What Does Reconciliation Really Entail?
I often talk about reconciliation, forgiveness, and apology with my clients. You cannot talk about relationships and not have these topics come up because we have all been hurt by someone in our lives. Or multiple someones.
I have not always been good at apologizing and sometimes I still struggle to make the apology. Often, pride is at the center of my reluctance. Pride is a strong deterrent to making the apology. Also, it has been my experience that so many of us don’t really know how to apologize and certainly don’t know what it means to facilitate reconciliation. The apologies are often hollow, lack awareness, and are said to quickly move past a conflict. In the end, these types of apologies are just band aids to larger and deeper issues within the relationship.
Here I am going on about apologies and the title of this blog post is about reconciliation. But the thing is, reconciliation begins with an apology. A real, thoughtful, genuine apology. Something like this:
“I am sorry. I am sorry I hurt you. I am sorry I hurt you and recognize how [insert behavior] caused you pain. I will not do [insert behavior] again.”
That’s it. Simple. Authentic. Accountable.
Genuine apologies that include self-accountability go a long way in fixing what is wrong between two people. However, reconciliation requires more steps to the apology.
- Recognition – the awareness of and accountability for the wrongdoing, and an understanding of why it occurs.
- Remorse – guilt and/or regret to show that one feels contrition.
- Repair – the behavior that gives back to the hurt individual and seeks to make them whole.
We are often tempted to skip to the third step which is akin to putting a band aid on the problem and calling it a day. The problem with skipping steps 1 and 2 is that we are essentially guaranteeing the perpetuation of the injury. The same problematic behavior will occur again and again until the injurer feels remorse and seeks to understand why it happened in the first place.
Examining our own behavior and putting aside our pride is not easy. It is uncomfortable! And yet, it is necessary because it allows us to grow, to live congruently with our values, and to nurture important relationships.
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