312-772-9796

rec·on·cile
/ˈrekənˌsīl/
verb
1. restore friendly relations between.
2. cause to coexist in harmony; make or show to be compatible.

Reconciliation is not a word we speak of often. I would argue that most people want to coexist with others in harmony, yet we are afraid of the very thing that gets us there — reconciliation.

What prevents us?

Pride

Let’s face it, who likes to admit they are wrong? Pride prevents us from looking inside ourselves and acknowledging our shortcomings and wrong motivations. Pride encourages us to harbor bitterness towards another person. Pride says, “I’m right, you’re wrong”.

Fear

It’s not easy to have reconciling conversations. They take great courage and vulnerability.
There is an unknown element to the outcome of the conversation. What if things get more awkward? Or more tense?

On the flip side, what if the conversation makes things better? What if you realize there was a misunderstanding in the situation? (I’m not suggesting things are always misunderstandings–sometimes there is blatant hurt and harm).

Easier to Not

Frankly, it’s easier to sweep things under the rug, isn’t it? It might feel easier in the short-term to not engage, but I would suggest those feelings might still be there — feelings of regret, shame, or bitterness. Chances are, you won’t just have one reconciling conversation in your life. Engaging in and practicing these hard conversations now will allow you to have a different level of comfort for them in the future.

How do we get there?

Take the first step — reach out.

Just like getting to the gym, this is the hardest part. Reaching out requires humility and taking the higher road. Don’t you want to be a person known for that?

Acknowledge things are off

Recognizing and verbalizing that things are off in a relationship can take the elephant out of the room. Chances are, all parties involved know something is off. Maybe you haven’t spoken in awhile, maybe you haven’t spent time together, or maybe you simply can feel the awkwardness in the air.

Own your piece

Think through what you need to own and share that with the other person. Share how you personally experienced the situation. Did you make assumptions about a situation without knowing all the facts? Did you pass judgement on the other person without seeking understanding? Did you jump to conclusions before hearing their side of the story?

Seek Understanding

Ask the other person what their understanding of the situation is. Seek to truly listen to what they are sharing with you. Validate their experience and let them know you hear what they are saying by reflecting back what they say to you. Be mindful that you don’t jump to fix or offer solutions (unless they ask). Most people just want to be heard.

Share hopes/expectations for the relationship going forward.

Communicate your hopes and expectations for the relationship going forward. Do you want to re-engage? To what capacity? Do you want to take time apart? It’s okay to have boundaries and need time for trust to be rebuilt (if, in fact, you want to engage in the relationship again). Some friendships and relationships serve a purpose for a season. Just because they don’t last forever doesn’t mean there weren’t good things about it.

Reconciling doesn’t mean the relationship will look the same going forward. It doesn’t fix any damage that was done or allow you to forget the pain that was caused. Reconciling simply allows relationships to exist in harmony and to move forward having cleared the air.

It’s Never Too Late

As we are in the midst of the holiday season, many of those relationships that need reconciling very well may be with family or friends you will be spending time with (or not, thanks to COVID-19…regardless, I would encourage you to reach out to that person). Processing a broken relationship can be painful. Reach out to a therapist at Optimum Joy today to start working through what reconciliation could look like for you.

Written by therapist Natalie Hu

More Optimum Joy Articles