Selfishness creates broken, torn lives. You probably have damaged people. When you wake up and realize the harm you have caused to the ones you love most, you have to discover what it takes to restore them to a loving relationship. Perhaps you have wounded your spouse or distanced your children from you.
First, if you have spent 10 years damaging a relationship, do not get upset when your damaged loved one does not suddenly recover because you apologized for being such an idiot. You will have to develop and restore love and trust over a long period of time until souls are whole again. You may have to do your part for years until you finally see the results. Fortunately, once you get it right, your relationship and that person’s life-worth will far exceed what they ever were.
Second, just spotting the problem is not enough. Once you realize that you and your spouse are in conflict, for example, it does no good to just notice the error. Pointing out a flat tire does not fix it; calling out a cold and unresponsive mate does not either. You have to know what to do and not make a big drama out of it. Change yourself and watch your relationship blossom.
Hurting people hurt people
During my teen years, my fascination with dogs drove me to read every book in the library about the canine species. While I learned a lot about feeding, grooming, and training dogs, the most remarkable book I stumbled across was a biography called Jellybean vs. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. It is the biography of a dog once named Jellybean who went berserk on his owner and attacked him. Instead of destroying the dog, the author of the book took him on as a project and deprogrammed him. At the end, the dog was a cuddly, loving pup again.
I know I have created volatile relationships in my little world. I could easily say that such a person should be put away or kept at a safe distance. However, to the extent that I can create tensions and hostility with others, so I can reverse my polarity and draw out harmony and love. It is not that any of us want bad relationships, it might be that we just do not realize what it takes to develop close ones.
Meisterfeld transformed this Jekyll-and-Hyde dog by slow, patient persistence. Any time any person came by Jellybean’s kennel the dog would snap and jump. The trainer would walk out each morning, whistle as if the dog was harmless, and drop in a meat treat. Then he would walk away. Day after day, he did this (I do not know how long because it has been about two decades since I read the book), until slowly the dog realized he was not a threat.
Eventually Jellybean began looking forward to seeing Meisterfeld. All he did was establish trust and show the dog he was not a threat. Can you imagine seeing the people who jump and snarl at you becoming people who skip around and wag to see you? Prove yourself safe by the consist presentation of the love of God. Show them that you have not just changed for a week, but a lifetime.
Human “love bait”
So, the meaty chunks Meisterfeld gave Jellybean will have to be replaced by something else if you are to re-socialize others to yourself. It might be food or other ways you can show them favor. Jellybean went nuts because his owner would smack at him in discipline. Once Jellybean recovered he joined society again as a new dog.
Your wounded loved ones will need you to set love before them on a consistent daily basis. How does your specific person feel loved? That’s what you need to do for him or her. It might help to understand love languages and speak them correctly. I present a short clip on it here: https://vimeo.com/49046769.
Changing your behavior so they can change their response
The owner of Jellybean had originally called the dog by a different name. Meisterfeld changed the dog’s name to help create a new identity for him. All the old stigmas came with that old name. It retained his old identity of hateful reactions to his demanding owner. Once the trainer changed the name and reprogrammed the dog, the owner was able to approach the dog on a new level.
Perhaps you and I could learn how to reprogram our broken relationships by using a new name. Instead of the old nickname for your loved one, maybe this restoration process calls for a new nickname or a more respectful one. With children, a parent could help stop the hostile relationship by ceasing from calling the child by all three names (as in “John Jacob Jingleheimer-Schmidt”).
We should also learn to be like God to others. He does not deal with us according to our faults but according to His great mercy. Rather than trying to change your loved one, just love him or her. Rebuild trust. Stop demanding. Lead, stop driving. Inspire.