This post was written as part of #1000Speak for Compassion. Speaking for GOOD on the 20th of every month. The topic to reflect upon this month is Forgiveness.
Forgiving and Asking for Forgiveness
All of us who have thought about forgiveness, read about it, and talked about it, know that we forgive others, not because they ask for it, or even deserve it, but because we deserve to free ourselves from the burden of hate and resentment. When we stop hating someone, they no longer have the power to hurt us.
‘Learn the lesson and move on’. You can’t go back. You can’t change what happened, but you can forgive and move on. Notice I didn’t say forget, because if you forget you don’t learn from the experience. Although I’ve noticed that once I forgive, I tend to forget, or at least not think about what happened.
The two most important things I’ve learnt and have made me a happier person are 1) Forgiveness and 2) Don’t sweat the small stuff.
That doesn’t mean I ignore the small stuff, it means I sort it out immediately, if I can, so it doesn’t get out of proportion. If it really doesn’t matter, I ignore it. Most of the time, if you address ‘small’ issues at once, life gets simpler. In fact, most big issues were once smaller. Don’t ket them grow!
I’d like to combine ‘asking for Forgiveness’ and ‘Sweating the Small Stuff’, because I’d like to talk about ‘the small stuff’, the little things we do that we need to apologise for, and how to actually make sure the apology is accepted, so the event is in fact forgotten, or at least doesn’t cause us undue aggravation.
I learnt about this method in a self help book (I can’t remember which one), but it’s very useful for those little things that happen, and often cause friction between friends, colleagues, family, etc.
This is about how to say you’re sorry and ask for forgiveness for those ‘minor’ but annoying things we all do occasionally.
Three magical words: Reason, Regret, and Repair.
You need to give a reason for your improper/inconvenient action, you need to say you’re sorry, and you need to offer to make it up to the person in some way. It’s the best way to get your apology accepted.
For example, if you’ve arrived late to work, or for lunch with a friend.
Reason: I overslept / missed the bus
Regret: I’m sorry I arrived late / made you wait
Repair: Can I work overtime tomorrow to make up for it? / Buy you lunch?
The excuse would look something like this:
‘I missed the bus, and the next one took ages, I’m so sorry I made you wait. How can I make it up to you? What about I get you coffee and dessert…’
As a teacher, I always tell my students to use the same strategy. Tell the teacher your excuse, apologise, offer/ask for/negotiate a compromise.
‘I’m sorry I didn’t hand in my homework. I’ve been feeling run down / upset / unmotivated lately / had to help my mother look after my grandmother who is unwell. Could I hand in my essay next week?
If it happens with your partner.
‘I’m under a lot of pressure at work, I’m sorry if I snapped at you, It won’t happen again. Let me cook dinner for you, today.’
It’s actually harder to do than it seems. If we’re honest with ourselves, it makes us think about our reasons, and that’s not always easy. We have to apologise, and we have to offer a compromise.
It isn’t enough to just apologise, you have to make the person offended understand your reasons, and feel that you’re prepared to make an effort to change or compensate in some way, and that’s a lot!
It doesn’t always work, but it’s worth a try!