Healing Wounded Relationships: How to Start

Healing Wounded Relationships

Now Brexit and the US election are over, we need to work on healing wounded relationships. Whoever has won, the world goes on and the losers, winners, and bystanders have to find a way to move on.

When there has been a great deal of anger and bitterness and when hate has entered our hearts, how can we heal? Do we even want to work on healing wounded relationships? Why not just cut the fraying ties? Sometimes we can cut them, but if half the country thinks differently from us, we’re going to have to learn how to heal some relationships…

No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent.
John Donne

Put your own oxygen mask on first

Before we work on healing wounded relationships, we need to heal our own wounds. If we are hurt, angry and in pain, we cannot help others as well. Remember what they say in the safety drill “put your own oxygen mask on first.” If you are a positive cheerful person, you may deny your anger and hurt–“I’m fine, really, I’m not angry, hurt or upset.” Research has shown that if you deny your own pain, fear or anger, it will leak out in sarcasm, sabotage or illness.

So take a moment to

  • Recognise your own wounds. Admit to yourself (or to a trusted friend or professional) that you feel hurt, sad or mad.
  • Accept that you have a right to these feelings now, but don’t want to be trapped by them forever
  • Think about what you can do to heal yourself without anyone else’s intervention
  • Be kind to yourself. Put things in place to ease your suffering. Or punch a pillow, go for a run, whatever works for you. Once you are feeling calmer and less in pain, you will be able to think more clearly
  • Think about what was good and helpful and positive about the relationship. What do you have in common? Set out the pros and cons.
  • Choose what you want to do about the relationship. If you want to end the relationship, it’s important to do it right. If you choose to try and heal the relationship,  set out what you could do and what you are willing to do. Think about the best possible outcome for both of you and what you could do to make it happen.

If  you decide on healing

Realise that the other person is also feeling hurt and may not be ready for your approach. We don’t know what others are thinking or feeling, so we need to approach gently and tentatively. It’s important to show respect and thoughtfulness. A full and heartfelt apology is often the best start. If you’re thinking “But it wasn’t my fault”, then you may need some more time or help to heal your own wounds. (Read more on forgiveness here)

Apologizing does not always mean you're wrong and the other person is right. It just means you value your relationship more than your ego.


Start tentatively by talking about what you value about the relationship you had and what you like about the person.

Ask what they need to help heal


Offer what you can do to help heal.

Give it time. Show that the relationship and they matter. It will take longer to repair and rebuild trust. If you’d like to talk it through, you can book a complimentary confidential chat here.