One thing that often helps people to forgive is receiving an apology.
A good apology ideally has three parts: an admission of responsibility, a demonstration of sorrow, and doing something to remedy the offence, or prevent a repetition of it.
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Forgiveness does not mean forgetting or minimising the pain we feel; nor is it about excusing others.
Forgiveness means making a conscious and deliberate decision to let go of our feelings of resentment or revenge, regardless of whether the person who has upset us deserves it.
An apology is not telling others we feel sorry they are angry it is telling them we understand why they are angry with us, regret making them feel that way, and wanting to take their anger away.
An effective apology is showing the person we understand why they are hurting.
Forgiving ourselves is always good. But forgiving others is only beneficial if the advantages exceed the potential costs. We should therefore not forgive others if that might expose us to further abuse or exploitation.
The stress response we experience to being hurt is protective because it motivates us to stop people from abusing or taking advantage of us.
A perfect apology has to be without ego, an expression of genuine regret, and the assumption of full responsibility: I am so sorry that you were hurt, this accident is completely my fault, and I really was going too fast, and too carelessly.
A botched or half-hearted apology taints the act of apologising, not leaving space for any further apology to arise from the other person.
Forgiveness is about goodness, about extending mercy to those who’ve harmed us, even if they don’t “deserve” it. Working on forgiveness can help us increase our self-esteem and give us a sense of inner strength and safety.