Saying “I’m Sorry”

“I’m sorry” is not an admission of guilt, but a statement of regret. Guilt means you are wrong and need to be punished. Regret is the wish that things were other than they are. You would like to undo what occurred, but you can’t. This thing happened, and it’s regrettable.

Forgiveness is the ability to let go of the past in order to move forward. Letting go of old wounds is the antidote to hurtful experiences and can dramatically improve your mood in the present.

You may imagine that forgiveness is arrived at through a logical, rational sorting-out process. But forgiveness does not involve assessing degrees of guilt and innocence, the relative evil of the perpetrator’s intent, as if you were a Supreme Court of One.

Forgiveness means a letting go of anger, not for another’s benefit, but for your own. These people who have hurt you will never know about it. It’s none of their business who you forgive. It’s for your benefit. This matter is between you and you.

Saying “I’m sorry that it happened” is a statement of regret. Like when someone passes away, you say “I’m sorry for your loss.” This doesn’t mean you take ownership over causing their loss, but it means you regret their pain. It’s a sign of personal strength and self-respect.

You are not a guilty criminal worthy of punishment. You can replace your fictitious guilt with the regret that you are not perfect, which only confirms your humanity. Human mistakes and imperfection are regrettable, but forgivable. In the privacy of your own heart, you can identify the anger and choose to forgive them: “I forgive you for what you’ve done, for being so terribly imperfect.” It is not for their good that you are doing this; it is for your own relief. You earned this relief and you deserve it. You never have to let them know about it. You don’t have to give them the satisfaction. It’s none of their business. This is your choice, too!

Here are some choices you can make to foster forgiveness:
1. Identify what hurt and pain (what someone just said or did) as antagonism because that’s what it is. It was not said or done for you, its serves their own agenda.
2. Put your hurt and pain in its proper perspective – they made an immature, childish statement or action. It does not deserve the attention and energy you are giving it.
3. Are you going to let your hurt determine your response or will you choose to use your adult judgment? Are you going to let your anger control you or are you going to manage it?
4. Identify that this is an opportunity to allow others to be responsible for themselves.
5. Using your adult judgment, you can consciously choose to manage your hurt and anger appropriately. You can take this immature, foolish remark like a grown-up instead of returning to your childhood.
6. Understand that your purpose in holding onto this hurt and pain is not to be productive, but
a) To relieve the pain of your feelings by putting them down and to build yourself up
b) To control the situation
c) To prevent the humiliating exposure of your own imperfections
d) To achieve fairness by seeking revenge and hurting them

Hurt is a personal experience and it can be solved by reinterpretation. That means it is done by replacing one subjective feeling with another emotion. When you are hurt, you are, in a sense, at war. You can replace these battle scars in your bloodstream with the feeling that you are at peace. You may find yourself dragged down by anger against those who could have treated you better. These resentments and hostilities about the past can be an obstacle to your enjoyment of the present. You can speed up your healing process by forgiving.

The act of forgiveness gives you options that were never open to you before. It allows you to live your life on a much more realistic basis. If you don’t forgive, the hurt will stay down there inside you forever. Is that what you want? I don’t think so. To foster forgiveness you can:
• Use your adult judgment to identify antagonism for what it is, childish attention seeking.
• Resist the temptation to straighten them out.
• Disengage yourself emotionally from their provocation by catching yourself about to take their words/behavior personally. Their antagonism is not a reflection on your worth as a person. Resist the temptation to defend yourself. They not interested your point of view. They are focused on relieving their hurt at your expense. You are not guilty. You require no defending. Save your breath.
• Disengage from your own defensiveness, explaining or criticizing. That only gives the antagonistic comment more significance than it deserves.
• Let go of your intention to control the situation. Focus on controlling your reactions to the provocation.
• Muster up the courage to take the risk of doing something new. You can choose to say, “I don’t know what you are trying to accomplish.” or “What are you trying to achieve?” You are not attacking. You are telling the truth.
• See how you feel afterwards. If you feel good, savor it. You’ve earned it.

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Shared by: Aaron Karmin, LCPC, Contributing Blogger

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