When I apologize, I like to explain my behavior so that the other person knows I did not mean to be hurtful. Is this a good idea to explain or should I only apologize and keep quiet about the reason for my actions?
When you apologize you do have to be careful not to make it sound as if the other person simply misunderstood you. In other words, your explanation might seem like an excuse to the one who was hurt. If you did wrong, you can admit to that. On the other hand, if you truly think you acted morally and the other took offense anyway, you might consider saying something like this: “I am sorry that my actions hurt you.” In this way, you are not saying that you did wrong, but you are acknowledging that what you did led to the other person’s negative reaction.
You say that an apology is not necessary for someone to forgive. Yet, isn’t an apology a good thing?
Yes, an apology from the one who offended can go a long way in helping a person to forgive and in repairing a damaged relationship. Yet, I say it is not necessary because forgiving is an unconditional response by the one offended. Offended people should be able to forgive whenever they are ready and have chosen to forgive. This is a freedom that belongs to those who are offended.
I hurt someone and now I feel guilty. What are some pointers you can give me to seek forgiveness for what I did?
As you seek forgiveness you can:
- practice humility, that insight that you are not perfect.
- You certainly are deserving of respect because all people are special, unique, and irreplaceable.
- You can apologize and then
- wait patiently for the other to consider forgiving. Just because you are ready to receive the other’s forgiveness does not mean that the other is on the same timeline.
- Change the behavior that led to the difficulty.
- Then go in peace knowing you are doing your best in this.
For additional information, see: Learning to Forgive Others.
Did you apologize? Did you show him that you are aware of your error and have taken steps not to repeat it? This may help him establish trust in you which may help him to forgive you. You will need patience as he makes up his own mind. Your trying to put pressure on him to forgive will not be helpful. He needs to see the value of forgiveness and willingly say yes to it.
For additional information, see Learning to Forgive Others.
Editor’s Note: Well+Good, a website launched in 2010, bills itself as “the premier lifestyle and news publication devoted to the wellness scene.” Here are excerpts from its March 12, 2018 article on how to forgive yourself, let go of the past, and create a more meaningful feature.
You messed up big-time. You feel awful and you want to make things right with the person you’ve hurt. You’ve finally worked up the courage to say, from the bottom of your heart, that you’re deeply sorry. But—surprise!—they don’t want to hear it. For them, the damage is done and their anger towards you is too strong for any kind of forgiveness.
It can be devastating for an apology to be denied, but another person’s forgiveness of you and your actions doesn’t have to determine how you continue to treat others—and, ultimately, yourself. Of course, that’s no easy task for many, considering we’re infinitely harder on ourselves than anyone else.
“I forgive” really is one of the most powerful phrases in the English language. Aly Semigran, Well+Good
“When we break our own standards, a lot of times we won’t let ourselves ‘off the hook,’ so to speak,” says Robert Enright, PhD, founder of the International Forgiveness Institute and author of Forgiveness Is a Choice. “Self-forgiveness is not a free pass to keep up the nonsense. It’s to restore your humanity to yourself, as you correct [the damage you’ve done].”
Okay, but how?
Apologize without expectations
Even if you don’t think the hurt party will forgive you, Enright says that apologizing is the right thing to do, and it’s an important step in the process of self-forgiveness. “Seeking forgiveness and forgiving yourself go hand in hand,” proclaims Enright.
Make an effort to right your wrongs
You should also make an effort to right your wrongs—for instance, paying your roommate back if you’ve been sneaking money from her wallet. “You can set yourself free knowing you’ve done the best you can,” says Enright. “You can get rid of the resentment towards yourself, understanding that you are a human being, and try to see you’re a person beyond what you’ve done. You’re more than that action.”
Dive deep into your emotions with a therapist, friend, or journaling
The cycle of guilt and self-loathing is far too easy a place to get stuck, sometimes for a very long time. And it can have a serious impact on your health—when you stay trapped in a shame loop, it can lead to issues such as sleeplessness, depression, self-medication, and lack of proper nutrition and/or exercise. (Not to mention it’s a blow to your gut health.)
Enright suggests those on a journey of self-forgiveness try things such as going to a respected therapist, seeking out a friend or confidante, trying meditation or mindfulness, or journaling to deal with ongoing emotions and thoughts.
Don’t get attached to the outcome
While you’re working to forgive yourself, it’s important not to get stuck on the other person’s reaction to you. “Your forgiving yourself should never be [contingent on] what the other person does or says,” Enright says. “It’s the same thing with forgiving another: If I want to forgive another, but I have to wait for their apology, then I’m still trapped in that resentment.”
You don’t have to sabotage your own happiness when you do something terrible. Learn to forgive yourself.
Read the entire article: How to Forgive Yourself for a Big Mistake
Read other forgiveness articles on Well+Good:
- THE TWO MOST-EMPOWERING WORDS YOU CAN ADD TO YOUR VOCABULARY
- HOW PRACTICING FORGIVENESS À LA TAYLOR SWIFT AND KATY PERRY CAN BENEFIT YOUR WELL-BEING
- TO SET YOURSELF UP FOR SUCCESS, PRACTICE THE F-WORD: FORGIVENESS