The Power of Unfinished Business

When we are interrupted, it haunts us.unfinished business meaning, relationships, life interrupted, interruptions

When my son was a toddler & we had a family membership to the zoo, we would often cross the river to visit. One time I had a meeting scheduled and we had to leave early. For a year and a half Aaron would say, “Mom, remember the time we missed the gorillas?” every time we drove by. It did not matter how many other times he had seen the gorillas since that day.

Unfinished business lingers for all of us. Someone dies and we didn’t get a chance to say enough …We fall in love with someone new but really can’t build a new relationship because we’re not finished saying goodbye to the old one…someone can’t tell their family they’re gay…Someone can’t be angry with a sibling about how a parent’s estate was handled etc.

Unfinished business can leave a hole in a relationship with someone else. It’s like looking at a building that is clearly unfinished, without any scaffolding or construction workers who plan to continue. It’s an eye sore, cluttering up the horizon.

One technique I use with people is writing letters. It’s amazing how many people resist spending the time to actually follow through. I suspect they don’t imagine it could be helpful.

After the letter is written and they bring it in, I ask that they read it out loud to take ownership of what’s been written. I witness their words, listen to their voice and look for what’s missing.

Unfinished business leaves a hole in your heart so there’s always something missing. Sometimes anger is what’s missing. Anger matters because anger is a way of asking that you matter too.

Often the writer finishes the letter and it is so obvious they haven’t asked for what they want. They want an apology, they want greater understanding for their own neglected point of view, they want their truth known whether or not it makes a difference or they want to be seen more accurately.

Every letter is not written to be sent. Some letters are revised and then sent. The sender cannot expect, hope or want any response from the other person. You can only send a letter if you are 100% okay with not receiving any response.

Often it is most useful to write the letter for yourself. What matters is that you learn with greater clarity what it is that will help you feel “finished” so you can move on more whole-heartedly.


One thought on “The Power of Unfinished Business

  1. miss magnolia says:

    Excellent article. Just exactly what I have felt and what I have done. I found a way to write the letter utilizing characters that the ex-boyfriend invented, and it is humorous but has a moral to it. I respect his feelings of anger at me but feel our long relationship warranted a proper discussion and opportunity for reconciliation. He may have met someone else, but so far he has only been seen alone so it may not have worked out. I have sat on the letter for a week and read it to friends and family, modified it slightly, and will actually send it. Since I have already been “dumped” I have nothing more to lose by sending it, and possibly something to gain. On the negative side, admitting he made a mistake in front of everyone would damage his pride in his executive decision making ability and that might not be worth it to him.

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