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Making Peace

By Nimue Brown

[Snip] I’ve been pondering a lot what to do in the aftermath of conflict. Unconditional forgiveness can be a way of giving people permission to re-offend, so I’m not keen on that. Holding on to anger is not good for the cultivation of inner peace though. I’ve been working on adopting attitudes of pity and compassion that allow me to feel sorry for the other person, where there is unresolved conflict. Functionally, it allows me to be gentle and patient with them, without offering the kind of acceptance that says ‘oh sure, kick me like that any time.’ Tacitly allowing people to mistreat me does no one any good. I suffer, and they do not learn to do any better.

Where the mistake is owned, it’s always a lot easier to move forward. It can be painful, daunting, even humiliating to admit a mistake, and the bigger the error, the more uncomfortable it gets. But, in owning it, it becomes possible to make changes, to ask for guidance and to explore what might have worked better. Of course there are people who will take an apology and use it as a stick to beat you with, but this is not honourable behaviour, it’s aggressive, abusive behaviour. The person who confesses, apologises and is trying to fix things, always deserves the space in which to try and do just that.

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