Tag Archives: family conflict

Forgiveness

 

Forgiveness was in the news a couple of months ago. It seems that Taylor Swift has forgiven Kanye West for interrupting her acceptance speech at the Grammy’s last year. You were unaware of this news? I certainly was until the op ed pieces started coming out commenting on this news event. Commentators discussed whether they thought it was a magnanimous gesture or whether it was deserved as well as several thoughts on forgiveness in general. Forgiveness can be a sensitive issue for people. It is fraught with emotion and involves letting go.

Apologies, forgiveness… we have all had to grapple with circumstances where it was too hard to forgive or we are unable to let go of a slight, hurt, or situation that was too devastating to let pass. In some cases, these go back in time and have festered making it even more difficult to find it within ourselves to overcome our harsh feelings.

How often do we say we’re sorry without meaning it or resist saying we’re sorry at all? How often have we rejected an apology because we were unable to forgive?

Most of us learn about forgiveness growing up. What our families teach us or what we learn through our religious training may shape how we are able to process these feelings later on. As with all learned behavior, we learn from example, either good ones or bad.

The Jewish High Holidays are called the Days of Atonement. During this time Jews are asked to reflect on those they have wronged during the year and extend apologies but with specific guidelines for how those apologies are given. It’s not enough to just say a general ‘I’m sorry’. People are asked to think about how they have specifically wronged someone and apologize and seek forgiveness for that action or those particular words that hurt or offended another person.

Apologies are always expected from children but are parents offering apologies to children for behavior that they later regret or realize was inappropriate or hurtful? It is worth considering that children see what is patterned for them by their parents. Learning how to extend a sincere apology and learning forgiveness can help people get past a hurdle that allows them to move on. Maybe we cannot always forget some slights or hurt, but we may be able to forgive the person and not let it burden our lives as we get older and enable us to leave the lines of communication open.

 

To Reconcile or Not to Reconcile?

 

Sometimes relationships just are not working. It can be a sibling or a parent or a child or a friend. It just is not working. Oftentimes there is a lot of hurt and sometimes the relationship ends with a bang and sometimes it just trails off. Every once in a while you might consider re-connecting. Is it the right thing to do? Or if there is no ‘right thing’, is it really worth going through the possible pain of re-connecting?

Firstly, the relationship between the people matters. If it’s friends, you might let that one go no matter how old the relationship is. But if a parent and child are involved, you might be willing to give it more of a try and be able to overlook more. It is very individual and a very personal decision.

Secondly, there is the benefit factor. Will reconstituting this relationship add or detract from your life? That is a big consideration. To be honest with ourselves, some relationships can bring joy, even if it is just in reminiscing, and some can be a drain on our lives.

Everyone has his or her own personal breaking points. For some it may be that not attending a family wedding may be the cut off point, for some it may be a funeral. While it is usually understood when there is a legitimate reason for not being there, if it is just a matter of the importance of the event not being understood or shared by the other person, it can be too hurtful to let pass.

Family may mean well in promoting continuations of relationships that just are not right for you. For instance, one sibling might feel compelled to continue communicating with a sister or brother out of guilt or genuine concern, while the other sibling has given up after realizing it was all take and no give on one side. Is this unhealthy? Not always. It’s a decision only you can make and you have to decide if you are comfortable living with it. It may be necessary to just let it taper off but respond in a friendly manner when being contacted, knowing that you might not be the one who will be initiating the connection. It is not up to someone else to pressure you to continue a relationship that you find hurtful or painful.

And sometimes it’s just better to give it time. Time can be a great healer and it can help you develop a new perspective. We have different ways of looking at relationships at different points in our lives.