We all want it in life. Some people may even crave it so much they just want to rest and get some zzzs. Besides joy and love, it is a given that most, if not, all people want peace in their lives. However, there are obstacles and conflicts that we often face in life, many of them with other people. Some of us may have even had long-standing conflicts with a person or persons that have caused us considerable stress in our lives. These conflicts may have led to a lack of peace in our lives. This has certainly been the case in my past. However, I have learned these following things about how to cultivate peace after having a conflict with someone:
Things One Should Never Do in Cultivating Peace After a Conflict:
- Make excuses and/or fake apologies.—A fake apology is a half-hearted attempt to deny or ignore your part in the conflict by “apologizing” using the words BUT and/or IF in it. Examples of this would be: a.) I know I upset you, but you are too sensitive. b) I am sorry if I hurt your feelings. The first fake “apology” negates the apology by blaming the conflict on the other party. The second fake “apology” does not acknowledge your part in the conflict at all. Any so-called apology that blames the other person and, thus, does not own our part in the conflict, is made half-heartedly, or is done solely because someone told us we had to apologize (i.e when parents force their children to apologize to each other when they have no desire), is a fake apology.
- Pretend everything is OK when it is NOT. –Another thing we should not do when desiring peace after a conflict is to go on pretending nothing happened. This often occurs when a party or parties do not want to properly deal with the conflict. For example, if you offended me and I am hurt, but the next day you act nice and loving to me again, as if the disagreement never happened. Moreover, you don’t apologize or even offer to make amends with me first. This never works, especially in major conflicts, because it invalidates the hurt feelings of the injured party or parties. It also stalls necessary changes and amends that will need to be made for true peace because the issues are never properly addressed. This tactic is often used by abusers to maintain a sense of bait and control towards their victims, though certainly not all people who use this technique are abusers.
- Still have anger and bitterness in your heart.—When you want to cultivate peace after being in a conflict with someone, you should make sure you don’t have any bitterness or anger still in your heart. I believe forgiveness or at least a sense of “letting it go” is vital to cultivate true peace with someone you had a conflict with in the past. If you still have anger and bitterness in your heart, I would advise that you deal with those heart issues first, before trying to reconcile and/or forgive the person or persons involved in your conflict. When I had tried to “make up” with someone when I still held anger and resentment towards them in my heart, things would often get worse because these people would see through my façade and just dismiss me, making me even angrier than I was to begin with. Make sure you are completely at peace with the conflict and the person that caused it before trying to make peace.
Things One Should Do To Cultivate Peace After a Conflict:
- Confess your part of the problem.—We should humbly confess our part of the problem even if we are not totally at fault. This does not mean “confessing” things that are not your fault, as in the case of abuse. However, this does mean confessing any negative attitudes, words, or behaviors, which you did out of your own will that contributed to the problem. This even means confessing our past anger and bitterness towards someone, if it had gotten to the point where we couldn’t even think of said person in any sort of positive way!
- Find ways to repair the damage you caused and/or solve the problem.—After a conflict with someone, we should strive to find ways to repair the damage we caused by making any necessary restitution to him or her. If they caused the conflict or you and they both caused the conflict equally, you should work with the other person to find a solution to the conflict that will benefit both people. One or both parties may need to compromise, meaning to give up some of their desires to reach a desired peaceful conclusion to the conflict. Do what is right not only for your sake, but for the others involved in the conflict as well.
- Make right with the other party or parties in the conflict before the sun goes down, if at all possible. –This principle is derived from Ephesians 4:26, which basically says to “not let the sun go down upon your wrath.” (KJV) This means you don’t want to wait more than one day to resolve a conflict.—You should try to resolve conflict as soon as possible. This way, seeds of anger and bitterness cannot form. When we wait more than several days to deal with conflict, the tension lingers and often intensifies into deep-seated anger and bitterness, which I have found to be harmful to, not only our spiritual and emotional health, but often to our physical health as well. Prolonged anger and bitterness poison both body and soul. Don’t risk it. Strive to resolve issues with others today.
- Forgive the other party for their part in the conflict.—In order to forgive, we need to know what forgiveness is. For more detailed information on forgiveness, please read this post. Forgiveness is letting go of anger and bitterness in one’s soul and trusting the ultimate Judge for justice. We should forgive the other party for both past and present hurts in order to be at peace with them and ourselves. Forgiveness requires humility and selflessness, but will release a weight of bitterness and anger that was on you and will ultimately allow healing for all parties involved.
These are the things I learned about cultivating peace after a conflict. If we consistently applied these principles, I believe that there would be more peace our world. May we strive to be instruments of reconciliation and peace in an increasingly stressful and anxiety-laden world.