Posts Tagged ‘relationship’

Can you change a habit of a lifetime?

Tuesday, February 20th, 2018

Can you change a habit when it comes to challenging people in your life? I’ve noticed something happen time and again in the War to Peace® workshops I’ve held over the past decade.

A man's hands: Can you change a habit of a lifetime?Here’s what goes on: We break for lunch, and the participants head out to grab some food and headspace from the deep work we’ve been doing, becoming aware of how we’re being in the relationships in our life.

Some people decide to lunch together; others take a sandwich across the road to the park and recharge amid the ancient oaks, or explore the neighbourhood cafés.

We regroup for the afternoon session, and that’s when I notice it.

There’s almost always one participant whose face has changed entirely, almost beyond recognition.

Maybe they started the day with a worn, tired expression, and suddenly they look relaxed and awake. Often before I’ve asked them, they’re bubbling over to tell me what’s happened.

The reason is always the same: an internal shift when they’ve suddenly realised that a relationship in their life that they’d thought could never change suddenly feels different.

Can we really change the habit of a lifetime?

This kind of shift in perspective might seem far fetched until you’ve experienced it. And it’s definitely not “magic”, even though it can look like that from the outside.

The fact is, most participants don’t come to the workshop thinking about the really big relationships in their lives.

(Usually, the goal is to resolve something far closer to home: a dispute with a colleague, a neighbour, or a boss.)

But the tools we share are both practical and powerful, and once you become aware of what they can do, all sorts of new possibilities open up. You can read about Gordon's experience of exactly this here.

When we experience what it really feels like to be at ease with someone whose behaviour is challenging to us, without letting them off the hook, it’s inevitable that we begin to look at some of the bigger stuff.

That’s the change I notice on the faces of the people who come back from lunch with a totally different way of thinking about their dad, or their daughter, or their ex. Nothing about the other person has altered at all. What has shifted is how they’ve been able to move their focus from what the other person is doing, to what they themselves can do.

A real shift in what’s possible

There’s a huge freedom that comes when we are no longer waiting for someone to change or make amends in order for us to feel better.

Instead, we start to take ownership of our interactions. We’re not giving our power to the other person and so we’re able to be our calm, creative, resourceful selves.

We have more energy, more compassion, and greater capacity to focus on the things and people that matter to us (instead of the ones who drive us crazy).

What I love about sharing this methodology is that it can apply to any relationship we need it to. Big and small, from the people who’ve known us our entire lives to the new maddening hire in the office.

In the decade that War to Peace® has been around, thousands of people have come away from our workshops with a method that will help them navigate challenging and sensitive interactions in every area of their lives.

Curious? Find out for yourself

Our first public workshop of 2018 is on 2nd March and we have just 4 places left, so if you’re wavering, now’s the time to book! Click here to get your ticket and find out if you can change the habit of a lifetime. (And you have nothing to lose with our Wise Investment Guarantee, which offers you a full refund if you’re not satisfied*)

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.

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Can you change a habit when it comes to how you experience the most challenging people in your life? We're sharing the unusual experience we've noticed in several workshop participants




*Our Wise Investment Guarantee

If you leave one of our workshops and don’t feel better equipped to deal with the people you find difficult we will willingly refund your money. We believe wholeheartedly in what we do, we know it works and if it doesn’t work for you, we wouldn’t want you to pay us. If you are not satisfied with your experience, just return your course materials to us, give us some feedback on how we could have made it better for you and we will give you a full refund.

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

Feeling disrespected or not listened to? 3 ways to change your experience.

Sunday, July 30th, 2017

So you are a decent, respectful person who doesn’t have communication problems with anyone. Except for that one person. They just don’t listen to you, they don’t value your opinion and you don’t feel respected by them.

But you’ve noticed that they don’t really listen to or value anyone, so it’s not personal, it’s just very tiresome, especially when you know what you’re talking about and they clearly don’t.

It is not uncommon to be someone who gets along well with everyone, to be known for your excellent communication skills and to encounter one person who just doesn’t get it.

Jon's story

Last year my colleague, Jon, who is known for getting along with just about anyone, was complaining to me about his new boss. Jon was passionate about his work, had worked in his organisation for over 15 years and was renowned as an expert in his field.

He was really aggrieved that his new boss talked to him as though he was an imbecile and had no interest in his thoughts or opinions.

Everyone agrees with me

In passing, Jon had subtly asked some other heads of departments about their experience of this man and was quite relieved to find that they all thought about him the same way - someone who was very much out for himself and not at all interested in anyone else’s opinions. They agreed that he definitely didn’t care about the organisation in the way that they all did.

Who is suffering?

Before Jon experienced War to Peace®, he spent a lot of time accusing and blaming his new boss for his dissatisfaction at work.  On the plus side, it felt good knowing that he was right about him (he knew lots of people who agreed with him after all), but this didn’t sustain him for long; he often dreaded going into work and couldn't see how things would change, as he felt that he’d tried everything.

Jon had seriously considered leaving his organisation but he had built up a long service with them and, in any case, he had to stay for at least the next six months otherwise he would lose his bonus.

Frustration, Deisel Demon

Help is at hand!

When Jon came along to a War to Peace® workshop he realised that the perceptions he held about his boss were creating his experience of him.

When he was seeing him though the lens of 'not listening to me', 'disrespectful', 'doesn’t care as much as I do', he realised that he hadn’t been helping his relationship with him at all. With a wry grin, he also admitted that he had himself failed to listen and been quite disrespectful to this new boss.  In fact, Jon eventually realised that the whole time he’d been focussed on how wrong his boss was being, he hadn’t been contributing much at all to the organisation he had claimed to care about so much.

With this newfound clarity, Jon emailed his boss, explaining what he had to offer and asking for a meeting to discuss his ideas. He was more than a little surprised when his boss asked if he’d like to go for a beer after to work to discuss them.

Jon discovered that they shared far more in common than he could have thought (both were huge fans of poker nights) and that his new boss wasn’t such a bad guy after all. In fact he felt a little guilty when his boss shared that he had been finding it hard to settle in his new home, as his wife and kids were still in the process of relocating from abroad and he was missing them, along with the social circle he'd built up in his home town.

Over to you 

1.  Consider the times you have done the very thing you are accusing them of.

I know, you are a great listener and wouldn't ever disrespect someone in the way that they do (and that one time you did, you had extenuating circumstances), but just spend some time thinking about what you needed or wanted when you were doing this.

2.  Question the validity of your beliefs about them. Ask yourself ‘what else could their behaviour mean?’

If someone appears not to be listening to you, it may be that they are needing to be heard. Or it could mean they are having a tough time and they are distracted. Have you thought that it might not be anything to do with you at all? 

3.   Consider how much you are allowing this person to influence how you are being or behaving.

How much control are you giving away by allowing your perceptions and experience of this person to dictate how you react to them? Are you really being the person you want to be when you do this?

A final word

The next time you feel disrespected or not listened to, simply recognise that your feelings are coming from you (from the perceptions and beliefs you hold). When you apply this principle, just see how easy it becomes to override your judgment about someone and discover a new way of experiencing them.

If you would like to learn more about how to achieve the relationships you want without the other person needing to change, come along to one of our award-winning open-access War to Peace® workshops – the next is on 13 October and we have just 3 spaces left. If you have a team and you feel they could benefit from experiencing this work, we run in-house War to Peace® workshops globally throughout the year. Get in touch with us here.

Need convincing? Click here to see what other people are saying about their experiences of War to Peace®

Add your voice to the conversation

We’d love to hear your views about this post. Loved it? Hated it? Let us know by making a comment below.

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"Feeling disrespected or not listened to? 3 ways to change your experience @halcyonglobal."




Photo credit: Demon Diesel

Two words you might never want to say

Tuesday, March 21st, 2017

“Why do you always spend too much money?”

“It drives me mad that you never spend any time with the kids!”

“You’re always late.”

“My boss never appreciates the care and attention I put into my work.”

Do any of these sound familiar?

‘Always’ and ‘never’ are such black-and-white words aren’t they? They’re defining and clear. How much easier it is to pigeonhole someone if they ‘never’ clear up after themselves or are ‘always’ rude?

Yet people aren’t black and white: we are a million shades of grey according to mood, circumstance or method of communication. Black or white are in fact pretty rare states in the human condition, but to make our thought processing easier, our minds collect data about the people around us and draw quick conclusions in order to make sense of the world and to help differentiate amongst the greys. Behaviours are exaggerated to fit a pattern that we see emerging, and then labels are formed.

In our War to Peace workshops, exaggerating and using these words is one of the ‘Unlucky 7’ signs that you may be at War. Noticing that you are using ‘always’ or ‘never’ about a person you are finding difficult (or about yourself) is a warning bell that you need to stop and examine the evidence.

Rachel’s story

Rachel was feeling very low about her relationship with her young son. In particular, she found his high energy and need for interaction exhausting and she felt that she couldn’t keep up. This left her feeling both guilty and angry. When Rachel described her son’s behaviour to the group, she used phrases like ‘he always makes such a noise tearing around the house’, or ‘he never stops!’ She was equally damning of herself when she talked about her own behaviour in reaction to his, saying ‘I never play with him anymore’ and ‘I always shout’. Rachel was at War both with her son and with herself.

Working with a partner at the workshop, Rachel began to examine how much truth was behind the statements she had made. She realised that her son did have calmer moments: they enjoyed snuggling up and looking at his magazine together on a Saturday morning; he enjoyed baking with her; and that he was always engaged when she and her husband read him his favourite book at bedtimes. Rachel also realised that, although she wanted to make the games longer and more frequent, she did play football with him once a week. And that there were plenty of times when she would talk, sing and giggle with him with no shouting whatsoever.

Rachel’s feelings towards her son’s behaviour softened and became much less defensive, and she was able to stop feeling guilty about her parenting too. This enabled her to work on actively finding opportunities to have fun with her son at an energy level they were both comfortable with, which has led to much a happier place for them both. Not ‘always’ happy, nor ‘never’ cross, but at a much better place in between.

Over to you

  • Be on the lookout for ‘always’ and ‘never’ creeping into the language you use to describe others’ behaviour or your own, and notice how these statements make you feel.
  • Examine the evidence behind those statements. Could you prove them in a court of law?
  • Find a recent example of when that statement wasn’t true – when they weren’t late, for example. Notice how this new perspective shifts your feelings. Incidentally, if you start making excuses for why this example doesn't count, know that it's normal to do this when we are at War. Take a deep breath and try using our Spiral of Disempowerment™ tool.

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

If you know someone who would benefit from learning how to feel better about their relationships with their family, colleagues and friends, we are running our next open-access War to Peace® workshop in London on 13 October. To book a space, click here. Please note, we have just 9 spaces left.

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'Always trying hard? Never appreciated? We know the feeling!

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©Halcyon Global 2017

Letting off steam – or blowing your top?

Monday, October 10th, 2016

When we’ve been wronged in some way by someone, it’s natural to feel hurt and upset. When people around us see that we are upset and ask about what’s happened, our instinct is often to tell them.

Imagine you are walking to work and a stranger barges into you, spilling coffee on your jacket and knocking you to the floor before disappearing without a sorry. When you arrive at the office, dishevelled, you are highly likely to tell your colleagues what happened – it can be cathartic to share the experience, after all. You're unlikely to see that person again and, when you have been given a coffee and commiserated with for a few minutes, you can clean up your jacket, take a deep breath and get on with your day.

letting off steamBut what about if the person who wronged you is someone you have to see regularly? A colleague, friend or family member, for example? Is it always healthy and cathartic to tell others about what has happened to you, or could you end up getting into an unhelpful place of gathering of allies?

Gathering allies is one of the signs of being at War (or going into conflict) that we talk about in the War to Peace workshops. If we are a country about to go to war – or a person about to become in conflict with someone – we've learned that it's in our interests to get as many people as possible to be on our ‘side’.

So the barging stranger example earlier isn’t generally going to be a War situation – it’s hopefully just an annoying thing that happened on the way to work.

But what about if Wendy still hasn’t written that report that you need for your presentation tomorrow – and she promised it three days ago? And what if she did this to you last week as well, and you had to pull an all-nighter to get ready for the big meeting? Is it OK to have a moan to your colleagues? You’re really annoyed, naturally, and it’s cathartic, right?

What about if your colleagues join in with your moan and tell you that Wendy left them waiting a few times too, and that her work was sloppy when it arrived? Would that make you feel better or worse? Does the conversation still feel cathartic, or is it starting to feel toxic? How would you feel if Wendy walked into the room as you were talking? And is your relationship with Wendy getting any better as a result of sharing your frustrations? Would you think to include the times that she had helped you or done some fantastic work in this conversation? (By the way, when we go to War with someone, it's largely unconscious and means it's usually very difficult to recall much good about the person or anything they've done).

There’s a big difference between a short ‘vent’ into a journal or to an unconnected friend and a gathering of allies such as the example above. The first allows us to let off steam, which often helps us to move on and deal with the problem at hand; the second only sends us further into the war zone by reinforcing to ourselves and others how 'right' we are about the person, and gathering further reinforcement and evidence of this from our allies. In short, it’s a quick route to being at War.

In the meantime, Wendy is wondering how she is going to get through another day on no sleep when she's been caring through the night for her sick mother for a month now. She's so distraught, she daren't talk about it for fear of crying at work and looking "unprofessional." If only you'd known what was going on for her...

Over to you

  • The next time you find yourself telling someone about a ‘wrong’, ask yourself: "Am I having a cathartic vent or gathering allies?"
  • Notice what story you are telling yourself and your allies. How do you feel about yourself and the person you talked about afterwards?
  • How can you find more inner resources at times of difficulty? (clue – try starting with the ideas in this post or this one)

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

If you, or someone you know, would like to experience how to let off steam in a healthy way and learn how to be at Peace, even with the people you find most difficult, our next open-access War to Peace workshop is on 3 March 2017. We only have 8 spaces left and spaces sell out quickly (especially our reduced priced tickets) so if you would like to attend, do book yours today.

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Are you letting off steam or blowing your top?



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©Halcyon Global 2016



Digging over the past

Monday, September 5th, 2016

Theresa’s husband had been having an affair for over two years before she found out.

During that time, they had lost two parents between them to cancer, gone on the holiday of a lifetime to Australia and supported their son through a nasty case of bullying. Theresa felt that they had been there for each other, loved and enjoyed each other’s company through all of this, and that they were rock solid.

worker-30240_640Finding out about the affair through an acquaintance had brought her world crumbling around her. Immediately, she set about raking through her memories of the two years it had been going on. The day before her mother’s funeral, her husband had been out all day; he couldn’t attend their son’s school leavers’ service as he had been on a ‘business trip’; he’d spent a lot of time on his smartphone when they were in Australia and she’d assumed he was updating his Facebook status with what they’d been up to that day. Now she drew very different conclusions about what he had been doing on those occasions and many others. Looking through the events of those years in a cold light and rewriting her experience through her new knowledge made Theresa feel duped and angry, and she kicked herself for being so ‘naïve’.


Frank’s boss had been very supportive. He’d seen that Frank had been having to leave earlier than usual and had asked if there was anything the matter. Frank had confided in him that his wife was finding coping with their toddler daughter very draining so he had agreed to come home and take over the reins, finishing off any outstanding work after they had put her to bed. His boss had been stopping by his desk regularly since then, asking how things were going, and Frank felt valued and appreciated. He was happy he worked for such a progressive, flexible employer.

Yet when a junior colleague in his department was promoted ahead of him, the reason for Frank’s boss’s ‘supportive’ concern became apparent: he was checking whether or not Frank was up to the responsibility of the new role. Frank looked back on all the chats they’d had and on all the work he’d completed well and on time, and he felt cheated and resentful. He’d even taken his boss out for a slap up lunch to say thanks for his support. Frank now wondered whether his boss had been plotting against him all along, and spent long hours awake in bed unable to sleep because he was raking through every conversation they’d had for months and imagining his boss’s negative thoughts towards him.


Theresa’s story and Frank’s story may be far apart in context but they share a theme of altered perceptions. We all read our experiences in based on the information that is available to us at the time, mixed in with our assumptions, previous knowledge and the mood we're in. Theresa and Frank felt fully supported, then angry and resentful when they looked back at the experience with fresh knowledge.

Yet they were not wrong, stupid or naïve to feel happy at the time. And it is completely understandable why they may change how they interpret those past events given the information they have now.  But does it serve them to dig over events of the past and view them as more true / different than they had previously thought?

Most of us would find it hard not to take personally what Theresa and Frank experienced and to blame the 'errant' husband and 'unfair' boss, yet the cost is great to ourselves as we carry around the burden of resentment, which is like allowing the people we most dislike to reside in our heads rent free. It also means that we are far more likely to go to War with other people in our lives, becoming less tolerant, more mistrusting and more cynical - so we allow ourselves to become victims repeatedly, whilst continuing the cycle of blame.

A great way of breaking this cycle is to ask ourselves "what else could this mean?" We don't need to know the truth of why people do the things that they do - because the 'truth' is only ever a perception that is based on the information we have at the time, which we interpret through the lens of our past experiences. So, when Theresa chooses to decide that her husband's affair was nothing to do with anything she did or didn't do (e.g. it was about Theresa's husband being self-destructive because of his own demons, he has a sex addiction than he believes can only be fulfilled by other people etc.), and Frank's boss's decision was nothing to do with anything Frank's personal circumstances (e.g. Frank's boss was under pressure from his boss to meet the unpublished diversity statistics, he was having an affair with the person he promoted etc.), it allows them to begin to feel differently.

It is that simple. And we're not by any means suggesting it's easy!

Most of us have been brought up to think that other people and circumstances cause our pain. And it's so much easier to blame other people and feel victimised (after all, others in our friendship and family circles understand this way of operating) than to consider that we can feel entirely differently once we question our thinking and perceptions. For more on this, you might like this post. Otherwise, do come along to a War to Peace workshop and experience it for yourself.

Over to you

  • When you find  yourself digging up the past in your mind, consider the thoughts you have at the time and the thoughts you have now. What would be a more helpful way of thinking about this situation and the people involved?
  • If you are stuck and feeling very hostile and hurt, a healthy vent is extremely helpful to get out all the emotional pain and rage you are feeling. You can bash a cushion with a baseball bat whilst screaming or, if you're worried about the neighbours, write a completely uncensored letter to the person you feel has hurt you, really let yourself say everything you ever wanted to say to them. Then burn it. You will then be in a more resourceful emotional state to consider thinking about them in a different and more helpful way.

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

If you know someone who spends a lot of time digging over the past, our next open-access War to Peace workshop is on 7 October. To join the waitlist, click here. To book onto our next workshop with spaces in March 2017, click here

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©Halcyon Global 2016