Broken and damaged relationships may often be in your thoughts, but the holidays always seem to bring these issues to the forefront of your mind. During a time when people are feeling more benevolent, you may feel the urge to reach out and offer or ask for forgiveness.

Truth be told, no matter the reason, it can be incredibly freeing to lift such a heavy burden so, if you are considering extending the olive branch, now is as good a time as any. Here are some tips for reaching out to loved ones:

Facing Fear

One of the greatest barriers to making amends is fear.  What are we afraid of?  Almost everything. Fear of being the one to take the first step.  Fear of rejection.  Fear of having to admit to making a mistake. Fear of letting go of resentment. Fear of trusting a specific person again. The magnitude of our fear should never be underestimated but find comfort in the fact that we all feel it. It’s normal to be scared so don’t let that stop you from doing what you feel is right.

Expect the Best, Prepare For the Worst

Without a healthy dose of optimism, you probably won’t try to make things right but don’t expect everyone else to be on the same page.  Your motive should be to take action because it is the right thing to do, not because you want something from the other person. They may not be ready to move on and you must prepare for that.  They could still reject you or react angrily or, worst case, they may have died during your separation.  Before you do anything, make sure that you will be okay with your actions regardless of the outcome.

Offer Forgiveness

We tend to find it easier to be the one asking for forgiveness but we struggle when it’s time to forgive someone else. Only offer forgiveness when you are truly ready to do so and move on.  It helps no one to say that you forgive them but continue to bring up their mistake on a regular basis.  You do not have to forget what happened but holding a grudge harms everyone involved, including yourself.

Find Common Ground

Chances are that, even after you’ve made amends, you will both continue to see the incident from your own perspectives.  Do not force your point of view and do not allow yourself to be forced to accept something that you believe is wrong.  Agree to disagree, find some common ground and focus on the millions of other things that exist in life.  Do you want to be right or do you want to be happy?

One of the greatest gifts you can give to yourself and/or others is the gift of forgiveness.  This year, consider lifting a heavy burden off of your shoulders and living a less fearful, angry life.