Book Summary: The Anatomy of Peace

One of the main problems we face in solving conflict is that most people focus on things that have gone wrong.

When somebody does something we consider wrong, our first instinct is to correct, criticize, or punish them. I'm sure you've tried this enough times in your life to detect a pattern - it doesn't work very well most of the time.

When we see that it doesn't work, our instinct is to try the same thing again, but with more intensity. This, of course, only makes matters worse.

We are failing to realize that instead of focusing on correcting what's wrong, we should be focusing on helping things go right.

This book contends that when we are in conflict, we place a higher value on something other than settling the problem. And it won't be until we let go of that item that we'll be able to begin to resolve the conflicts that arise regularly.

Join us for the next 12 minutes as we look into this problem and try to develop a solution that will work if we have the confidence to put it into action.

Note: Although this book is written in a tale, we will focus on the essential themes.

The Influence Pyramid

A group of people investing in their connection they gained from their course, respecting one another.

One of the most serious issues we have when resolving disagreement is that most individuals approach it by focusing on what has gone wrong.

When someone does something we think is wrong, our immediate reaction is to reprimand, condemn, or penalize them. I'm sure you've done this enough times to see a pattern: it doesn't work very well the majority of the time.

When something doesn't work, our impulse is to try it again, but this time with greater vigor. This, of course, exacerbates the situation.

We don't comprehend that instead of focusing on fixing what's broken, we should be concentrating on making things better.

This is where the influence pyramid concept comes into play. If what you're doing isn't working to convince people to change, you shift one step down the pyramid and concentrate on it.

The pyramid's six tiers are as follows:

  1. Correct. This is the symbolic tip of the iceberg, and it seldom succeeds in bringing about change.
  2. Teach and communicate. Is it apparent to the other person what I want?
  3. Learn about the person's life and listen to what they have to say. Is the other person's point of view reflected in my comprehension of the situation?
  4. Invest in the connection. Is the other person fond of and respectful of me?
  5. Break out from the confines of your box and cultivate a peaceful heart.
  6. Lastly, it's likely that you're not truly attempting to help, which is driving the other person to get defensive. You must learn to approach confrontation with a "heart at peace" in this scenario.

To put it another way, if you clearly explain the change you want to see, have a genuine connection with the person, have listened to their needs, and approach it with the other person's best interests in mind, you are far more likely to succeed.

Let us now turn our focus to what a peaceful heart looks like.

A Heart at Peace

A male individual practicing a heart of peace as he continues meditating with white birds on top of him.

Even though our outward conduct is identical, there are two "means of being in the world" that will produce completely different consequences.

It has something to do with how we see the people in our lives.

A Heart of War

People are seen as objects in the "heart of war." We dehumanize people, reducing them to roadblocks to be conquered, vehicles to be exploited in achieving your objectives, or just unimportant.

We don't want to think of ourselves as doing that, but it's a lot simpler than you may imagine. For example, whenever you place a label on someone - such as a category (wealthy people, foreigners) or a job (foreigner, customer, boss).

When you do this, those individuals appear less genuine to you, and it's simple to consider your worries and concerns to be far more significant than theirs. As a consequence, you'll fight them on their humanity.

A Heart of Peace

A "heart of peace," meanwhile, is when we recognize individuals as persons who, like us, have goals, dreams, anxieties, and worries.

If you've played one of the tricks that the heart of war likes to play, you won't be able to perform this.

However, when we recognize other people for who they genuinely are, it's much simpler to put their worries and concerns on the same level as yours. This puts you in a position to resolve conflict effectively.

Betraying Your Heart at Peace

A male individual feeling angry as the clouds are raining above him.

Things start to become intriguing at this point. According to the Arbinger Institute, human beings are born with peaceful hearts. As a result, whenever our hearts are in conflict, we truly betray our deepest desires, and we must defend our actions, leading to self-betrayal.

When we're in this situation, we can't acknowledge that we're to blame for our own problems, so we hunt for someone or something outside of ourselves to blame. Surely, this encourages us to see other people as things, which justifies our heart-at-war posture even more.

It's a sneaky sickness that affects our perception of reality in every manner.

Finally, the authors state that we are selecting to be right rather than at peace.

Collusion: A Practical Example

A male looking at how he sees people through a magnifying glass.

We invite people to make our lives more unpleasant when we choose to be correct above being at peace. Why? Because we are more prone to provoke the specific behaviors we claim to despise in others.

This is referred to as collusion by the writers. In four easy stages, here's how it works:

Step #1: I See

This is how you see people, filtered through your own psychological filters.

Imagine coming home one day to discover your careless kids playing on their phones instead of doing their homework as they should.

Step #2: I Do

This is the result of your perceptions distorting your conduct.

You tell them to complete their homework, what will happen if they don't, and how unhappy you are that they keep on making terrible decisions.

Step #3: They See

This is their interpretation of you and your actions, which their filters have twisted even more.

Your children perceive you as a bothersome parent who constantly micromanages and expects perfection.

Step #4: They Do

This is their reaction to your actions, as well as their inaccurate perceptions.

Since nothing seems to please you, your children become disengaged and quit completing their schoolwork.

The cycle then repeats itself, trapping each of us in a box with the one demand that surpasses all others: the desire to be justified.

Their subsequent conduct confirms what we had suspected all along. And our following action confirms what we had suspected all along.

To stop this cycle, we must first recognize the many manifestations of "being in the box" so that we may step outside of it and begin to resolve rather than enable the conflict.

The 4 Ways to Be "In the Box"

There are four main ways to be "in the box," and each of them distorts our perspectives on four different topics.

The Better-Than Box

  • You believe you are superior, significant, and correct.
  • You see others as inferior, inadequate, or incorrect.
  • You see the world as competitive, disturbed, and as if it relies on you.
  • You are frequently irritable, dismissive, and uninterested.

The I-Deserve Box

  • You believe you are worthy, a victim, and undervalued.
  • Others are misguided, mistreated, and ungrateful in your eyes.
  • You think that the world is unfair and unjust and that it owes you something.
  • You frequently experience feelings of entitlement, deprivation, and resentment.

The Must-Be-Seen-As Box

  • You see yourself as someone who has to be well-liked, and as a consequence, you fake it.
  • Others are intimidating and judgemental to you, and they are your audience.
  • You see the world as threatening as if it is constantly monitoring and criticizing you.
  • You're nervous, needy, and overwhelmed a lot of the time.

The Worse-Than Box

  • Your perception of yourself is that you are not excellent, that you are lacking, and that you are doomed.
  • You see others as fortunate and fortunate.
  • You see the world as a harsh place where everything is continuously working against you and disregarding you.
  • You frequently feel powerless, enraged, and sad.

Most individuals will gravitate to one or two of these boxes. Still, depending on the circumstances and people around you, you may find yourself utilizing any of them or none at all.

Getting and Staying out of the Box

A male going out of his comfort zone to reach for the achievement he has been waiting for.

Now that you've seen what it's like to be in the box, it's time to find out how to get out and live your life with a peaceful heart.

Getting out of the Box

Three steps are required to break free from the confines of the box.

First, keep an eye out for indicators that you're in the box. Identifying a person with whom you are likely to be out of the box most of the time is one way to achieve this. Then, compare how you're feeling right now to how you generally think around that individual.

Second, locate an "out-of-the-box" space, as described by the authors. This could include spending consistent time in places where being out-of-the-box happens easily to you.

Also, think about previous situations where you have been out-of-the-box with the individual you are interacting with presently. Or surround yourself with people with whom you can easily be out-of-the-box.

Third, think about the position you're in right now in a different light. Pose the following questions to yourself:

  • What are the problems, trials, hardships, and pains that this individual or people are facing?
  • How am I, or a group of which I am a member, contributing to these difficulties, hardships, burdens, and sufferings?
  • In what other ways has this individual or group been neglected or abused by my organization or me?
  • In what ways are my boxes of better-than, I-deserve, worse-than, and must-be-seen-as concealing the truth about others and myself, as well as obstructing viable solutions?
  • What do I feel compelled to do for this individual or group? What can I do to assist?

Staying out of the Box

Stepping out of the box for a short time is one thing; keeping yourself out of it is quite another.

The key to doing this, according to the writers, is to begin doing what we believe we need to do for the individuals we are now actually seeing.


Conflict resolution is difficult, mostly because we choose to make it far more difficult than it has to be.

Keep in mind the following three lessons to make it simpler for yourself:

  • The majority of your time and effort should be expended on the lower tiers of the pyramid;
  • The workaround at one level of the pyramid is always below that level of the pyramid; and,
  • In the end, your efficiency at each level of the pyramid is determined by the pyramid's deepest level—your way of being.

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