When I contemplate the whole concept of apologies and forgiveness, I realize that an apology really changes nothing for the individual who has experienced the initial pain and sometimes when there is sincerity and an attempt to make amends is made the pain might be worsened. Apologies are really for the benefit of the one who caused the pain and not for the one who is experiencing the pain so if all individuals involved are experiencing some level of pain then perhaps the apologies would be beneficial overall. Do you disagree with me? Or maybe your just confused by what I’ve written. Well, let’s consider an example:
You and I were having a conversation, which escaladed into an argument and you punched me in the face breaking my nose. I am in intense pain. Now, whether you apologize or not my nose is still broken. Your words, “I am so sorry!” aren’t going to heal my broken nose, are they? Your actions, as well as mine, brought us to that point where you felt motivated to punch me in the nose. I had numerous opportunities to walk away from the conversation / argument but I didn’t. And neither did you. For whatever reasons we felt the need to stay engaged in our exchange and I ended up with a broken nose.
You may feel justified and offer no apology. Perhaps from your perspective I should be the one offering the apology because I caused you pain which lead to the physical reaction or you may offer an apology only because it is expected but you do so without meaning it. You may feel remorseful and offer an apology. Perhaps you even offer to pay my medical bills because you take responsibility for your actions. Regardless of which occur your words and actions at this point will not heal my noise. I will require a physician for that to occur. The genuine apology is for your benefit only. You have accepted responsibility for your part in our exchange and now your conscience requires forgiveness so that you can begin healing. The forgiveness will come not from me, but from you. It is the act of offering an apology to me that will facilitate the healing process whether I accept it or not. If I refuse your apology you have the choice to either hold on to the feelings of remorse and guilt or recognize that you have no direct control over what I decide to do and release those feelings anyway.
If I choose not to forgive you, this will ultimately become toxic for my own well-being. The grudge will fester inside of me like a poison affecting everything I think, say, and do. This is also true if I continue to live in denial and not recognize my own role in our exchange blaming the entirety of our interaction on you. This is an example of living as a victim continuously giving away my power to others. Who wants to live that way?