Enemies may seem an inevitable, painful part of life, but in many cases you can free yourself from all this stress and sorrow. Sure, you might be thinking, “Why the hell should I be the one to make amends when they started it?” And you might be right. But at what cost?
Turning a foe into a friend isn’t something you do for them as much as it is something you do for you.
Enemies aren’t born, they are made, even if unwittingly. And they can be unmade by following the 5 steps below.
Be Honest About Your Feelings
Before moving forward, I suggest you talk about what happened. What did they do to you to make you feel like they were your enemy? You need to tell them what they did exactly and how it made you feel. You can expect them to share their feelings about what happened in the exact same way. Use “I feel… statements” so they understand how their actions hurt you. Don’t accuse them of anything or try to place blame on them. That’s a surefire way to keep an enemy rather than turn them into a friend.
You Have to Forgive (But You Don’t Have to Forget)
In order for you both to move forward in your relationship, you both have to let go of what happened in the past. This doesn’t mean that you have to forget about it entirely; it just means that you have to forgive one another so you can start with a clean slate. It’s about taking the emotion and anger out of the picture and agreeing to move forward together.
Louisa May Alcott said, “It takes two flints to make a fire.” This means that you and your enemy are both responsible for the state of your relationship, so really think about the part you played. You can also try to relate to your enemy by looking for similarities between the two of you. Maybe you think they’re stubborn, but you could be stubborn too. Is it possible that the thing you don’t like about someone else is a quality you possess?
Think about why you are really mad at them. Did they break a promise they made to you? Have you ever broken a promise to anyone? Did they talk about you behind your back? Do you gossip about people? Can you really fault someone for something you’ve done or do on a regular basis? If you find that you’ve made mistakes in the relationship too, you need to apologize. When you apologize, you take “the high road.” It’s the mature choice to make.
You Won’t Like Everyone and Everyone Won’t Like You
Understand that not everyone will like you and you can’t like everyone. It’s just a fact of nature. But if you’re willing to compromise with someone you’ve declared an enemy, then that’ll be the first step towards sharing good times with that person in the future, and hopefully being able to call them a friend.
Bury the Hatchet
Did you know that the term “bury the hatchet” comes from an ancient tradition? “Burying the hatchet” refers to an Iroquois American Indian ceremony in which war axes or other weapons were literally buried in the ground as a symbol of newly made peace. Maybe one way of letting go of the situation would be to have each of you write down your feelings and then destroy those pieces of papers together. By going through the motions and actually destroying those negative anchors, you’ll attach a new, positive meaning to the situation.