Winning the Tug of War


“Always aim at complete harmony of thought and word and deed. Always aim at purifying your thoughts and everything will be well.” Mahatma Gandhi

…Our camping holiday this year was a washout in more ways than one. As well as the rain tipping down, I was also ill (very unlike me), so Tim, my husband very kindly drove me home. Ah well – there is always a positive to any situation – I was warm and cosy curled up on the sofa instead of sitting in a damp tent!

tug of war 3And reflecting on previous camping holidays I remember years ago being on the Norfolk beach with friends and having a massive tug of war. Someone found a big thick rope in the back of their car. I needed to hold on tight with both hands otherwise the roughness would peel off layers of skin from our hands. Oooh – that tension…how long can we hold on? The more the other team pulls and the more we pull, the bigger the tension and friction.

I cannot remember who won; I do remember that we all collapsed on the sand, rolling about with laughter.

Sometimes it can feel as if we are playing tug of war with ourselves, internally – and this certainly is not so much fun. You may have heard people, or yourself, say “On one hand I feel…..and on the other….”. It’s as if we have different parts of ourselves. And if these parts are having a tug of war and not working together- in conflict – this can lead to contradictory behaviours. We can behave in such a way that we sabotage ourselves – jeopardising what we want as we believe we cannot have both. We can feel stuck and avoid making decisions. We waste energy, swinging from one side to the other.

This can cause havoc not just with our own lives, but also in our relationships with others. Sub-consciously we can destroy part of what we want – just so that this takes the choice away. This can be hugely detrimental – to ourselves and to others. And of course – the consequence of this? It just creates more internal conflict. This tug of war causes tension, conflict, confusion, feeling un-settled, stress and even illness (Disease = Dis-ease).

Imagine having conflict such as:

  • confidence v fear of failure
  • love v freedom
  • control v creativity
  • forgiveness v gratitude
  • health v attention

Can only one win? Does there need to be a winner? If we fight against ourselves – there is usually a loser! I have read a number of self-help books which advise us to fight the gremlin, or banish the fear. What if we listened to that part of us instead? And what if there is a win-win solution?

After leaving the corporate world 10 years ago, I had a tug of war within myself of happiness and success. In my past at times of so called “success” I had experienced loss and stress. Oh yes – I knew how I had created this conflict and where it derived from – however understanding rarely leads to change. Logically I knew that I could have both; however I was very clever at sabotaging success…and then didn’t feel happy!!

When exploring these parts separately, I realised that I was judging myself negatively on both sides. The “happiness” part thought the “success” part was egotistical and stressed whereas the “success” part thought the “happiness” part was trivial with no depth…No wonder there was a conflict within me.

The key is to discover and appreciate the positive purpose of each part. Respect and learn from each part of ourselves and then integrate these parts together. When all our “parts” are aligned, our thoughts, emotions and actions are congruent and in harmony. And what can we learn from this?

By taking responsibility for learning how to creating harmony within ourselves, I believe we can learn to build caring relationships. Through listening and understanding others we can change our perspectives and develop respect, and we can learn to build a loving society leading to harmony and joy within the world.

“If you think you’re too small to have an impact, try going to bed with a mosquito.” – Anita Roddick

And if you want harmony in your life, come and learn how, and have every day excellence with yourself – and with others, both personally and professionally. Join Lindsey on one of her courses or 121 coaching.

Confidence Workshop “This was a great course – thank you very much! I felt welcomed right from the start. My mood rapidly changed from grumpy to glad. I love the way you open the door to change without putting us under any pressure or coercion at any time.” – Terry Marsh, Letchworth

Every Day Excellence Workshop “Great day. For me as a business owner, it represented a great investment in our team’s future. It reminded us of what we do well and inspired us with how we can be even better in the future.” Debbie Burke, DB Costing Ltd

Lindsey Reed is an experienced NLP coach and trainer – enabling her clients to be their best selves and achieve every day excellence. if you would like to work with Lindsey, contact her either by email or call 01832 280168 for a chat to see if she is the right coach for you.  

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