmas. Your wife struggles with standing up to them, but wants to go on the trip you both planned. What do you do as the mate in the Bullseye? It’s important to support your mate. What might help her speak to her parents more easily? Or for the two of you to do it together?
  3. Speaking of in-laws, perhaps they have a key and come and go in your house as they please. They watch the kids often, but will come to “visit” at most any time. This bothers you. In this case, it is very important that you and your spouse stand together. First of all the in-laws need to give the key back if it bothers you. Your spouse, to support you in the Bullseye, needs to get the key and explain why, without making you the “bad guy”.


  1. Make a Bullseye Exercise. Notice who falls closer to the Bullseye and who falls farther away.
  2. Be aware of why you put them where you did.
  3. Have you had friendships that moved from close to more distant circles? Why?
  4. Become aware of when you might employ this exercise. Are you willing to make decisions based upon the circles? If not, why not?
  5. Among your friends, can you differentiate between those who truly value you and those who do not? Will you use this concept in your decision-making in the future? If not, what stops you?

About Susan Saint-Welch

Susan Saint-Welch LMFT has counseled couples and individuals for many years on issues such as dating, marriage, family drama, coping with difficult times, improving self-image and living the life you love. She provides psychotherapy for clients in California and Dating, Couples and Life Coaching for clients outside California through secure video conferencing. She has published numerous articles regarding these issues on her website, on and on

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