Can burned bridges ever be repaired? Should burned bridges ever be repaired? Which option is the best one for your own well-being? This is the question I have been asking, and decided to investigate this a little further.
I started this year with some unpleasant surprises. I was forced to face reality and a truth that I had been denying for over a year. The universe works in mysterious ways, and sometimes you need to see the truth with your own eyes in order to stop making excuses. In the first two weeks of 2017 I was forced to stop giving the benefit of the doubt to someone I cared about, and accept that the warnings I had been told were really true. The bridge, through the action of an individual I trusted, was finally burned.
After I wiped my tears, fixed my mascara and bought a new pair of shoes, I was ready to start asking myself some hard questions. Why is it that we can forgive some wrong doings quicker than others even though they caused an equal amount of damage? Why is it easier to cut some individuals out of our lives and forgive others? Are those actions always justified?
Facing those answers wasn’t easy, it made me realize that I had been wrong sometimes and that my unfair treatment of people was not only negatively impacting them, but also myself. I decided there and then that 2017 was going to be a healthier year emotionally. Either by burying the hatchet or by truly keeping my bridges burned. This has led to a few simple checklist points that have helped me evaluate whom I needed to keep out of my life, and with whom I needed to make amends.
1. Was I fair?
In the situation that I faced, did I treat the person fairly? Did I give them the chance to explain, and did I truly listen to them, or was it easier to disconnect?
In the cases where the answer was that I wasn’t fair, my decision was to reach out and try make amends. I am not perfect, but admitting that I was wrong, and worse, admitting that my actions may have caused upset for someone else, wasn’t easy. As difficult as it was to swallow my pride, it was definitely worth it, and it has allowed to me to reconnect with individuals whom I have found to be a positive addition to my life. I am also very lucky that those people were willing to make amends as well.
2. Was there dishonesty?
If someone betrays you or lies to you, with no accountability or remorse for their actions, you’re most probably better off without them. I decided that if people in my life purposely lied, I did not want to be around them. Honesty is my one deal breaker. However ugly the truth I would rather be respected enough to be given the opportunity to dissect the truth and make my decision thereafter. Knowing that in someone’s eyes you weren’t worthy of the truth, hurts more than the lie itself. It was my decision to not engage, and actively avoid people who had been dishonest with me, especially the ones who found no need to apologize or take accountability for their actions. It was my personal choice that in 2017 I did not want that draining energy in life.
3. Is the interaction valuable?
It may seem like an obvious question, but if you truly look at the people around you, how many of them do you spend time with out of habit, and how many add value to your life? How many of your friends and acquaintances are there for you when you need them? Do they call to see how you are, inquire about your day? Or have your interactions become superficial and forced?
If you have decided to disconnect with someone who added little value to your well-being, but rather drained you constantly, think hard about going back down that path. I evaluated this point long and hard before embarking on my making amends journey, and have learned that some bridges are better left broken.
Before I decided to start this journey, I had no illusions that my attempts at rebuilding bridges may not be welcomed, and I made my peace with it. Not everyone is meant to be a part of your life, or like you, and that is alright. The people who are in your life should enhance it, and those who do, will gravitate back towards you, even if you have to put some extra work into the reconciliation.
Originally published at medium.com