Finding Your Power at Work

We spend much of our time at work. In fact, for most of us work takes up nearly a third of our weekday hours.

Do you want to get more out of your job? The Wright Foundation will teach you how to find your power at work.


When we spend so much time in our work environment, it’s important we feel positive about our careers. Yet finding your power at work is often a struggle.

How do you get out of a rut at your workplace? Even if your job is okay and you feel you’re doing well, is it enough? What’s the secret to getting more satisfaction and fulfillment out of your 9-5?

For many of us, the answer to a happier workday means engaging in self-examination. Are you standing in your own way?

Discovering Power at Work by Expressing Yourself

Do you feel stuck? Overlooked? Powerless at your job?

For starters, most people look at job dissatisfaction and start blaming it on every aspect of the workplace BUT themselves:

  • My boss is a jerk.
  • My team doesn’t support me.
  • I haven’t been given the promotion or position I want.
  • They expect too much of me.
  • I don’t click with my coworkers.

If any of these statements have come out of your mouth recently, it may be time to look around and identify the roadblocks keeping you from harnessing your own power. Often people’s reaction to the way power is being used around them is the very thing that’s getting in their way of claiming their own power and strength.

Many people at work complain and criticize others, but without a clear goal or resolution in mind. Before you start to criticize those around you, it’s important you examine your feelings. First, what are you doing that earns you the right to point fingers at others? Second, if the criticism or frustration is valid, how can you express it responsibly with a clear resolution and vision for the outcome?

Frankly, at work, many of us simply bitch because that attitude or habit has become ingrained into our office culture. We bemoan and whine about circumstances “out of our control.”


When we complain just to complain, we’re handing off our power. It often feels far easier to blame someone else, than to go through the process of finding your power at work.


Once we realize change is within our grasp, we can start to take the steps to refocus and harness our power, taking control of our position and interactions at the office. The first step is to express what you think, need, and desire from your boss, coworkers, and team. Say it responsibly, taking personal accountability for your role and contribution. Second, align yourself with the company’s purpose.

So, if I were to express my frustration with an aspect of the office, I would first examine my vision and goals for the outcome. How do I plan to contribute to the resolution? Next, I would discuss it with colleagues, starting out with, “I see our company’s purpose as X. I believe our highest functioning in the direction of our purpose would be to take steps Y and Z, rather than the A and B ideas we’ve been discussing.”

By aligning with the company’s purpose, you’re finding your power at work, taking responsibility, and not blaming others. You’re working to ensure the outcome aligns with the overall purpose and goals. When this happens, your office interactions become purpose-driven. You’re moving forward with a goal in mind. You will see a paradigm shift toward being more engaged, influential, and visible. Using direct and honest feedback, fueled by alignment to your company’s purpose, will lead you toward becoming a powerful leader.

What Do You Really Want from Work?

Finding your power at work means identifying your true yearnings. What do you really want? Hint: it’s not just a new car or a bigger salary. What is the yearning of your soul?

Our deeper yearnings inform our goals and direct our path. If we yearn to have control, for example, we may be driven toward a leadership position. If we yearn to make a difference, we may find ourselves gravitating toward teaching, training, instructing, or helping professions. If we long to matter, we may be seeking the validation that comes from positive feedback.

Once we identify our yearnings, we can align our goals toward them. We also become focused in our pursuit to get our yearnings met. This means not being afraid to speak up, disagree, or engage in conflict when we dislike a situation. Often, if we want something, we need to ask, speak up, and express our desires.

At the same time, there is also power in silence. Not the passive-aggressive silence some people use to manipulate others or steer a situation toward the desired outcome, but the silence that comes from engaging and listening to others.


When we’re truly engaged, we’re focused on connecting with those around us. We’re working not only toward our own yearnings, but toward identifying and meeting the yearnings of others.


Many people fail to maximize their potential in their careers because they don’t recognize or claim their personal power. Each of us holds vast amounts of personal power and human potential. We define leadership as the power within individuals to influence the thoughts, feelings, and actions of others.

You may be sitting quietly in a meeting, but if you’re truly engaged and listening, you’re holding your power. If your eyes and your mind are engaged with the conversation, you’re participating in the meeting and bringing aliveness to the situation. If you zone out, your eyes go dead, you doodle on a piece of paper and otherwise disengage, you’re killing the entire dynamic.

Finding your power at work means being present, telling the truth, learning what you can in each situation and realizing the influence you hold in each situation.


If you consider that knowledge is power, then expanding your self-knowledge is expanding your personal power.

Transformed! The Science of Spectacular Living


We may get so eager to express ourselves and react to the way power is used around us that we forget the importance of learning and listening. Once we learn to be present and active in our participation in meetings and discussions, we shift into higher personal power.

The Power of Allies and Support

The truth is, it’s often hard to understand our relationship with power and authority. It’s even hard to understand the way we view power objectively.

To most people, power means force. It’s something someone else has. Power isn’t “nice” and in fact, we may think there’s something wrong with having power.

If you were spanked or disciplined heavily as a kid when you did nothing wrong, for example, your view of power gets mixed up with authority and the misuse of power. This may lead you to a pattern of reacting against the power of others, rather than expressing your own power.

Most people spend more time avoiding rejection than they spend seeking their own satisfaction and fulfillment. We fear rejection and the pain that comes from mistakes or critiques. So instead, we hold back and fail to go for it.

When we become our own roadblock, it’s often helpful to work with an outside source like a mentor, ally, or coach to point us in the right direction. As Bill Gates once said, “Everyone needs a coach. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a basketball player, a tennis player, a gymnast, or a bridge player.”

In a similar vein, Harvard professor Howard Gardner identified seven areas of intelligence. These areas include arts, kinesthetic (body) intelligence, mathematical intelligence, scientific understanding, and interpersonal intelligence. Many of us go to school for years, we go to the gym and work with a trainer, but when it comes to interpersonal intelligence, we’re left to navigate on our own.


Working with a guide like a life coach helps us learn how we relate to ourselves and relate to other people. It helps us strengthen our emotional intelligence “muscle” and move toward more fulfilling relationships.


We seem to think we’re doing okay as long as we have a positive rapport with others. Yet, underneath it all, we need to have rapport and satisfaction with ourselves.

An ally may come in the form of a good friend, a boss, an advisor, or a life coach. For many people, truly finding your power at work requires the backing and assistance of a team. This isn’t because of personal inadequacies. It’s simply because an outside source gives us perspective and objective feedback. It’s then our job to listen and apply that feedback to our lives.

If you’re hoping to find more power at work and greater job satisfaction, start with self-examination. Are you taking responsibility for your feelings? Are you expressing your yearnings and engaging with those around you? Do you work to understand the vision and goals of others you work with? Do you need an objective source, like a life coach, to help you navigate and move you forward toward your goals?

Each of us has great power and potential. It’s up to us to uncover it and move toward harnessing our power. As we fulfill our potential, we’ll discover greater satisfaction at work and in all aspects of our lives.

For more on discovering your strengths and potential please visit us at the Wright Foundation. Join us for an upcoming networking event where you’ll meet others who are on the path to living their best lives.


About the Author

Dr. Bob Wright

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


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

 

How to Be a Better Ally

At one time or another, most of us have asked ourselves how to be a better friend.

Wondering how you can be a better ally? Being an ally is more than just being a good friend. It’s being honest, supportive and purpose-driven.


Perhaps we’ve noticed a friend who’s struggling, feeling down, or having a tough time achieving their goals. We may wonder how to help them and show them how much we care. While friendship is important, the real question is how to be a better ally.

What does it mean to be a better ally, exactly? Is it the same as being a friend? Well, look at your own circle. Chances are you have many coworkers, buddies, and social connections. You may have a collection of hundreds of “friends” on Facebook and social media…but how many of those people truly have your back? How many of them are allies for helping you become your best?

What it Means to Be a Better Ally

Allies are different than friends. Friends are often tossed together by circumstance or similar interests. Think of your friends from growing up. Chances are most of your pals lived in your neighborhood, attended your school, and enjoyed the same activities.

As we grow up, our connections branch out further. We may have friends and acquaintances all around the world. We may have coworkers we consider friends, former roommates from college, and our buddies from the golf club or tennis court.


But how many of these people are truly our allies? What does it even mean to be an ally, and what can we do to be a better ally to those around us?


Well, first of all, allies often share deeper qualities. While they may share a common interest or share a common demographic, they don’t necessarily always fit the mold. Where allies are truly connected to us is the way we share similar values and a common purpose. Our allies want the same things in life that we want: fulfillment of our greatest potential.

Ideally all our friends would be allies, but of course, it’s not always the case. It’s important that we recognize the allies in our lives and hold them dear.

Here’s the deal: allies aren’t the ones who tell you what you want to hear all the time. In fact, a true ally will encourage you to grow as a person by kicking you in the butt when you need it! They’re honest with you and you trust them to tell you the truth. They don’t sugar coat (but of course, they aren’t mean about it either). Allies may give you tough love but it’s still coming from the heart. A true ally wants what’s best for you. They hold a vision for you. They see your potential and push you to become the hero they know you are.


Think about the allies in the historic and contemporary myths— Odysseus had Athena, and Luke Skywalker had Obi- Wan (Ben) Kenobi. They didn’t go on their quests alone. Engage and find allies. At the same time, recognize and reject those people who disempower you or join you in blame and self- pity. True allies not only support you when things are tough, but they also inspire and challenge you when all is going well.
Your partner can be your strongest ally. Whether you are fighting, playing, doing chores, or making love, every interaction can be an opportunity to grow and transform. Your relationship can provide the support for you to achieve your dreams. Allies bring out the best in each other. Support your partner in the pursuit of her vision, not your vision of her but her vision of her best self.
Called the Michelangelo phenomenon (Rusbult, Finkel, and Kumashiro 2009), you help sculpt your partner’s ideal self. Couples who affirm each other’s ideal selves not only bring out the best in their own lives, but have much more satisfying relationships as they grow toward their ideal. Every time you interact, you can be “sculpting” one another. Allies hold a vision for one another— you appreciate your partner for who she is, but also for who she can become. You mirror the vision your partner inspires in you that is consistent with your own goals for yourself. That doesn’t mean that you don’t contribute to your partner’s vision— you may see aspects of your partner’s gifts and potential that she doesn’t.
It’s not about changing your partner to your standards, but believing in her potential and supporting her as she moves in the direction of big dreams. We often need our loved ones and others to activate our yearning— it’s hard to yearn for something if you don’t even know it exists or if you have already ruled it out for yourself because of your limiting beliefs!
The Heart of the Fight

Your partner isn’t your only ally either, so there’s no reason to feel ally-less if you’re not in a relationship. In fact, many of our most powerful allies are those friends we truly trust and align with.

A key difference between a regular “friend” and an ally is that friends often observe us and think, “Oh, I don’t want to tell her that. She’ll feel upset (or hurt or angry…).” But an ally understands by holding back honest feedback and truth, you’re also holding back the other person. You’re not being genuine, honest, or engaging. You’re not moving the person toward the direction of their dreams.

To be an ally for another person, you must really align yourself with what matters to him or her. What are their ideals? Do you understand who they really want to become? Not who you’d like them to become for you, but who you hope they become for themselves.

Allies are compassionate, empathetic, and understanding. It’s about putting yourself in someone else’s shoes.

What to Do When a Friend is Struggling

We’ve all had a friend who has been struggling or going through a tough time. When this happens, it’s tempting to swoop in and rescue them or to further enable them to keep them on their path. We may even fear if we don’t rescue or enable them, they won’t like us as much or they won’t be our friends.

Allies know enabling and rescuing isn’t the behavior of a true friend. Allies support and empower the other person to get themselves out of the mess.


It’s not that allies see themselves as superior, know-it-all types or revered advisors. An allied relationship is simply a healthy, engaging connection filled with understanding and give-and-take.


To be an ally for someone who’s struggling, we should look at what they really care about. What’s important to them? What is their ideal for themselves and who do they want to become? Aligning with that concept and supporting them to move toward their ideal is so much more powerful than simply commiserating with someone.

The trouble with commiserating is it leaves the other person stuck in the same negative place. It doesn’t help them move out of the current phase. It doesn’t mean, of course, that we shouldn’t act with compassion and caring. We should have empathy and support. We should put ourselves in the other person’s shoes and have understanding; at the same time, avoid enabling them. Help them tend to whatever it is in their life they need to attend to.

The Power of Seeing Others for Who They Truly Are

In relationship research, we learn many lessons, not only for couples but for friends as well. There’s a concept called the “Michelangelo effect” where you craft someone through your interactions with him or her. Now, this doesn’t mean controlling them or bossing them around. It actually goes back to the way Michelangelo saw the statue within the block of marble. He would carefully craft around the statue to help it emerge from the block.

When we hold our relationships in such a way that it allows them to bring out their very best, we’re both strengthened. It’s not about sculpting them or forcing them into the shape we imagine they should be in, but simply holding space for them to evolve and grow into the shape they can become.

Self-Expansion Theory tells us the more you can help someone else by sharing your own perspective, introducing new possibilities and activities, the more you’re adding to their lives. Their lives are better as they discover new ways of being and new ideas. This is the same reason new relationships feel so fun and exciting—because we see the other person as new and different. The studies show the more you help another person expand and grow, the happier you both are within the relationship; this concept goes for friendships and relationships with allies as well. This gives us both a sense of purpose.


You can’t dedicate in a vacuum. Transformers immerse themselves in cultures of allies, whether fellow Transformers, talented coaches, teachers, inspiring role models, truth-sharing friends, or high-performing teammates. They hang out with people who share their values, who speak truth, who are living large in their own lives.
Transformed! The Science of Spectacular Living

If we’re committed to the idea that we want to live our best lives and bring out the best in those around us, we should both be a better ally and seek allies in our relationships. It doesn’t mean we need to push aside relationships we view as less fulfilling. We can commit to operating with honesty to strengthen and grow those relationships as well.

For more on transforming your life and growing your circle of influence, please visit us at the Wright Foundation. Join us for an upcoming networking event where you’ll experience opportunities to empower and work with others along their journey.


About the Author

Judith Wright receives the Visionary Leader Award from Chicago NAWBO.

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


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

What Does it Mean to Be Authentic?

Research has proven that authenticity is one of the most critical traits for good leaders.

Want to be a better leader? In order to be effective, you must answer the question: what does it mean to be authentic?

 


Displaying authenticity and integrity leads to better, more effective direction and management. But before we delve into the importance of authenticity, we must define it. What does it mean to be authentic?

On a similar note, what are the qualities of an authentic person and how can we implement those qualities in our lives every day in order to be more engaged and connected to those around us?

Honesty and Authenticity

Several years back, I worked with a guy named Ray, who attended one of our men’s basic training sessions. He worked with the top Fortune 500 companies. After attending our weekend retreat, he found himself facing a major client who was having some operating issues in his company.

Now, during our training, we tell hard truths. We get extremely honest with each other—very real and straightforward. We urge our attendees to start delivering honest criticism with vision and to stop holding back out of fear of rejection. The shocking discovery is that consistently, people trust those who are honest, even if they’re critical, more than those who tell them what they want to hear. Ray was so inspired by what he’d seen during his weekend coursework that he decided to apply it in his meeting with this big-wig client.

Rather than glossing over some of the harsher truths about how the client was operating, he went in straight-forward and laid it out on the table. He told the client exactly what his observations were about the business—what was working and what wasn’t.

He later related to us that he was absolutely terrified while he was doing it. Like many top dogs, this client was used to hearing people kiss up and tell him what he wanted to hear. He wasn’t as used to the harsh truths and honesty that Ray was handing to him. But lo and behold, the client absolutely appreciated the honesty. In fact, he thanked Ray right there on the spot.

Years later, their professional relationship was still going strong. In fact, this client trusted Ray more than any other consultants that he worked with and their work relationship formed into a friendship. The client often contacts Ray for personal advice and more—why? Because he trusts Ray to be an authentic, integrous person.

Dr. Tony Simons of Cornell University discussed the need for integrity in leadership in the hospitality industry. In his research, he discovered that integrity is one of, if not the most critical leadership skill that can lead to an actual bottom-line business return; he refers to as the “integrity dividend.” What’s more, the value of integrity is actually very high. Honest leaders that display integrity and authenticity in their interactions are rare, and thus highly prized.

Leaders who actually do what they say they’re going to do and who follow through with their plans are trusted by their employees, coworkers, and clients. As a result, their companies perform better financially. There is truly a payout for operating with integrity, honesty, and authenticity.

The Qualities of Transformational Leaders

Authenticity is one of the most important variables in leadership. When researchers Bass and Riggio did their study of transformational leadership, they discovered that there were universal characteristics of transformational leaders.

Transformational leaders have a vision. They are able to articulate and share their vision with those they work with. They have a clear idea of where they’re headed and how they plan to get there. In each situation, they’re working toward a larger vision.


Transformational leaders want people around them to be engaged. When they come into a meeting (even if they aren’t the one’s hosting the meeting), they engage with others. They rally the team and get everyone involved. They’re interested in others and approach them with understanding.


Transformational leaders care about each individual they lead, and those individuals feel that care and know it exists. It’s easy to say, “I care about my coworkers,” but how many of our team members really feel that care? How many of them know how much you truly care about them?

Most importantly, transformational leaders walk their talk. This means they’re genuine. They understand what it means to be authentic and to act with integrity. They’re honest and truthful. They face up to their mistakes, admit them and learn from them. They’re accepting of themselves and of others. They really live and practice what they preach.

Those who work with and under transformational leaders are less likely to suffer from stress. Transformational leaders have excellent team-building skills and this sense of comradery and unity benefits the entire group. The group is able to build off strengths and easily overcome challenges. Best of all, both the transformational leaders and those who worked with them experienced greater job satisfaction and happiness.

The good news about transformational leadership is that each of us can display these traits. We don’t need to be in a c-level position to be authentic. We can engage, connect with others, and lead from any position and in any role.

What Does It Mean to Be Authentic in Our Daily Lives?

Whether we’re displaying authenticity at work or at home, the concept is the same—we must be true to ourselves and our vision. We must be honest with ourselves and honest with those around us.

Authenticity becomes the primary variable in transformational leadership and one of the most important qualities of a leader, but this isn’t limited to our work lives. Yes, work is often where we think of leadership qualities and skills as being important, but we are still the same person at the end of the day. We don’t change when we go out the door to our 9-5.


Learning how to be authentic means being honest with ourselves in our social lives and in our interactions with our friends and family as well.


Many people may believe they have a separate “work personality” or that their work personality is separate from their home life, but the truth is we’re the same person at work and at home.

One of the biggest illusions that people operate under is “that’s not really me.”  The “me” people like to deny at work is the me that has authority issues. At home, we tend not to feel or identify the same authority issues, so we think that we’re different. This perception is really an illusion.

If you’re not integrous at work, you’re probably not integrous at home. At home, you get to go on “autopilot” but are you really up-to-date and present with your spouse? Are you operating with honesty? Are you holding back out of fear or a desire not to rock the boat?

It’s similar to our feelings of holding back at work. We’re afraid of rocking the boat or being honest because we don’t want to lose our job. We go through the motions-working to make money—but failing to fully engage and embrace our role with honesty and authenticity.

In all situations, authenticity and honesty will lead to stronger connections and leadership. While we may not think of transformational leadership as something we can display outside of the office, it’s a universal skill in all aspects of our lives—work, home, socially, and beyond.

Living honest, authentic lives where we’re true to ourselves and others will result in bigger dividends across the board. If you want to live a richer, fuller, more powerful life, commit to operating with authenticity and genuineness.

For more ways to find fulfillment and joy in your life, please visit us at the Wright Foundation. Join us for an upcoming networking event where you’ll connect with others on their transformational journey. Go forth and ignite your world by living up to your fullest potential.


About the Author

Dr. Bob Wright

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


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

 

Unpacking Emotional Baggage in Your Relationship

“My boyfriend pisses me off. I swear he purposely tries to get under my skin!” Courtney exclaimed as she started the process of unpacking emotional baggage in my office.

A couple cuddle as they take in the view. Unpacking emotional baggage in your relationship brings us closer to the ones we love.


“It’s like he does all he can to annoy me with little things. Even the way he slurps his cereal bugs me sometimes. He’s always paying attention to his phone over me…I swear it’s like we’re strangers. I’m starting to wonder if we’re even right together. Maybe I’m missing out on ‘the one.’”

It’s a common complaint. Your relationship feels like it’s going along fine, but there are little actions your partner takes that irritate the heck out of you. You start to wonder if there’s not a fairytale out there waiting for you to find. You wonder why your significant other doesn’t make you feel as happy as they once did.

These feelings are totally normal and common to most relationships. The truth is, we all come into relationships carrying emotional baggage—or unfinished business—with us.

Emotional Baggage: Why We Carry in Unfinished Business

Whether you’re in a new relationship or you’ve been with the same partner for the last twenty years, there is still emotional baggage you each bring into the relationship. Each and every person has unfinished business stemming from as far back as your childhood. Even if you think you’re not consciously carrying it into your relationship, it’s there. (Don’t believe me? Just ask your partner!)

If you want to build a deeper connection with your partner, roll up your sleeves and unpack your emotional baggage. But first, it helps to understand why we all carry this unfinished business with us.

Our unfinished business is made up of limiting beliefs about ourselves, the attachments we formed with our parents and others growing up (our attachment schemas), our implicit memories set in our early childhood, projections, transferences, and more. Sounds like a lot to unpack, doesn’t it?

Deep within your neural pathways is embedded a foundational web of beliefs, ideas, and experiences. We refer to this as your “matrix” and it’s made up of those limiting attitudes, personal biases, and mistaken beliefs. Your matrix comes from your early relationship programming—typically your relationship with your mother, father, and siblings. This is often set early, even before you’ve established and understand the language or pinpoint specific memories.


As you learn about yourself and examine who you are, you may start to discover things about yourself you hadn’t realized before.


You may also notice things about your partner and relationship. You may notice common themes in your fights. You may notice patterns in the little actions that annoy you. These themes give you a strong clue where your unfinished business lies. As you acknowledge, understand, and accept yourself, you will start to complete your unfinished business.

Now, this isn’t easy. Most of us have hidden much of our unfinished business away. We carefully curate the image we want to show to others—the pieces we want others to validate. These are the parts of ourselves we were taught were “okay” or acceptable.

When we start in a romantic relationship, we often put our best foot forward. Think of setting up an online dating profile. You don’t mention all the details that are less appealing to a partner. You choose the most flattering pictures and paint yourself in the best light.

As you start to connect with someone romantically, you may experience a honeymoon period. You’re very excited about your new lover and hanging on their every word. Their every move seems charming, sweet, and attractive. Even the way they slurp cereal might seem cute when you’re in the haze of a crush.

But after a while, the satisfaction and excitement wanes. Reality sets in and your unconscious mind takes over. Suddenly all that subconscious programming, unfinished business, and emotional baggage comes back to the surface. Those irritations and annoyances get under your skin. Strong emotions surface and arguments erupt.

So, does this mean your relationship is doomed? No! Not at all. In fact, choosing a partner that pricks all your unfinished business is actually a good sign. It means your unconscious mind is selecting someone who compliments you and your matrix.


You’re predisposed to choose someone who is most likely to trigger your mistaken beliefs about yourself and the world, poke at old emotional wounds, or even rub metaphorical salt in them. They will bring to the surface any aspects of yourself that you haven’t integrated or haven’t discovered. No, this isn’t some bad cosmic joke— instead of being destined to fall in love with a fairytale prince or princess, you’re destined to spend your life with a great sparring partner. If you want a full, engaged life, then you need that partner. The unconscious purpose of relationships is to complete or continue our development and provoke us to learn, grow, and even transform ourselves.

Remember, attraction isn’t just about chemistry. You wouldn’t have been attracted to someone or “fallen in love” unless she or he fit your unconscious template of what love “feels” like— the good and the bad. We all have a conscious stated reason for getting into relationships: we fell in love; we want to share our life with a special someone; we can’t imagine living without him or her. But there is also an unconscious purpose of relationships: to complete our unfinished developmental business and become the person we can become. Fights often occur because unfinished business is rising to the surface. This serves a purpose: it helps you become conscious of what needs to be faced, understood, and shared for you to learn, grow, and complete yourself.

The Heart of the Fight


Who’s Responsible for Your Happiness? YOU!

A common comment I hear from couples is, “he/she doesn’t make me happy anymore.” Many of us have this idea that our partner is somehow responsible for our happiness. When we feel dissatisfied or unfulfilled with ourselves, we resent that our partner is slighting us or not resolving all of our emotional baggage for us. The idea of what true relationship happiness looks like is as mystical as any Disney fairytale.


The truth is—YOU are responsible for your own happiness. Relationships are meant to serve as both a womb and a crucible: A place where we grow and a place where we become stronger. But growth isn’t comfortable.


In fact, growing pains are common but necessary. A crucible is a situation or place where elements are forged together under pressure and hot temperatures to create something new.  Both are places of creation and both exist in discomfort.

It’s only natural that discomfort and conflict extends into your relationship. Many people worry there’s something wrong with their relationship if they argue with their partner, if they don’t always get along, or if they find themselves attracted to other people. The narrative no longer lives up to the fairytale they’d imagined.

In reality, arguments, conflict, and challenges are a normal part of life and growth. They’re necessary for the development of a successful relationship.


The Stephen Sondheim musical Into the Woods illustrates this point perfectly. The first act of the musical creatively intertwines fairytales: Cinderella, Rapunzel, Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk. In the first act, the fairytales play out according to our expectations— Jack finds great wealth after climbing the beanstalk, Cinderella marries her prince, Rapunzel is rescued from her tower, Red Riding Hood is saved from the wolf, and their wishes are all fulfilled. The stage is set for them all to live happily ever after.

The second act opens with the audience in a dreamy state, lulled by the happily- ever- after outcomes in the first act. Surprisingly, we find each character discontent and wishing for something else. Cinderella feels empty and seeks meaning by planning a festival. Her Prince Charming is disillusioned and bored with her and her desires, wishing he had quested after Sleeping Beauty instead. Henpecked, Rapunzel’s prince is likewise distancing himself from the emotional, distraught Rapunzel, a new mother with a little baby evoking memory of the cruelties experienced at the hands of her evil witch mother. Little Red Riding Hood despairs over the death of her grandmother, and they all wander aimlessly into the woods where terrifying primal forces lurk. Chaos reigns, and the narrator is killed, meaning that they are no longer in the prewritten fairytale and they have to write their own story. This is the critical turning point in the play as they are left in the unknown, dependent on their own and each other’s resources.

More to the point, this is the critical moment for couples. This is when they leave the myths of relationships behind and are free to go into the dark woods of their feelings, their beliefs, and their unconscious minds. It is at this point that they can find themselves and each other. Free of the myths, they don’t have to pretend that everything is great and can engage in growth-producing conflict. Unburdened by the need to maintain a perfect relationship, they can express their true feelings and argue for their beliefs. This is the point where they begin to write their own love story, letting go of idyllic relationship misconceptions and creating meaning, purpose, and genuine connected intimacy in their relationship.

The Heart of the Fight


Letting go of the belief that our partner is responsible for our happiness puts the responsibility and the ABILITY back on us. When we realize we’re 100% responsible for our own happiness, we stop looking at our relationship as a panacea to cure us of our woes. While being with someone else may make us feel happy for a while, true happiness comes from discovering our own strength and working on our personal fulfillment.

Develop Yourself for a Stronger Relationship

Those who study the brain have discovered it’s equipped with amazing neuroplasticity. The brain is constantly building and rebuilding new pathways and circuits. As we acquire new beliefs and engage in new experiences, our brains adapt and grow.

We’re drawn to novelty and excitement. New situations help us feel upbeat and happy. When we’re in a relationship for a while, that excitement wanes and we return to the status quo. That doesn’t mean the relationship is failing.

We get the same feelings of excitement and novelty as we stretch our skills and work on ourselves. When we push ourselves out of our comfort zone, dig in, and examine our beliefs we feel fulfilled and satisfied (like we do in the honeymoon of a new relationship). We’re essentially our own hero, our own “prince charming,” and our own adventure. As we get-to-know and build a relationship with ourselves we become enlivened and energized.


While we may wish our relationship was the answer to our fulfillment, the answer is really within us. We may long for a partnership that’s smooth sailing all the time, but it’s those bumps in the road that bring us closer together and helps us learn about ourselves.


So, the next time your partner annoys you, ask yourself why. Unpack your emotional baggage—where are your beliefs coming from? What do your feelings say about you? What do they remind you of? Can you draw other parallels in your life?

Consider involving your partner on your road to personal growth. What would you both gain by exploring together? Working on growth together will deepen your intimacy and draw you closer to each other as you learn more about yourself.

For more ways to connect with your partner and grow please visit us at the Wright Foundation. Join us for an upcoming networking event where you can meet and connect with other individuals on their journey. Learn more about yourself and others as you go forth to ignite your world.


About the Author

Judith Wright receives the Visionary Leader Award from Chicago NAWBO.

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


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