Apology and Forgiveness: these top the list of demanding responses. Why so demanding? Because they get to the heart of our vulnerability as flawed human beings. And they both put us in terrible jeopardy (what if my apology or act of forgiveness are rejected?).
Apologizing is tough because it’s an admission that we’re not perfect. It’s not only embarrassing for most of us but is a tacit admission that what we said or did hurt another person. It’s never pleasant to think we’re capable of being cruel, selfish, vindictive, and even toxic.
That said, there are two exceptions that never require an apology. Maybe you can come up with more, I’d love to hear from you. Those exceptions:
- When you’re simply being who you are. Never apologize for being yourself. Others may have a problem with your self-expression or the choices you have consciously made. That’s their issue, not yours. As long as you haven’t hurt anyone, who you are is how you ought to show up in the world without apologizing!
- When you’ve been a victim of a crime, abuse, domestic violence, family addictions, others’ personality disorders, harassment, post-traumatic stress, mental illness, trauma. The operative word is ‘victim’, someone who is a casualty of another’s actions and has no power over changing a harmful situation.
Sometimes we feel like a victim but are partially responsible for what happened. In those moments we may start by apologizing to ourselves for allowing the situation to occur, for not protecting ourselves or others, or for contributing to the overall hurt. This is particularly true in codependent situations when you have enabled someone’s destructive behavior and it’s spilled into your life.
We don’t need to assign blame when we expect an apology, just to acknowledge we’ve been hurt. Blame is a dead-end, angry reaction. It usually eliminates conversation and change.
Forgiveness is tough because it lets perpetrators off the hook, or so we think. We humans often enjoy withholding forgiveness because we then can feel righteous. Yet we end up hurting ourselves even more.
Forgiving is not about declaring winners or losers. It’s about offering the open hand of reconciliation and inner surrender and acceptance. When you forgive, you are not handing over your power, you’re taking it back! You’re consciously emptying yourself of anger, hurt, paint and the power of recalling sorrowful memories. Forgiveness is something we do for ourselves, without having to speak to anyone else, living or dead, and whether or not an apology is due.
Forgiveness makes room in your life for loving yourself more and not letting anyone’s action define who you are. You thus free yourself from victimhood and become your own, best rescuer! You get to put some history behind you. You will find healing and wholeness and experience the peace of living more fully in the present moment.
I’d love to hear about your journey! Schedule a 45-minute meeting with me.