About nine months ago, my parents and my spouse got in a huge fight. They haven't really spoken since. There were hurtful things said on both sides. Now he will not let my parents see our kids. It is very hard for me because I am in the middle. I don't know how to fix this. Can you offer any advice?
There are things you can do to mend this relationship, but not unless your spouse or parents want to fix it. They must be ready to mend this fence. If they aren’t ready, you must be patient.
Or you could have them read this article.
If you have been offended by a family member, you must see that staying mad isn’t serving you. It may feel like holding a grudge protects you from further mistreatment, but holding this grudge is hurting you now.
It is time to be the grown-up and let go of your need to be right. It is time to put your ego and pride away and choose love. You can fix this mess by being the wise, loving adult you really are.
You can actually change how you feel about this person and this situation and find the strength to forgive.
Here are some ideas that might help:
1. Make sure you see the other person and the situation accurately. Life is a classroom and we are all students here. It doesn’t matter how old someone is, they are still in the process of learning and growing. You must give them permission to be flawed, make mistakes and even be thoughtless on occasion. To expect anything less would be unrealistic. We are all going to make mistakes; it's part of the learning process. You are going to make some, too. When you understand this, you will see the situation accurately and have more compassion.
2. You must see that everyone is driven by a fear that they might not be good enough. This fear is behind most of their bad behavior. When other people mistreat you, it’s usually not about you. It’s about their fears about themselves.
See if you can identify what the other person’s fears are and why they might have behaved the way they did. What are they experiencing that is driving their behavior? Can you understand it? Can you put yourself in their shoes? Write down an accurate description of the other person. This will bring more compassion and accuracy into the situation.
3. Determine if this person is a toxic personality. If they really are, it makes sense to avoid them. Here are some questions to ask: Are they intentionally mean and spiteful? Are they irrational and illogical? Are they selfish and not interested in changing or improving? Are they, for some reason outside of their control, incapable of better behavior?
If you said yes to any of these questions you may be dealing with someone who is toxic. These people are not going to change and you will always be unsafe around them. In this case, it may be appropriate to stay away from them.
If they are not any of those things, you need to get accurate about who they are, get accurate about who you are, and learn to forgive. You must give rational, good intentioned but imperfect people a chance to behave better. They deserve forgiveness and another chance.
4. Write down the behavior you want to see in the other person in the future. You cannot ask the other person for an admission of guilt around past mistakes. You must let the past stay in the past and instead focus on their future behavior.
The truth is, you both behaved badly in the past. Spending time figuring out who was bad first or whose bad was worse is a waste of time. You are both struggling, scared human beings in the process of learning and growing. You both make mistakes and behave badly on occasion. No one is the bad guy, you are both the same. Let go of the past and write down how you would like to be treated from now on.
5. Write down how you commit to behave differently in the future. You must own your bad reactions, your fears and your unkind, impatient or judgmental behavior. You must write down exactly how you could be more wise, mature and loving in the future toward them.
Remember that forgiveness is about giving other people permission to be less than perfect, because you are less than perfect too. When you choose forgiveness, you are doing it for you so you can feel peace and escape the pain this situation created in your life.
When you have figured out how you will behave in the future and how you want them to behave in the future, you are ready to approach them.
Ask permission to speak with them. Make sure you are approaching them with love and are seeing them as the same as you (not better or worse). Choose to see the good in them and understand their fears.
Let them know that you have forgiven the past and want to start over. Tell them how you are going to commit to behave (though they should not expect perfection) and ask them if they might be willing to treat you differently in the future (and that you won't expect perfection, either).
Be the wise, mature, strong and loving adult you really are.
You can do this.
If neither party is willing to read the article or take these steps, you may want to get some professional help. A counselor or coach could help you to see the situation more accurately and learn to forgive.
Kimberly Giles is the founder and president of www.ldslifecoaching.com and www.claritypointcoaching.com. She is a sought after life coach and popular speaker who specializes in Clarity: seeing yourself, others and situations accurately.
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Kimberly Giles is the president and founder of Claritypoint Life Coaching and 12 SHAPES INC. She is an author and professional speaker. She was named one of the top 20 advice gurus in the country by Good Morning America in 2010. She appears regularly on local and national TV and Radio.