The Arbinger Intitute book The Anatomy of Peace: Resolving the Heart of Conflict contains much common sense and wisdom for navigating the tricky waters of human relationships. The principles the book sets out are relatively simple.

The Arbinger Institute teaching centres on two fundamental truths:

1. We will live peaceful, healthy lives to the degree that we take personal responsibility for our lives.

2. All human relationships are a manifestation of the workings of our inner relationship with ourselves.

Part of the power of the teaching in The Anatomy of Peace is conveyed by the stories that fill the pages of this book. So it is important to read the book as a whole. Through the dialogue and story-telling, the authors deal with many of the objections that might be raised in response to their insights.

In the absence of reading The Anatomy of Peace, some familiarity with the principles taught, may be helpful.

Below are some notes and quotes from The Arbinger Institute’s The Anatomy of Peace:

there is a fundamental change that must occur in us if we are going to invite change in others. 15

we should spend much more time and effort helping things go right than dealing with things that are wrong. 16

for many problems… solutions will have to be deeper than strategies of discipline or correction. 17

I won’t invite [anyone] to change if my interactions with [that person] are primarily in order to get him to change. 18

[the secret of success is] a heart at peace. 27

The state of your heart toward [the other person] is by far the most important factor

see and honor the humanity of the other

[in every moment in relation to every person we meet] we choose to see others either as people like ourselves or as objects. 29

any behavior can be done with either:

a. a heart at peace which sees others as people with “hopes, needs, cares, and fears as real to me as my own”


b. a heart at war which sees others as objects, as “obstacles, vehicles, irrelevancies.”

there is something deeper than our behavior – “our way of being”

Seeing an equal person as an inferior object is an act of violence. 32

when our hearts are at war, we can’t see clearly. We give ourselves the best opportunity to make clear-minded decisions only to the extent that our hearts are at peace. 35

People whose hearts are at war toward others can’t consider others’ objections and challenges enough to be able to find a way through them. 35

we respond to others’ way of being toward us rather than to their behavior… they respond more to how we’re regarding them than to our particular words and actions. 36

most problems… are not failures of strategy but failures of way of being. 37

When we start seeing others as objects… we begin provoking them to make our lives difficult. We actually start inviting them to make us miserable. We begin provoking in others the very thing we say we hate. 42, 43

Collusion = A conflict where the parties are inviting the very things they’re fighting against. 48

no conflict can be solved so long as all parties are convinced they are right. Solution is possible only when at least one party begins to consider how he might be wrong. 56

[to “be wrong” does not mean necessarily wrong in my ideas, my beliefs, or my thoughts, but in my “way of being” toward the other, even if my thoughts and ideas are perfectly correct]

The deepest way in which we are right or wrong is in our way of being toward others. I can be right on the surface – in my behavior or positions – while being entirely mistaken beneath, in my way of being. 57

if we are going to find lasting solutions to difficult conflicts or external wars we find ourselves in we first need to find our way out of the internal wars that are poisoning our thoughts, feelings, and attitudes toward others. If we can’t put an end to the violence within us, there is no hope for putting an end to the violence without. 64

The Choice Diagram: Every time I Sense/Desire to do something life-giving, I am confronted with a choice:

1. I can honor the sense/desire


2. I can betray the sense/desire (this is an act of self-betrayal = a choice to go to war).

#2 leads to:

a. a view of myself as better than the other, a victim, made to be bad by the other but wanting to be seen as good

b. a view of the other as having no right to be there, robbing me of my peace, a threat, a nuisance, dangerous, an impediment to me

i. thus my self-betrayal nurtures feelings of: anger, depression, bitterness, self-justification

ii. I adapt a view of the world as: unfair, unjust, burdensome, against me (page 89)

when I betray myself, others’ faults become immediately inflated in my heart and mind…. I do this because the worse they are, the more justified I feel. 94

As painful as it is to receive contempt from another, it is more debilitating by far to be filled with contempt for another. 96

[my feelings about anyone are not caused by anything they have done to me but by something I am doing to them. They are a result of the choices I make relative to that person]

A heart at war needs enemies to justify its warring. It needs enemies and mistreatment more than it wants peace. 104

we need to learn to look for the ways we’re needing to be justified. 105