Psyche: Pride and reconciliation

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Life is too short to hold grudges, particularly within the family, writes SAROJA SRINIVASAN

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Have you ever wondered why or how best friends and family members stop talking to each other for years? What is it that each find so difficult to extend the olive branch and make amends? They find it so hard to say ‘let bygones be bygones’ and start again. Is it pride? Is it an overvalued sense of their own self-righteousness and self-importance that stops them from crossing the bridge to shake the other’s hand? Is it stubbornness or a lack of willingness to improve the situation? Many people confuse the courage that is required to make an effort to say sorry, as weakness. In fact, the opposite is true, it takes a courageous person to have the modesty to take the first steps to clear the air.

Far too often people forget that life is too precious and too short to carry grudges. If good friends and close family members do not have the humility to make amends and bring back the closeness they once shared, how will they ever be considerate to others? One may wonder how they would react if someone crossed their path, even accidentally. Their stubbornness to see another’s point of view could cost them heavily.

During teenage years, it is common to come across rivalry between friends, petty arguments leading to stand-offs. Sometimes many such situations never resolve and a precious chance to start a life-long close friendship is lost. Occasionally, strong friendship ties that existed in the past help to resolve it. When such quarrels exist in adult relationships, it is indeed a sad state of affairs.

Not so long ago, I came across a family who were scattered all over the world with no contact between them. We hear of such break-ups and wonder how it could have started. Perhaps an unresolved argument about a trivial matter, a disagreement about a family decision, or just a simple misunderstanding. Who knows?  Was it an unresolved resentment simmering below the surface that was vented in an argument that led to the standoff?

Sadly, whatever the reason, pride and ego seem to come in the way of an amicable resolution. Repeatedly we find that a sense of empathy and understanding is sadly lacking when such resentments remain unresolved over several years. The longer it remains unresolved, the harder it becomes. It is very important to sort out differences quickly and aim to come to a resolution even if it means agreeing to disagree, so that the doors of communication remain open. An old saying comes to mind: ‘Never go to bed angry and upset after an argument,’ which really means resolve conflicts quickly, preferably on the same day.

If we stop for a moment and realise how many people do not have a family to call their own, either from birth, or due to a totally unforseen accident, the luxury and privilege of being part of a family unit or enjoying close friendships becomes very precious. One has to have maturity and humility to value it and preserve it at all costs. This effort has to come from both parties. When each refuses to start the process of making-up, waiting for the other to make the move could mean the moment of reconciliation is lost forever. The bonds of family and close friendships are surely worth preserving, whatever it takes.