Posts Tagged ‘stuck’

When you just can’t help yourself

Tuesday, September 4th, 2018

Your words aren’t making things better, and you know it. The conversation is escalating. You can feel the tension in your facial expression, and see the impact your words are having on the other person. But you just can't help yourself making things worse. So why can’t you seem to stop digging yourself deeper?

There’s a part of you that knows you’re not helping yourself. You’re certainly not going to look back on this and feel proud! This interaction is costing you, and it doesn’t feel good.

And yet there’s another part of you just can’t seem to stop. After all, you’re so worked up it would look kind of ridiculous if you were to just stop and admit you’re in the wrong.

What happens when you just can’t seem to help yourself – even when you know you’re fuelling the conflict?

Sometimes, the one you’re at War with is you

In a recent flare up with my partner, I found myself in exactly this situation. I knew I wasn’t in a great place, and I also knew exactly what I could do to help shift my mood. I could have taken a break, gone for a walk, listened to some music that would have put me in a better place. And yet, I found myself making excuses – that I “didn’t have time”.

If I was really honest with myself, I’d have admitted that I actually didn’t want to stop being angry. I knew I was behaving in an absolutely vile way, to someone who I really love and care about. I also knew I didn’t want to stop and change how I was being. I was seeing red, and lashing out – and like a child having a tantrum, I was refusing to listen to reason.

Then, something funny happened.

The power of taking a break

My partner left the conversation (and who can blame him? Being in the firing line is never fun!). I was on my own, and after about 5 minutes I realised all sorts of emotions were coming up.

I felt terrible. In fact, I moved straight away into a sense of deep guilt and self-criticism. “You’re a terrible person” I told myself, “How could you have said those things?”.

(Perhaps you’ve felt something similar, if not with a partner then a colleague, or someone innocently trying to help you – like a waiter or shop assistant.)

I felt a deep sense of guilt, and it made me realise that what had been underlying my outburst all along was this feeling of self-loathing. I’d almost go so far as to say that I’d engineered the situation that had triggered my bad behaviour so that I’d have an outlet for these feelings.

Put like that, you might be thinking it sounds like the actions of an emotional teenager – but it’s something more of us do as adults than we’d like to admit.

You are not your behaviour

But beating yourself up when a conflict is over doesn’t help the issue, and here’s why. If we could accept ourselves fully, we’d realise that our behaviour isn’t us. It’s just a symptom of how we’re feeling at the time. And the same goes for your thoughts – they’re not who you are.

Think of a time when you behaved badly and said things you later regret: perhaps by being angry, judgemental or critical.

There would almost certainly have been reasons for the “symptoms” you displayed.
I’m guessing you were either in physical or emotional pain. By emotional pain, I mean you might have been exhausted, hungry, sleep-deprived, grieving or hurt. All the times we’re not at our best.

So if you know you’ve behaved in a way that you later regret, there’s no need to become entrenched in guilt or shame. You can certainly own any harm or hurt you’ve caused, but you can also extend empathy to your past self. Under different circumstances you would have handled it better. When we can show ourselves compassion for bad behaviour, we’re able to do the same for those around us – and it can really change the way things are.

How to stop before it goes too far

One of the most challenging things about these moments is that when they’re going on we’re often very disconnected from what’s really happening. At War to Peace® we call it being “in the Red” and it’s a state where we have very few resources at our disposal.

So here’s something to play with – next time you become aware that you’re getting stuck behaving in a way you know you’re going to regret, just stop and give yourself 5 minutes.

Don’t try to change anything else about the situation, “talk yourself down” or admit you’re in the wrong. When you’re worked up, that can feel like the furthest thing in the world from where you’re at.

Instead, take a few minutes alone just to connect with how you’re feeling. Drink a glass of water, if you can, and let yourself tune in to what you’re feeling. Frustration? Anger? Sadness?

You might find this simple pause allows you to connect to a more resourceful part of yourself, without doing anything more than pressing “pause” for a few minutes.

Try it and see how it goes.

Time to change the script?

If you’re fed up of feeling like you’re stuck in conflicts you can’t seem to change, or just find yourself slipping into bad habits from time to time, why not come along to one of our workshops? Refresh your understanding of what causes conflict and learn simple techniques for transforming the way you communicate, whether you’re dealing with the most challenging people in your life, or the loved ones who bear the brunt of your pent-up emotions. Our next open-access workshop is in October. To book your place, click here.
Over to you

If you’ve ever found yourself in the midst of an awful argument, being perfectly aware that you’re not at your best but feeling oddly unwilling to stop it, I’d love to know: what usually snaps you out of the spiral and back to being yourself again? Share your insight in the comments.
War to Peace® workshops
Our award-winning War to Peace workshops happen a few times per year in London and our final one for 2018 is happening in October. Places are very limited so if you want to join us, book yours now. We also run in-house workshops and programmes for organisations all over the world, so if you want your people to thrive and work better together, click here to get in touch or call us on +44 (0) 20 8191 7072.
To be the first to hear about our new open-access workshop dates, and get free monthly tips and strategies for your relationship challenges, just leave your name and email address below.

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Know you’re losing your cool but somehow unable to stop? Here’s what to do when you just can’t help yourself getting into conflict

 

 

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©Halcyon Global 2018

Could you be (unintentionally) making things worse?

Monday, September 3rd, 2018

small__2271763055Richard was perplexed and annoyed. For the past few months, his colleague Julie had been moody, unhelpful and would barely look him in the eye. In meetings with other people present, she was as animated as she had always been, but if he was talking she would resume her sulky look. Richard had spent quite some time trying to work out what could be wrong, but Julie disappeared as soon as there might be an opportunity for him to talk to her about it.

Talking about his situation at an in-house War to Peace®workshop at work, Richard stopped and sighed. He admitted that he could really do without the hassle and stress of dealing with Julie right now. He told us that his wife had been diagnosed with cancer and he was having problems sleeping, as his wife would often have violent coughing fits and he would lie awake worrying about their future. When he went into work, he could really do without the added complication of a sulky colleague to deal with. Richard clenched his jaw and muttered, “I’ve just about had it up to here with her. I’ve tried to understand and she just avoids me. Sometimes I just want to yell at her!”

Another participant in the workshop cleared her throat and put up her hand to speak. She had struggled with whether to share this, but she had heard Julie talking to another colleague about her worries that Richard didn’t like her and didn’t think she was pulling her weight in the department. She had complained that Richard had been withdrawn for some time, and seemed distant and irritated. Julie was convinced it was because of her work and it would only be a matter of weeks before he got her fired.

file8061347830293Suddenly it was clear that Richard’s situation was a great example of the Spiral of Disempowerment™, which reveals to us our (often unconscious) role in the conflict. It shows how our perceptions, beliefs and emotional state invite from the other person the very behaviour we want to change. So Richard's worried, tired demeanour as a result of too many broken nights had been misread by Julie as a sign that he was irritated by her and dismissive of her work. Julie had felt rejected and defensive, which had meant that she behaved in a disconnected, sulky way with Richard. Her behaviour was then perceived by him to be obstructive and unhelpful - he felt first irritated and then dismissive, and so the cycle went on.

Just being able to see the situation from this viewpoint made things immediately clearer for Richard and he felt as though a huge weight had been lifted from him. He saw a different story from the one he had held previously, and he understood how Julie could have misread his behaviour at work. He vowed to talk to her about what he was going through at home so that she could understand the situation too.

A fortnight later, he emailed to tell us that the work environment was much easier. He had chatted with Julie and she had been very supportive - and was feeling relieved too, now that she knew her job wasn’t in jeopardy. They had both been amazed at the power of their own assumptions about the other to affect their feelings and behaviour. Richard now keeps a printout of the Spiral of Disempowerment™ by his desk to remind him to check how much he has unwittingly invested in any conflicts that arise.

Over to you

If you are in conflict with someone at home or at work, download the Spiral of Disempowerment™ tool and work through it. It’s a great way of seeing the part you play in the situation. If you need more help, come and join us at our next open-access War to Peace®workshop.

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

If you know someone who would benefit from our award-winning War to Peace® work, our final open-access course for 2018 is on 5 October. To book click here. And if your team could benefit from an in-house workshop, contact us here.

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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.

When they just won’t change: the art of effective influence

Friday, May 26th, 2017

Bring to mind someone in your life whose behaviour you’d like to change.

Maybe someone you work with is hopeless when it comes to deadlines; their slack attitude is impacting your ability to set your own schedule.

Or it might be a family member – someone who manages to gently undermine anything that happens to you, and cast you into a role you’ve long since grown out of.

You want them to do things differently, but how? After all, you’re an intelligent person – there’s probably plenty of approaches you’ve already taken to change how things are.

When you’ve tried everything

Frustration: when they just won't changeIt can be the most frustrating thing in the world. You’ve tried everything you know to get them to change: from taking the moral high ground and leading by example, to confronting them with the impact of their behaviour or even resorting to just ignoring them.

And yet they’re still there, sapping your energy and churning your stomach whenever you think of the next interaction.

Often, when we’ve tried to do everything we can to change someone’s behaviour, that’s the crux of what’s stuck. We’re in the mode of trying to do things differently, when what will cause a shift is at a much deeper level.

It’s not about what you’re doing

The truth is, people’s behaviour does change, sometimes drastically, depending on the situation.

You might have noticed that the colleague who’s perpetually behind with their deliverables suddenly switches things up when a new manager arrives on the scene. Or rolled your eyes when your never-satisfied sister-in-law becomes the picture of supportive encouragement when someone new arrives on the scene.

Maddening as it can be to see the person whose stubborn refusal to change you’ve been wrestling with turns into sweetness and light, it demonstrates a really key foundation of our War to Peace® work : the way we are being around people influences their response to us.

In other words, what's important isn't what you’re doing to change their behaviour, it’s how you’re doing it.

Back in the driving seat

Influencing people to change is most effective when we start by looking at the way we show up in our interactions with them.

The good news is, recognising this puts the power back in your hands. You’re not relying on them to alter what they're doing, but thinking about how you can rewrite your own role in the situation.

To create that change, you’ll need to look at two things:

1. Your emotional state – the way you feel about them, and the emotions that come up when you interact with them.

2. Your beliefs and perceptions: the way you are viewing that person and their behaviour (e.g. the labels you give them in your head or even verbalise to them).

Take a sheet of paper and make a few notes under each of those headings. So if we’re thinking about a perpetually incompetent colleague, your emotions might include frustration, anger, resentment and exhaustion (with continually trying to get them to pull their socks up).

Your beliefs and perceptions might include: They’re doing this on purpose, they’re lazy, they think I’ll always pick up the slack for them, they’re irresponsible… let it all out!

Writing a new story

Once you’ve offloaded those thoughts and feelings, wait until you feel more grounded and balanced. The process of venting on paper may have achieved this for you, or you may find it helpful to go for a walk, listen to some of your favourite music or engage in one of your hobbies. Then it’s time to question the thoughts you have about the person. Are they all true? Can you be sure? Is there a stress-free reason for you to keep believing those things about them? How could you rewrite each of those thoughts with a different slant?

For example, your colleague might be so terrified of letting you down that their nervousness and desire to please means they can't complete tasks properly or articulate their thoughts clearly. They might be ultra conscientious, to the point where they’re spending way too long on each task. Or they’re struggling with something difficult in their life that they don't feel they can share with you.

How would those new stories change the way you interact with them?

You might feel that everything you’ve written down is totally justified. After all, they’re the one with the problematic behaviour!

But allow yourself to play with the idea that those thoughts can be shifted or changed so that your interactions with them become easier for you. And notice how attached we become at expecting that others should operate in accordance with our beliefs, and how little understanding we sometimes have about their values and motivations. Challenging the helpfulness of holding on so tightly to those thoughts and beliefs about them is a key step towards allowing our best selves to emerge – and that’s where the deepest changes in their behaviour will arise.

Peace doesn’t mean pushover

Being “at Peace” doesn’t mean being a pushover, or letting down your boundaries - far from it! If you experience our War to Peace® process in one of our twice-yearly live one-day workshops, you will experience how your interactions can become effortless, even with the people you currently find most triggering and challenging. Know that when you’ve tried everything in your toolkit to get someone to alter their behaviour, it’s usually a signal that there’s something deeper going on below the surface – and that’s where War to Peace® can help you. For more details and to book your place on our next workshop in October, click here.

Over to you

Which relationships are niggling at you right now? Do you feel as though you've tried everything? Is there anyone you’ve noticed just “won’t change”, whatever you do? These are great early warning signs of going to War with someone and holding on to some unchallenged thoughts and beliefs about them. Remember, if you're wondering why you should do the work when they are clearly the problem, know that doing this work enables us to have freedom from the war zone that occupies so much of our head space and energy. And the feedback we receive all the time is that when we do this work for us, it invites completely new and more helpful behaviour from them - effortlessly.

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 8 spaces left.

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The art of effective influence: how to shift the behaviour of someone who just won't change

 

 

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©Halcyon Global 2017

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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’.

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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.

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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

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.

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

 

 

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©Halcyon Global 2016