If you have spent a lot of time reflecting during this coronavirus pandemic, you are not alone.
In fact, moments of reflection or contemplation are very normal responses to any significant event you go through, including something like COVID-19.
Psychologists say that all the time we’ve been cooped up has created a lot more space and time to think, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
“Reflection is one of the things that is a positive by-product of us all being a little isolated and having more time for ourselves, more time to think,” said clinical psychologist Nicola Palfrey of the National University of Australia.
For many, those “annoyances” lead them down the path of past relationships; Often these are friendships that have been broken and people who are still missing each other.
So why is that the case?
“People often reflect on past relationships and friendships when something important happens in their lives,” said Vivienne Lewis, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Canberra.
“It could be the death of a loved one, the interstate movement, or the career change … that makes people start reflecting on who they’ve been close to and who they could connect with at the time.”
“It is this loss of social connection that naturally reminds us of past relationships that could have been broken, and that we may still be grieving.”
In fact, the pain of breaking a friendship is well documented; It has been compared to a romantic break, the cutting of a limb or even death, hence the notion of mourning.
In thinking about why friendships are such special and fundamental relationships, Dr. Palfrey said it was because friends filled a void that others often could not.
“We already know the importance of connection for our mental health and well-being,” he said.
“Friendships offer a perspective on your life that other relationships do not: your friends know you differently than your mother, brother or partner.”
After all, a friend is the person you’re most likely to seek comfort from after saying something silly at a Zoom meeting, or laughing after watching multiple episodes of your favorite TV show.
“Shared history is another great thing,” said Dr. Palfrey.
“Friends can help you get back in touch with another side of you: If you’ve lost some of your enthusiasm, a friend may remind you that he used to be a fighter. He’s often a friend you call when he’s done.
So if your mind is still wandering towards that friend with whom you have lost contact, or towards a friendship that has been broken, how should you communicate?
What to do if you need to apologize to a friend
One of the most difficult relationships to repair may be one where you know, deep down, that you were responsible for the fracture. It takes a little bit of humility, a little bit of patience and a little bit of bravery.
But whether it’s a swear word, a pattern of taking someone for granted, or a fight over a love interest, Dr. Palfrey has some wise advice.
“The first thing to mention is that you don’t want to get caught hitting yourself,” he said.
“There are relationships that increase and decrease over time, that happens to all of us.
“If your friendship has naturally faded, that’s not necessarily a big problem. But if you’re bothering it, you’ll miss them, or if you don’t like how it ended, if you want to restore or repair, that’s where there may be some benefit in arriving. “
If you feel like you need to apologize for something that happened during your friendship, both Dr. Palfrey and Dr. Lewis suggest an initial response from your friend to see if they are willing to speak to you.
That means there are no cold calls to let out an apology over the phone, no matter how well you have rehearsed what you want to say.
“Most of the time, when you’ve had a breakup in a relationship, the best way to repair that breakup is to come slowly,” Lewis said.
“First send a text message or an email, saying you would like to chat. Give them a chance to think about your response.”
If your friend agrees to talk to you, it’s always best to try to apologize in person. But, if coronavirus restrictions mean that is not possible for you right now, Dr. Lewis said that talking on the phone or video calling would work, too.
“With things like email or text, people often respond to something that may not be very thoughtful, and it’s a little less personal,” Lewis said.
“In person, people are more likely to be able to communicate more effectively. You can evaluate their response, you can hear or see it, while in an email you don’t get that.”
Be sure to check your motivations
When you apologize, it is important to do so without expectations.
“You must take ownership and responsibility for your place in what happened,” said Dr. Palfrey.
“Don’t say ‘I’m sorry, but …’ – don’t put it on probation. You must be willing to own your things and be aware that you may not get the same back.
“It should be checked a little bit: if you are trying to apologize to them or if you are trying to prove yourself right, think again about getting in touch.”
Dr. Lewis said you should also be careful if guilt is your only motivation to get closer.
“Are you doing it to make yourself feel better or for someone else to heal?” she asked.
“For all of us, we can feel a lot of guilt when we have done things or hurt people. Often apologizing or reaching out is a way to resolve their guilt. But that’s about you.”
If you realize that you don’t have the best motivations to reconnect with your friend, but your mind keeps going back to collapse, there are a few things you can do.
Dr. Palfrey suggested sitting down with the situation for a moment “if you think there are things that need to be said but you can’t do it productively right now.”
“Wait, and try to communicate again at a time when you feel a little better about it,” he said.
Or, of course, seeing a psychologist can be helpful; You can also try writing a letter that you will never send.
“Write about how you feel, acknowledge what you have done, say it was a mistake, you feel bad, you wish you had not, sorry,” suggested Dr. Lewis.
“You could also write an answer for yourself, as a form of healing.
When you’ve just lost touch
But what if there was no raid, a dramatic story to tell, and the friend you keep thinking about is a friend you just walked away from?
Well, this is the easiest type of relationship to restore.
“Online platforms give us much more access to people whose friends have been in the past,” said Lewis.
“You can usually find them on Facebook or through another friend, and that’s a perfect way to do it.
Dr. Palfrey adds: “People are often happy to hear of a blast from the past! Telling someone that they have been thinking is a good introduction.”
And if it’s you you’re contacting, don’t be surprised that someone wants to reconnect with you.
Take the time to digest the text or email, especially if it’s something that has hurt you in the past, and don’t feel pressured to respond immediately.
“People often wonder why they’ve been contacted, but they clearly thought you were important enough to reconnect with you,” said Dr. Lewis.