“Try? There is no try. There is only do or do not do.”
–Yoda, The Empire Strikes Back
I’m just back from seven weeks of vacation–time at home with my kids and my partner Karyn, a long road trip to Utah, Montana, Idaho and back, a visit to a lake with a group of great Santa Cruz families, and time to visit my mother in New Jersey with the kids, as we do every summer. I walked, I swam, I slept, I spent time with people I love. When I got home, I thought to myself, “I have such a nice sense of balance in my life right now. How can I possibly add work back into this picture?”
When I was sorting through all of the many emails that piled up while I was away, I came across one from a woman who visited my website and saw all kinds of resources for resolving relationships with others and she wasn’t at all sure that trying to work things out with “the other person in her life” was in her best interest. She asked me, “Isn’t reconciliation with yourself the most important thing?” And of course, I answered yes.
Before we can resolve a troubled relationship with someone else–either inside ourselves or directly with the other person–we have to find a place of peace and stillness inside ourselves. As long as we are filled with hurt, anger, blame, recriminations and judgments, we are still in the grip of the relationship, even if we haven’t spoken to the other person in years. It is only from a place of stillness that we can sift down to the truth that lives far below the storms of emotion and thinking that rage at the surface.
Peace must always be made inside ourselves first, and when we get to that place of inner calm and clarity, the correct course of action automatically makes itself clear. If you are currently in a place of agonizing over the “right” thing to do with a damaged relationship and you are “trying” to determine the best course of action–whether to initiate a reconciliation or pull back, whether to mend a relationship or let it go–you are not ready to act. As long as you are vacilating and trying to figure out which way to turn, you are not ripe for a decision.
Just outside our back gate, there are some railroad tracks, and along the tracks are the juiciest blackberries. The other day, I went out with my kids and some buckets and we picked enough berries for a cobbler. As you approach each blackberry bush, you see thorns and berries. There are berries that are red and tight and hard, berries that are black and plump and juicy, berries that are mushy and rotting on the vine, and every shade in between. If you try to pick the berries that aren’t ready, they resist and won’t come off. If you force them, they taste bitter and you have to spit them out. But the ripe berries slide off effortlessly in the palm of your hand. They are succulent and melt marvelously in your mouth. These are the ripe berries… ready to be harvested and enjoyed.
Sometimes in life, we try to pick the berries that aren’t ripe. We try to force ourselves to take an action we aren’t ready to take because we think it is the “right” thing to do. If it was really right for us, we would step forward and act. But when we’re still wavering, confused, conflicted, torn, or bouncing from one solution to another, then we’re not ready to make a decision. We haven’t found resolution on the inside. Finding peace inside first is how we become ripe for resolution.
When we make an attempt to reconcile from a place of panic, fear, anxiety or obligation, we rarely succeed. But when we do our inner homework, we ultimately reach a place where we can act from a place of balance and clarity–and that is when our efforts at building peace will bear the most fruit.
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© Laura Davis, 2002. This article may be distributed or reproduced as long as you include the author, the copyright and the following, “Laura Davis is the author of I Thought We’d Never Speak Again: The Road from Estrangement to Reconciliation (HarperCollins, April 2002). You can get a free “Am I Ready for Reconciliation?” Workbook or find out about her teleclasses at http://www.LauraDavis.net