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A Course in Miracles teaches that the holiest place on the planet is the healing of an ancient wound. Unfortunately, some broken relationships never mend because resentment and pride stand in the way of forgiveness. Those that do heal may be rapid or slow. In either case, a loving commitment is required by both persons. It takes time and timing to rebuild lost connections.

Step 1 – Willingness.  No one can force healing on another. The more someone is pushed to reunify, the more likely the other person will pull away. Willingness means both people feel ready to meet and start the healing process. Sometimes, one person must make more effort than the other. Consistently offering peace is one thing; force is another.

Time and space are essential balms for any wound. Attempting to resolve a conflict too soon is more likely to create a deeper wound. Stepping back until both people feel emotionally neutral can set the stage for productive discussion. Better to be uncomfortable in the waiting room for a short while than force communication that delays healing indefinitely.

When I was in the sixth grade, my best friend and I had a lasting fight. We went from seeing each other every day to over a week without communication. We were both too hurt (and too proud) to talk. All the coaxing by our parents and friends was useless. But once we missed more than hated one another, we were willing to speak. We had to be ready to start talking before anything productive could ever happen.

Step 2 – Forgiveness. The goal of any relationship is to learn and grow. Without forgiveness, there’s neither—the more resentment, the higher the walls.  Shutting ourselves off from the light of forgiveness prevents self-reflection and growth. If we can’t see where we’ve been wrong and be willing to let go of hurt, we stay stuck in the same patterns. Without growth, we’ll likely keep attracting the same personalities and repeat the same mistakes.

Conflict is inevitable in any relationship. When people hurt one another, they tend to put up walls. And instead of reaching more profound levels of intimacy, the connection becomes artificial and guarded, never fully loving or being loved. Forgiveness means you let go of your pain. You stop blaming anyone, especially yourself. You allow for mistakes and corrections, then do better next time. Of course, this doesn’t mean you stay in an abusive relationship that creates more harm than good. But when you walk away, you do so with mercy for the other instead of resentment.

Once my childhood best friend and I started talking and apologizing, I felt uplifted, like all toxic energy was removed. I realized that neither of us did anything wrong; we both made mistakes. To this day, I can’t recall the nature of those errors – forgiveness. The same holds true in my current relationships. Once I allow forgiveness, I need only use past mistakes to do better next time.

Step 3 – Trust. Trust is the result of feeling safe in a relationship. If a person is continually injured, they will learn distrust. Once that occurs, a loving bond is replaced with a trauma bond – reenacting the nightmare of the past again and again.

To build trust, you must stop the behavior that hurts the other person. Continuously doing something that repeatedly inflicts pain on someone is like randomly administering shock treatments. Eventually, the person will become numb or learn to avoid you altogether.

Safety and trust are basic in loving relationships. When we acknowledge and stop making mistakes, we demonstrate that we care enough about the connection to earn trust. If you want commitment and loyalty, you must offer it. No one gets there instantly – it’s reaching the other side of a conflict that builds genuine trust.

Even though my friend and I didn’t repeat the same mistakes, we knew not to hurt each other again. Once reunited, we were careful to be more respectful of each other’s vulnerabilities and frailties. Our sensitivity to one another built the kind of safety and trust that solidified our friendship.

Whether the relationship is with family, friends, business associates, or lovers, they are the most important gifts we will ever receive. It’s easy to be reckless and think people are easily replaced. Not so. A good friend is an invaluable asset, something to be treasured. So, whenever a wound occurs, let us remember to create the consciousness of willingness, forgiveness, and trust. It is far better to heal than go forth with armor that protects you from nothing other than your fear-based imagination.


Dr. Donna Marks has been an author, consultant, public speaker, and psychotherapist for over thirty years. She was licensed as a Mental Health Counselor in 1987 and then certified in Addiction, Gestalt Therapy, Hypnosis, Sex Therapy, and Psychoanalysis. She currently has a concierge psychotherapy practice in Palm Beach, Florida.
She has appeared on numerous podcasts and local television. She is the author of two books, Learn Grow Forgive – A Path to Spiritual Success, and Exit the Maze: One Addiction, One Cause, One Solution (revised), and winner of multiple book awards. Her next book, The Healing Moment: Seven Keys to Turn Messes into Miracles, will be released in 2023.

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