What Are We Fighting For? Building a REAL Emotional Connection in Your Relationship

How many times do you bite your tongue in your relationship?

What are we really fighting for? Build an emotional connection in relationships.

You know you want to say something, whether it’s about his socks on the floor or him droning on about his day without even asking how things are going for you.

You think to yourself, “That lousy, no-good-so-and-so. He never listens anymore! He’s used to show interest in me when we were dating, but these days something’s changed. He doesn’t give a crap…”

But do you speak up? Nope.

Sound familiar?

When we hold in our emotions, our frustrations, our anger, hurt and sadness, eventually we start holding in our joy as well. We keep to ourselves. We sacrifice our emotional connection.

Perhaps you find yourself doing little acts of rebellion…like throwing his socks in the garbage can or pretending you don’t hear him when he talks to you. Eventually you might feel like you’re living with your spouse, but you’re total strangers.

Is it him? Is it the socks? Is it me? Is it us?

Here’s the deal—if you aren’t speaking up in your relationship, acknowledging your emotions and getting them out, you are slowly killing your emotional connection – AND your relationship.

You aren’t engaging. You aren’t connecting.

You know what happens to fire when you don’t give it air? It dies. If the fire’s dwindling in your relationship, it’s likely you’re sucking the oxygen out.

I’ve seen this scenario time and time again. It’s not about placing blame on yourself, on your spouse or even on the socks (remember, no one gets to take more than 50% of the blame). It’s about identifying that there’s a problem, so BOTH of you need to take 100% responsibility for working toward a solution.

Doug & Deneen: Starving for Emotions

When Judith and I were working on our book, The Hearth of the Fight, we worked with many couples whose relationships were starved out and dying. There were still sparks left, but much of the emotional connection was ashen and lacking fuel.

One such couple was Deneen & Doug:

Doug and Deneen were on the brink of divorce. Like many couples, they thought they had fallen out of love after years together, a common mis-analysis. What had started out as a promising partnership full of hope had degenerated into a peaceful but pernicious coexistence.

Now Deneen would be on her own for the first time in her life. All she needed to do was pay the security deposit on the apartment she had found. For the first time in her life since college, she would be living without Doug. She was afraid, but she felt ready for the challenge; it was better than his irritatingly passive, non-expressive presence. She’d long ago determined she would never want to have a child with him.

Doug was feeling desperate. Not only was he hurt and alone, but his upset feelings were preoccupying him throughout the day and he was making errors at work that had cost him a potential partnership. He was failing everywhere.

Similar to many couples who once were deeply in love, they decided to make one last ditch effort before ending the relationship. They began working with us and learning how to engage anew. Deneen realized how she had been trying to keep their marriage “nice,” but that meant that she had actually been withholding herself, her judgments and even her wishes and desires from Doug. By not expressing herself or her needs, she had been growing more and more dissatisfied and unhappy until she thought she had to move out. Doug realized that he didn’t fight for what he wanted or ask for the support or encouragement he deserved. He had not challenged himself or Deneen to engage in the relationship.

They realized they were enmeshed in two types of fights, the first of which was a subtle form of “You’ve Changed/You Won’t Change.” [The other was what we call the Hidden Middle Finger.]

Deneen complained that Doug no longer adored her. She wondered if he had been faking it originally. She silently stewed in her hurt and wondered why he couldn’t just be like he used to be. She would ask him questions about his satisfaction, hoping he would show some concern for the relationship but he always said he was “fine with it.” Though her anger was roiling inside and every so often would erupt, she tried to avoid the battles that reminded her of the “scary” arguments her parents used to have.

Doug and Deneen’s situation probably sounds familiar to many of us. How many relationships are suffering because we don’t express our emotions? Because we don’t really work on building an emotional connection? How many of us suffer in silence because we’re afraid to engage and get our feelings out on the table?

Emotions: The Fuel for Passion

Your emotions are the fuel that FEEDS the fire of your relationship. If you don’t express your feelings (yes, even fight) and engage YOU’RE KILLING YOUR RELATIONSHIP.

People tell me all the time they don’t know what’s wrong with their relationship. “We’re distant and going through the motions. We just don’t feel that emotional connection. I’m not sure what’s wrong though—we never ever fight.”

The answer is right there—you never ever fight! That’s a huge problem! Our emotions need to get out! We need to express anger, frustration, irritation, hurt. We can’t bottle it up and hope it goes away. We can’t turn off our emotions!

Many of us, women and men, grew up in households where either we saw our parents fight and learned fighting was frightening or bad, or we NEVER saw our parents fight and thought that was normal. Maybe your parents taught you not to be “too much,” “to upset,” or “too emotional.”

We learn our parents’ message and apply it in our adult relationships. It results is us expressing our frustration passive aggressively (what I call the hidden middle finger). We do all these little actions just to piss off our partner while we think, “That’ll show them!” and the relationship erodes further.

Alternatively, we might also become attached to the idea of “you’ve changed/you won’t change,” imagining the relationship is no longer what it once was. This is one of the most common fights and leads to feelings of resentment and betrayal. What this argument essentially says is, “Why don’t you love me enough to change/why don’t you love me the way I am?”

In reality, emotions and yes, change are necessary for a relationship to thrive. Change is constant and the best way to address both these common fights is through direct confrontation and open discussion.

With Doug and Deneen, repairing their relationship meant learning how to fight. Fighting doesn’t mean the relationship is broken. In fact, it often means quite the opposite.

If you’re both fighting FOR the relationship rather than against, you might find you’re battling toward bliss (rather than falling apart).

When we find ourselves dwelling in a place of resentment with feelings of betrayal and passive aggressive actions, we can’t thrive within our relationships. Rather than acting as a place of growth, nurture and transformation, our relationships become stifling and gnaw away at us.

If you’re ready to strengthen your relationship and build an honest and solid emotional connection, embrace the conflict! The next time you pick up socks, don’t stay silent about it. Better yet—don’t pick them up at all!

(Incidentally, I had a client who did exactly this…and this small change shifted the entire paradigm of her marriage and relationship with her husband. They went from miserable to deeply re-committed and in love. So, ladies, stop angrily cleaning up his socks!)

In our relationships, we’re each responsible for our own happiness and our role within the emotional connection. If we’re fighting for our own happiness and growth, our transformational work will only serve to strengthen our relationships. When conflicts arise, ask yourself what you’re really fighting about. What is the underlying frustration and the emotional message behind your conflict?

Our emotions are a gift. Emotions, passion and feelings are the very fuel that fires our relationship and keeps that emotional connection going. If we’re not churning up emotions and passion then we might seem our bond slowly fading and weakening. Put the fire back in your connection. If you care about the relationship, care enough to fight FOR it!

When we’re fighting for our relationship we’re well on our way toward battling toward bliss. Rather than holding in emotions and frustrations that damage our emotional connection, we’re jumping in and getting our hands dirty! After all, relationships are messy! That’s part of the fun, right?

For more on ways to strengthen your relationship, please visit The Wright Foundation. Join us for a relationship workshop or coaching session to help you learn how to nurture your emotions and bring out your best!

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

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Identifying Emotions:
Your Feelings are
Divine & To Be Honored

It’s something we hear and talk about a lot, but it’s hard to envision what exactly a fuller, more vibrant life looks like.

Learn how to identify your emotions and honor them.

Does it mean we’ve received a promotion at work?

Does it mean we’re more deeply connected to our spouse and children?

Does it mean we walk around with a big grin on our face all the time?

Well, yes and no. Understanding what fulfillment means to you is an individual exploration.

Your fulfillment isn’t a picture I can paint for you or an idea I can give to you. It looks different for each of us.

What I can tell you is people who are fulfilled lead happier lives and are in touch, comfortable and expressive with their feelings. They’re good at identifying emotions. They’ve found purpose and meaning. They act with intention and focus on the larger picture. They nurture and love themselves.

Love Yourself More by Identifying Your Emotions

Why are emotions important? How do we go about identifying emotions?

Probably one of the most challenging tasks is to learn how to love ourselves and get comfortable with our wide spectrum of feelings. It’s about accepting who we are, but also understanding our capacity and desire for MORE.

As we practice more self-nourishment and learn to love ourselves more fully, it’s likely we may need to alter our habits and beliefs about who we are and what we believe we deserve. We might have grown up believing we are “too little” or “too much.” We might even avoid certain feelings because they’re uncomfortable. In fact, sometimes we can’t pinpoint WHAT we’re feeling. We may struggle to identify emotions.

As we come to love ourselves more and seek to live bigger, more fulfilling lives we must change habits and beliefs that limit us. They will hold us back. Our limiting beliefs will whisper in our ear that we’re not enough. We don’t deserve our success. We’re too much. No one could ever care for us. We should give up.

Many of us may not feel we’re deserving. We may feel we’re unloved or unlovable. We may carry guilt and pain from our past. We may experience frustration on our journey as often as we experience victory. It’s hard to feel like we deserve more. It’s hard to believe we deserve success.

Why are emotions important? To lead our best lives and discover our best, happiest, most fulfilled selves, we must explore and bravely delve into ALL our feelings, even the elusive ones. Identifying your emotions can help unlock them.

This is frightening. Even if we’re growth-focused, change is hard and the prospect and process of change is daunting. Changing our thoughts about who we are even threatens our very sense of self–the truths we’ve come to believe about who we are.

Change isn’t an easy task.


There’s no denying the importance of emotions in life. Identifying emotions and feelings can help us work through them and move past the beliefs keeping us back.

Zoning Out with Soft Addictions

So, what do we do to cope? We check out emotionally.

We might slide into avoidance and soft addiction behaviors. We may feel like, life is tough and I “need a break.” Suddenly we’re binge-watching TV, eating junk food or spending money beyond our means. These behaviors are called soft addictions. We might not think of them like hard drugs, gambling or other “conventional” addictions, but they are equally as damaging to our lives and fulfillment. They keep us from living our lives fully. Soft addictions hold us back from change and growth they keep us from identifying emotions and shifting our limiting beliefs.

Change is hard work and changing our limiting beliefs is REALLY hard work…but it’s not impossible. Not at all! More importantly, change is worth it. Once we break out of our soft addiction cycle and stop our avoidance behaviors we will move forward. It’s important to first understand the “why” behind them so we start the process.

All our not-so-great, avoidance behaviors are rooted in our feelings.

Feelings are sometimes uncomfortable. Some are downright yucky, right? We all hate cringing when we say the “wrong thing,” or feeling intimidated, scared, fearful or generally “bad.” I personally HATE feeling embarrassed. I turn bright red! As hard as it is for me, I work hard to get comfortable with feeling embarrassed.

This means I do things to push myself out of my comfort zone. If I don’t want to do something, I ask myself why. I work on identifying emotions. Is it because I feel fear of being embarrassed? Yes? Well, then I push on. I’ve felt embarrassment before, but I identify the feeling and I know I won’t let fear hold me back.

We need to realize all feelings are okay and important. Our feelings—even the cringe-inducing “ugh” ones are normal, natural and important to face.

When we backslide or fall into soft addictions, it’s often because our feelings are overwhelming or too much to deal with. We might long to avoid uncomfortable situations or thoughts. We might feel unprepared for emotional challenges or we might not possess the social support we need on our journey.

Our feelings drive our behaviors and push us to seek solutions to avoid, zone out or circumvent the uncomfortable. We even go so far as to seek out others who share our soft addictions, because it helps us feel justified. The friend who loves shopping and always orders dessert, the buddies on social media, and our spouses who might comfortably fall into the pattern of zoning out in front of the boob tube every night.

Yet, even though we’re zoning out, there’s still an underlying feeling of unrest. We know we’re avoiding. We don’t feel good about ourselves when we spend hours on the computer, in front of the TV, shopping for items we don’t need, or binging on a bag of chips. We’re actually making ourselves feel emptier rather than getting the nourishment and fulfillment we’re seeking.

To break out of this pattern, we need to shift our beliefs about what we deserve and our place in the world. We need to surround ourselves with others who are seeking to do the same.

Do you know allies who will help guide you, advocate for you (and call you out on your crap)? Many of us have friends, but how many of us have allies? How many of us have people in our lives who stand side by side with us, support us and empower us?

Our allies help us face our feelings, even the frightening ones. They keep us honest. They keep us looking inward at what we’re feeling and why. They help us realize our feelings. We should embrace ALL feelings as part of the richness of the human experience.

Honoring Our Feelings: A Loving Truth

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

As I was sitting in a Parisian café, the idea of Four Loving Truths came to me in a moment of what I like to think of as divine inspiration. (I wrote about them in my book, The Soft Addiction Solution.) I’ve come back to these Loving Truths time and again, whenever I’ve struggled or needed inspiration. They guide me on my journey and enhanced my quality of life. These truths open us up to the possibility of MORE in our lives.

While all the truths are important, the one most applicable to identifying your emotions and shifting your limiting beliefs is the third. The third of the Four Loving Truths I explored is “Feelings Are Divine and to Be Honored.

Encoded within you is a deep sensitivity, designed to provide you with exquisite information to guide you to the right action, to protect you, to lead you to pleasure, to experience intimacy. Your feelings express the deepest truth of your soul. It is through your feelings that you experience spirit, the greater essence of life. Feelings are the universal human language, a conduit from heart to heart, transcending our outer differences and connecting us to all.

We become most human and alive when we cry our tears, laugh our amusement, you out in anger, shake with fear, reach out with love and bubble over with joy. Feeling these feelings, naming them, and being in a relationship with them in the here and now is the way to a full, vibrant life.

Our emotions guide us to pleasure, alert us to pain, divert us from danger, and lead us to fulfillment. When we deny our emotions, we become depressed, anxious, and even physically ill. We may act out inappropriately rather than expressing our emotions responsibly. Being hurtful, mean, ill-willed, or irresponsible are all examples of our dark side’s misuse of feelings. Even worse, such a feeling-avoidant attitude causes us to miss the wisdom and aliveness encoded in our emotions. We miss the flow of energy within us. We miss the connection to our heart, to the hearts of others, and to spirit. When we misuse or cut off our feelings, we miss their ability to lead us to the next level of exploration.

Expression of a feeling often leads to a new discovery of who and what we are. As we ride the wave of our feelings, we arrive at new understandings, and we express things we never knew. Sometimes we don’t know what we think or can’t define what’s inside until we begin to express the feeling Our expression then leads us to new territory where we become something that we weren’t before. This process keeps us from being stagnant, from repeating the same thoughts and reactions, it is how we grow. It is what helps us create ourselves.

Without our emotions, we would not be human. Our emotions connect us to every other person. Through them, we understand ourselves and one another. We may not share beliefs or have the same thoughts but our emotions are the language of all humankind. They transcend culture, beliefs race, age, sex or any artificial division Al of us hurt, hope, love, sorrow and rejoice in the depths of our hearts.

Our feelings express truly the deepest parts of ourselves. They reveal and define us. They guide us to express, to heal, to connect, to worship, to love and to become our most human and our most divine selves.

The Soft Addiction Solution

As we work on embracing a life of greater joy and great fulfillment, our feelings are an integral part of the beautiful tapestry of our human fabric. Identifying emotions and embracing feelings expands the capacity of our hearts. The more we allow ourselves to feel, the greater our capacity to feel becomes. I can’t overstate the importance of emotions in life.

For more on moving toward your best life, finding greater fulfillment and a higher capacity for joy, please visit us at The Wright Foundation. Join us for a Foundations Training Weekend, where you will learn to embrace your emotions and let go of what’s holding you back.

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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.

Featured photo by Verne Ho on Unsplash.

The Cost of Winning at All Costs: A Lesson from Charlottesville

Once again, President Trump has reversed himself – blaming both sides for the tragedy in Charlottesville.

Dr. Bob Wright responds to the situations in Charlottesville, VA with a wise lesson: What is the true cost of trying to win at any - and all - costs?

This absolute lack of a moral compass – that also leads to intimidation of anyone who “leaks” information in the White House or elsewhere – is once again a sign of Donald Trump’s allegiance to winning at all costs.

He has zero interest in the truth. Attacking, defaming, and redirecting attention are his primary tools of battle. And let’s not be confused – it is all a battle.

The cost to us is huge. Currently, he plans to eradicate public radio, subsidies for the arts, and anything that thinking, sensitive human beings would be interested in. Even higher education is now being attacked.

Let’s really take a few lessons from world history. Cambodia – wipe out the intellectuals. Vietnam- wipe out the intellectuals. We are seeing an anti-intellectual thrust in our country where vehemence of argument is a replacement for rational inquiry.

The chameleon nature of President Trump is truly dangerous to our country. His capacity to play to various disaffected audiences is terrifying. To be sure, our country has not paid enough attention to the disaffected, but how many of the “disaffected” of the alt-right are without work, without opportunity for education?

The urban poor are truly disadvantaged, and the meager subsidies they have are cut as we continue to invest in the military industrial complex. A terror outlined by our last ideologically consistent Republican, and a man for whom I have profound affection and respect, President Eisenhower.

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

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C.A.R.E. Profile:
The Four Components of
Emotional Intelligence

Have you ever wished you were more in touch with your feelings?

There are four components of emotional intelligence which are valuable tools to discover yourself.

Maybe you’re a “tough guy” who was raised in a household where feelings weren’t okay. Maybe you were told not to get emotional, or that it wasn’t okay to express anger or frustration. Maybe emotional displays even irritate you or make you feel uncomfortable.

Yet, you probably know the importance of emotional intelligence skills—especially in the workplace. Studies are now showing working with emotional intelligence is vital when it comes to leadership and success. In fact, in many leadership roles, a high EQ is more valuable than IQ.  By understanding the four components of emotional intelligence and how they correlate with our feelings, we can start to boost our EQ.

Being a Feelings Detective

We all have feelings, of course. Our feelings are powerful tools to guide us. We all have an emotional core. You might also think of our emotional core as a “personality type.” Some of us are more outgoing and expressive. Others of us are more analytical, reserved and cautious. There’s no right or wrong to our personality type, but understanding where you fall on the personality spectrum helps guide you in your interactions with others.

Now we’ve all sat through conferences and training seminars where we’ve talked about different personality types—how they balance and intertwine. You’ve probably even taken a few personality assessments if you’ve been in the business world. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is a common test, but there are many variations out there.

These tell you a lot about yourself, but they may also leave you scratching your head too. “Great, I know I’m an INTJ, now what do I DO with that information?” Sometimes the categories seem too broad and vague, other times you might wonder how to incorporate this information into your day-to-day interactions and how to use it to make you more successful.

Here at Wright, we’ve developed a system called the C.A.R.E profile. This system helps pinpoint the four components of emotional intelligence: areas of comfort for each personality type, as well as the areas for growth. Each person fits into these four components of emotional intelligence and these C.A.R.E. traits tell us a lot about who we are, and how we interact. No one fits 100% into just one C.A.R.E. profile type, however. Many of us straddle two or three types.

The Four Components of Emotional Intelligence

As we work to get more in touch with our feelings, it helps to know which profile type we fit into. The C.A.R.E. profile is broken down into four components of emotional intelligence.


Concerned about feelings, is flexible, risk-avoidant, people-oriented and cooperative.


Risk-avoidant, uses time precisely, works well with facts and figures. Accurate, detail-oriented and thorough.


May appear cool and distant. Precise about time. Takes interpersonal risks. Likes to tell others what to do. Competitive, has self-control and is task oriented.


Verbal and fast-acting. Shows feelings and concerns. Extroverted, higher-risk oriented. Persuasive, optimistic, competitive and people-oriented.

As you can see, many of us cross into several of these four components of emotional intelligence. It is hard, if not impossible to distill multifaceted personalities into only one C.A.R.E. type. Still, the majority of people tend to fall more heavily into one or two areas.

The good news is, even if your personality is dominated by one area, you can learn to branch out and engage all sides of your personality. Analyzers can learn how to up-regulate their emotional state and become more energized and cooperative. Energizers can down-regulate their extroverted side, focus and engage their analytic brain.

Understanding the difference between the four components of emotional intelligence helps us to be more aware and interactive with others. It also helps us understand and identify our feelings.

Not sure which personality type you fit into?
Take the C.A.R.E Profile Quiz here.

For example, some personality types have a difficult time staying focused when they feel hurt or angry. Other personality types are hesitant and shy, which reads to those around us as distant or standoffish.

As you become aware of the strengths and growth areas in your personality type, use this awareness to experience fuller, more vibrant engagement and interactions. Identify areas where you can push out of your comfort zone and build on your personality strengths. How can you boost your emotional intelligence skills?

Understanding your type within the four components of emotional intelligence will help you gain greater knowledge about the way you express emotion. It helps you increase your emotional intelligence skills and seek activities and roles to allow your personality type to really excel. It may also help you identify potential emotional roadblocks and areas where you should be working out and flexing those emotional muscles more often.

The Importance of Emotions

There are no bad feelings, emotions OR personality types. Our emotions drive us. They help shape our personalities. Our fears, our desires, our pet peeves and levels of excitement all play into our security and the way we express ourselves to others.

We’ve all seen Spock on Star Trek, right? Spock was a Vulcan and had no emotions, only logic. Unfortunately for Mr. Spock, this would be a nearly impossible state for anyone to exist in. Even the most logical, analytic person is still driven by emotions. Our emotions tell us what to eat, what to wear, and how to make choices.

Many of us might feel uncomfortable with our feelings, but we certainly weren’t born that way. We are born emotional and expressive. When a baby needs attention, what does he or she do? Babies cry! Babies get frustrated and yell. When a baby is amused, they laugh…and they don’t hold back. They don’t tamp down their emotions. It is said that, “Babies have emotions, but adults have moods,” yet our emotions are the most precious gift and powerful tool in our creation.

Emotional intelligence skills give us the power to experience life fully. We don’t have a robot (or a Vulcan) brain. We FEEL. We want to please others and we feel bad when we hurt others. We get annoyed with people. We desire and yearn and we long for our yearnings to be met.

Many of us learn to “fake our way through” and avoid feeling. Yes, we might get in a “mood” but we attempt to shake it off and suppress it. We attempt to please others and be amicable. We avoid expressions where others say, “you’re too emotional” or “you’re too sensitive.”

But where do these feelings go? Feelings, it turns out, don’t go away. They still exist inside us even if we don’t let them out. They still affect us. They make us anxious, depressed, sad or frustrated if we don’t express them. Our feelings will even make us sick.

Let your emotions out! Label what you’re feeling and express it. Learn to say, “I’m feeling FEAR!” or “I’m feeling JOY!” It sounds strange, but the very act of identifying and labeling our emotions helps us discover and uncover what we are feeling. It takes away the mystery and apprehension. It helps us begin communicating with emotional intelligence.

If you’re worried about feeling angry, are afraid to let yourself feel really sad, or if you feel silly expressing joy, you’re suppressing your emotional state. Instead, get it out there! This is particularly challenging for Analyzers and Regulators who might want to control interactions and remove the emotion from situations (like Mr. Spock).

Those of us with higher social/emotional intelligence skills—those who embrace emotions—are more likely to be successful, get promotions, earn more money and be leaders in the workplace. Why? Because companies know a higher EQ means more enthusiasm, more competition, more engagement.

Our emotions are our hidden superpowers. They allow us to live life more fully, more vibrantly and more authentically. They allow us to let go of our pretense and worries about what others will think of us.

Today, I want you to go out and express an emotion you normally wouldn’t. This means if you’re feeling annoyed, I want you to say, “I’m really frustrated about this.” If you’re feeling joyful and a song comes on the radio, crank it up and do a little dance. If you watch a sad commercial, let the tears flow.

Let go of the fear of,  “What will people think of me?” or “I don’t want to be embarrassed,” and allow yourself to really, fully engage and feel. Try it on for size and see where it takes you.

For more about identifying your personality type and engaging your emotional intelligence skills, please visit The Wright Foundation. Take our C.A.R.E. profile quiz here to see which personality type(s) you fit into. Remember, our personalities and emotions are at the core of our humanity. Embrace your emotions to live life to the fullest!

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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.