Have you ever experienced trouble healing a rift with someone that you care about?

You feel like you’ve tried everything you can to work something out with someone and it hasn’t helped.

The tension still remains, you still want to connect, but the other person really just wants to sweep things under the rug.

On a Monday night membership call last month, someone asked this question, and wanted to know what to do when each person’s memories of “what happened” were so different from one another.

How do we connect in situations like this?

Is the past really ever in the past?

Although it can be important to accept what the other person is asking for and to honor their boundaries and preferences, there are times when we really want to attempt to reconnect and heal the pain (yet again) – especially when we feel like we are in a different place yourself than we were the last time we tried to talk about things.

To offer you a few ideas and principles that might help you in times like this, I clipped out a few sounds bites from that call. Listen below to discover:

  1. Why getting to “shared reality” about past events is NOT the most fruitful path you can take (and what to focus on instead)

  2. Offer you some examples of what I tried

  3. And then made you a list of the specific skills that I was modeling.

Skills you can draw upon:

  1. “So you really wanted more choices ….” Reflect back the NEEDS that are important to the other person. (Avoid reflecting back what they think.)

  2. As you’re remembering that …” or “when you remember … “ Reflect back the way they remember things, as their memories; that way you honor the dignity of both memories and our (flawed) meaning-making systems.

  3. “I’m imagining that…” provides self-ownership of my own memories, and also a soft way to speculate something that may or may not be accurate

  4. “It sounds like … is that true?” Make the implict+interpreted, explicit+named and then check it out with the other person.

  5. “Can you give me an example of what I said or did…” Grounds the conversation in concrete behaviors and helps to avoid diagnoses and character assassinations

  6. “It would help me to know …” Gets your agenda and intention transparently on the table and lets the person know why you’re asking

  7. “I have such a longing for more ease, peace…” Reveal your own needs and desires (keep any demanding tone out of there!!)

  8. “I want [us to be able to really get what happened for each other] … and haven’t been good at doing this in the past” State what you are aiming for, your grand, better vision of how things could be, and then own the ways in which YOU haven’ been able to do this in the past.

  9. “Can I check back in a few hours/days…” “I don’t want to this to be on my terms only…” See this conversation as one in a series of conversations, instead of putting pressure on getting it all fixed in one conversation. Offer space, time, co-creation to the other person as explicitly as you can.

Which of these skills do you find most difficult to do? What makes it difficult for you to heal long-standing pain? What has helped?

I’d love to know, leave a comment below!