My friend and I have a lot of conflicts and yet I do want to reconcile in the hope that these conflicts will be reduced. What would you suggest if such a reconciliation will be kind of rocky yet we both want to try?
I would recommend two points. First, are you both willing to forgive each other first so that you do not bring a lot of anger into dialogue with each other? Second, and if you are willing to forgive each other, what are the small steps each of you can take to help the other feel more trusting? In other words, what have you been doing to damage trust and can you take a small step in a better direction? Is your friend willing to do the same by taking small steps to build up your trust?
Is the one who forgives showing you respect as a person? Is the person bringing up the incident and dominating you or are you both now on the same level in terms of your humanity? Does the other show an interest in reconciling with you and, if so, do you think that he or she is trusting you now in most areas of life? Positive answers to these questions are good indicators that the other has forgiven you.
Forgiveness itself does not restore trust. That is the job for the process of reconciliation. Yet, forgiving a person who has broken trust is important because, upon forgiving, you then open the door to trying reconciliation, perhaps one small step at a time. Without forgiving, you may be hesitant to ever open the door of reconciliation ever again.
I have a problem with my partner. He does not see that he has hurt me, despite my best efforts. I now am wondering if reconciliation is even possible. What I mean is that he keeps hurting me and doesn’t even see it.
This is a difficult situation because you now have a lack of trust that he can change. I recommend that you first forgive him and from that softened-heart position, approach him at an opportune time and have this kind of a conversation with him: First, you could let him know that you suspect that he is practicing the psychological defense of denial, in that he possibly is afraid to see the truth of his hurtful actions. Second, if he begins to see that he indeed is using the defense of denial, you then can let him know the extent of your hurt, for example, on a 1-to-10 scale with 10 being an enormous amount of hurt. Third, if he sees this hurt and sees it as caused by his actions, the next step is to work with him on a plan to deliberately change the behavior that is causing the hurt. Please keep in mind that even if all three strategies work, it still will take some time for you to build up trust because this tends to develop slowly after a pattern of injustices that cause hurt. Your continuing to forgive may increase your patience with the trust process.
You talk about the “worldview” or one’s philosophy or theology in life. Suppose I forgive but cannot reconcile with the one who hurt me. Might this lack of reconciliation keep me bitter, keep me mistrustful, and actually not alter my worldview to a more positive state once I forgive?
Forgiving can help us to see the special, unique, and irreplaceable character of each person, not just toward the one you are forgiving. When this happens, your trust can increase, not toward the one who hurt you and who remains unrepentant, but now toward more people in general. As you forgive, you realize that all people are capable of love, even though some do not necessarily express it. Some will choose not to love, in which case your trust remains low toward them, but you also begin to realize that other people, who have the capacity to love, do want to grow in this moral virtue. It is in this realization by the forgiver that the worldview can become more positive as trust, toward some, is realistically enhanced.