By Eric Charles, MA., PhD-c
“No matter how hard the past, you can always begin again.” ~Buddha
1. Express your remorse
Anytime I have ever received an apology, it has always helped to know the other person felt remorse about what happened. We intuitively scan the apologizer, looking for sincerity. If we believe they are sincere, we are more likely to forgive. But, we often will never forget.
2. Explain what happened
It helps to know what exactly went wrong. This frees us from the dungeon of over-thinking or imagining the worst possible scenario. We can easily imagine scenarios far worse than what actually might have happened. By having a clear explanation, we are more likely to make peace with the occurrence.
3. Take responsibility
When a person acknowledges personal responsibility, it adds to their credibility and simply makes us feel better. Since they are taking ownership of their actions, we can have a little more confidence they will not repeat the mistake. And, isn’t it maddening to hear someone inappropriately deflect responsibility?
4. Declare your regret
A declaration of repentance often involves a commitment to personal change and the resolve to live more responsibly. It might be difficult to accept their declaration. Remember, forgiveness is an opportunity to let go of past missteps and free ourselves from anger, resentment or sadness.
5. Make amends
When a person goes out of their way to correct a mistake, it is definitely refreshing. Actions will always speak louder than words. It is especially important to let them make the correction. You will feel better if they do. It is your chance to see if they will follow through. In the words of Benjamin Franklin, “Well done is better than well said.”
6. Ask for forgiveness
Anytime someone asks for forgiveness, hopefully they have addressed at least some of the previous steps. Most people tend to request forgiveness first. As you can imagine by now, there are steps far more important.
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