How To Reconcile With Family Or Friends
Gotta love family. They help make us who we are. Sure they’re quirky, annoying and frustrating at times – if only everyone was as perfect as we are, right? Disagreements are a normal part of the family dynamic. I don’t think you can have that many people interacting, each with their own personalities, values and experiences and get along 100% of the time.
What is really harmful to families, and any relationship for that matter, is the inability to see past these differences, these unique ways and reconcile. It’s our pride that gets in the way most of the time. The feeling to prove that we were right and they were wrong. But when you both dig your heals in and decide not to budge no one ever wins. As I’ve said before life is various shades of gray.
When family feuds or disagreements between friends are left unresolved they often turn into years of bitterness, resentment and unhappiness. You may think you’re fine with your decision to cut these people out of your life but what happens when you see them again?
Does your heart race? Do you get anxious and nervous? Do you think about what you’ll say or if you’ll just ignore them completely?
If you answered yes to any of these questions you’re not okay with the current situation.
There is a small part of you that remains unhappy or hurt, but for what? For the ability to stay true to the fact that you think you’re right? Or is it because if you back down you’ll be telling the other person “okay you win you were right”?
I’ll tell you now either way it’s ridiculous.
Reconciliation is not easy, but it’s worth it and so long as the person is still living and breathing, it’s never too late.
It’s important to understand why you want to reconcile, what are your motives behind wanting to contact your friend or family member? If it’s to rehash old hurts and carry on fighting then it’s best to leave it for a while. If it’s to forgive, reestablish a connection and make your mind, heart and soul happy, I believe these are good reasons and you should go ahead.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself before you decide to reconcile.
1. What were we arguing over? If you can’t remember it likely wasn’t worth ruining your relationship over and it’s definitely time to make amends. If you do remember …
2. Was it worth it? Was the argument worth ruining your relationship over? Look at all that you have missed out on, holidays, birthdays, special events, summer BBQs, graduations, marriages, new babies, support from your family or friends etc …
3. Can you honestly let it go? Lying to yourself here will only hurt you, so be really honest. If you are still hanging on to old grudges and can’t see beyond the “yeah but what she did was wrong” it’s not the best time to approach the other person. Work on trying to reduce your pride or subdue you ego a bit before moving forward. Move beyond establishing blame and drawing lines in the sand and focus on caring about the person. They are someone you once had a relationship with, you obviously cared about them and enjoyed being around them before. Focus on the good from that time.
How to facilitate reconciliation
1. Start small. Once you decided to move forward and start the reconciliation process start with a simple contact. It can be as small as sending a handwritten note or picking up the phone. This initial contact will set the tone for how this whole thing will play out so be sure you’ve thought it through and that you don’t go in hostile, defensive or aggressive. Start with why you’re contacting them and what you hope to get out of it.
2. Own your part. You have to be able to see that even though you think you haven’t done anything wrong and it’s all their fault – they are thinking the exact same thing. Be objective. Try to see how any of your actions or words may have been misconstrued. If you in all honesty can’t see anything wrong with how you’ve behaved or can’t see how anything you’ve done could have been taken the wrong way, ask. Yes it’s that simple. Tell them you are willing to take ownership of your part in this but you are really at a loss for what it is you’ve done. Be sincere. Be receptive and let them speak.
3. Be specific. If you know what part of this you need to own up to say so and be specific. An apology of “I’m sorry for what happened 3 years ago” doesn’t cut it. Lay it all out there get it out in the open. If you do you’ll open the lines of communication and really get it going. You’ve likely changed as a person since your altercation, maybe you’ve matured, learned to manage your anger, or have become more accepting of people and they quirky ways. It’s okay to admit in hindsight you were a little rude, aggressive, hurtful, stubborn etc … and express remorse for having let it go on for so long.
4. This is about you. Remember that this is about you. Not everyone is at the same point on the path to forgiveness, so while you’re ready to let it go and move on with things the other person may still be feeling “I’m right and he’s wrong”. If that’s the situation you’re facing keep focusing on you. Do what you have to do to be true to yourself. If you can walk away feeling that you’ve done what you can to mend things but the other person isn’t interested then I’m afraid you’re going to have to leave it. For now. There really is only so much you can do and you can’t control anyone else no matter how hard you want it to work out.
5. Rebuild. Once you have everything out on the table and have heard and acknowledged the other persons feelings, perspectives, and hurts it’s time to start rebuilding that relationship. This may be awkward at first and require a lot of hard work. Regaining trust can be tough and may take a long time. Start small and keep moving forward – do not revisit the past. If you’re at this point, the past should be resolved. Meet for a coffee, invite them over for lunch or out to dinner. Go to a movie or relax at home. If they’ve missed out on a lot take some time to fill them in. Talk about what’s been going on in your life and get interested in what’s going on in theirs.
The hardest part of reconciliation is finding a place to start. If you can visualize the future and imagine what your relationship could potentially look like (no anxiety, stress, wondering what to say when you eventually cross paths) it could be the motivation you need to get going. Don’t wait for the other person to make the first move. They may never have the courage to approach you and they may feel that you’ll never forgive them anyway so what’s the point.
Of course there are those relationships where reconciliation may be completely out of the question. If you are faced with one of these then work on yourself. Forgiveness is a choice not some feeling that will one day wash over you – even when it comes to forgiving yourself. Work through what you are responsible for being careful not to take on blame for things that were out of your control or that were clearly the choices or actions of someone else.
It’s not easy admitting you were wrong and apologizing for what hurt you’ve caused but it’s worth it. With the holidays fast approaching consider reaching out to someone you’ve been at odds with for whatever reason and try to make amends. It could make the new year all that more enjoyable.
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Photo courtesy of: orangeacid