Forgiveness and reconciliation may be some of the most challenging steps to take when someone has hurt you or has been an enemy for a long time. However, letting go of past grievances can have very positive benefits for both parties. If you do make peace with your enemy, it may be sensible to take precautions to ensure that you don't let this person hurt you again. Forgiving and reconciling does not necessarily mean forgetting your previous problems.
Reconciling with an enemy is such a powerful gesture that it can actually have a positive impact on your health. A study published in the journal "Personal Relationships" showed that forgiving someone who has wronged you can lower your blood pressure. The 2011 research, carried out at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, showed that when victims of an unresolved transgression expressed forgiveness toward the perpetrator, not only did their blood pressure drop, but so did the blood pressure of the person who had hurt them.
Letting Go of Anger
Forgiving and reconciling are often such demanding acts because you may feel that your hostility toward your enemy is justified. This may lead to feelings of anger and an unwillingness to make friends. However, the very act of forgiving has been shown to reduce anger. A study at Shahid Beheshti University in Iran found that volunteers who undertook six sessions of forgiveness training were more capable of letting go of anger. Not only were the volunteers less angry during the test, but four months later, participants were still calmer.
Making the First Move
The best way to put yourself in the mood for reconciliation is to see that your enemy is not the only person at fault in the situation. A verbal apology for the things you may have said and done is a solid first step in reconciling with an enemy. Pointing out how things could be better if you both make peace can get you on the right track. Shaking hands with your enemy is a physical cue to let him know that you are willing to let bygones be bygones.
It is normal to remain a little cautious and distrustful of a past enemy, but to build trust, you must also take a chance. Make sure your ex-enemy knows what words or behaviors are likely to damage your newly mended relationship. Once appropriate boundaries have been laid down, you can start to build friendship, perhaps by inviting your new friend to do something socially. Talking over a coffee or playing sports together can help you to bond and become closer.
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