I was recently talking to my favorite grade-school teacher, who offered me a brilliant bit of relationship advice. We were discussing children who were difficult, less than enjoyable to be with, and generally unlovable. My former teacher told me about a rule in her class that she’s found not only strengthens her relationships with the students, but also builds their self-esteem.
When a student misbehaves in her class, the teacher doles out the appropriate consequence, has a discussion with the student, and reviews the “New Day After” rule. That rule stipulates that the following day is a brand-new day, so no grudges will be held and there won’t be further discussion about the bad behavior of the day before. The teacher tells the students that they shouldn’t worry she’ll be upset with them or angry at them, because the incident is over and everybody should move forward.
Consider for a moment the power that the “New Day After” rule holds. Kids make mistakes. We all make mistakes. How amazing is does it feel to know that we’ve been fully forgiven? How comforting is it to realize that the next day is a brand-new beginning? The teacher said that her students don’t misbehave more often, but rather less often, because they know that minimal attention will be paid to their misdeeds. The rule rolls up forgiveness, a fresh start and no regrets in one fabulous arrangement.
Wouldn’t life be great if everyone lived by that rule? What if when we argued with our partner, we knew that we’d move forward the very next day with no resentment or grudges? Imagine how much tension would be reduced in our relationships, and how our faith in both ourselves and in our partner would grow. What if we adhered to that same rule with our kids and our co-workers? What if we left behind all the traces of all of our old arguments?
It feels so freeing to be fully forgiven. It would be so refreshing to know that the next day holds a brand new start. Wouldn’t it feel wonderful to show that attitude to people when they fall short?
Following the Rule
So, what does it take to let go of disagreements, arguments and criticisms, so the next day can be a fresh start? The teacher does it through faith. She has complete faith in each student that they’re worthy of her hope, worthy of love and worthy to be trusted again. The teacher has seen how her students have blossomed in this atmosphere of respect and love.
Of course we are not able to make other people in our lives follow this rule. We can, however, live it out ourselves. We can vow that our attitude will be, “You may still be angry with me, but I’m going to move on.” We can do this with our spouses, our peers, our friends and our children. Hold no grudges, don’t stay angry, and don’t hold on to resentment. It’s good for everyone to live this way.
So this brilliant relationship advice is being recommended based on the experiences of a grade-school teacher. Make each day a new day for each relationship that you’re in. Let go of your anger and your grudges and move forward.
What can you do to make your relationship a better one today?