Vail Daily column: When forgiveness trumps apologies
Sometimes when we hold out for an apology, we become trapped in the event or episode which caused a hurt in our lives instead of freeing ourselves from the burden of carrying it around with us forever.
We have all been hurt or disappointed at some point in our lives. And it has either been because of someone else, an event or situation, or something we have done ourselves that brings on those feelings of hurt and maybe even anger.
As we approach Valentine’s Day ,we are reminded of love. We are encouraged to remember those we love the most through cards, candy, flowers, gifts, romantic dinners and affection. And I think one of the very best ways we can demonstrate love is through forgiveness. Even though there is that old saying that love means never having to say we are sorry, I believe that love and forgiveness are the best way to overcome the need for an apology.
Does it feel good when someone apologizes? For some it feels really good, and for others it is an uncomfortable moment, maybe even awkward. The apology may serve to ease the tension and stress that has been building over time and open up the doors of communication again. Then again, the apology could create a weird kind of “now what?” moment, leaving both parties wondering where do we go from here?
If love means never having to say you’re sorry, does that mean we just live our lives in the spirit of forgiveness? Unconditional forgiveness for those who have hurt us, events that have occurred and, ultimately and most importantly, for ourselves for the mistakes, missteps and bad choices we have made could trump the need for any apology.
WHAT DO YOU GAIN?
I don’t know about you; maybe you are someone who really needs to hear the apology. I know I used to be that way too. I used to use the words or phrases like, “I need an apology,” “I want an apology” or “I expect an apology.” I am not sure what I was really looking to gain.
I came to realize it was either one of two things: I either wanted the other person to show remorse and feel bad for what they had done or I needed to feed my own ego by being the one who deserved and received the apology. Both of these motivations were extremely unhealthy for me, and as a result, I never felt good with either outcome. As a matter of fact, sometimes I even felt worse.
FORGIVE, BUT DON’T FORGET
Freedom is birthed through forgiveness as we learn to absolutely forgive others and ourselves at the very core of who we are. There is nothing that anyone can do to me or that I can do to myself where I will allow that situation to hold me hostage from my happiness. Does this mean I will forget the event or circumstance? Absolutely not, but forgiving is very different than forgetting. By not forgetting, I can learn from the experience and make decisions about my future in which I can potentially avoid the same kind of hurt. And by forgiving, completely and unconditionally forgiving, I am free to enjoy every other aspect of my life.
So for Valentine’s Day my hope is that you will all enjoy the flowers, candy, cards and romantic gestures and that your ultimate demonstration of love this year will be the spirit of true forgiveness.
How about you? Are you enjoying the many benefits and freedom of forgiveness? I would love to hear all about it at firstname.lastname@example.org. And when we allow forgiveness to trump apologies, it really will be a better than good week.
Michael Norton is a strategic consultant, business and personal coach, and motivational speaker. He writes a weekly motivational column for the Vail Daily.