25/04/2012 prepared by Natasha M. The article at the bottom was found and sent to us by Dr Antonio Ferrero.
How to learn to say genuinely “I am sorry” and how to forgive.
It is not very easy to learn to say genuinely these magical words “I am sorry”. It is even more difficult to forgive those who hurt you in the past.
But it is essential to learn to do both. That way forgiving and letting go certain things we free ourselves from the inner pain and we learn to open new doors…
Everything is remembered.
The art of forgiving – it is an important and essential part of the soul. You think the older we get the easier we forgive but this is not true. There are levels of forgiveness. One level is forging a person who stepped on your foot in the bus. This is easy… The other thing – is to forgive one person for betrayal, for rude actions or words. It especially relates to the hurt that you get from your close ones.
It is very individual as we differ from each other by level of temperament, by our inner physiology, by our characters and upbringing, by our family and culture traditions but there is a common rule: it might be a very hard and painful process for all of us. Sometimes forgiving does not bring you joy and that easy breathing…
Sometimes the offend is so very hard to forgive even when you think everything is over it is like a wound – on the surface everything seems nice but there is an inflammation inside, under the wound. If it is not stopped it will progress. Later on it can grow into something ugly and out of control.
Have you ever felt that forgiveness sounds and feels like putting yourself down? And many of us like to be on the top of the situation and do not like to suppress their ego. For the sake of that ego sometimes we even change the essence of the situation making it worse, different from a reality and suitable for our own advantage – we are manipulating the facts and trying to find the scapegoats.
How we can understand why it is important to forgive? This is a titanic psychological job but it needs to be done.
Dark feelings can destroy you from the inside physically and mentally. This can be a reason for lots of depressions and even mental illnesses.
The question is when you can forgive and when you can not. Can you forgive when the other person understands he/she hurt you? Can you forgive when someone asks you for forgiveness? But there are some situations when you need to forgive the people who already passed away… No, no and once again: no. Forgiveness it not dependent on the others, especially the ones who hurt you. It is all yours and it is done for you, and for your own good, not for someone else’s good (as there is no one else in this world – just YOU, your feelings. The others – are just an illusion and your reflections/your mirrors. They simply do not exist. They are simply the mirrors that help you to understand a world of duality, to experience this or that feeling. You need to understand the essence of WHO YOU ARE in order to forgive. Your need to know where you are and why you are here to start the process)
Sometimes there are situations that you can not change – you
are simply helpless to do this. What you CAN change – is your relation to the
situation. Example. A mother does not let her daughter to live her own life:
she blames her for everything and she does not let her go keeping her close.
There is a choice a daughter has: to hate her mother or to forgive her. If the
daughter forgives her mother she soon will start to be aware of her feelings,
her thoughts and her own truth, meaning she will start leaving her own life.
When she forgives something in her mother’s world that is related to age and
character she forgives HERSELF in the first place and she would want to live
her own life. There is no guarantee that their relationship will become better
but the daughter will be free.
Revenge is the lowest feeling that you could ever imagine. Revenge
can give you an illusion of being a superior and will help you to boost your
ego but in reality there will be a guilt built in you subconsciously that will
lead to aggression that can destroy your inner world.
But in the end you decide for yourself what you can forgive
and what you can not forgive meaning what you can take with yourself for the
rest of your life as an unwanted load or how you can free yourself and disengage
yourself from unwanted attachments and thought forms. Always think in the same
way: what works for you is good for you. If forgiveness feels right – go with
it and you will see the benefits…
Opening. Let your feelings go free: feel aggression, anger, grief
and shame…Acknowledge your feelings. Say to yourself: “I feel sooooo angry
Solution. It feels that it does not work as such feelings can
destroy you. The pain is still there.
Understanding is required to realize that forgiveness is like a healing
process: from anger to pain, from pain to vulnerability, and then to hope and
Action. Review your attitude to reality. Take the attitude of the person who hurt you. Try to be him/her. Try to feel what he/she felt when he/she hurt you. Let the feelings go… Let it all go…
Result. How to live on. New targets do appear. Loyalty to the person who hurt you appears too. This is the end process of forgiveness. Letting go the situation that you can not change. But you changed the feelings towards it. Letting go is an art your soul will learn on its journey…
Now back to our initial subject. It happens often when we have to say “I am sorry”. Do you think this is easy? I read in one of the self growth books that one of the features of a spiritually advanced soul is his/her art or ability to admit he/she was not (is not ) right. Firstly this is because Changing is one of essential Laws of Tao. If you can not find the power inside of you to say ‘I am changing my opinion’ and ‘I was not right’ and ‘I am sorry’ that means you can not admit the existence of divinity and the wholeness, the fact that there is no right and there is not wrong, the fact that there are lots of truths around us and they are simply the expressions of Great Being-ness that is constantly changing. Your grace and flexibility is the key of ever running and changing river or Tao.
The power of admitting your mistakes is the power of Grander and Loving Soul that sees beyond small and insignificant ego expressions of “this is right” and “this is wrong” but sees more like a process of evolvement and learning the Self through Creating and Re-Creating Thyself, through art of Being-ness and Love. Well, it sounds so nice and so easy in theory but it is only a theory that does not work unless you start practicing and living it (after knowing and believing it).
So lots of us do not know how to say sorry. From one side it is very convenient to be always right. It means no thinking process is involved, you are rigid and conservative in your opinions as a house soap for dirty clothes washing – boring and straight forward. This is simply meaning - death for you as a spiritual being as there is only your ego involved in the process of self-praising. And YOU are not your ego. This is not who you are. Your ego can boost and it can grow till you can not even see YOUR TRUE SELF anymore, then you forget who you are and what you are here for. This is a road of destruction of Self.
You simply can not always be right. It is as impossible as
to say: the world is white or on the contrary: the world is all black. You can
not always be wrong for the same reason. As I mentioned before life is so
relative - there is no right and no wrong as there is no absolute cold. These
categories (right and wrong) are meaningless in the terms of your soul. There
will always be something that is colder that absolute cold.
The categories that can be easily recognized by your true
self or your soul are: what is working and not working for you. That way being
always right might not always work for you.
In order to control the argument it is reasonable to find a
power inside of you to say “I was wrong” even when your ego tells you “you are
There are some ways to say “I am sorry”:
moment of repenting into a joke. Make the other side smile. Good joke will
always turn a bad argument into an easy and relaxed way. Laughter is just
another way to say: “How absurd this situation is as we are arguing about
nothing”. What it will make you to be right in this argument? Nothing as
it will not change anything in this world...
simply say: ”sorry” and be genuine when you do so. If someone does not
forgive you after that – it is his/her problem after all.
sorry in a calm and tactful tone. This way would be suitable if the truth
is on your side and the other person is lying. You just found the power
within yourself not to continue the argument.
(although I do not like this way). Use flowers, gifts and jewelry for a
woman. Simply “buy” a person. Make a romantic dinner with some soft relaxing
music for a man. Such approach could even change your life…
sorry without pronouncing any words. Show it with your body language. Your
opponent will see how you are suffering and he/she will sure forgive you
It is more complicated to learn
how to forgive rather than to learn how to apologise – this is for sure. But we
need to learn both lessons to be free from any load in our life.
There is a very good article sent to me by a Melbourne psychologist Dr Antonio Ferrero (Hawthorn) that can help change your view on forgiveness.
If you’re in a relationship with a loved one that repeatedly acts in hurtful ways, you’re likely dealing with recurring rushes of anger or disappointment, regardless of whether you are consciously aware of or express these or similar emotions. It can feel as if this person keeps stealing the sense of emotional safety that you, your body and mind, are hardwired to seek. It is only human, after all, to feel betrayed by the actions of a partner who is emotionally or physically abusive, addicted to a substance, compulsively spends money, or repeats acts of infidelity despite promises, as occurs with sex or love addiction.
While the emotional intensity is understandable, it is still a heavy weight to carry, much less balance. It’s not easy to deal with these emotions, and at the same time the repeated strikes, which challenge your efforts to restore the inner sense of emotional safety that, at any given time, you innately strive to realize in relation to life around you.
A look at the usual simplistic approach?
In response to hurtful actions of a loved one, forgiveness is largely regarded as the highest, most noble action, and a prerequisite for healing to take place. Depending on the circumstances, it often is. In fact, a stubborn refusal to forgive can both prolong and intensify suffering for the person that was wronged.
What happens when hurtful actions are ongoing, however?
Or, when the person who has acted wrongly is not willing (or able) to make meaningful repairs?
Or, what if you’re not ready to forgive, and this hesitation serves a purpose?
Too often, the pressure or advice of family, friends or church to forgive merely contributes to the emotional baggage the person wronged already carries. Just as harmful, if not more so, premature forgiveness can hinder the unique growth needs of the each person in the relationship.
If your partner is struggling with an addiction or with narcissistic tendencies, in particular, you’ve likely been exposed to an arsenal of deceptive tactics, such as denial, lies, and messages designed to manipulate your emotions with guilt, fear or shame, which may be honed down to an art form.
The key defining characteristics of narcissism, for example, are a lack of empathy, a willful seeking to derive pleasure from hurting others, and an overall sense of superiority, contempt or scornful looking down on others. In this case, one can ask:
How helpful would forgiveness be in the wake of a toxic relationship with a partner that does not have a developed capacity for empathy – and thus little or no sense of remorse for the harm they’ve caused?
How useful would forgiveness be to a partner that needs to heal themselves of problematic behavioral patterns such as taking pleasure in making others feel small or insignificant?
How beneficial is it for a person to automatically forgive when their main problem in relationships has to do with not expressing what hurts them or what they want or need, out of fear of upsetting or not pleasing others?
In short, how can it be healthy to place responsibility on one to forgive, but not on the other to make amends?
Perhaps a more complex approach is warranted, one that is mindful of the wellbeing and highest interest of each person in the relationship to stretch out of old toxic patterns and to embrace more life-enriching ones.
A more complex approach that is relationship focused?
As Dr. Janis Abrahms Spring points out in her book, How Can I Forgive You? The Courage to Forgive, The Freedom Not To, most everything that has been written about forgiveness directly preaches to the wounded party on why they ‘should’ forgive. Some of these reasons, such as “‘good’ people forgive” or “God commands it” are well intended, however, in some cases, wittingly or unwittingly, they can put undue shame and pressure on one party to forgive prematurely, which makes matters worse rather than better.
Premature forgiveness, she notes, is at best a ‘cheap’ substitute as it does not require the participation of the person who acted wrongly to make amends. Genuine forgiveness, Dr. Abrahms Spring argues, is a more in-depth process that involves the person who acted wrongly, and places the onus of responsibility on them to make amends. Simultaneously, it frees the person wronged to have the option to not forgive the other (and engage in steps of acceptance instead).
When persons feel pressured to forgive prematurely, they often react in one of three ways:
They refuse to forgive, and regard it their ‘right’ to keep hurting, hating or holding onto a grudge or bitterness, subconsciously, as a protective defense that provides a quick-fix illusion of power, refuge or comfort.
They force themselves to forgive, giving in to internalized social or religious commands, however, they keep cycling back to bouts of hating the other or hating themselves for not being “able” to forgive, or both.
They profess to forgive, feeling a saintly euphoria one moment, and cheated or dishonest in the next.
A more complex approach is mindful of each person in the context of their relationship, and what they need to learn, to understand and to do that would help them create a relationship that better sustains, grows and enriches them as individuals.
Four approaches to forgiveness?
Though Dr. Abrahms Spring’s work primarily deals with infidelity in couple relationships, the same principles universally apply to any situation in which forgiveness is a factor. Drawing from many case studies, she has identified at least four categories of forgiveness:
1. Cheap forgiveness
This type of forgiveness occurs when a person forgives too easily or quickly. Persons who engage in this pattern of forgiveness are often those who tend to avoid conflict by pleasing others, preferring to stew inside rather than upset others or be called ‘selfish.’ They mean well, but their actions stem from a neediness to keep peace, or to relieve feelings of guilt connected to upsetting others or not being ‘nice’ persons they believe they ‘should’ be.
When a person takes action to preserve a relationship at any cost, it is primarily out of love and not fear. It sends a relationship-impairing message to the one who acted wrongfully that they are not responsible for their actions, and that they do not play a role in nourishing the relationship. This imbalance can result, over time, in a toxic relationship that stunts the growth of both.
2. Refusal to forgive.
Naturally, refusal is harmful and resolves nothing. This type of pattern is a defensive reaction or attempt to protect oneself from further pain. Persons who take such a hard stance against letting go of their hatred or disappointment often succumb to the illusion of power (or distance) painful emotions, such as bitterness, seems to give them over the person that hurt them. In reality those who take this stance miss out on making peace with themselves, and this can escalate to inner turmoil to suffering instead, i.e., turning anger to hatred or rage, or disappointment to resentment or bitterness.
Punishing the offender may provide a false sense of power them, but it comes at great cost of intensifying negativity and self-isolation. Additionally, toxic emotional patterns that are not resolved in a healthy way can be passed on from one generation to another. Persons who distance themselves from a condescending parent, for example, may block their own inner unmet need for empathy and understanding, which puts them at risk of reenacting similar patterns with their own children.
The option of ‘conscious’ acceptance in dealing with disappointment is a healing gift you give to yourself, and consists of at least ten steps of acceptance the person that was wronged can take to heal themselves – independent of any action or change from the wrongdoer. When genuine forgiveness is impossible, whether it is because the injury is too great or the wrongdoer will not take ownership, acceptance frees one to move on to experience personal renewal. In some cases, such as when the person that acted in harmful ways has passed away or is not willing to participate, this may be the only option.
The goal here is not necessarily forgiveness, rather a restoration of one’s inner state of emotional balance, an authentic connection to self in relation to life. Freeing self from the wound or injury allows the process of healing to take root, producing a profound inner shift to living authentically, with an awakening of a more meaningful perspective of the value of self in relation to life.
4. Genuine forgiveness.
This option is a reciprocal transaction that fosters genuine healing and potentially a transformative experience. Genuine forgiveness is a step by step approach that lies between the extremes of quick forgiveness (which asks for nothing in return) and a rigid refusal to forgive (which holds onto the pain caused by injury). From this vantage point, forgiveness can only be genuine when both parties engage in processes that:
Allow for the personal growth and renewal of each.
Offer an ongoing context for the hurt person to express their pain to the person that wronged them.
Invite the offender to apologize, taking full responsibility for the harm their behaviors caused, more specifically, by taking action to earn forgiveness and to restore healing and sense of emotional safety in the relationship.
Forgiving an offender that is in denial or minimizes, or knows how to play the game of acting repentant to win back the other’s confidence as a sport, for example, simply reinforces the pathological lack of thoughtfulness or illusions of superiority over others. In this case, forgiveness would simply hinder or not help them deal with these problem behaviors, and perhaps heal their own woundedness, i.e., pathological feelings of inadequacy, powerlessness and self-contempt that drive the behaviors.
Genuine forgiveness fosters a context that allows deep healing to take place. It opens space for a consciously compassionate exchange to take place within the hearts of the person wanting forgiveness and the one forgiving. When real, it is a transformative process for both. This reciprocal exchange between a truly repentant person and the person who forgives can transform their relationship and lead each to higher states of personalauthenticity, self-awareness and self-actualization for each.
A choice between genuine forgiveness or acceptance?
The pressure to forgive prematurely may not be the most healing or loving option. Instead of preaching to the person wronged, the primary emphasis is better placed on the person who acted wrongly to earn forgiveness, and thus, to heal the relationship.
Honestly speaking, how can automatic forgiveness be healing when wrongful actions are regular or reoccurring? And, how can it be healthy for either person to place responsibility on one to forgive, but not the other to make amends?
A more discerning approach is genuine forgiveness, which:
Gives special consideration to the context of the relationship and personal lives of each person.
Provides options that address the growth needs of both parties as well as the immediate healing needs of the person wronged.
Focuses the onus of responsibility on the person who acted wrongly to earn forgiveness and express sincerity through consistent actions.
In other words, unlike cheap forgiveness, genuine forgiveness clearly identifies what each party is and is not responsible for to create a context for healing to take place. For example:
It is not the wronged person’s job to forgive the person who acted wrongly, and to do so is at best an act of “cheap forgiveness” that hinders each party’s growth and wellbeing. The responsibility for reconciliation rests on the person who caused harm to start doing whatever is necessary, for however long it takes.
It is not the job of the person who acted wrongly to demand the other ‘forgive’ or move on, and instead, though it seems counterintuitive, opening space for listening and validating the hurt person’s pain is essential. The responsibility for talking about moving on to the next step of healing rests in the hands of the hurt person, and any attempts to bypass the critical task of listening to their pain merely slows down the process.
It is not the wronged person’s job to make sure the person who wronged them feels remorse and makes amends. Instead, it’s their job to shift their focus to take what action is necessary to heal themselves, and to stay physically and emotionally healthy, in ways that are independent of the actions of the person that wronged them.
It’s not the wronged person’s responsibility to ensure the other does not get upset or angry because they are required to engage in these inherently uncomfortable processes of making amends. In fact, they must instead stand their ground in inviting the person who acted wrongly to take complete responsibility to do the painful work necessary, as a first step to repair the relationship.
The role of courage in healing?
Safe to say, genuine forgiveness can only take place when each party finds the courage they need to engage in these healing processes. More specifically, this means that:
The person who acted wrongfully needs to grow the courage they need that would allow them to take responsibility for their actionswithout getting defensive. This learned ability would then allow them to take action accordingly to make meaningful amends.
The person who was wronged needs to grow the courage they need to stop taking responsibility that belongs to the person who acted wrongly, and especially to stop rescuing them from feeling upset about having to do things that are inherently uncomfortable or painful.
Why is courage key? It takes courage to be willing and open to engage in processes that heal, grow and transform, as they are inherently painful.
Why seek healing if it’s painful? Among many other good reasons, it is the most effective and energy saving way to avoid suffering.
How do you grow courage? Courage grows as a result of seeking to first understand, and then to take action to face what you most fear by keeping your focus on standing for what you most love.
As is the case with genuine love, forgiveness that is genuine invites both parties to reciprocally engage in ways that foster one another’s highest growth and wellbeing. This inherently invites both parties to grow their capacity for compassion, which is also a courageous undertaking. Why?
Stretching out of old comfortable places is a loving thing to do (for self and other) because it grows your capacity, and thus, the courage you need to be present and to relate more authentically with one another in challenging moments, such as when you get triggered.
Growing the courage and strength you need to change problem behavior patterns is an outcome of consistently taking action to do what is most uncomfortable and most personally challenging for you, a momentum that is sustained by what you most yearn (love) to realize.
Understanding what you need to do to realize your deepest yearnings energizes you with the love and passion you need to take action that would otherwise be blocked by what you fear.
When the person who acted wrongly is unwilling to make meaningful amends to repair the relationship, however, essentially, it is the job of the person wronged to do whatever necessary to restore their own inner peace, that is, to engage in processes of acceptance that will allow them to fully accept and to forgive themselves – in ways that do not require the involvement of the person that wronged them. Acceptance is a healing alternative when genuine forgiveness is not possible.
It frees the hurt party to heal independent of any actions by the offender.
It fosters a compassionate understanding that makes it easier to see the unwillingness of the person who acted hurtfully as reflective of their weakness, inner woundedness, and lack of the courage they need to take responsibility to make amends.
It It is not loving to forgive an action that caused serious harm in cases where the person who acted wrongly has not made a deep commitment and follow through to complete the work of reconciliation, much less one who sees no need for it.
Naturally acceptance also requires courage to stand firm. It takes courage to resist taking over to do the work of the other to nourish the relationship, and it’s not easy to stop looking for their approval as a measure of your worth and to turn within instead for your own nourishment as needed. It also takes courage, a form of compassion, to keep believing in the human capacity of every person to break out of their own limitations.
Genuine forgiveness is a painful undertaking, to be sure. Like genuine love, it is expressed in taking consistent action, with a conscious intention to do what is necessary to end any needless suffering of self and other, and to honor instead the priceless value of creating relationships that nourish, grow and strengthen individuals to love more courageously from a place of greater compassion and authenticity, a connection of self to life that allows the heart (emotions) and mind (logic) of each person in a relationship to operate wisely – as one.