The word "reconciliation" means to become friendly again after a disagreement or argument. We may have family members or even spouses with whom reconciliation seems next to impossible. How can we heal these strained and broken relationships?

Neill F. Marriott, inspirational speaker and Christian religious leader, has this to say: "We do not walk the roads of Palestine healing the sick, but we can pray for and apply healing love to sickened, strained relationships." Love is the key. Not anger, not judgment, not refusing to speak to your loved ones.

Heal yourself first

The first key in healing strained and broken relationships is to heal yourself first. If you need help to get that done, don't be afraid to ask for it. A close friend, a therapist or a spiritual counselor may help talk you through your pain and provide you with a new perspective. To borrow an airline metaphor, you need to don your own healing mask first before trying to heal others.

Part of healing yourself means forsaking your own emotional pain over whatever you think happened. That's right. Over what you think happened. The other person's perspective likely differs from yours. It doesn't matter. Let it go. Don't be defined by the past. It's simply not possible to be happy when you're angry or seeking misguided revenge on someone you used to care about.

Apologize, even if it's not your fault

Sam (names have been changed for privacy) hasn't spoken to either his daughter or his granddaughter in more than a year. He and his daughter, Ann, had a disagreement. Ann's feelings were hurt, and she asked her dad for an apology. Rather than apologize, Sam refused and stopped speaking to Ann. A few weeks ago, Sam's wife reached out to Ann's daughter, Jill, but not to her stepdaughter, Ann. This left Ann feeling sad and Jill feeling confused. Dividing a family by asking people to side with you is a foolish approach to reconciliation and does not demonstrate a mature ability to move forward and let go of the past.

Who cares who's right? What does Sam have to lose but his pride or maybe his sense of justice and fairness? He has far more to gain from a healed relationship with his daughter and granddaughter than he has to lose by apologizing. Precious time, never to be regained, is passing him by. If you need to heal a strained and broken relationship, make the first move.

Apply love's healing power to others

Showing love in the face of discord and anger is very powerful. It's so unexpected. It's maybe something different from what you're currently doing. If what you're doing is not working, try something new. It makes no sense to keep approaching issues the same way if what you're doing is not working. Offering love to an estranged family member demonstrates that you refuse to personalize ambiguous relationship issues. Show that you understand "it takes two to tango," as they say.

Having bad feelings for others makes us feel bad ourselves. It's not worth losing important family relationships over things that are often simple disagreements. Heal yourself first, apologize to others and reach out in love. Love and forgiveness are powerful antidotes for what ails most relationships.

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