It’s that time of year. A time that some families love, and other families dread. Thanksgiving tables can be hotbeds of simmering, stewing tensions. Siblings, parents, aunts, cousins, and sometimes even distant relatives can trigger stuff in us that we don’t like and don’t want to feel.
Relationships are brutal classrooms. The people we’re in intimate relationship with have the most power to push our buttons. There’s a good reason for that. Those hot buttons are the very places that need healing within us. Think about your most common triggers. Maybe it is:
- avoiding any mention of a loved one who passed
- making comments about how sad you still look after all this time
- trying to fix you up with someone because it’s been enough time and you should be dating
When these issues come up, you feel that familiar tightening in your gut. Or your face starts to grow warm. You’re breathing a little harder. The thought of saying something mean and nasty is really appealing.
In the short-term, retaliation feels good.But when you’ve had a chance to think about it and consider the long-term consequences, it really doesn’t. I’ve known the satisfaction of retorting in the moment when my brother and I warred. We didn’t have a healthy relationship for many years after a falling-out. You can read all about it in Losing Amma, Finding Home
But every time I was willing to be honest with myself, I knew the truth: I missed my brother. I missed the closeness we once enjoyed. I wanted us to be in each other’s lives. I’m pretty sure that’s the case with many of you too (barring those relationships that are totally toxic where it’s better to put distance between you and them).
- You want peace.
- You want the closeness.
- You want to communicate with kindness and love.
In A Return to Love Marianne Williamson says: “Forgiveness is the choice to see people as they are now. When we are angry at people, we are angry because of something they said or did before the moment. But what people said or did is not who they are. Relationships are reborn as we let go perceptions of our brother’s past. ‘By bringing the past into the present, we create a future just like the past.’ By letting the past go, we make room for miracles.”
“When people behave unlovingly, they have forgotten who they are. They have fallen asleep to the Christ within them. The job of the miracle worker is to remain awake. We choose not to fall asleep and dream of our brother’s guilt. In this way we are given the power to awaken him.”
Here are 4 powerful questions to ask when you’re holding on to a grudge:
- What do I resent? Get really clear about what the issue is that is causing you to resent someone.
- What do I believe they did to me? In other words, did they betray your trust? Did they not deliver something they promised? Did they disrespect you?
- How does holding on to this resentment serve me? Yes, you read that right. However much we fight this, it’s true. Every negative thing we hold on to serves us in some way. Saying yes to people all the time and overextending yourself keeps their love and approval coming and you need it. Blaming someone keeps you from taking responsibility and making changes in your life which are hard to do.
- What can I do to resolve this resentment? Is there a phone call you can make? An email you can write? Can you forgive yourself for something you held on to all these years? Do you need to have a hard conversation with someone?
Use these four questions as your compass when you have a disagreement with someone. It will help you clean up your side of the road, and stay in the lane of integrity.
If you’d like some help on how to have an emotionally honest conversation, check this out: How to Have An Emotionally Honest Conversation