The speaker’s message was clearly meant for me. “Don’t bury the hatchet with the handle sticking out.” I was convinced that I had buried the hatchet in a very painful disagreement with a family member, but this advice made me realize that I still knew where the handle was. I hadn’t completely forgiven this person and it would be much too easy to grab that handle and resurrect all those negative emotions.
This concept originated with two Native American chiefs who buried their hatchets when they agreed to end a conflict. Think of all the energy required to constantly butt heads or avoid someone. Better to spend your energy burying the hatchet and the handle. You can start by:
- Forgiving – acknowledge both parts in the conflict and commit to forgiving the other person unconditionally.
- Identifying what you have in common – a shared goal or a common adversary, perhaps a competitor.
- Taking responsibility – “I would really like for us to find a way to work together more effectively. What can I do to make that easier?”
- Accepting neutral – turning an enemy into a friend doesn’t happen overnight, but getting them from negative to neutral is a good first step. Just don’t stop there.
I invite you to ask yourself whether you might be holding onto something – would it be better off buried?