Posts Tagged ‘No choice’

How to move forward when you can’t forgive what they did

Tuesday, January 16th, 2018

In our last blog we talked about our individual “Christmas movies” – the scripts or patterns it’s easy to find ourselves falling back into when we’re around people who push our buttons.

a shot of espresso: how to cut through conflict when you can't forgiveIf you’ve been to one of our workshops you’ll know how easy it is to get entrenched in the same old warring positions. "How on earth can they still be so selfish?" we ask ourselves when that one family member shows their true colours once more.

It's one thing to let go of little slights or lapses of judgment. But when we've experienced the same behaviour for years or even decades, it can feel impossible to forgive them and move forward.

If, despite your best intentions, you’re looking back on some of your interactions in the past weeks and feeling unhappy with what occurred, read on. Like a shot of espresso, it's time to bring clarity to the emotional hangover and find out how we can shift the conflicts that linger, once and for all.

When you can't forgive

At War to Peace® we believe in looking at the underlying way we’re being; considering our “operating system,” which determines how the things we say and do come across.

And when we look back on interactions that we’ve felt disappointed with, something curious emerges. The operating system that we use to look back on what went wrong can be oddly similar to the conflict we’re wishing was different.

For example, the operating system of “I wish you were different” applies to the other people who have riled us up, but it also comes out when we criticize ourselves for the things we didn’t say, or the way we behaved.

However badly someone else has behaved, the person I’m usually equally struggling with is me: either for what I did do (got triggered, flew off the handle, gave into their demands) or what I didn’t (tell them what I really thought, stood up for myself, apologised…)

This is how we manage to continue to be at War long after a challenging interaction with someone. Our sense of injustice and annoyance continues into the way we remember them, talk to ourselves and others about what happened, and create the perfect conditions to continue that conflict when we next spend time with them.

Changing the system

So how can we move past this mindset? Are certain deep-rooted conflicts destined to be in our lives forever?

When we're not ready to forgive and forget, it can seem as though there's no way out of the situation. And if we believe that the only way to feel better is for the other person to do something – like apologise, change their actions, or admit they've behaved abysmally – that might well be true. Try as we might, there's nothing we can do to change other people. This is what lays at the heart of our difficulty with the people we find so challenging - the amount of time and energy we have dedicated to this, either in practical terms or with the amount of space we let them occupy in our minds.

What we can do to shift things is to start with what is within our control. And, whilst we typically allow ourselves to cling on to the thoughts we're having about them, our own mindset is something we do have control over. And if we can begin to move that, even by a tiny notch, we open up space for things to be different.

So if there's a sticky scenario leftover from Christmas that's been playing on your mind, we can start by focusing our attention back to us:

I invite you to the possibility that you behaved the best way you could, given the situation, all the circumstances and in light of the history or any emotional baggage you carried in to the interaction.

Might it be possible to let yourself off the hook, just a little? After all, you did your best in that moment. In a perfect situation, things might have been different, but this is real life and one thing our relationships never are is perfect. It's also worth noting that you probably hadn't eaten as healthily as you would typically, you may not have had as much good quality sleep and you may have had more alcohol than you would typically - all of which tend to result in us having less emotional resilience and tolerance. It's also the time of year where we typically feel we should be with our family members and close friends, and all our made up 'shoulds' about how it's meant to be are playing out, which can pile on the pressure. So perhaps it's time to let yourself off the hook if you are feeling in any way self-critical.

If, on the other hand, you truly believe you were perfectly behaved and it really is all them, perhaps you could spend some time imagining what might be going on for them that led them to leave behind their best self over the holiday period. Perhaps you don't know their whole life circumstances at the moment, perhaps they are burdened by some unimaginable stress that you know nothing of and they don't feel able to share it with anyone yet. It perfectly okay if you are not ready to forgive them yet, but perhaps you could consider that even though it feels really personal and you have all the evidence in the world that it is, it's only about you if you allow it to be.

We can never know exactly what another person is going through, what triggers they are experiencing or how hard they are trying to overcome their own inner battles. So, without any knowledge to the contrary and even though they fell short of your expectations, perhaps they did the best they could under the circumstances, too.

Looking at what's ours to change

If this feels like you're letting someone off the hook, it actually isn't - it doesn't mean you're condoning anything they've said or done, it just means you're freeing yourself from the burden of resentment. This isn’t about condoning poor choices, or letting people get away with things.

Rather, it is an invitation to focus on the things that are within our control, to take back our own power, and to maintain our integrity (by our own definition of what this is for ourself) with whomever we find ourselves interacting.

This is the starting point of the simple strategy we cover in the War to Peace® workshop. If you haven’t yet participated, we’d love to welcome you to one of our open access sessions so that you can dive deeper into the power of this approach to transform relationships at work and at home.

Having the tools to change our operating system means we can set ourselves up to succeed rather than fail. Relationships with even the most difficult people – like family members who we know are never going to change, or colleagues who really push our buttons – can shift drastically with this change in mindset.

It allows us to access resources that just aren’t available when we’re stuck on the same old script – and can result in utterly unexpected turnarounds.

A simple way to change

War to Peace® is a very simple process, but it’s award winning for a reason. If you’re ready to experience how to move past challenging relationships once and for all, the first open access workshop of 2018 is on 2 March.

Our workshops sell out fast so we suggest you book now if you know this is something you’d like to achieve this year! Click here to find out more and book your place.

And to be the first to hear about our new workshop dates, sign up for our monthly blog posts containing tips and strategies for your relationship challenges.

P.S. pass it on!

If you know someone who might find this article helpful, let them know. Share it by using one of the buttons below.



Tricky interaction over the festive period still playing on your mind? You're not alone. @halcyonglobal shares a simple way to move things forward when you're struggling to forgive.




Photo via Unsplash

Are you writing your own Christmas movie?

Friday, December 15th, 2017

Picture the scene, as though it was the start of a film.

Christmas tree: Are you dreading the family christmas?Christmas music rings out as the camera swoops down snow-covered streets, decorated with bright colours. And as the opening credits fade, we peer in through one of the well-lit windows and into a familiar scene. The family round the table, with everyone there: parents, grown up children, teenagers and maybe even little ones running around.

There’s no mistaking the time of year – it’s holiday season once again, and all around, families gather for their annual get together. You’ll most probably be attending a social occasion of some kind yourself during the coming weeks, and how do you feel about it?

Be honest. Are you excited? Happy?

Or is it more like dread at the thought of yet another family fiasco replaying itself once more?

Holidays can be hard

Taking time off to spend with family sounds like it should be so idyllic. But as the holidays approach, we often find ourselves cranking up a gear, just when our bodies are feeling the need to slow down.

So we often arrive at the big events with our families tired and run down, maybe a little bit stressed, and almost always anticipating what’s about to unfold. After all, the collision of family is what tends to make the day so memorable.

Most of us could probably rattle off an account of the past five or so Christmasses – maybe there was an argument, an unexpected disaster, or a memorably wonderful time.

There’s not many other days of the year that are repeatedly so memorable.

All in all, it’s the perfect recipe for a whole lot of conflict – spoken or suppressed – to unfold. And the truth is, we can’t change anything about how other people show up to it. What we can look at is our own reaction to what takes place.

We create our reality

A great place to start is by examining the assumptions and expectations we bring before things start.

One of the ways we can be at War with the people around us involves us gathering evidence to support our take on things, and this is something that often comes up at Christmas. It’s almost as though we have a script already written – a movie of What Christmas is Like that we’re running in our heads.

Within this framework, we can actively see those around us behaving exactly as we knew they would. Sure enough, you start to accumulate evidence: there’s your bossy aunt, your selfish father, your tactless brother-in-law. All showing up and playing their roles, exactly as you expect them to.

But if this were a movie, where would we place ourselves? Quite often it’s not as a character in the film, or at least not one causing any of the issues. We think of ourselves as being the neutral party. Or, if pushed, we find justifiable reasons for why we revert to certain behaviours. When your mother’s being her usual controlling self, it’s only natural that you slip back into defensive teenager mode.

We just can’t help it when we’re around them!

Flipping the script around

Now, it’s absolutely possible that your family might be composed of people who are difficult to be around. We’re not saying that your reading of the situation is wrong.

But choose one person you find especially challenging, and try for a moment imagining that you’re in their shoes.

How might they be feeling about the coming season? What ruts do they wish they could escape from? And how might you be unconsciously feeding into them?

Perhaps being around a mum who stifles you has you feeling sullen and resentful. You know that you end up speaking less and feeling less enthusiastic when she’s around.

But from her side, your reticence makes you seem quiet. She goes into full-on cajoling mode, to try to encourage you to take part. And so the cycle repeats itself.

Most of us are really good at identifying family dynamics and how they play out. We’re not always so gifted at seeing how we too play our part in creating those dynamics.

This year, instead of expecting a certain script to play out, why not see if you can remain open to what “film” is about to be shown. Who are the characters going to be? What are they like, and how do they show that? How are you "being" and what character are you playing, in turn?

You might find something you weren’t expecting opens up.

Time for a real change?

Our workshops are really effective in the workplace; the feedback that we get from leaders and managers tells us War to Peace® has a huge impact on their results. And the reality is, what holds us back most in our lives is very often our longstanding relationships with those around us. It’s interacting with our parents, siblings and children that can be the sources of our deepest pain and anger, and finding a way to navigate them can be what makes the difference to every other aspect of our worlds.

If you’re interested in learning the tools you need to resolve conflicts with ease in any area of your life, the first open access workshop of 2018 is on 2 March 2018, and we currently have just 10 spaces left. Click here to find out more and book your place.

And to be the first to hear about our new workshop dates, sign up for our monthly blog posts containing tips and strategies for your relationship challenges.

P.S. pass it on!

If you know someone who might find this article helpful, let them know. Share it by using one of the buttons below.



One Christmas movie to avoid in 2017, from @halcyonglobal (Dreading the family Christmas? This is for you)




Photo by Chad Madden on Unsplash

I had no choice…

Monday, August 8th, 2016

As a child, Claire’s mum was a senior leader in the Girl Guides. Claire was happy to join Brownies and then go up to Guides but, when she was around 13 or 14, her interests started to lead her elsewhere. She wanted to leave but her mum “heavily encouraged” her to stay.

walking-boots-IMG_2020One of the things about Guides that really irked Claire was the frequent, long hikes that her leader organised that Claire was expected to go on. She felt that she had no choice in going and grumbled along, staring at the floor and kicking stones in anger at every opportunity. Unsurprisingly, this didn’t make her brilliant company, so the other girls would forge ahead and leave her to her negativity, which flourished under such excellent growing conditions.

Claire was at War. With her mum, her leader, the other girls, herself and every tree, hill and stone on each walk she went on.

Fast forward thirty years and Claire is a well-respected coach who came along to one of the War to Peace workshops. In her spare time, Claire loves to take any opportunity she can to walk in the wild, and she shared a revelation about this that she’d had in the workshop with the group:

“I’ve just realised how I went from being at War to being at Peace when it comes to walking, and I think this may be the key to being able to change my mood quickly.

“Towards the end of my time in the Guides, we were staying on an outward bound style residential in some army barracks in Bavaria. I was moaning to Nick, one of the guys stationed there, about how much I hated walking and he really ‘saw’ me. He challenged me to come out with him the next day on the nearby Five Peak Trail, but he had some conditions: we could stop and rest whenever I wanted for however long I wanted; we could stop and go back to the barracks any time I wanted, and that he would carry lots of water and I only needed a daysack. I thought about it. It sounded better than the tree replanting exercise we were scheduled to do the next day, so I said yes. I figured I could bail out early and be back in my room eating chocolate by the afternoon anyway.

“The next day was a beautiful blue-sky day, and we set off up the first hill of the trail. I surprised myself by really enjoying it and, when Nick asked me if I was ok to go on, I was astonished by my own enthusiasm. We stopped frequently, drank water and admired the views and each time Nick asked me if I wanted to go on, I really did. We completed the trail and I enjoyed every step. For the very first time, I felt that I'd had a choice to hike or not!

“Since then, I’ve realised that I tend to go to War if I feel boxed into a situation or feel compelled to do something by someone else. I’ve become well practised at noticing when I hear myself saying "I had no choice" - either in my head or out loud, because the truth is, I always have a choice, even if it's a difficult one, or even if it's only a choice about how I'm choosing to view a situation. So these days, in situations that start to feel uncomfortable, I start to consider all my choices (even the difficult ones) and it seems to be a way to manoeuvre myself quickly back to being at Peace. As does going for a long walk, ironically! Thank you for helping me to make this connection to my relationships with other people I find difficult – I really feel that I have at last ‘joined the dots!’”

Over to you

  • Have you ever felt as though you had no choice in a situation? How did you feel?
  • How could looking for (maybe not immediately obvious) choices in a situation lead you to viewing the situation differently?
  • Have you unconsciously taken away someone else's choices about something? How could you help them to feel they have more choice next time?

Do you know someone who could benefit from War to Peace?

If you, or someone you know, would like to experience and understand more about being at War and learning how to be at Peace, even with the people you find most difficult, our next open-access War to Peace workshop with spaces is on 3 March 2017. We are running a waitlist for our workshop on 7 October (which sold out in July!) so if you would like to attend, do book yours today.

P.S. Pass it on!

Found this useful? Then please share this article using the icons below and do leave us a comment.

Click to Tweet


"But I had no choice...!" If you hear yourself saying this, think again. 



Please leave your name and email address at the top or bottom of this page to receive more articles like this.

©Halcyon Global 2016