All relationships create opportunities for communications, or no communication, but both words and deeds are powerful and once said or done, very difficult to un-hear and un-see. Forgiveness is a powerful concept, but one of the most difficult actions and choices to make in life.
How do you repair or maintain a relationship following harsh or painful words and actions? Choosing first to repair the schism is important. And, it may mean a conscious choice to address some painful personal truths. Many neglect to look inward to closely analyze what may be something you’d rather forget – introspection and bald reality can be difficult to manage. Yet, if you fail to learn from situations, you are likely doomed to both suppress negative emotions, and to repeat the behavior.
If you received harsh or painful words, it takes a very strong person to look unflinchingly at what occurred and to calmly analyze it before addressing it. It’s easy to immediately lash out verbally in retaliation, especially if the words or actions were unjustified or unfair.
We are all familiar with words said in anger, and despite the nursery rhyme about sticks and stones… some words wound and scar. Only you can determine the intensity of the exchange and whether forgiveness is an option, but without resolution, you may find yourself bitter, not better. This decision to repair can be rapid or take years, but it’s worth considering for a calmer, happier life.
Many people cannot or will not deal with conflict. If you’re one of these, consider how repairing the friendship will affect your life. Usually, it clears the air, and both people can move forward. No matter the timeframe, carefully choose accurate, but kinder words to explain how you feel – whether you are the deliverer of the harsh words, or the recipient. It’s now time to fix the error, not to blame or shame. This may not be possible on the first try, and you may find that some conversations are not recoverable, and that door must be closed.
If both people are open to nurturing a relationship after harsh words – which happens to all of us – it is possible to move forward, even without an apology if that occurs. Respectfully hearing or saying that the situation is now regretted may be enough to begin the healing. Perhaps the apology is at first a Band-Aid. But, over time, when forgiveness is applied and the situation is not a repetitive pattern of hurt, relationships can grow stronger than before.
Why is it that as small children we could easily say we were sorry when we knew we were wrong? Why is it hard sometimes to stand up for ourselves when we have been wronged? Either scenario is made better with resolution and kindness.
Forgiveness frees and releases the pain and increases self-respect and respect in the relationship.
Linda Kreter & the