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.

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.

4 Reasons You’re Miserable at Work…and What to Do About It

Do you hate your job? Are you miserable at work? Do you get the “Sunday scaries” and dread the office on Monday? Are you wondering if it’s time to throw in the towel?

Miserable at work? Don't give up hope! Here are four reasons why your job makes you miserable and what you can do to turn it around.

 


 

Many of us are looking at our job satisfaction and wondering if we shouldn’t be getting more out of our work. We may think of moving on but feel afraid of the career and financial consequences. So we trudge in each day, accepting that we’re doomed to feel miserable at work.

If you’re unhappy at work, there are a few points to examine. Here’s why you might be so dissatisfied with your job.

Is It Me or Is it the Job?

As a coach, I often hear people complain about their job situation. Many people have told me that they’re miserable at work. But what does that really mean?


Underneath that misery could often be feelings of frustration, anger, hurt, and even boredom. It turns out we feel more satisfied when we’re challenged.


When we’re just going through the motions, trying to make it through the day, it might be time for a step back.

The first question is—does work have to be miserable? After all, it’s called work, not fun, right? Absolutely not! I’ve worked with hundreds of people who were satisfied, stimulated, and purpose-driven in their work. They had fulfilling job experiences, whether they were a CEO, an entry-level intern, or serving up coffee behind a counter.

4 Reasons Why We’re Miserable at Work

When we look at our mindset, we can often turn those feelings of being miserable at work into feelings of fulfillment, growth, and betterment. Are we getting in the way of our career satisfaction? Here are a few reasons we might feel miserable at work.

1. You’re Not Taking Personal Responsibility for Your Own Happiness

We are all responsible for our own actions. But what does personal responsibility at work mean?

Taking personal responsibility is the act of declaring: “I determine how I react to the world. I am responsible for my own self-care. I don’t expect others to take care of me, AND I take responsibility for my emotional responses.” In our work life, we could also add, “I’m personally responsible for giving work my all, every day.”


When we feel miserable at work, we should ask ourselves if we’re really pushing ourselves. Have we become stagnant in our work? Are we learning and growing with new challenges? If not, how can we take personal responsibility to ask for more challenging, engaging tasks?


When we don’t take personal responsibility, we enter a state of victimhood. We get stuck in a drama triangle, where we’re the helpless victim. We stop analyzing our situation and making choices to become more effective and happier. Instead, we are disempowered, in a hole of our own unhappiness. We’re blaming others for our problems without doing our part to improve our situation.

It turns out that people who are unhappy at work are often the same people with the least to do. Boredom is anger turned inward. When people take that attitude to work, they aren’t set up for success. They’re spinning their tires on the ice rather than moving forward and accomplishing tasks. When we face challenges and complete a task for the day, we feel accomplished and excited. These achievements lead to pride, joy, and job satisfaction.

Personal responsibility is about understanding that we each own our emotions and reactions at all times. We can make work a fun game or see it as drudgery. For example, I once hired an acquaintance and two temps to help with an envelope-stuffing project. The work was monotonous, but the acquaintance would stuff 300 envelopes at a time. When he finished his goal, he’d reward himself with a quick walk outside or a snack. Then he’d come back a get right back to work.

On the other hand, the temps viewed the task as dull and frustrating. My acquaintance ended up stuffing more envelopes than the two temps combined. He was much happier too. He didn’t complain or blame the task. Instead, he got to work and turned it into a game.

If we want more satisfaction at work, we must start to shift our perspective about what’s “fun.” How can we set a goal and work towards it? Setting a timer, creating a milestone, or seeing how efficiently we can complete a task can make the time pass quickly and leave us feeling satisfied.

2. You Have Authority Issues

When we were kids, we may have heard that we had a problem with authority. It happens to many people, me included. Like many of our childhood memories and ideas, our pushback and rebellious streak can continue to manifest in adulthood.


But just because our boss is bossy (or even a jerk—and they are out there), it doesn’t mean we need to be unhappy. We need to look at how we’re reacting and get honest with ourselves.


If we have issues with authority (if we’ve had similar feelings whenever someone else is in charge), we’ll probably react to any boss, supervisor, or manager in a volatile way. Whether that means we shut down and withdraw or resist and defend, we’re likely to face continuous conflict unless we explore our feelings.

There are two steps we can take to get a handle on our authority issues:

First Step: We can deal with our unfinished business. All of us carry unfinished business with us. These issues are often unresolved from our childhood (even if we had happy childhoods), and they can come up when we experience feelings of powerlessness or frustration.

Yes, our “jerk boss” might be overly aggressive or even a bully because he’s unhappy with himself. But we don’t have control over that. We can only control our actions and reactions. Some folks can really struggle with this area, and it’s essential to get to the root of the problem. It could stem from residual childhood issues with authority. Perhaps our boss brings up negative feelings we had about someone in our past (an older sibling, a teacher). Becoming aware of these emotions and projections helps us get on the right path to control our reactions and make confrontations constructive.

Second Step: Deal with it. It may sound harsh, but sometimes we face people who are just jerks. If we’ve done work to become conscious of our projections and emotional reaction, but our boss is still a problematic bully, then the real question is—is it worth it? Can we deal with it? Can we put aside the feelings and work with this person productively?


When we focus on effectively doing our job rather than the emotional ups and downs of the day, we might find a greater sense of empowerment and control.


We can ask about our performance and spark a conversation with our boss down the road. This presents a less-heated opportunity to confront our boss about their attitude honestly and openly.

How will the boss react? They may respond positively or negatively, but when we’ve honestly expressed our feelings in a responsible manner, we own them. Our boss may not listen, and they may not change, but these opportunities can teach us powerful lessons about our inner strength, skillset, and even how to do a better job. If the situation is genuinely unworkable, then it may be time to liberate ourselves from the job and find something that’s a better fit.

3. You Aren’t Recognizing and Honoring Emotions

Sometimes our misery at work doesn’t stem from our boss or the drudgery of the job. Sometimes we feel miserable at work because we aren’t connecting with others—customers, vendors, and coworkers. We’re letting our emotions take over without examining their origins.

Take, for example, if we feel really angry at a coworker. When we engage our emotional intelligence, we own, examine, and understand our emotions. We explore where our anger comes from, and we own our part in it. As a result, we can engage in productive, honest conflict with the other person and find a proactive way to resolve the situation. We can learn and grow from every interaction, thus nourishing our emotional and social intelligence.

Where do these emotions and projections come from? Childhood lessons and values can project onto our adult selves and influence our interactions with others. People often become their childhood selves while interacting with those who remind them of certain family members or friends. One person may stir feelings of comfort and happiness—like a favorite aunt. Another person may evoke feelings of inadequacy, like our demanding dad.

When we examine everyone we have issues with at work, we might discover some distinct familiarities with our relatives and friends from the past. Examine these issues to determine what we might be projecting onto others, whether good or bad. Recognizing our emotions can help those emotional intelligence skills grow.

4. You Don’t Have Social Intelligence Skills

Social and emotional intelligence skills help us understand people’s emotions and reactions. Social intelligence is the ability to understand what other people are feeling, then learning to influence them positively and productively.

If we want to explore our social intelligence skills, we can ask ourselves questions like:

  • Am I a contributing team member?
  • Do I ensure my colleagues are working effectively?
  • Do I support the team?
  • Am I helping everyone win by contributing?
  • Am I open and honest in communications with everyone at the company?
  • Do I try to better both my work and myself?

Some people lack social intelligence skills because they lack emotional intelligence too. They don’t understand their emotions and reactions. One leads to the other, and both skills are essential for happiness and satisfaction in work and life.

For example, if we feel like we’re on a team that drags us down, we can turn it around and ask, “What have I done to lift my team today?” That’s part of that social and emotional intelligence in practice. If we take responsibility for ourselves, even when others are not, we can be socially aware and carefully, responsibly, and clearly communicate our feelings. We can start to understand our colleagues and how they might react and then engage with them accordingly.

How to Stop Being Miserable at Work

All these reasons go hand-in-hand with why we might feel miserable at work. I’m not interested in just helping people be “happier” at work. I’m interested in helping them have a wildly successful career of fulfillment and satisfaction. Most of us won’t be happy every day with every task, but we can shift our mindset to find purpose in every task.

The 4 reasons for being miserable at work are in a very specific order for a reason. The first step is taking responsibility for ourselves. Then we must deal with our authority issues, increase our emotional awareness, and build our social and emotional intelligence.

Learning these social and emotional intelligence skills allows us to create joyous work, practice gratitude, learn and grow in an adventuresome way. We will discover more about ourselves, others, and our world every day.

To build up your career satisfaction, don’t miss the courses available at Wright Now. We have insightful resources to help you increase your satisfaction in your relationships, career, and with yourself. Don’t miss the opportunity to live a life of more!


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.


Learn more about Wright Living’s Career & Leadership Coaching in Chicago & Career Coaching Courses in Chicago.

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.

Break Your Negative Thinking Patterns

Maybe you’re sick or feeling achy. Perhaps the day hasn’t gone your way, or you’re frustrated with a situation involving a friend, coworker, or even your spouse. Perhaps your plans were canceled, or someone backed out on you.

A black and white picture of a woman with her head down. Ever get stuck in negative thinking patterns? It’s tough to break our patterns and stop “stinking thinking” but by adjusting your perspective you can make a positive shift.


 

What do we do when faced with frustrating situations? We start a reel of tape looping in our heads, a voice saying, “You’re a loser,” or “you’re lazy,” or “no one really likes you.” Call it depression and anxiety, stress, or negative thinking, it’s no fun, and it can become quite damaging to our mood, mental health, and outlook.

No matter how old we get or how much we attempt to stay upbeat, it’s hard to get our little voice to shut up sometimes—especially when we’re feeling down in the dumps. We’ve all had those moments when we feel down and crummy. We get stuck in negative thinking patterns, and it’s hard to break out.

Stop Your Negative Thinking Patterns—They Stink!

When we get stuck in this negative self-talk and spiral of negative thinking patterns, we refer to it as “stinking thinking.” Why? Well, because these thoughts really stink!


Not only do these negative thinking patterns make us feel bad about ourselves, erode our confidence, and destroy our mood, but they’re hard to turn off. In fact, many of us have been programming our brains for years—our whole lives—to play this negative tape.


This tape of beliefs is part of our makeup, or what we call our matrix. As I work with people on their personal growth, exploring their matrix is a crucial step. When we’re in the process of growing and learning more about ourselves, we often see and start to explore the side of our matrix that’s not-so-positive.

In fact, the more we examine our thinking, try to stop negative thought patterns, and work on shifting our mindset, the harder these negative thoughts seem to fight their way up to the surface. These misbeliefs and negative thinking patterns especially come up when we experience setbacks, frustrations, and mistakes that make us want to throw in the towel (or at least start listing off excuses).

These mental roadblocks are perfectly normal and part of the process. Change is difficult and often a little scary. However, the more we lean into making personal changes and focusing on our growth, the more our minds will throw up resistance. After all, it’s easier to go back to the status quo—it’s more comfortable for our brains (but in the long run, we’re not doing our mental health any favors).

Is Our Changing Negative Thinking Patterns Worth the Effort?

It’s simple to write off our potential future as requiring too much work or being too painful to achieve. It may feel safer to keep on going about our business as usual.

But the reality is that change is constant, and it’s part of life. Whether we’re evolving into our next best self or becoming more rigid and set in our ways, we’re still constantly changing and growing. We have a choice to embrace this shift as an opportunity to learn and to become even better, more engaged, and more confident, or we can choose to resist the change, rely on our old thinking patterns, and zone out with soft addictions and time wasters. It may easier to sit back and take whatever comes our way, or we can open ourselves to the possibilities and gratitude from making the most of our lives.


When we choose to live a life of MORE, then it’s time to roll up our sleeves and do the internal work. Part of the work is exploring our values and our beliefs. To start discovering more about ourselves, we need to peel back the layers of our matrix and expose these underlying misbeliefs.


Your matrix isn’t going to like it when you start exposing it. It’s going to assert itself when you think, I have unique gifts; I can go further than I ever thought; I’m not inherently unlovable; I’m desirable, and there’s someone out there for me, or maybe I’m a lot more spiritual than I think; I can try to find a connection with a higher power. This is why stating positive affirmations alone doesn’t work—in your conscious mind, you say to yourself, I am loveable, and your matrix reacts and fights it with an unconscious response of disbelief that, if translated, might sound something like, Yeah, right. That’s why you’re sitting home watching reruns on a Saturday night instead of being out on a date.

Your matrix will reflexively attempt to restore its version of reality when it hears these positive thoughts. It will be especially assertive when you try to do something that breaks from your programming, and it doesn’t work out. It may even resort to trickery, lying low until it can subtly reassert itself. For instance, you’ve been programmed to believe your limitations, such as you’re unlovable, but…you start a relationship you think might turn into a long-term one. Then the other person breaks up with you, and your matrix says, See, you are unlovable.

Transformed! The Science of Spectacular Living

It’s common to fall back into these negative thinking patterns about ourselves, especially when doing the work. When we start to feel hopeful about the future, we set up expectations. Once these expectations go awry, it confirms our fears. We become discouraged.

The truth is, these negative thinking patterns hold us back. They don’t move us forward in a positive direction. They don’t bring us happiness, fulfillment, or satisfaction. They stink. If we want to stop o negative thinking patterns, we must rally ourselves to keep pushing through. We can focus on the deepest desires of our hearts—our yearnings. It also helps to remind ourselves that we’re working toward getting those deep needs met. In other words, we should keep our eyes on the prize (our yearnings!).

How Do You Stop Negative Thinking When You’re Sick?

A while back, I came down with the flu. It was miserable. I was congested, tired, achy, and I felt awful. I came home, and there I was, all alone. I was left with me. In bed. Sick. Feverish. Tired. Listless…but my mind was still active, thinking…

What value do I have if I am just in bed? I’m worthless unless I’m doing something. I’ve got to go to work…

As the thoughts were swirling in my mind, my husband, Bob, called out from the kitchen that he loved me. I heard myself thinking: How can you love me if I’m not doing anything?

So, I asked him exactly that question, and he responded with a smile, “I love you just for being here. You are the sweetest little being I know, even when you piss me off. Right now, you don’t piss me off; I just want to hug you.”

Bob often helps me re-program my mistaken beliefs about myself and my value, which is a process we call rematrixing. All the stinking thinking I have, such as I’m not valuable if I’m not doing something, comes from my mistaken beliefs about myself.

One of the categories of stinking thinking I am most prone to is called emotional reasoning: I feel bad, so I think I am bad. When I am sick and feel bad, I’m especially susceptible to this form of stinking thinking. I realize I need to take this message in: I am valuable and lovable. I matter. I don’t have to earn love. These are the thoughts I need to let in. I repeat them to myself like a mantra, imagining Bob’s loving expression as I say them, soaking it in.


The more I can feel the positive thoughts, the more I can rematrix these positive beliefs to let them settle deeply within myself. The more conscious I am as I do this, the more these thoughts will become my beliefs.


And what happens when I do this? Well, suddenly, I’m relaxing and actually thankful I’m sick. Being sick is a good reminder that I am valuable, I am lovable, that my being is as valuable as my doing.

It happens. We get sick, and we have bad days. Getting through it means reminding ourselves (and listening when others remind us) of our worth.

When Bad Moods Happen to Good People

We all experience a range of emotions on a daily, even hourly basis. No emotion’s “bad” or “wrong.” If we’re feeling fear, sadness, anger, or hurt, it’s an important message our brain is sending us. Our emotions are a gift, a piece of the fabric of our human existence.

So when we feel stinking thinking, or negative thought patterns coming on, we shouldn’t beat ourselves up (falling back into our old line of thinking). Instead, we can think, “I feel this way. Why?” Acknowledge it and explore it.

Now, it’s hard to stop negative thinking patterns when we’re feeling down. When something goes wrong, we’re unhappy, annoyed, or irritated, and we start to fixate (or ruminate) on these thought patterns.

When you feel defeated or unhappy, you find that all sorts of distorted imaginings—what we call stinking thinking—get in the way of your insights. You’ll tell yourself you’re being naïve or that you’re just wasting your time. Being down is your matrix’s way of reasserting itself.

Therefore, reveal to others that you are stuck and ask them to help you create a more objective, more positive sense of yourself. If you are optimistic about yourself and your future, you’ll keep these distracting thoughts at bay and actually be rematrixing. We all need support to be emotionally focused and hopeful as we gain insights into our matrix. We’re not talking about mindless Suzie Sunshine ways of being, but instead genuinely engaged ways of living life.

Transformed! The Science of Spectacular Living

When I’m struggling, like when I feel sick, I’ll often ask Bob or even my close friends for affirmation. Sometimes it’s as simple as hearing I’m loved. Other times I’ll ask for a deeper, “Why?”

This affirmation helps me reset my negative thought patterns and reminds me of my value. It reiterates that I don’t need to earn love—I’m a person worthy of love just as I am.

When this is affirmed for me, I often really take time to soak the message in. I may repeat it to myself, envisioning my loving ally in my mind as I repeat the thoughts that I’m valuable. I’m loved, just as I am. My yearnings are being met.

So, when we’re feeling down, negative, and frustrated, we can lean on an ally to help confirm and remind us of our importance. We ARE important. Each person is a valuable gift with endless potential. Rather than focusing on our mistakes and shortfalls, which we all have, remember within each of us lies a unique, special person. What we bring to the world is only ours; our personal potential.

Turn down the volume on your stinking thinking and stop the loop of tape. Instead, acknowledge the ways you are growing and evolving into your next best self.

For more ways on how you can break your negative thinking patterns, please explore our courses available at Wright Now. We have courses to help you explore your potential, boost your relationships, move forward in your career, and live the life of your dreams.

 


 

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.

 

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.

How to Get Out Your Feelings & Stop Holding Back

Do you ever feel like you’re holding it all in?

Do you wonder how to get out your feelings? If you’re holding back your emotions, it’s time to look at where your feelings come from and why they’re important!


Your jaw clenches, your stomach gets butterflies, you feel tears well up in your eyes…but you try to check yourself. After all, feelings are unprofessional, right? Adults shouldn’t cry or get upset.

Many of us have grown up with the idea that certain feelings are “bad” or “wrong.” If you aren’t sure how to get out your feelings, you may be holding them inside. These feelings can later come out at inopportune times or directed toward the wrong person. It’s important we learn how to responsibly express our feelings. Feelings can be a surprisingly powerful tool when we wield them correctly.

Where Our Feelings Come From

Where does this idea that certain feelings aren’t okay, originate?

In our society, we don’t have a great relationship with emotions. Many of us have learned from a young age that expressing emotions wasn’t really okay. In fact, we may believe it indicated we were “out of control,” “weak,” or “too emotional”?

Perhaps you were made fun of when you were younger for crying. Or you may have grown up in a household where you were taught to suppress your emotions—that you weren’t supposed to upset people.


Between our family and society, we’re taught a lot of “rules” about expressing our emotions.


As we grow up, we can realize that it’s actually our job as adults to look at our emotions and realize the truth: there are not bad feelings. There are no wrong feelings. Even though we were perhaps trained in some way with our family or socially, that anger was bad, or fear was a weakness.

If we look at anger, for example, we realize that anger is really a very powerful emotion, but it’s not necessarily bad. Of course, it’s not to be misused or built up. It’s not meant to turn into rage or to be misdirected. Anger is a powerful emotion, but it’s not a mistake. In fact, none of our emotions are a mistake—there is wisdom in each of them. Each emotion has encoded within it exactly what we need to draw on to deal with a situation. So, in many ways anger is helpful.

All of our feelings are meant to push us away from pain and drive us toward pleasure. When we examine our feelings, we see that our emotions are powerful tools. Yes, you need to be adept. You need emotional intelligence and sensitivity toward others, but anger, for example, can be channeled to move you away from unnecessary pain. If we look at the purpose behind our feelings, we can recalibrate our emotions.

One of our students related to us all the ways she was constantly trying to please those around her, especially at work. She wanted everyone to like her. She would hide her anger and frustration because growing up her dad was often angry. He didn’t deal with it in a healthy way and she was fearful of becoming like him. So instead she avoided her anger, hid, and suppressed it.

When she brought up these feelings, she realized that when she avoided her anger and held it in, she ended up taking on extra work. Rather than telling her team she didn’t want to take on an unfair share of the workload, she would simply shoulder it and tell herself that she shouldn’t be angry. Once she got in touch with her anger, she was able to let the employees on her team know it wasn’t okay. She told them she wasn’t satisfied with the situation, it wasn’t making her happy, and it wasn’t working. And once her feelings were expressed, she started getting must better results. Everyone on her team improved because she harnessed her anger toward a result.

Our Early Programming and Emotions

These beliefs about emotions are part of our early programming, but just because it’s what we were taught doesn’t necessarily mean it’s what’s best for us. In fact, it doesn’t even mean that it’s true.

When we talk about our early programming, we’re often discussing the network of experiences, feelings, thoughts, and perceptions encoded in our unconscious. We refer to this makeup as our “matrix.”

Our matrix is a constellation of belief system. This belief system is set during our early programming as young children. In our first six years of our life, we’re particularly malleable. Our brains are set for imagination, discovery, and possibility. This is why young children see every item as a toy. We’re in what’s called a hypnogogic state during those years, we’re easily formed and impressionable. During that time, we’re learning what’s okay and what’s not okay.

During our early childhood, within our brains, our neural pathways are being laid down. Think of it as a computer’s operating system. Life filters through and our matrix, shaping the way we see and experience different things. This matrix defines how we view the world, how we view ourselves, and what beliefs we adhere to.

As we become aware this matrix exists, we may realize there are certain aspects of our matrix that don’t serve us. Some pieces hold us back. (Like that voice telling you, “You’re too much,” or, “you’re too emotional.”) There are pieces of our matrix that protected us from hurt as a child. Maybe we were taught to fear certain situations or to believe the world was unsafe. While these beliefs kept us safe when we were younger, they no longer apply to us as adults and we can let them go.

As we grow and evolve into the person we hope to become, it becomes necessary to explore our internal makeup. Eventually, we may realize our beliefs aren’t necessarily truths. Our beliefs don’t dictate reality.  What we believe may even limit our reality, preventing us from realizing our full, vast potential.

We may think, “This is simply how it is,” or “this is how I am,” rather than realizing the ways to grow and overcome behaviors and beliefs holding us back.

How many times have you been faced with a situation, like speaking out in a meeting or standing up to someone who upset you and thought, “Oh I could never do that! I’m a nice person!” or “I’m too shy to do that,” or “I shouldn’t feel angry.”

When we hold back our feelings because we believe we should or because it counters who we think we are, we’re limiting ourselves. We may miss opportunities and let successes pass us by.

Recognition Helps Get Out Your Feelings

For many people, even acknowledging the underlying feelings they feel is tough. Admitting them aloud, or even to themselves, is even harder. Yet, sometimes exploring our feelings, uncovering ourselves, and expressing ourselves empowers us helps us get a better sense of what’s really going on.

We may think we’re beyond unconscious thought. Many people think they have full control over what goes through their mind…yet psychologists, neuroscientists, and behaviorists have explored the way our unconscious drives our behaviors, whether we like it or not.


Have you ever eaten food when you weren’t hungry? Put off a task for no reason? Have you ever claimed you couldn’t do a job because you believed it wasn’t in you? Have you turned an opportunity down because the “timing didn’t feel right”? Do you gravitate toward routine?


These are all examples of our matrix overriding our logic. We may know the action we’re taking (or not taking) isn’t serving us or moving us forward, but we rely on our default reaction because it feels safe and familiar.

Once you recognize this, it becomes easier to get out your feelings and work through the beliefs about yourself holding you back. When faced with a situation, ask yourself: what am I really feeling? We often encourage our students to simply “call out” the emotion they’re experiencing. Such as “Fear!” or “Frustration!” It seems a little funny at first, but soon an awareness takes hold. Calling their feelings aloud to their classmates and friends helps this awareness occur even faster.

If you’re trying to identify your emotions, look at your body—butterflies, hands sweaty, jaw clenched-these are all clues to your emotions. Did your behavior change in response to a comment or a situation? Did you go home and eat a giant piece of cake? Did you feel antsy or apprehensive? These indicators clue you into what you’re feeling. Now put the words onto those feelings:

“I’m angry.”

“I’m feeling sad.”

“In this moment I feel joyful.”

When we acknowledge our feelings, almost like magic, it calms our limbic system and brings us back online. By expressing it, we’re able to channel the energy behind the emotions, name them, and express them fully. If we’re sad, we can cry. If we’re angry, we can truly feel that anger. Once we feel the emotions, we’re able to complete them. The experience is integrated, and we can then move onto the next activity. We don’t need to hang onto the emotions forever. Think of a baby—they cry, they express their feeling, and then they move on. We don’t need to hold onto our feelings.

When we acknowledge how we’re feeling, we start to explore the why behind our emotions. For example, when you’re about to talk to a coworker about a comment that upset you. You may explore your thoughts and feelings. Why did the comment upset you? What other feelings does it bring up? Are you feeling hurt? Anger? Fear at the prospect of discussing it with them directly?

Once you get out your feelings, they become less obtuse. We gain clarity. Why are you feeling hurt? Maybe because you felt unseen when your coworker took the credit or diminished your idea. You felt overshadowed. Perhaps you even felt threatened. Your desire (your yearning) to be seen, heard, and respected wasn’t being met.


When our needs (what we often refer to as yearnings) aren’t being met, we often feel fear. We may feel sadness, hurt, even anger over our yearnings that are unfulfilled.


When you realize this is how you feel, you may decide to express this to your coworker. The prospect of expressing your feelings may fill you with another feeling—fear. We may tell ourselves, “I’m not a confrontational person,” or “I prefer to avoid conflict at any cost.” Once you’ve addressed the fear, you can look at these statements about who you think you are: are you really someone who avoids confrontation at any cost? Or is this simply part of your matrix? Is this something you believe about yourself that’s not really true?

Exploring the reasons behind your emotions and reactions is the first step to expressing yourself. If you want to get out your feelings, take a deeper look at where they’re stemming from.

For more ways you can get to know yourself, please visit us at the Wright Foundation. We have many of our courses available for download on our website. Don’t miss out on our special introductory price on these great courses!


 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.


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

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

 

Parenting & Fulfillment: Embracing the “Being” of Parenthood

What does it really mean to be a mother or a father? What is the true definition of these roles? Can we still nurture and give life, even if we aren’t parents in the traditional sense?

Embracing parenthood as our children grow.


 

Do we need to put our own personal growth on hold while we’re nurturing our children?

It’s no secret parenting is an emotional and in-depth experience. It’s a rollercoaster—a series of ups and downs. Often parents look back on the first years of their child’s life as a blur. We wonder if we did everything wrong. We may even feel like our own needs were put on hold or overlooked during those first years raising kids.

To understand why this is, we must explore the roles of mother and father.

When we hear words like “mother” and “feminine,” we think of emotional, nurturing qualities, especially as they pertain to our roles as parents. Motherhood is the very being of the parental role. “Father” and “masculine” might bring up opposite images—someone who DOES, rather than is. Father goes out, he obtains things to fulfill the needs of his family. He provides.

Now obviously in today’s world these normative gender roles no longer apply as rigidly as they once did, but there’s still a masculine and feminine component. Fathers today can be very nurturing, emotional and caring. Mother might be a high-powered executive and the sole breadwinner for the family, but at the core, parenting requires both the “being” AND the “doing” sides of the coin.

Male and female personality types aren’t cut and dry along gender lines either. Co-parenting and raising children as a family unit, rather than just “being” in the mother role is becoming the norm as we move into a more evolved and modern viewpoint.

Still, there are certain qualities that are assigned to parenting by the very nature of the role—nurturing, growing, connecting and evolving right alongside our children (or our projects, whatever “creation” we give birth to), whether we fall into the traditional roles of father and mother or something else.


Being a parent to the fullest extent is about BEING. It is through being that we can use parenting as a platform for our own personal growth as well as the growth of our children. We cannot simply “do” parenting; we have to BE a parent.


Emotion and the “Doing” of Parenting

Every parent knows there’s a lot of “doing” as a parent, particularly at first—there’s tossing dirty diapers in the trash, warming up bottles, feeding, sleeping, washing, and so much more. While these things involve some nurture and care, they’re definitely process-involved.

Sometimes within the processes of doing parenting, we can forget we also need to embrace the being. The “being” is vital to our own social emotional growth.

As parents, and particularly as mothers, we might forgo our own desires and yearnings to meet the desires of our children. Years pass, and when our kids are grown or have moved beyond the stage where they need constant attention, we might find ourselves less fulfilled, even empty. We might wonder why we spent so much time ignoring our own needs while we focused on the needs of those around us.

During my graduate study work (and in my own journey as a parent), I closely explored this role of motherhood and the dichotomy of being constantly “needs focused” and yet forgoing one’s own needs.

On the purely practical level, there are the basic functions of the job of mothering—feeding, dressing, changing diapers, maintaining nap and sleeping schedules, etc.—that require a significant amount of time for the woman engaged in mothering, especially in the early years. One might assume a woman’s facility with her emotions is not significant in these day-to-day happenings, but that would be a limiting assumption. –Excerpt from my dissertation, Expanding Mothering: Raising a Woman’s Awareness of the Opportunities for Personal and Psychosocial Growth and Development in Mothering (pg. 21)

At the core of motherhood and through these practical actions, there’s a great deal of emotion, but these emotions are often undervalued by society, and even by the parents who are experiencing them.

Even from the first moments of being a parent,

she is confronted by her fear and scarcity/survival about being strong enough, or capable enough to birth and feed her baby. She will need to be in a relationship with herself, allowing past fears and beliefs that she is “not enough” to come to the surface for healing, acknowledge that she actually is capable and move to trust—in both herself and those supporting her. Not only will she achieve the desired outcome more effectively she will have experienced it as a fulfilling here and now moment. –Excerpt from my dissertation, Expanding Mothering: Raising a Woman’s Awareness of the Opportunities for Personal and Psychosocial Growth and Development in Mothering (pg. 18)

Experiencing Growth Together

Parenting can be both frightening and fulfilling. It can dredge up much of our past and our beliefs about ourselves—the doubts, the feelings of, “I have no idea what I’m doing,” and the fears can become almost palpable as we try to raise our children.

At the core of becoming a fulfilled parent is embracing our own personal growth alongside the growth of our children. The amazing thing about children is that they can become our model for how we can go forth and view the world. Children are always open to new experiences. They approach each day as a new adventure. They experience wonder and awe every day.

How wonderful for each of us, if we could learn to apply the same approach! By working through our fears and limiting beliefs, we not only discover and engage, but also thrive and evolve, not only as parents but also as individuals.

Parenting Workshops

The Wright Foundation offers several parenting workshops, including our popular weekend family adventure retreats where parents can spend time with their children and apply the skills they’re learning to their parenting.

By expanding our own social and emotional intelligence and doing our personal growth work, we parents can look back on the years of raising our children as years of fulfillment and joy. We can fully engage and live with intentionality and purpose. Rather than simply “doing what it takes” to parent, we can BE what it takes to parent.

At the very core of parenting is a need to embrace, rather than shirk your emotional side. You must feel your emotions fully and understand your yearnings and innermost desires. Fulfillment isn’t something parents must forgo, it can be found within the act of parenting itself.

For more information on our weekend workshops or opportunities for personal growth at Wright, please visit the Wright Foundation website.


About the Author

Gertrude Lyons

Gertrude Lyons is a human emergence coach and adjunct faculty member at Wright Graduate University. Her academic career spans from a bachelor’s degree in Finance and Accounting, a master’s in psychology from Antioch University, and a newly completed doctoral degree from WGU. Gertrude is a wife and mother of two and resides in Chicago, IL where she continues to learn, grow, and develop her skills as a human emergence coach with the Wright team.


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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.

Portions of this post are taken from Gertrude’s doctoral dissertation, Expanding Mothering: Raising a Woman’s Awareness of the Opportunities for Personal and Psychosocial Growth and Development in Mothering—A Curriculum Evaluation Study.

Understanding Yearning:
The REAL Deep-Down Reasons We’re Always Fighting

How many times have you had a conversation (or all-out fight) with your spouse or partner and been left baffled? You may be wondering where their frustration even came from. (Because it certainly seems like it came out of nowhere!) Or sometimes, it seems like you’re always fighting over the SAME things.


Most of the time, you’d really like to know, “What the heck does he/she want from me?!?”

We’re talking (or yelling), but we’re not communicating. We’re not connecting. Chances are, we’re hearing but we’re not listening.

In your relationship, do you hear (or use) phrases like, “You never help around the house,” or “You’re always nagging me about money.”

Or…

“You’re just like your mother.”

“We never do what I want to do.”

When these phrases come up, there’s a disconnect. Someone’s not making contact, but neither of you know why. You’re fighting, but you’re not even sure what you’re fighting about.

To get to the heart of what you want AND what your significant other really wants, you need to look past the word want…you need to understand the word yearn.

Wanting vs. Yearning

Yearning isn’t a word we use often. In fact, it might seem antiquated or strange. “Yearning.” It sounds like something from a novel or a movie, not something normal, modern people do—right? It paints a picture of a maiden in distress with a handkerchief on a fainting couch…

True yearning is a feeling that comes from deep within. It’s beyond wanting, desiring or longing. It’s our deepest need. This isn’t wanting your husband to wash his dishes or even wanting your friend to return a phone call. Yearning comes from a deeper place.

Everyone in the world yearns for something. We yearn to love and to be loved, to matter, to be significant, to be seen, and to connect with each other and with a higher power. We might yearn to achieve mastery or to belong and to contribute. Our yearnings run deep from within us.

“Unmet yearnings are at the heart of every fight, and when they are met, they become the heart of our intimacy and satisfaction. Learn to unpack your fights to get to the yearning underneath. Actively pursue your yearning moment to moment, and you have set a solid cornerstone for intimacy.


Yearning is no soft, needy, touchy-feely, nice-if-you-like-that sort of thing. Each of us—all seven billion people on the planet—has been hardwired to yearn. Harness the power of yearning or you’ll be negating one of the things that brings you the most satisfaction and the most power to your relationships.”

The Heart of the Fight


The funny thing is, yearning isn’t something we naturally and readily identify. It actually takes practice to discover it first within ourselves, let alone in a partner. Part of the elusiveness of yearning comes from the immediate gratification we get from scratching our “wants” itch.

Think about it: when you want something—a piece of chocolate, a clean house, a new gadget—you might really focus until you get it. You might fixate on it, even. Once you get the thing you desire, you get a little buzz, a little boost. You feel good and you think, “Ooh, I got what I wanted.”

The buzz, however, is fleeting. It doesn’t last, and it’s not fulfilling. It’s great in the moment, but it fades when the next want comes along. We get upset when our wants aren’t met, but we’re not really upset because the house is messy or our partner threw socks on the floor (again).

We’re actually upset because it feels like our partner isn’t acknowledging us. They don’t see us, or we feel unsafe, unloved, or disconnected.

How to Get to the Heart of Your True Yearnings

If you’re having a hard time separating a want from a yearning, try applying the “so that” test.

For example:

“I want a promotion, so that…I can have more money.”

A promotion is a want is a want…is a want. Keep applying the “so that” until you can’t anymore. Like so:

 

“I want a promotion so that I can have more money.”
“I want more money so I can be able to have more fun and skydive more.”
“I want to skydive so that I feel the thrill.”
“I want to feel the thrill of skydiving so that I can feel alive.”

“I want to feel alive … I yearn to feel alive.”

-7 Relationship Myths eBook

 

It takes a good deal of practice and some work, but eventually you’ll start to unlock the true, deep-down yearnings of your heart. Once you know these truths about yourself, you can start to articulate and express them clearly. Yearning is the first step to bliss.

Battling Towards Bliss

When you start to acknowledge the underlying yearnings in your fights and figure out what you’re really looking for, a light goes off and fights suddenly become a lot more productive and a lot less destructive.

Suddenly you’re fighting FOR the relationship, rather than against each other. You’re fighting to meet each other’s yearnings, rather than yelling about unfulfilled wants. You’re not saying, “You never pick up the house.” You’re saying, “I yearn to be acknowledged.”

For couples, fights revolve around unmet yearnings. We either expect our partner to be fulfilling our yearnings for us, or we don’t know how to fill them for ourselves. When we do the work and start to discover who we really are, what drives us and what speaks to our heart, we become better communicators.

We stop expecting our partner to “fix it” or “make us happy” (a big relationship myth) and realize the happiness and the fix comes from within ourselves.

Figuring out your yearnings is the first step to greater understanding and more open communication with your partner. We go into more detail about how to use conflict to strengthen your relationship in our book The Heart of the Fight.

Please join us for an upcoming More Life Training, where you can start to unlock your yearnings and discover what’s really inside your heart. Visit us at www.wrightliving.com for more details.

 


About the Author

Dr. Judith Wright

 

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


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

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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.

 

 


 

The Power of Silence :
Purposeful Passiveness

There’s a great quote from Eastern philosophy: “Silence is the most powerful scream.” We often talk about the importance of expressing ourselves, engaging in conflict and making our presence known—but the purposeful use of silence can also be a powerful tool for getting our message across. 


When we think about someone who projects a powerful stance, expresses their power, and ensures their voice is heard, we typically think of a more…assertive personality and approach.

Perhaps you even think of someone who’s aggressive, domineering, and who yells and speaks loudly. Perhaps an assertive boss comes to mind, or a speaker captivating the room, or an in-law dominating a conversation, or maybe someone who drives and conducts in a meeting.

Power comes from expressing your voice and freely offering your feelings and opinions in life. When we think of power, we think of someone who makes a statement—someone who ensures their voice is heard.

This typical definition of power is one we see in the media and learn about in school, so it becomes an integral part of our psyche. We see “powerful” in media moguls, politicians, and businessmen. We learn that people who are loud and famous get heard.

Consequently, when we’re silent, we feel powerless. When our voice is quieted, we feel dominated and under someone else’s control. We feel like we’ve lost our ability to speak up. Maybe we’re silent to “show them” or to make a point, but in the silence, there’s desperation or a loss of power.

We’ve discussed the danger and even the weakness in giving “the silent treatment” when it comes to our relationships. When we silence our own voice and try to control others by giving them the cold shoulder, we’re actually picking the passive aggressive route. This “hidden middle finger” is unproductive at best, and can be highly damaging and detrimental at its worst. It doesn’t go anywhere, as both sides engage in a standoff, trying to “show” the other just how much they can withhold.


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Yet, on the converse of all of this, there’s another side to being silent.

The Other Side of Silence: Powerful Silence

Have you thought about the concept of passive power? There’s silence and power that attracts, rather than projects. In the Eastern philosophy of yin/yang, this is the feminine vs. masculine concept (although it’s not necessarily gender-related or specific). It’s the power of being open, encompassing and bringing things in rather than pushing them out.

This passive power is often overlooked—and it includes the power of silence.

Active and purposeful silence isn’t about being disengaged or shutting down. It’s about listening. It’s allowing others in the space to respond, and allowing them to talk their way through and reason out their response before jumping to a conclusion. This isn’t silence used to control the space or conversation—this is strategic silence deployed to allow the conversation to blossom and move forward.

Not only does your positive, silent presence make a huge difference in how others feel toward you and how they respond, but research shows it also impacts the quality of information you receive from others. Actively listening, showing interest, and truly hearing and relating to others gives you untold power, plus the ability to share your vision and relate to and learn from others.

When your silence conveys a positive attitude through smiling, nodding, and open body position, people use more interpretive abstract language. They go deeper into the conversation and they share their opinions more openly. If your silent presence is frowning and you appear more closed off, the person or people you’re listening to may tend to be more careful and analytic and only share concrete, descriptive facts.

Have you ever had one of those conversations with a powerful person? Where you feel compelled to keep talking and share, simply because they give you an encouraging “vibe” or let off an aura that just made you want to keep going? You might not have realized it until you walked away, or after the conversation when you had time to reflect. You may have thought, “Wow, why did I just share so much?”

It was because you were in the presence of a powerful listener. You were in the presence of someone who understood that silence is the most powerful scream.

How to Use Silence

So how can you learn to harness the power of silence? Is it simply listening and nodding? Is it just staring at someone while they continue to wax on and on? How do you get your point across, too?

Like all kinds of power, there are times to use silence and times not to use it. Many times, silence is powerful, even when it’s being used passive-aggressively. That’s why giving your partner the cold shoulder or sitting back in a boring meeting and being despondent gets your point of irritation across. Silence always speaks volumes, but not all volumes are productive or responsible. Not only that, but sometimes silence can lead others to simply shut down, ignore you, or decide to withdraw themselves because they’re tired of the standoff.


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So ask yourself in any given situation: “Does my silence create a sense of security, comfort, and affirmation, or lead to a greater sense of self—or is my silence intimidating, punishing, threatening, or withholding? Am I being silent to manipulate, or is my silence creating a space for others to express their yearnings and make their point?”

Many of us might have learned to withhold or suppress our voice while we were growing up. Perhaps your parents used the “silent treatment” to let you know they were hurt or angry with you, or to send the message that your behavior wasn’t acceptable. As adults, this kind of “disapproving parent” silence isn’t a responsible use of power. It doesn’t include an expression of your judgments and feelings directly. It’s simply a way to keep the other side guessing at what they’re doing wrong, with no clear way to resolve it.

Many of us weren’t trained to be a powerful, positive presence with our silence that results in a productive outcome, but fortunately, we can still learn. We’ve learned to talk and to express, but we haven’t learned to use our silence to listen.

Try to intentionally and purposefully use the power of silence in your business meetings and at home. Rather than jumping in to express your opinions and lead the conversation, sit back, actively listen and affirm, but stay silent.

Your silence can be profoundly powerful. Try engaging fully—being present, awake and alive, and in the here-and-now as you interact with others. Harness the power of your silence and experiment with the positive power of your very presence!

 

Learn more about how to engage your empathy and active listening skills at Wrightfoundation.org. Join us at our next More Life Training to learn how to strengthen your relationships and grow within all of your interactions.

 


About the Author

Judith

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


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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.

Dating After Divorce :
What Are the Rules?

Do you ever get tired of reading the same old dating and relationship advice? Most advice seems geared to  people who’ve never been in a marriage or long-term relationship.



What about the rest of us, with, well, “history”?

What about those of us who might be reentering the dating field after a divorce or long-term relationship ends? Doesn’t after-divorce dating come with a whole new set of rules? How long before it’s “safe” to start dating again? How much should I share about myself? Should I be honest about my past?

Maybe you’re not ready for a full-fledged relationship or even dating yet, but it can help to reflect on the knowledge and awareness you gained from your previous relationships, then find a way to reignite your social life. It may seem scary, but YOU CAN get out there, have some fun and feel alive again!

Getting Over the Guilt and Resentment

After a marriage ends, there’s often a great deal of self-reflection, guilt, sadness and introspection going on. You might feel like you aren’t sure how to connect with a new person on an emotional level. You might feel “out of the game.” Even if your last relationship wasn’t great (or was, in fact, pretty terrible), you may still be asking yourself a lot of emotionally-charged questions, like, “Why didn’t I get out sooner?” or “Did I do the right thing?” or “Will I ever find love again?”

You can take comfort in the knowledge that most relationships that end do so for a reason. Even if you have your reservations about the way it ended, let’s face it: no relationship ever ends because it’s just too wonderful to go on.

When a marriage ends, things can become tense and heated. It can be hard not to let negative comments and destructive words stick. Sometimes, that negativity can change the way we perceive ourselves and contribute to false or limiting beliefs. It’s important to keep in mind that even if things didn’t work out with one partner, you can still move on, move forward, and find your own bliss.

Even though you may be feeling raw and perhaps even vulnerable, the good news is…there are no rules. You don’t have to wait until you “feel comfortable.” You don’t have to wait until the dust has settled. And you don’t have to wait to start down a new path. You can start small, go big, or anything in between—your doors to self-discovery have just opened up.

Shifting Focus: There’s a Whole World Waiting for YOU

Think of it this way: The world is completely open to you. Freed of the negative constraints of your previous relationship, you can now step out into the world with fresh eyes. You can meet different people and learn new things about yourself by being more aware of the way you interact with them. You can even use the dating field as your own playground for personal growth and discovery.

What other time have you had the chance to really unlock and discover how you interact with different people in different situations? You probably already know what you don’t want in your next relationship. Use dating as a way to have a good time and learn more about yourself and what you DO really want.

By now you probably know there’s really no such thing as “the one.” Let go of the expectation of an outcome or a hope that you’ll find that “one” special someone. Instead, acknowledge that there are many different people out there who can challenge us and start us thinking in new directions.

You’ve been blessed with the opportunity to meet them! You can go out, engage and get reenergized!

Two Vital Skills for Relationship Bliss (Even If You’re Single)

These relationship bliss skills can help you in all your relationships. Learning and working on these relationship skills can help you break free from the notion of “dating rules,” boost your social life, and bring out your best.

Skill #1: Yearning

Yearning is deeper than simply wanting something. Yearning can come from a need to be seen, to be touched, to be recognized and to be acknowledged. The funny thing about yearnings is we often don’t realize what they’re really all about until we take a giant step back.


“We start by reawakening our moment-by-moment yearning to see and be seen, to touch and be touched, to love and be loved, to matter, to contribute, and to make a difference. Our fights are unconscious attempts to get our unrecognized yearnings met or a protest against them not being met. Great relationships require stepping out of routine and habit, and this skill begins by learning to have our yearning guide us in our interactions.” –The Heart of the Fight


For example, on the surface, maybe you’re bothered when someone talks over you or when your date orders for you at a restaurant. Your true underlying yearning is your desire to be acknowledged and heard. If you’ve been dismissed frequently in the past, you may have developed a pattern of pushing down your yearnings, instead feeling quietly resentful.

Think of how much more freeing it would be to express your yearnings and to say, “You know, I’d like to order for myself,” or “I want my living room to look this way.” Identify your yearnings, embrace them and don’t hold back!

Skill #2: Engaging

Engagement is putting things out on the table. It’s being present, being honest and truly expressing yourself.


“Engaging is a deeper and wider concept than just listening or concentrating, though these are important elements of engaging…Understand that to be truly engaged, your yearning and your emotions must be involved. You may be completely focused on your new boss at work, a new date, or shopping at an exclusive new store, but even if you are totally turned on by your favorite designer’s hot new collection, these activities don’t satisfy a deeper yearning, and therefore your engagement takes place on a superficial level. Worrying about the new boss, being curious about the new date or, sorry to say, even finding the hottest new designer shoes doesn’t qualify as fulfilling a yearning, nor does being kind of high and buzzed constitute real emotion. Similarly, if your mind is into something but your heart is not, you’re lacking the emotional involvement that distinguishes true engagement. 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.” –Transformed! The Science of Spectacular Living


Disengagement comes from hiding your yearnings. It can come from a desire to win an argument, not for the good of the relationship, but simply because you want, above all, to be right. Does engagement mean polite interaction or acquiescing to the whims of another? No, of course not.

Many of us shy away from engagement because we think it means conflict, and we think conflict is bad. Well, guess what? Conflict isn’t bad! In fact, conflict can be a great way to stimulate and accelerate your personal growth. You can read more about these relationship bliss skills in our book The Heart of the Fight.

Remember, your journey is only beginning and it’s an exciting and energizing time to embrace the new world ahead!

Want to learn more about how to live your most fantastic life and become your best self? Read on at Wright Living or join us for our upcoming More Life Training.


About the Author

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

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


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

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

Feeling Alone and Isolated?
How to Stop Holding Back
& Really Connect

Do you ever feel like you just aren’t clicking with those around you? Maybe you’re even feeling alone and isolated when you’re with your spouse, your friends or your coworkers.


Perhaps you were once close, but you’ve started drifting apart. Or maybe the culture of these relationships seems as foreign to you as if you were a stranger in a strange land.

I was recently meeting with my client, Arri*. He described how he felt like he was always going through the motions, but never really connecting with anyone. This guy was the head of his department and a leader in his office. He was married for fifteen years, with two kids and a beautiful wife. He seemed to have a big social circle—and even if you met him on the street, you’d probably describe him as well liked, even popular.

Yet, he sat in my office and said, “I’m feeling alone and isolated. I feel like everyone’s having a party and I’m not invited. I just don’t feel like I click with anyone anymore.”

As we talked, he told me about how there were, in fact, several things bothering him in his relationships. His kids were teenagers (who are by nature sometimes difficult to “click” with). He no longer felt like they needed him and they just weren’t close anymore.

There were some things bothering him about his wife, too. He felt like she was often critical and distant. Not mean, necessarily, but he felt like she thought he was bothering her “all the time.” They weren’t as passionate as they once were. While he had always been a great provider for his family, his wife had recently changed her career and was now the program director of a foundation. She was making nearly as much as he was, and their relationship had shifted.

At work, he reported similar situations. He was doing well, but he didn’t really have anywhere to move up. He was feeling alone and isolated in his managerial role because he had to keep a healthy distance between himself and those under his supervision. Yet he didn’t feel like he was in the inner-circle with the CEO and CFO of his company.

He felt he just wasn’t connecting with anyone anymore. So, I asked him if he’d brought any of this up with his family or his coworkers. Had he tried not holding back and getting his feelings out in the open?

Arri’s response? “No, of course not. It’s just me. It’s all in my head. I don’t really like confrontation and I feel like it would make things worse.”

So instead he suffered in silence.

Feeling Alone and Isolated Due to Bottled Up Emotions

Don’t all of us feel this way at some point? Things bother us and get under our skin, but we don’t want to rock the boat or seem like the squeaky wheel, so we just swallow it. We avoid conflict at work and at home. Our significant other makes a comment that rubs us the wrong way, and instead of saying something, it’s just easier to try to let it go. A coworker brushes us off or takes credit for our idea, and instead of advocating for ourselves, we feel like it will just make things worse.

but do we really let it go?

Silently, we feel like we’re imploding inside. It often starts with the little things. We don’t get invited to lunch with a group of coworkers or our spouse makes a hurtful comment off-hand. We seethe about it and get quiet. Someone asks what’s bothering us and we say, “Nothing. I’m fine.” But really, we’re becoming more frustrated. We’re feeling alone and isolated, and like more and more of an outsider. We think by saying nothing we’re taking the upper hand, but really we’re just holding it in.

In my experience, clients often find they’re giving their spouse what I call the “silent middle finger” without even realizing it. They’re ignoring them or acting cold. Rather than addressing problems and embracing conflict, it becomes a standoff. Both parties pretend like nothing’s bothering them, as they toss little insults and cutting remarks toward each other and bottle up their emotions.

Engaging in Conflict & Speaking Up

It’s time to end the standoff!

Instead of holding those emotions and feelings inside, adding to the feeling of distance, it’s time to recognize that we need to engage! We need to embrace conflict and speak up if something’s bothering us!

When you’ve suffered in silence for a while, it’s no easy task. But chances are, if you think you’re hiding your frustrations from the world, you’re really putting up a wall between you and those around you—not just to keep your emotions in, but to keep other people out.

Part of working on your social and emotional intelligence is learning how to embrace conflict and use it as a tool to move yourself forward, not simply toward resolution, but toward evolution. There are rules of engagement, as we discuss in our book, The Heart of the Fight. These rules help couples fight fairly and constructively. They can be applied to relationships across the board—from home to work, from your spouse to your children.

When you’ve been holding in your frustrations for a long time, it can be hard to express your emotions. It can even be scary. You might have a belief that no one will listen to you or people will think you’re a jerk. In reality, when you’re being open and honest, even in confrontation and conflict, those around you will also rise to the occasion. If you’re fighting FOR the relationship rather than against it and expressing your feelings while taking responsibility for them, you can actually use conflict to strengthen and reinforce your relationships and connections.

In Arri’s case, he started to find his voice. He learned to say, “You know what? This bothers me.” Once he started speaking up, he found he was feeling more alive, more engaged and more visible. He reported he started to feel like he mattered to others, and that his feelings and opinions mattered because he mattered to himself.

As he began to reengage, he noticed he became MORE connected and closer to those around him—his wife, his coworkers and even his teenagers. Rather than living life from the passenger seat, he took the wheel and saw good results. He was amazed to find out no one thought he was a “jerk” when he spoke up. Instead, they worked to acknowledge his feelings and find resolution. His relationships were strengthened.

If you’re feeling alone and isolated in your relationships, or if you feel like things are bothering you and you’re not speaking up, it’s time to embrace the conflict and get back in the game!

*names have been changed.

Join us for our upcoming More Life Training where we’ll examine ways to clear the air, strengthen our relationships, and keep living life to the fullest.


About the Author

Judith-300x250

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


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

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.