Flowers continue to bloom after the storm.
You May Feel Shaken After a Fight
A lot of emotions come to the surface. You may feel guilty that it's your fault, or confused about how to make it right. Or you may feel angry that you were not understood, or loved. You may feel hurt.
You may also feel physical sensations in different parts of the body as you play over the argument in your mind again. It's like your whole life comes grinding to a halt until you can somehow find peace again. It can sometimes be a very challenging question how to make peace after a fight.
Fights are confusing. And, in my experience, it's worth gaining some awareness before rushing back to fix things. Sometimes, trying to make it better too quickly can make it worse. The key for me is to do some genuine self-inquiry first.
How to Make Peace After a Fight
Sometimes, I want to forgive the other person, but I can't. Sometimes, I want to apologize and can't. Sometimes, I'm just too stubborn to let go of my argument. All of these things make it hard to make peace after a fight. But until I can let go myself, there's not much hope of reconciliation with the other person. I have to do some digging in my own space first.
It's like I'm dealing with a hurt and angry child inside of me. There's no reasoning with a child. But there is a way meet any child with understanding and love, and a willingness to listen—no matter how hurt or angry they may be.
Here are the steps I go through in first meeting myself with understanding and then slowly opening to the other person again:
1. Listen to Myself
I do this best by writing my stressful thoughts down. Getting them on paper helps to stop them from swirling around in my mind. It also feels like they have less power over me when I can see them written down. The important thing for me is to let the hurt part of me write uncensored. That part of me needs to be fully heard. For me, this is a very important step of how to make peace after a fight.
I do this by writing free-form on a blank piece of paper. Or I use a special worksheet designed for gathering all my stressful thoughts about an argument. The worksheet I use is called the Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet, and it's perfect for getting it all out on paper after a fight. It's amazing how "heard" I feel just writing a worksheet about the person I was fighting with. When I write a worksheet, I'm not trying to be spiritual. I'm just letting myself be fully honest about how I feel.
2. Question My Story
Getting my stressful thoughts down on paper can be quite relieving. Now I have a little more distance on my thoughts. But I like to go further than that: I like to formally question the thoughts I wrote down. This is a powerful form of self-inquiry that helps me to unravel the stories I'm caught in. For me, this is an essential step in how to make peace after a fight.
When I question the truth of what I was thinking and believing, I often find that I innocently had a partial understanding. As my awareness opens to a wider view, I start to take in the other person's perspective too. And I start to see the things I was doing that I was blind to before. This humbles me softens me, and I often find understanding and forgiveness naturally welling up for the other person.
This process of questioning your own stressful thoughts is called The Work of Byron Katie. If you're interested in unraveling your stressful stories, I highly recommend taking some time to really learn how do this process. It can be used in any stressful situation to find peace.
3. Question They Need to Forgive Me
While I'm in the mode of questioning my stressful thoughts about the person I fought with, there's another step for me in how to make peace after a fight.
Once I find forgiveness for the other person, it's easy to think that they should find forgiveness for me too. If I believe this idea, I may become frustrated or impatient if the other person still holds a grudge against me. So it's time to dig a little deeper. This is the next phase of questioning for me. I literally question the thought, "I need them to forgive me," or "I need them to let it go."
When I question this thought, again using The Work of Byron Katie, I often come to find even more understanding for the other person. I see how hard it was for me to let it go, and I get it if it takes them time as well. They can take as much time as they need. In fact, when I'm really clear, I don't expect them to let it go at all.
Instead, I focus on my part, and how I can let go of my expectations. This keeps me in my own business, and away from trying to change or rush their process. I call it respect. It feels like unconditional love. This is also a big part of how to make peace after a fight, peace within myself even if the other person is not ready or—worst case scenario—even if they never open to me again.
4. Make Amends When Appropriate
The last step of how to make peace after a fight is a step of action. I don't do this step until I've fully done my inner work (steps 1-3 above).
Amends is more than just saying, "I was wrong. This is my part." Amends very often include an apology like this, but true amends means that I'm now seeing the person differently. I've done my work and I no longer blame them. When I see them that way, my actions naturally are more respectful and loving towards them. And it comes through in everything I say and do. There is no substitute for doing my inner work until I see things differently. Once I do, it's done. I call this spontaneous amends because action follows spontaneously as my perspective changes.
Of course, if there is something specific I did to harm the other person, I also consider what specific actions I could do to make it right.
Now It's Your Turn
Try it out. Pick someone whom you haven't fully forgiven, and go through these steps. And spend some time learning this process of The Work of Byron Katie. It has become a powerful way for me to meet myself with understanding even when I'm a mood to fight.
If you have questions about how to make peace after a fight, bring your questions to one of my free weekly Open Sessions and let's do The Work together.
Have a great week,
“I encourage you to write about someone—parent, lover, enemy—whom you haven’t yet totally forgiven. This is the most powerful place to begin. Even if you’ve forgiven that person 99 percent, you aren’t free until your forgiveness is complete. The 1 percent you haven’t forgiven them is the very place where you’re stuck in all your other relationships (including the relationship with yourself)." Byron Katie, Loving What Is.