Fundamentally speaking, forgiveness is an exchange that happens between two people. But what happens when one of the parties involved either doesn’t want to accept responsibility for the role they played or refuses to accept the other’s apology?
As children, we’re taught to say sorry when we say or do something wrong. We’re also taught to hug and make up when someone tells us they’re sorry. Unfortunately, that fundamental lesson doesn’t always translate into adulthood the way it should. The older we get, the more complicated our relationships are, so the harder it is for us to either say sorry or forgive someone for the wrong they did.
The thing is, forgiveness is not always going to be a two-way street. You may have to forgive someone for what they did, even if they do not show remorse for it. On the flip side of that, it’s important to come to terms with the fact that you’re going to be the person in the wrong sometimes and even if you apologize, the other person may not be willing to forgive and move on.
The more intimate the relationship, the deeper the hurt tends to go. One incident can cause irreparable damage to a relationship–to the point where the hurt party doesn’t want to even hear an explanation, let alone an apology. This can be very disheartening if you’re the cause of the issue and you truly regret your actions. But you have to learn to accept that everyone is entitled to feel the way they feel. Honor where they are at in their healing process, and forgive yourself. Eventually, if they are mentally and emotionally strong, they will come to a place of forgiveness. But everyone is different and some take longer than others to get to this point.
So what about if you’ve been wronged but the other person isn’t sorry?
For your own mental well-being, it’s best to forgive them and move on. Before writing someone off, however, make sure you express how they hurt you and give them a chance to explain and apologize. Often times, most people don’t even realize they’ve done something wrong. If after you’ve explained how their words or actions hurt/offended you, and they show no remorse, then it’s best to reassess that relationship–does it enrich your life or does it drain your energy? Their lack of understanding and empathy speaks of their character, and depending on the severity of the situation, you’re probably better off distancing yourself from someone with that type of toxic trait.
No matter what part you play, forgiveness is part of any healthy relationship. It releases emotional baggage and can strengthen a relationship. Plus, forgiving people tend to be more optimistic and happy. They realize that holding on to a grudge simply isn’t worth it; it can rob you of your joy and be a thorn in your side.
If you’ve been putting off forgiving someone, please take the time to really think about what it is that’s holding you back. Forgiveness doesn’t free the other person or somehow excuse their behavior, rather it frees you and gives you peace. And if you ask me, forgiveness is a small price to pay for inner joy and peace.