Forgive me. I apologize. I was an idiot. You didn’t deserve what I said. I was so wrong. I didn’t mean it. You are a saint for putting up with me. Will you please forgive me? In whatever form requests for forgiveness take, it is not incumbent upon the receiver to forgive. For some reason many people think they ‘should’ forgive or at least say they do. It’s just not always that straightforward.
When it comes to interpersonal conflict, we all have our own range of thresholds – what is forgivable and what is not. The nature of the relationship and history, the degree of hurt we experience, timing, what was said or done, how it was said or done, and what deeply held value or need was threatened, are just some of the variables that have an impact on our willingness to forgive.
Though we may think forgiving is a required response to an apology or request for forgiveness, the reality is that for many people some things are unforgiveable. In these cases, any amount of apologizing does not repair the pain and indelible marks left behind. There is just no rule about forgiving.
For this series of ConflictMastery™ Quest(ions) consider a situation in which someone in your life is asking or has asked for your forgiveness:
- What is one incident that resulted in the other person asking you for your forgiveness?
- What did she or he specifically say or do that pained you most?
- How would you describe the impact on you?
- What did she or he say by way of apologizing or asking for forgiveness?
- What worked for you about that apology/request?
- What didn’t work?
- What, if anything, do you wish she or he had said or done differently by way of apologizing and asking for forgiveness?
- If you think or feel you ‘should’ forgive, why is that?
- If you want to forgive, what would it take for that to happen?
- What do you think would happen if you don’t forgive? If you do?
- What other ConflictMastery™ Quest(ions) may you add here?