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Rebuilding That Bridge

We always hear the saying, “Burning a bridge.”, usually associated with someone leaving a working relationship with an employer. But as we know, can happen in just about any relationship involving two human beings, maybe it’s a friend, a family member, teammate, coach, or even a parent.

I think about over my life and all the relationships created over the years, from a kid to high school, on to college, then vet school, and on to the real world of life in various towns. And I have had the great fortune of creating some very deep and meaningful relationships, and given my personality type, for me, it takes time to build relationships as my brain is looking to build deep intensely caring relationships. And throughout my life and marriage, my wife has had some challenges in various relationships be it work, friends, and even family. And in those challenges, there is always this lingering saying running through my head of, “don’t burn this bridge”. Meaning to not break a relationship with someone that can never be repaired or rebuilt. The resulting following statement goes something like, “because you never know when you may need them.”

The true test of this for Karen and I was when my wife and a group of people were let go from their jobs, and it is in those times in which the microwave anger can work at peak efficiency given the feeling of being dismayed or done wrong. And one’s instant anger reaction is to “not give a shit, and burn that bridge!” The feeling is ok and is natural, but one can’t let our anger towards someone or a situation control us. We must have the maturity to look past the anger and looks towards solutions and problem solving because our anger will only take us so far and usually in the wrong direction towards improving our situation or life.

For my wife, given her nature, it was an emotional time for both of us, but she looked past the anger and moved forward, which as you can imagine was an extreme challenge, but is what was best for her and us. It can be very very easy to “pour some gas on it, light a match, and burn that bridge”. And some individuals light that match and let it rip without fear and some even in jubilation. But for today, I want us to think about those situations we have experienced, seen, or done, and assess what true good was done from burning that bridge? Did it help? Did it solve the problem or situation? Did it do anything to advance me, or you, that person, or the other person on the other side of the bridge? That “I don’t give a shit!” attitude may feel good, but is that the mature thought process? The fact is, what we say matters. What we do, matters. Everything we do, it matters! And we were put on this earth to build relationships, not burn them. Our anger destroys relationships. It often controls us and our actions. Our anger can even destroy us.

The greatest aspect of all of this and my poor actions or your’s, is if you blew up a bridge, is you can build it back one piece at a time. Our greatest opportunities often come from our failures and we can’t fail to take that opportunity. Rebuilding a burned down bridge isn’t easy, but can be done through these simple steps.

1. Go to the other person with ultimate humility.

2. Tell them what all you did wrong.

3. Tell them you are sorry.

4. Ask them for forgiveness.

These steps may seem too obvious, too simple, and not enough, but they are the absolute starting points, because without doing these first, one at a time, brick by brick, rebuilding that bridge won’t occur. What burned down bridge have I reminded you of? Maybe it’s with your kid, your parent, your friend, or a former employer? Rebuild that bridge! Lose your anger, take back control of your maturity, and go rebuild that bridge through the 4 simple yet humbling steps!! It’s your time and in your control!! Don’t waste it!!

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