7 Steps For Mending A Family Feud

02/02/2015 02:01 am ET | Updated Apr 07, 2016
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Is there a rift in your family that is ripping your loved ones apart? Whether the incident happened decades ago or just last week, do you really want to lose someone you love over it? If you have not been able to forgive, forget or even speak to a relative because of a disagreement, consider these tips from Dr. Phil:

1. Get to the root of what caused the rift.
Have you really uncovered what the issue is that has you fighting so bitterly? You can’t move forward until you get to the bottom of when and how it all began. For example, do you think you’re fighting over money — but really there is a decade of jealousy that needs to be addressed? Do you blame the problem on a new boyfriend, when in fact your sibling left you feeling betrayed long ago? Once you determine the true reason you’re fighting, it will be easier to start the healing process.

2. Step into the other person's shoes.
"No matter how flat you make a pancake, it’s still got two sides," says Dr. Phil. Try to see the other person's side of the story and make an effort to understand why he acted the way he did. Try not to judge; instead, look at the situation from a bird’s eye view. Conversely, examine your role in the feud. Are you as innocent as you may claim? Ask yourself what you did to contribute to the problem. Did you do or say something hurtful? Did you promise something and then back out of your agreement — even if it was for a valid reason? Keep in mind the other person probably has some valid points that you need to weigh and consider.

3. Consider the effects on the rest of the family.
Are there other family members or children caught in the middle? Think of the unnecessary stress you may be putting on them. For example, if you are at odds with a sibling, imagine the impact it could have on your parents. Don’t they deserve the peace of mind that comes from knowing that their family is unified and intact? Or, if you’re at odds with your parents, how is that impacting your other siblings? It’s not all about you; you’re part of a larger family unit.

4. Choose to forgive.
Forgiveness is a choice, Dr. Phil says. Don't wait for a feeling of forgiveness to wash over you suddenly; you have to choose it. Holding onto a grudge will only eat you up inside and cause more family rifts. The only thing worse than not speaking to a family member for a year is not speaking to him for a year and one day. The past is over. The future hasn't happened yet. The only time is right now.

5. Stand up and be the hero.
Sometimes, relationships need a hero — someone who makes the first move, chooses to be the bigger person, is willing to compromise, or step up and start the healing. Swallow your pride and be that person. Think about what the future holds if you do not mend this relationship. There comes a point where you have to stop blaming each other, you have to stop judging each other, and you have to say to yourself, "What can I do today to make this relationship better?"

6. Extend the olive branch.
Take responsibility for your actions and offer an apology. Explain why this relationship is important to you and affirm your love for the other person. Ask yourself, if your family member died suddenly, what would be left unsaid? In a perfect world, if you could write the script of your life, what would your relationship with that person be like? Start creating that relationship now.

7. Begin to heal the relationship.
Agree to spend some time together, but create boundaries by agreeing that you're not allowed to bring up the source of the feud for at leat 90 days. Take those 90 days to focus on reconnecting and rebuilding the relationship instead, even if it means you need to start with some superficial conversations while you both get back on solid footing with one another. Start talking about things that don’t matter, because if you can’t learn to talk about things that don’t matter, you’ll never be able to talk about things that do matter. After 90 days, examine the issue. Hopefully you'll have found some middle ground, and the value of the relationship will be more important by then.

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