A few months ago, I was working with a client using some of the concepts from the powerful parable Leadership and Self-Deception. He valued the learnings so much that he looked into Arbinger’s second and equally-profound book, The Anatomy of Peace, which I recently checked out.
The Anatomy of Peace paints a poignant and engaging picture of how we unwittingly create conflict. And how we can resolve that conflict on an individual and even global level, which is very timely given the challenges our society currently faces. The key lies in how we “be” more so than what we “do.” You can read an excerpt from the book on the Arbinger Institute site.
When our heart is a peace we see others as people who have hopes and fears just like we do. From this place of being, we naturally have a sense/desire to help or extend ourselves to others. When we betray that sense, we then see the other person as an object as we find ways to justify the fact that we went against our urge to help. We put ourselves in the box and our heart goes to war, creating a vicious cycle of blaming and self-justification.
I realized that recently my heart was at war with my husband, Brian – poor guy! He took last week off for a “staycation” (a.k.a. – a vacation at home). I had all these thoughts about spending time with him, but I ended up choosing to work a lot instead. I spun into a “better-than-box” of “I am just sooooo busy” and an “I-deserve-box” of “Gee, don’t I get a break, too?!!!” I thought, how could he be laying on the couch reading when there was so much stuff to do? It was not pretty and made it difficult to enjoy our time together for part of the week. It’s a rather mundane example, yet it can be those day-to-day triggers that build up and lead to more significant discord.
The Peacemaking Pyramid depicted in the book shows that we must spend more time helping things go right (starting with a heart at peace) rather than dealing with things that are going wrong (i.e., correcting the other person). I mean really, how can I “correct” something that probably isn’t “wrong” in the first place. Of course it’s just “wrong” in my mind because then that makes me “right.” So, just by noticing I was “in the box” toward him, I was able to be in relationship with him as a person again. Get out of the box and come from a place of peace. It sounds simple, and it is. AND the challenge is continuing to choose to stay out of the box. Awareness obviously helps, as does practice.
I highly recommend both books to help with individual relationships as well as group dynamics. And I also highly recommend The Coaches Training Institute’s Leadership Program (where I first came across Leadership and Self-Deception). Check out their new video. You’ll see that much of the program is about the “being” of a leader and coming from a heart of love and peace.
What do you notice about being in the box versus out of the box toward other people? What happens when you come from a heart at peace rather than a heart at war?