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 am trying to forgive my sister. I was very angry with her. Unfortunately, I dumped my anger on her and now she has to forgive me for doing this. What do you suggest?
It is common in close relationships that both people may have to forgive the other at the same time. There is nothing wrong with this. A key is this: Please keep in mind that each of you may be at a different point in the forgiveness process. For example, you may be very ready to forgive her, but she is still too angry to consider forgiving you. In a situation like this, I recommend that you go as deeply as you can in forgiving her and, at the same time, apologize to your sister for “dumping” your anger onto her. Your apologizing may aid her process of forgiving.
For additional information, see Forgiveness Is a Choice.
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.
If you wait for the other to apologize, what does that do for your own freedom as a forgiver? You are trapped—trapped—in unforgiveness until the other apologizes. So, unconditional forgiveness (not needing an apology) sets you free to forgive whenever you are ready. We need forgiveness education so that children can begin to think about this important issue and other important issues that will aid their forgiving and aid them in growing as persons.
For additional information, see What is Forgiveness?