It’s pretty easy to stand behind your own anger and offense when someone has hurt you. It isn’t always as easy to be the one who needs to be forgiven. When we’ve made a mistake, many things come into play – anger, shame, defensiveness. These things can really make it hard to ask for or receive forgiveness. If we subconsciously haven’t been very forgiving ourselves, it can be even harder to think we have any forgiveness coming or that others will be willing to forgive us.
One of the keys to receiving forgiveness is to practice it. Forgiving people are better able to understand that mistakes happen, missteps happen, and sometimes we step in it metaphorically. By offering forgiveness regularly, they see that it is possible to do something regrettable and be absolved.
No matter where you’ve been on the forgiveness scale, you can ask for and receive forgiveness if you have done something offensive. Consider these tips as you go:
Tip #1. Be Sincere with an Apology- Forgiveness comes best following an apology. The sooner the better and the more specific the apology the better. If you know what you did, be sincere and specific about why that was wrong and how you plan to ensure it never happens again.
Tip #2. Be Willing to Hear Your Impact- Forgiveness usually comes after an apology and clearing of the air that includes the offended person feeling heard and validated for their pain. Be willing to hear the impact you made and don’t let pride or defensiveness diminish the feelings of the other person.
Tip #3. Be Willing to Not be Forgiven- Asking for forgiveness is a question, not a command. That means hearing “no” has to be one of the options. It is entirely possible that the person you hurt is unwilling or unable to move on now or yet. Sometimes people don’t have the maturity to forgive and sometimes they need time to build up grace. Be patient.
Asking for forgiveness is a mature and humbling experience. It is a deep move of your desire to be absolved and also honor the person you offended. If they are unable or unwilling to forgive you, you have done the most important thing you can for restoration by atoning and asking for grace. You can sleep well knowing you’ve done what you can do. Modify any behavior that got you into that mess and become a bigger and better person. Offer forgiveness to those in need and realize it is all a cycle and what you put out into the world will eventually come back.
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