The ideal forgiveness situation is when the person who has caused you pain agrees to talk with you about it. The person listens respectfully, perhaps they offer an explanation of what they did (or didn’t) do, and then they give a heartfelt and sincere apology. To top it off, they follow through by changing their behavior so they don’t hurt you again. It’s easy then to let go of any anger, resentment, or hurt you’ve been feeling and forgive them.
Most likely, though, even if you’re lucky enough to have experienced this scenario, it’s the exception rather than the rule.
Usually, when you try to talk to the person who has hurt you, very often they are defensive, perhaps argumentative, and may even try to make you feel silly or that you’re the one at fault for your hurt feelings. They may say they’re sorry but they may also make it clear that they don’t really mean it. It’s much harder to forgive in these circumstances.
What do you do then?
It’s time to take a deeper look at what’s going on. Yes, you may have a legitimate grievance with the person who hurt you, but think about what this situation is revealing about you—not in a judgmental way but rather a fact-finding way? What area of improvement is this experience showing you?
This is NOT about taking the blame or dismissing your feelings. This is NOT about letting the person off the hook, condoning bad behavior, or becoming a doormat. This is about understanding why their actions (or inactions) scored a direct hit. Ask yourself if this current event is similar to something that happened in your past?
Take the time to sit with these questions—and others that may come up—and allow the real answers to come. These will show you what it is that you’re actually upset about. Once you understand that, then you may find that you’re demanding an apology from the wrong person and, thus, trying to forgive the wrong person.
Something to think about!
Your Friend and Pep Pal,