MAKING AMENDS, ASKING FORGIVENESS, AND LOSING YOUR GUILT
PART III: OFFERING FORGIVENESS
Dyanne C. Bresler, LCPC, RN
1. Take your time. Think about how you’ll feel if you hang on to your hurt. What would it “cost” you to let go of your anger? What is the “benefit” of staying angry? What is the price of staying angry, and who pays it?
2. If you need the “offender” to do something specific to make amends, consider whether your request is punitive or restorative. If you just want to punish, it’s likely to cause more hurt. It’s perfectly fine to say that the offensive behavior must stop and to suggest alternatives to that behavior. Be careful with your delivery. You’re not aiming to sound like a drill instructor; you’re aiming to forgive, to move on.
3. What will forgiveness mean in terms of your behavior? Will you still behave as if you are hurt and angry or will you let it go?
4. If you spend time thinking about how to punish the person who wronged you, you need to think about what forgiveness means:
-Forgiveness does NOT mean that the hurt that was created is okay. It wasn’tokay and it isn’t okay. It wasn’t permissible and it won’t be permissible just because you offer forgiveness.
-Forgiveness should mean that you’re going to leave your anger behind. I didn’t say that you will forget what happened. Nobody expects that forgiveness is the emotional equivalent of having a lobotomy. You will remember, but you will not keep “going there”, wallowing in self-pity or anger about what happened.
You are making a choice to let it just be a memory, not a weapon.
5. You may forgive but still choose not to reconcile the relationship. Be clear if that is what you wish so that there is clarity about your intentions.
6. Say the words “I forgive you.” Make it clean, without attaching it to “If’s, and “But’s”. Take a deep breath and exhale slowly. Smile because you’ve just rid yourself of a burden.