Many people have relationships that dissolved due to past differences. Perhaps you had a misunderstanding with your sister, or feuded with your parents. Maybe you simply let a friendship slip away. As the holidays approach, you may be reminded of lost relationships with friends or family. Sometimes a bitter dispute from the past can keep loved ones from reconciling. However, with some effort you can begin to resolve conflicts and misunderstandings with friends or family. There are five key steps you can take to restore any relationship.
Before you attempt to contact a lost friend or relative, you should first assess your motive. Why is it is important to make this contact? Here are motives that may apply to your situation:
- You seek harmony before the holiday season.
- You realize life is too short to hold grudges.
- You are willing to offer forgiveness.
- You seek forgiveness.
- You concede you have not made an outreach attempt before.
- You want to understand their perspective of the problem.
- You want to communicate your feelings before it is too late.
- You desire to regain the relationship that was lost and are willing to compromise.
- You acknowledge there is no perfect time to reach out to the other person, and there is no time like the present.
After you clarify your motive for reaching out to a former friend or disconnected relative, you are more prepared to humble yourself and accept the risk of being vulnerable. You accept that there are no guarantees for reconciliation. The outcome of your efforts is uncertain. Do not let fear paralyze your life. Having the desire to reconcile without taking action makes you more vulnerable. By putting yourself on the line, you have a chance to get what you want. Learn to admit when you are wrong. The quicker we humble ourselves and admit wrongdoing, the faster we will be able to make peace.
Listen for understanding
There is no value in communication if shared listening is not the foundation. Take time to hear and understand the viewpoint of the other person. Withhold your opinions and truly seek to appreciate the pain or despair they may have also endured. Get rid of guilt trips. Defending your position while inducing a guilt trip on the other person will only reignite the flame that burned the relationship in the first place.
Forgiveness is a powerful gift in any relationship. You must be willing to offer forgiveness if you truly want to move beyond the past. Offering forgiveness does not mean you agree with the other person. By offering forgiveness you do not allow your differences to rule your heart, mind and future. Remember, while you may be ready to reunite with your friend or family member, the other person may need time to think through your proposal and their response. Don’t rush the reunion, or the relationship may not have time to fully reconcile.
Have realistic expectations
Without realistic expectations your hope for renewal will only lead to dejection. It may be unrealistic that your friend or family member will immediately proclaim their faults and beg your forgiveness. You cannot control their response or lack thereof. You can prepare yourself to deal with their reaction. You are responsible for your actions and the way you live your life. Reconciliation and restoration are powerful if they are based on authentic healing. No matter how the situation unfolds it is important to maintain dignity and respect for yourself as well as the other person. Move forward with your life and love the people you are with every day.