Sometimes, it’s not individuals that leave us frustrated and seething.
It’s situations that require us to make complicated, often emotional, and difficult decisions. When none of the options feel like the way life should be, according to our plans.
Things should be different
If something feels frustrating, unfair or infuriating right now you might be able to relate to this.
A feeling that things “should” be different to how they are.
You’ve worked so hard to get to where you are, and yet one team member is making life a total misery. Work should feel fulfilling and rewarding, not a daily battle.
It’s so unfair to be saddled with these nightmare neighbours. You’ve always prided yourself on being a fair and friendly neighbour. Neighbours should be a source of support, not stress.
Why should you be the one running yourself ragged to organise care for your mum, when she’s still undermining you at every opportunity? She was never there for you – you shouldn’t have to sacrifice so much without so much as a thank you.
These are examples of situations that, even though you’re not comfortable with, you can’t simply switch off. There might be conflicts with individuals involved, but ultimately your frustration lies with the seemingly impossible choice you’re facing.
When reality and vision clash
I’ve experienced this feeling many times in recent years, where I’d become attached to my view of how things should be, rather than how they are. We all have some idea – loose or otherwise – of how we thought life might turn out for us, and when reality doesn’t match that, it can feel frustrating, overwhelming and downright unfair.
It can be especially galling or difficult to handle when our sheer hard work and determination have always paid off in getting results. But then we get hit by a curveball that jeopardises everything we were on track to achieve.
I felt like this when I recently came to understand the complexity and the impact of the trauma my daughter had experienced prior to us adopting her when she was almost 6 years old. The dreams of motherhood I’d had since I was a child myself, versus the reality.
The poem “Welcome to Holland” by Emily Perl Kingsley, sums it up well for me and describes that feeling of landing in a completely different place to where you expected to be. Can you relate to that sense of having been cheated of the situation you’d prepared so diligently for?
Making a difficult decision
Decisions are especially difficult when we feel torn between competing priorities. These appear to have no easy solutions, especially when there are strong emotions involved. In my case, I’ve been fortunate enough to create a business that I love, I get to share work that makes a difference in the world, I married the love of my life and I fulfilled my dream of becoming a mother. Lots of ticks in lots of boxes. Naturally, I have a vision of where I’d like to expand War to Peace®, as I see its impact grow. The TED talk, the book, the online course, the possibilities are endless! And I also have an image of a balanced life, where I’m available to my family and supporting them to thrive. All of these visions for the future are bursting with specific details that I’ve grown attached to and invested in. So, being faced with a decision that doesn’t fit into those boxes can feel hugely challenging. Unfair, even.
The realisation that I couldn’t carry on hosting regular public workshops to share War to Peace®, at least not without compromising my existing clients, my dreams for War to Peace® or my family, was just one of those decisions. It was time to change how I deliver the work so I could create a bigger impact with less effort. To shift my energy from promoting public workshops to operating more flexibly – making workshops available on demand, via online programmes, one-to-ones, and continuing to run in-house workshops within organisations keen to share this approach with their staff. On the face of it, this is a no-brainer and a great way forward for lots of reasons.
And yet, as I thought about actually announcing this, I experienced a whole mixture of emotions: “This is unfair! I love holding open access workshops – I shouldn’t have to sacrifice part of my work I really love. “I’m letting people down. These public workshops are an opportunity for anyone who’s interested to experience this life changing work. It’s unfair on them for me to stop! “The workshops have been running for years — I can’t stop now. I’ve worked so hard to make War to Peace® accessible to everyone, and changing this will stop that momentum. I shouldn’t be jeopardising what I’ve created!”
When I look at these from the perspective of War to Peace®, I can see the signs of stress and overwhelm, and can see I’ve been firmly in the Red about this decision.
How can you tell if you’re ‘in the Red’ about a situation?
There are a few warning signs that let us know when we’re in the Red about a situation. If there’s a decision that’s pressing on you right now, see if you can relate.
- It feels like a “win or lose” situation
When I’ve been feeling at my worst about this, it’s felt as though I’m having to make a stark decision where one of the options means losing what I want. Even when a current situation feels stressful, we can find ourselves gripping on to it for far longer than we need to. Deep down, we fear that making a change will mean giving up something we’re attached to.
- We feel rushed or pressured
When we’re in the Red, decisions feel pressing and stressful. “I have to decide NOW!” In fact, it’s the sitting in the discomfort of not knowing what to do for the best that is causing us the difficulty. And it’s the fighting with the reality of the need for the change, rather than accepting it for what it is. Once we’re in the Green, the decision to be made becomes crystal clear.
- We can feel like a victim or a martyr
When we’re at War with reality, it’s tempting to deny our own power to choose a course of action. We think of the sacrifices we’re making instead of seeing our choices and ability to navigate a different reality.
This is what being in the Red does. It stops us from being able to see the many other possibilities there are, and feels stressful, overwhelming, and as though we’re trapped.
What can we do when we find ourselves in conflict with reality?
It’s an irony not lost on me that, more than 10 years on from creating the War to Peace® methodology, I still lean into its tools and principles on a daily basis! With them, we have all the resources needed to return to the mental clarity and ease that is our true nature – ‘in the Green’.
When we’re acting from our true nature, we don’t need to buy into these stories and emotions about the situation, there’s an extraordinary sense of expansion and relief. The pressure lifts, and new possibilities open up.
So what’s it like ‘in the Green?’
When I’m in the Green, I can understand why I’ve made this choice, even if it looks very different from the image of reality I’d become so attached to. I can take responsibility for what I’m doing, rather than feeling as though life’s just happening to me.
- Curious about other perspectives
We don’t have to approve of someone’s behaviour to be curious about what’s behind it. Similarly, we don’t have to love the choice we’re making to wonder what might open up for us if we made a different decision to the one we’d planned.
In my case, in the Green I can see all the new opportunities that become available to me that I might have missed out on, had I continued down the same familiar and comfortable path. Without the commitment and energy it takes to making these quarterly workshops happen, I am free to run workshops on demand. If a group of people want to experience War to Peace®, they can invite me to come to their venue of choice. They don’t have to wait for a set time, and I don’t have to spend my energy rallying people to come to a fixed date and venue. I’m free to travel to other countries to deliver sessions there. I can respond flexibly to anyone who’d like to discover the methodology, for example in the 1:1 sessions that I love. Without this ongoing commitment, I’ll have time to finish all the other exciting projects I have to share War to Peace® more widely. In the Green, I can see so many other perspectives that offer possibility and potential!
- Clear minded and at ease
When we’re no longer expending energy justifying, blaming or explaining ourselves, we’re able to relax, and notice that we might even be in a better space than if we’d carried on as we were. Change is often feels difficult, but it doesn’t have to be a drama.
Instead, we can find joy in having made a clear choice, and excitement about being able to do what’s right for our newfound circumstances.
Decisions don’t have to be black and white; win or lose. The truth is, you CAN have it all. It just might look a little – or a lot – different to how you thought reality should be.
We don’t have to feel as though we’re victims, or tyrants, winners or losers. When we’re in the Green, we can find our way to new possibilities.
Want to experience War to Peace® yourself?
If you’ve got a complex decision to make, where there are a lot of emotions involved, War to Peace® can help you navigate your way through it. So if you’ve been thinking about joining us, or are curious about how this methodology could help you relate differently to challenging people or situations, this is your opportunity to join. Click here to book your place. This public workshop in March is the last one I’ll be hosting for the foreseeable future, so if you’d like to experience it with me, now is your chance!
Come celebrate with me – for one night only!
If you’re one of the thousands of attendees who’ve participated in a War to Peace® workshop over the decade or so, I’d love to see you to share in this end of an era and start of a new one, so please come and join me for a drink! I’ll be in the Terrace Bar at the Amba Hotel (Charing Cross, London), from 18.30 on Friday 20th March, 2020. Do let me know if can join me – I’d be thrilled to see you!
Interested in deepening your understanding of War to Peace®?
War to Peace® is continuing to expand and it can be experienced in many ways to suit you:
- 1:1 sessions (using both the WtP methodology and The Work of Byron Katie) to help you with challenging personal or professional situations you’d value expert input on.
- In-house workshops tailored to organisations, helping teams, leaders and colleagues resolve conflict and collaborate more effectively.
- Longer programmes, such as our renowned Advanced Negotiator Programme.
- One-off workshops for self-organised groups interested in experiencing this life-changing work.
- The Online War to Peace® course – available in Q2, 2020 – be the first to know by registering here!
Know someone who could benefit from this life-changing work?