Archive for the ‘Reconciliation’ Tag

THE CUTTING ROOM FLOOR   Leave a comment

I’m happy to say I have finally carved out time to dig into editing “My Father’s House.” Lots of pieces landing on the cutting room floor as I try to reduce 800 pages to more acceptable size. But it means I’m neglecting other things, like my blog Seminar. I know I left you with instructions on how not to reconcile, and I won’t really relax until I focus on the “¨How to…”

In the meantime, I want to share this piece from the Sojourner’s message of a few days ago.

“… Let us be quick to welcome and slow to judge. May our faith be accessible to all and our relationships a testament to [the] beloved community.”



Posted February 24, 2019 by Mona Gustafson Affinito in Uncategorized

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BACK TO THE SEMINAR   8 comments

Forgive me for the long delay. I’ve been busy preparing and giving an in-person presentation on reconciliation at Mount Calvary Lutheran Church in Excelsior, Minnesota, on Wednesday, February 13. You might be interested to know an answer I gave there to the question “Why?”

So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go: first be reconciled to your brother or sister and then come and offer your gift.” Mathew 5: 23-24

It’s the biblical way of saying you can’t enjoy the blessing of internal peace if you are harboring anger over a damaged relationship. It’s another way of emphasizing the importance of removing the impediment from your own eye before trying to straighten someone else out.

The point is, reconciliation requires coming together in one way or another with the other person(s). It’s a two-way street. Except when the other person refuses to engage. Then the reconciliation requires engaging oneself internally in working through the hurt and anger.

For now, though, I’d like to talk about initiating the connection. It’s important to know the outcome you hope for …  and how likely it is that you’ll get what you’re looking for. Do you want a response? What might it be? An offer to meet and talk? An agreement to follow through on the direct action you’ve requested? Or even for the person to realize there’s a problem in the first place? Are you creating more pain and anger for yourself by imagining an unlikely response, the absence of which will leave you disappointed (and even angrier?)

Or what if you just want to express your anger. If you do that and stop there, it’s guaranteed you’ll accomplish two things – hurt the other person, and encourage defensiveness, denial, and/or retaliation.

But if hurting the other person is what you want, here are the rules for doing it.

  • Create a triangle. Try to get a third person to deliver your message for you. Or maybe bring in someone else as in, “And Mary Jane agrees with me, too.”
  • Don’t respond if the person reaches out to you
  • Send a letter – snail mail or e-mail – with no opportunity for the recipient to respond. End it with something like, “I just had to tell you how I feel.”
  • Make sure you blame the person.
  • Make sure you imply that you are blameless.
  • Maybe offer a diagnosis to explain the other person’s misdeed, as, for example, “You always were good at being passive aggressive” or “I have to understand that you can’t help being like that, given what I know about your upbringing.”
  • Avoid the Jennie rule. Jennie, my mother, one of those people who qualifies as a natural confident – one whom other people felt comforted by – recommended “Always put the best construction on all your neighbor’s actions.” That doesn’t mean making excuses or accepting abuse. It means there’s always another side. Finding it is the essence of love. It’s also the best route to understanding and potentially resolving a painful issue. Or maybe realizing that it’s time to give up. So, if what you want is to hurt the other person, then don’t invoke the Jennie rule.
  • Finally, and above all, if you want to avoid reconciliation, don’t communicate directly with the other person.

Maybe you can tell from reading this that I’d rather be talking with you in person, watching your reaction, coming up with spontaneous stories to illustrate my point. But I hope these thoughts are of some help.

And, to tell the truth, I hope you won’t apply any of the rules I’ve given above.

I’ll be back soon with the more positive side of the story, but maybe you can guess what will go into the next section: “What to do if you want to reconcile.”

I’d love to hear your reactions to this.




Now that we’re thinking about it, what is reconciliation anyway? The answer to “why” depends first of all on knowing what reconciliation means in the particular case. My thesaurus has some interesting answers, the first of which is “Settlement.” Under that it lists the following as equivalents for “reconciliation:”

  • Understanding
  • Resolution
  • Compromise
  • Reunion
  • Ceasefire
  • Appeasement
  • Bringing together
  • The opposite of Conflict

I think this list is as good as any as a jumping off point to answer the question “Why?” Why strive for reconciliation?

I’d like first to focus on “settlement.” Yes, I know the definition refers originally to money settlement, the payment of debts. But I’m choosing to take the psychological/emotional route. Reconciliation doesn’t even become an issue until something unsettling, disturbing, stressful happens, or creeps into one’s awareness. It’s the feeling that someone else owes you something and refuses to pony up. How quickly do we get to “He owes me an apology, or a change of attitude, or cooperation, – or at least an explanation.” If such is not forthcoming, there’s a good chance anger will follow. How good it would feel to get even – to tell the offender off. How about a nice angry e-mail? “There. That’s settled.”

But is it really? What about the recipient who, chances are, will not be happy to receive that hurtful anger? Would it really be enough just to make the other guy unhappy? Nope. There’s no settlement there. Just an increase in the pain total. Settlement and stress reduction and pain relief won’t follow.

So, why reconciliation? One potential reason, because unilateral vengeance won’t make the pain go away – unless, of course, one enjoys another’s distress. They call that sadism.

And, of course, there’s no opportunity to receive the apology or explanation if other people have been turned off, or the reciprocal desire to hurt gets turned on.

Conclusion, reconciliation requires a genuine desire to reduce distress. Something more than one-sided spewing of anger is needed for settlement. It seems to me that’s where “understanding” comes in.

Oh, but now what does “understanding” mean?

Or maybe it’s not anger that erupts, but despair that depresses. “I give up. There’s nothing more I can do.” Maybe settlement can’t happen between living people. Maybe the other person isn’t willing, or isn’t even capable of responding, as in having an issue with someone who has completed the earthly journey. Maybe the settlement can only be internal.

“Understanding” can still help. The stress can still be reduced. Next time I’d like to introduce “Jennies rule.”

In the meantime, are some of you willing to give examples of what “settlement” would mean to you?




Thanks to Victoria and Sheryl for their comments – my jumping off point for today. Victoria expressed the hope that people would share more stories. I am so hopeful that her wish will be met that I’ll start this brief entry by sharing a story of my own. As for Sheryl’s comment about avoiding accusations, I will add one more thing by way of my own story. Don’t start off by accusing oneself.

My story? I’ll change it a little bit to protect the innocent – including me. Our relationship had been a long one, and our current rift was deep. So deep that she threatened to go away mad. In my “wisdom” I arranged for us to meet and talk in neutral territory – a quiet booth in a restaurant that had just enough noise to cover our conversation for privacy’s sake and public enough to discourage voice-raising. “So, what are we supposed to do?” she said. “Well,” I responded (in my mistaken “wisdom”), “let’s just start talking about it. For example, I’ll admit that I was always somewhat jealous of you.”

“Oh,” she responded. “That explains it,” as she reached for the menu preparing to order. End of conversation. Well, sort of. I found other ways to keep it going, but it was in no way a successful reconciliation.

The lesson? Maybe you can tell me. I do realize that by “confessing” I had, from her point of view, reached the end of the conversation as soon as it started. So, Sheryl, the recommendation — don’t start out being accusatory – even if it’s directed toward oneself.

Now (in my “wisdom”) I realize that the opening step has to be a simple appeal to a reason for working at reconciliation. For example, opening with, “I really miss you.” Or maybe, “Could we get together to talk about what happened?” or possibly, “I’m really unhappy with this bad feeling between us. Could we get together over coffee and talk about it?”

To tell the truth, I like “I really miss you,” or a variant. It’s an opener, not a closer. And it doesn’t involve too many words. Too many words spoil the possibilities. For example, proposing to talk about “what happened,” could evoke the response, “What do you mean, ‘what happened?'” and you are suddenly on the defensive.

So, what do you say? Are you willing to give Victoria and me some examples of how you started the process of reconciliation? Or of how someone else started it with you?




I love it when I find some extra wisdom to introduce into the seminar. See what you think of this guest. I think you’ll find her helpful. (Copied from the Optimist Daily)

10 Habits Of Emotionally Resilient People

Amita Patel

Ever notice how some people are stressed during transitions while others can just roll with the punches? It all comes down to emotional resilience. While some of it may be biological, there are ten traits that you can start cultivating today to start living life with less resistance and more ease:

Here are ten things that emotionally resilient people do when faced with a difficult situation:

1. Wait for what’s right instead of acting on what you want right now.

Yup, just like the classic Stanford marshmallow experiment, this is about impulse control — the ability to stop and consider whether you want to act on a desire. For example, when a family member makes you angry, your immediate response might be to lash out. However, impulse control allows you to pause and assess whether that’s really the best course of action in the long run. Delaying gratification and controlling our urges allows us to choose actions that align with our best intentions.

2. Sit with discomfort.

Similar to the above tip, those who are emotionally resilient are able to tolerate discomfort. Remember that thing you said out of anger? Or out of hunger? How would that response have been different if you had tolerated your discomfort for an hour? While tip one was about choosing the best action, this is about sitting with an emotion without taking any action.

3. Get some perspective.

If you’ve ever said to yourself, “Hindsight is 20/20” then you recognize the possibility that it may be true for your current situation. Often, when we’re in the trenches, it’s hard to see the bigger picture. Sometimes things happen for you, not TO you. What seems painful now might actually be the gift you couldn’t give yourself.

4. Practice acceptance.

Acceptance is not the same as complacence. It’s not about giving up and letting the stress take over — it’s about experiencing your emotions and trusting that you’ll bounce back.

5. Remember the power of time.

The emotionally resilient remember that time heals all wounds. People who have a tendency to feel depressed often fear spiraling back into it, but feeling an emotion is not the same as getting caught in it. Think back to the last time you felt like this. You may have thought it was the end of the world, but you recovered. The same is true now.

6. Let go of having all the answers right now.

Often, when we try hard to find answers to challenging questions, we unknowingly put our blinders on. We are so consumed with having answers on our schedule that we forget that we only receive when we are ready. The emotionally resilient remember that it’s okay to not have it all figured out.

7. Engage in self-care.

Emotionally resilient people know that self-care is a non-negotiable. It’s a daily practice and commitment to self that strengthens their inner resolve. Ranging from exercise, to meditation, to a cup of tea, the resilient have go-to stress busters that don’t involve hitting the bottle.

8. Laugh it off.

Sometimes things just suck, and you simply need to laugh it off. Humor goes a long way.

9. Choose to be happy above being right.

Emotionally resilient people know that being right is not what will make them happy. Sure, it’s nice to be right, but it’s better to be happy. Ask yourself if picking a fight is really worth it. Are you fighting to resolve the situation, or fighting to win it? In any moment you can choose what’s more important to you: the relationship or your pride.

10. Instead of focusing on what’s wrong, the resilient focus on what’s right.

Remember, where attention goes, energy flows. So why not cultivate more of what you want instead of what you don’t. There’s always something to be thankful for.

Ultimately, emotional resilience is all about attitude. By practicing these ten responses to stress, you’ll be able to spend more time living with ease and grace, spending more time in the light with fleeting moments of darkness!


Well, there wasn’t much interaction in response to my first posting. Oh well, there is a lesson to be learned. Reconciliation requires connection. Perhaps a blog entry isn’t an effective way to connect. Or maybe there isn’t much interest in reconciling. That would be too bad, but maybe people really would rather hang on to anger and resentment while sacrificing a relationship.

I think this was a nice example of the difficulty making a connection, which is, of course, the first step. That step, though, can be pretty uncomfortable with lots of things standing in the way. So, instead of being positive, I’m focusing here on some things that prevent  establishing the connection that leads to reconciliation.

Once upon a time it wasn’t possible to “tell someone off” without being at least face to face, or maybe phone to phone. Now if you want to vent your anger, all you need to do is send an e-mail. That way you don’t have to see the humanity in your target’s face.

Back in my college days, it used to be possible to act on second thoughts. It was probably a daily occurrence that the mailman (sic) found at least one girl waiting by the drop box to plead to have her angry letter recovered. Second thoughts. But that e-mail, once out there, is committed.

So, what about sending the e-mail? Under any circumstances, it should be policy to think about the purpose of your message. If reconciliation is your goal, then there has to be an opening for further communication. In that case, it’s a good idea to follow my mother’s (and grandmother’s) advice and assume there is good in the other person. That assumption would require avoiding “you” statements.

If the goal is to cause pain for the person who has become your enemy, then use lots of “you” statements. The word “you” doesn’t have to appear in the sentence, but it is conveyed when blame is placed without any recognition that there may be imperfection on both sides. Reread the e-mail. Have you said something like You were wrong. You had no reason to do what you did. How could you be so thoughtless? I never guessed you were that kind of person.

 Another variant on the “you” statement is attributing motive to your “enemy” as if it were fact. You only did that because you have no ability to understand how other people feel. Or maybe, you were just using me to get back at someone else. Or, worse yet, it might be attribution of a personality characteristic. Obviously you were being passive aggressive.

“You” statements are pretty sure to hurt the recipient. If that’s the goal, then there’s no sense even talking about reconciliation. The victim of the accusation(s) has very few options: be silent, be defensive, or retaliate. None of those things work to heal the relationship.

So, what are the practical lessons?

  1. Count higher than ten; think carefully about your goal; if you want to cause pain for the other person, as in “I don’t get mad; I get even” then vent your anger with no opening for a positive response.
  2. If you want to avoid reconciliation, then be accusatory. Demean, accuse, blame your chosen opponent.
  3. If you are not up to confronting the person whose actions hurt you, then consider avoidance. It won’t add to your comfort – or heal the connection –or make you feel better about yourself. But maybe it will be better for your new “enemy.”

Here we have a page of ways to prevent reconciliation. And this seminar is supposed to be about ways to encourage reconciliation. So, I call on you. Any positive lessons to be applied?



Are you settled in and ready? I’m sorry I can’t see all of you, so I hope you’ll let me know you’re out there. And here’s the first question for those of you who are willing to participate.

When was a time that you experienced reconciliation with someone – a friend, family member, co-worker, member of your worship family, person in your book study group, someone you bumped into on the street, or whoever I’ve missed?  If you are willing to describe the entire circumstance, that would be most welcome. If you’d rather keep that part secret, a report of what went down with the reconciliation and how you felt about it would be most welcome.

I’ll start out with Hallie and me and our adjacent back yards – a friendship that began when we were at the tricycle stage, or maybe even earlier. It ended when she died at the age of 70. We fought a lot – of course – usually ending with one or the other leaving the yard in anger, often determined never to have anything to do with each other ever again. As you might guess, we couldn’t sustain that for long, and one of us would break down first, shouting from our own yard, “C’mon over and play.” And that was that.

Most examples aren’t that simple. But how did it feel to me? It felt right! That awful sense of grief and tight anger was gone. Life was normal again.

So, what other kinds of answers might one get – more grown-up things?

I called my friend to say I was sorry, but she hung up on me. I tried several times until she decided to talk to me. We talked a lot. Finally, it was like we were back to normal.

Or: She continued to hang up on me. I felt sad to lose her, but relieved that I had done what seemed like the right thing.

I really wanted to tell him off! Better yet, I wanted to tell everybody else how awful he was, but my grandmother had taught my mother who taught me, “If you can’t say something nice about someone, don’t say anything at all.” I felt better about myself for avoiding doing the wrong thing, but still unhappy. So I sent him an e-mail asking him to apologize. He didn’t. So I got really mad and sent him one back telling him how awful he was. That didn’t help much. He just got even madder. We never did reconcile, and I never did feel good when we ran into each other.

My boss infuriated me, but she had the power, so I kept my mouth shut – well, sort of – I couldn’t help telling my friends and co-workers how awful she had been. Some of them sided with her. Some sided with me. There was no reconciliation and I finally left the job, because I couldn’t stand it.

When we were divorced, we were both so angry we even argued in front of people at the grocery store. Our friends didn’t know what to do – whom to stay with and whom to abandon. I finally decided to remember what I had loved about him, and to start telling stories of when the relationship was good. I don’t know how much good it did in influencing friends, but I felt a lot better about myself.

Or maybe:  It reached the point where we both started doing the same thing and our friends got more comfortable around us – even with the new spouses we eventually acquired.

Get the idea? Please share your story to help get the seminar off the ground.

(Of course, knowing me, you can expect I’ll be carrying on even if you don’t)







Posted January 5, 2019 by Mona Gustafson Affinito in Uncategorized

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Inspired by a recent sermon, I’m working on developing a workshop on Reconciliation. Sermons can be inspiring, but the real question is how to do it.

What I mean by reconciliation in this context is the reestablishment of a peaceful, friendly, or even loving connection between parties in a relationship who have allowed unresolved hurt to fester into toxic anger.

To tell the truth, though, right now I’m wrapped up in lots of turning-of-the year stuff, so I’m postponing the specific points until I get home and settled in a few days.

Hint: reconciliation is virtually impossible if anger allows itself expression without a means of keeping the connection alive. In other words, ask what is the purpose of lashing out with rage. Has space been left for the object of the tirade to respond in a way that keeps the channels comfortably open? Or is there no choice but silence, or returned anger, or abject abasement?

In the meantime, this borrowed article seems like a sensitive preamble.

6 Mental Habits of People Who Manage Their Emotions Remarkably Well

When anger rises to the surface, they don’t react–they respond.

By Marcel SchwantesPrincipal and founder, Leadership From the Core@MarcelSchwantes

Anger is one powerful human emotion. It is also a very normal human emotion that needs to be expressed in a healthy way. But there’s a place and time for appropriate anger, and we all have to learn how to manage it before it escalates.

That takes emotional intelligence — the ability to exercise self-awareness to understand the situation from multiple angles and self-control to see things through other filters before pulling the anger-trigger.

When anger comes knocking, and it will, we have to know how to deal with it appropriately. If mismanaged, it can take down company morale and sabotage your ability to lead and collaborate well.

Here are six habits of people that manage theirs remarkably well.

1. They put boundaries on people who make them angry.

Having healthy boundaries means you’re assertive enough to confront and set limits on a particular person violating your physical or emotional boundaries. It’s saying to yourself, “I’m not going to allow this person to push my buttons, take advantage of this situation, or disrespect my authority,” and then following through on it.

2. They get to the bottom of why they’re really angry.

Emotionally intelligent people realize the reason for their anger may run deeper than what they’re experiencing on the surface. They probe, process, do a deep dive, and ask themselves, “What’s really beneath my anger?” By stepping back and looking at root causes, you’ll soon realize that your anger is really a reaction to whatever is disturbing you, usually something unresolved at the bottom of your pile — feelings of anxiety, worry, fear of failure, etc. These are the primary emotions you need to deal with as you contemplate how to make payroll when cash isn’t flowing. Anger is always the trigger and a secondary emotion. So what’s really bugging you? Get honest with yourself after some processing. Then tell yourself with brutal honesty, “The real reason I’m angry is … ”

3. They respond, they don’t react.

Chuck Swindoll once said, “The longer I live, the more convinced I become that life is 10 percent what happens to us and 90 percent how we respond to it.” Emotionally intelligent people have the advantage because they assess a situation, get perspective, listen without judgment, and hold back from reacting head on. It may mean making the decision to sit on a decision. By thinking over your situation rationally, without drama, you can arrive at other, more sane, conclusions. Here are three ways people with emotional intelligence respond when reaching the boiling point:
  • They know when they’re being triggered and will walk away and come back when they’re in better space.
  • They acknowledge their anger and proceed to talk to someone to get better perspective and understanding on the situation.
  • They are self-aware enough to consider the potential consequences of having lost control of their emotions.

4. They take a six-second pause.

Why six seconds? The chemicals of emotion inside our brains and bodies usually last about six seconds. During a heated exchange, if we can pause for a short moment, the flood of chemicals being produced slows down. When you are frustrated or upset, before you say something harsh, this precious pause helps you to quickly assess the costs and benefits of that, and other, action. Applying this consequential thinking in the moment helps you to make more careful choices.

5. They are the first to reach out after an argument.

The tendency for so many of us is to let anger and resentment fester after an argument or misunderstanding, and then cut off the person from our lives until he or she reaches out to us with an apology. Sure, that’s convenient. But it’s also just plain dumb. A person with emotional intelligence doesn’t let her ego have its way at the expense of losing a friend. She’ll be the first to reach out to make amends, even if it means apologizing first. That humble and courageous act will do wonders for the relationship.

6. They shift to the positive.

Lets face it: After a heated exchange, anger doesn’t just disappear at the snap of a finger. If steam is still rising from your head hours after an argument, make a conscious and intentional effort to shift to the positive. Here are two things you can do:

  • Have a gratitude meditation. Take out a piece of paper and spend two minutes making a list of all the things you’re grateful for in the last 24 hours. Positive psychologist Shaw Achor says if you do this simple exercise for 21 straight days, you’ll be training your brain to scan for positives instead of negatives. This activity is the fastest way to teach optimism and it will significantly improve your optimism even six months later.
  • Practice empathy. Choose to look at someone who has wronged you in another light; imagine what challenging circumstances that person may be facing that caused his or her own angry reaction. In empathy, you understand someone else’s frustration, knowing in your mind that those emotions are every bit as real as your own. This uncanny ability to understand and share the feelings of another helps develop perspective and opens team members to helping one another.
TIP SHEET | 1:44
Everything You Need to Know About Emotional Intelligence
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Let us of the various Abrahamic communities gather as a society at the Well of the Living   8 comments

A long, powerful, beautiful, and hopeful thought for the day. This is what we need in these terribly troubled times, a story of reconciliation of the sons of Abraham. ben-ghazi-yom-kippur.

I promise, more Ireland photos to come, but some things are more urgent.

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