Apologizing- How to promote healing and forgiveness

Every single one of us have been deeply hurt by another person and have not received an apology when one was due. Some may have even received an apology, but it it was insincere. The power of a genuine apology that is offered and accepted is one of the most heartfelt human interactions one can experience. Just one genuine apology can restore broken relationships, promote healing, and bring about forgiveness. Apologizing is something many people teach their children, but still struggle with themselves…why? The answer is pride, egocentricity, or lack of empathy. Some do not have the character or security within themselves to admit fault, weakness, or failure. People who do not apologize fear of feeling shame, humiliation, or weakness. Some are self centered or narcissistic and they unable to empathize or see past themselves. Others may not even be aware the impact their behavior has on others. Regardless the reason, those who do not apologize can cause strained relationships, grudges, or vengeance-seeking behavior.

A genuine apology takes empathy- insight on how your behavior impacts others by putting yourself in their shoes and understanding what they’re feeling. Those who have the ability to empathize with others will feel guilt or regret that their behavior has caused someone emotional pain, and they’ll want to do anything they can to end the pain they have caused. When someone truly apologizes for diminishing someone else, they are humbling themselves by admitting fault, insensitivity, shame, mistakes, or wrong doing. Apologizing is an exchange of feelings; it takes feelings of shame, pain, or humiliation from the offended and places it on the offender. This is what makes genuine apologies so healing and powerful because this exchange promotes forgiveness.

For an apology to be successful, the hurtful behavior needs to be specified otherwise it will be meaningless to the offended. Then the offender must acknowledge the impact it had on the other person and provide an explanation. If you have the courage to approach an offender honestly and tell them they’ve hurt you and the offender chooses to diminish you, attack you, or act as if processing the offense is a waste of energy, setting boundaries with that person and distancing yourself would be a wise thing to do. We all desire to have close relationships with those who care about us and how they make us feel. Whenever you are feeling hurt or angry due to another person’s behavior and they refuse a sincere apology, it’s important to remember that apologizing does not exhibit weakness, it exhibits strength. It takes a lot of character, empathy, and security within oneself to genuinely apologize.

There will always be situations where we may never hear an apology. It’s important not to ruminate on what the offender has done, forgive them and move on. Like stated earlier, forgiveness is for YOU, not for the offender. They are off living their lives and you’re the one still stuck in pain. I know saying “forgive and let go” is easier said that done. Forgiving is a decision we have to be willing to make. We have to get past our negative feelings of offense and stop ruminating in the past. The more you talk about the offense, the more bitterness and resentment you will harbor. This is a miserable way to live. We can choose to dwell in the past or we can choose to remain positive by focusing on ourselves, our success, and our blessings. I know being diminished or wronged can hurt our self-concept, but we don’t have to let it. It’s okay to hurt and process what happened but then, it’s time to move on. We should not perceive ourselves the way others do, it’s about loving ourselves and being secure in who we are.

IF YOU OR SOMEONE YOU KNOW ARE HAVING THOUGHTS OF SUICIDE, PLEASE CALL THE NATIONAL SUICIDE PREVENTION LIFELINE AT 1-800-273-8255 FOR SUPPORT OR IMMEDIATELY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN/ NEAREST HOSPITAL

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