Inner Transition: an Introduction
I recently took up the challenge to talk about inner transition in the garden of an eco-village project in Värmland County, Sweden. A lot of sun, beautiful place, no flip-chart or power points. Here is a short account of what I talked about.
By Stephen Hinton /

To me, getting to the heart of inner transition is about understanding our own dual nature: if we feel threatened we are likely to get in a mode of fleeing the scene, aggressively fighting for what we want or just freezing. But absent the feeling of threat we are calm, relaxed, loving and often generous.

The prospect of having less fossil fuel or money to go round puts most people into threat mode. But in threat mode we are not thinking long-term. It is just this problem that faces civil society when developing the dialogue around how we can develop society to show more planet care and at the same time more people care and fair share.  We need to create the space where the dialogue can be held without fear driving us.

It is good to talk about this together. I tried dividing the circular space in front of me into two sections illustrating the two modes. (I had help from some remarkably tame hens.)  The group could then use this space to explore what it is that puts you into the different states, and what it is that drives decision-making.

Presented with threats, quick, decisive reactions are needed. You focus short-term, trust authority, use force, and are goal-oriented.

In the more peaceful mode, you are looking long-term; love and appreciation are at the center. Force is not at the forefront, but discussion, dialogue and envisioning are.


You quickly come to see how much of what might appear reasoned, rational decision-making is actually fear-based.

Actually, in the resilient, balanced society, you create and carry a preparedness to deal with threats whilst setting up a society that offers security of inclusiveness, where having food and shelter is the norm rather than a privilege.  In a community like a municipality, town or village the planning approach could look like this:


Lynne Twist, the founder of the Hunger Project, offers the idea of the three poisonous thoughts that persist as a result of being exposed to a culture overly focused on threat.

  • There is not enough
  • You have no power
  • More is better

These thoughts can pervade everything in our life and take over, fueling addictions, aggression and alienation.

We asked what we can do to create a culture of peace. Below are some ideas that are especially relevant for eco-villages and other communities, like local transition initiatives.


Hear more from Stephen Hinton about Inner Transition on Wednesday, September 14 at an event in London sponsored by Local Futures, Initiatives for Change, and the Global Hub for the Common Good.  Other speakers include Helena Norberg-Hodge, Lawrence Bloom, Diego Isabel La Moneda, and Michael Smith.  For more information, click here.

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Inner Transition: an Introduction