It’s been 21 years since Ann Landers suggested making April 2 Reconciliation Day. Afterwards, she wrote, “I heard from thousands of readers who did pick up the phone and call friends and relatives with whom they had not spoken for a long time.” Make the day your day to reach out to someone, to brighten the day of a stranger, and to forgive a very important person: yourself.
MAKE THE FIRST MOVE
Once upon a time, the two of you were best friends. Now it’s been months or even years since you last spoke. You’re not sure what started the rift, or if there even is one. Sound familiar? We all fall out of touch with friends for various reasons—maybe there’s an actual argument, or someone simply feels slighted, with each of you waiting for the other to make the first move towards getting the friendship back on track. Now it’s time to take the high road and take that first step. You don’t have to revisit old grievances or try to remember what led to the falling-out—all you need to do is put the message out there, whether it’s via text, email, or phone call: I miss you.
RE-ESTABLISH FAMILY TIES
Family relationships can be complicated and messy: there was the time your sister stole your boyfriend away in high school, or the uncle who got drunk and made a scene at your wedding. Sometimes familial interactions don’t feel good, but hanging on to them and refusing to let go of old grudges can feel a lot worse. Family time will feel a lot lighter and brighter for everyone if you can shed weighty feelings of anger and resentment and make a conscious choice to move on. This doesn’t have to take the form of a big confrontation, just a difference in how you approach the family member who incurred your wrath—a smile instead of the silent treatment, a hug instead of harsh words.
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START A DIALOGUE
You have the right to decide when an event or interaction leaves you feeling hurt or angry to the point that you don’t want to simply “move on.” When this is the case, the only way to heal those wounds, and the relationship in question, is to start a dialogue with the person who hurt you. (Although in some cases—if a relationship involves abuse, for example—it can be best to stay away.) Choose a time, place, and method carefully (a family dinner over the holidays is not a good time to start a dialogue with Aunt Sally about her insulting comments regarding your weight) and let the other person know what he or she did to upset you. Be prepared not just to talk, but to listen as well—hearing what someone has to say during times of strife is an important step towards reconciliation.
LITTLE ACTS OF ACCEPTANCE
Maybe it’s the guy hogging more than his fair share of space on the train going to work, or the barista who snaps at you when you order a double mocha latte. Forgiveness isn’t all about big dramas and life-changing events; it’s also about the dozens of tiny interactions that make up your day. Instead of getting angry when someone is rude or thoughtless, accept the people you encounter for who they are and give them the benefit of the doubt. And who knows—if you smile at the barista when she snaps at you, she might even smile back.
So you’ve just about perfected the art of reaching out to a friend, making up with a family member, and smiling at the thoughtless stranger on a train. Now it’s time to practice forgiveness with someone very important: yourself. Women can be very hard on themselves. Maybe you’re feeling like a less-than-perfect mami because your teen hates you, or an argument with your spouse has left you feeling unlovable. Or maybe you’ve really messed up: you slept through an important meeting or forgot your daughter’s soccer game. Sure, you have to take responsibility and own up to your mistakes, but at the same time, tell yourself: I’m not perfect, and that’s okay. The art of forgiveness has to start with you.