On a level of one to ten, how harmonious and fulfilling are your relationships? If you are like me, then the answer fluctuates. Misunderstandings, stress, and weakness can wreak havoc on the quality of connections with those you love.
There is one step you can take to improve each and every relationship you have. Ready?
If you hurt someone, acknowledge their hurt or disappointment and ask for forgiveness. Never say you’re sorry again.
Wait for a second; you may be thinking this is crazy. Never say I’m sorry? Didn’t we all learn to say we’re sorry at two years old? When someone is upset with me, or I make a mistake, I should say sorry. Right?
No. It is just too easy to say you’re sorry. Imagine you’ve made a date with someone you love and cooked them a delicious dinner. They don’t show up. An hour later they call and say, “Hey, I’m sorry about that.” What is your response? Do you feel better? Sometimes it soothes hurt feelings, but other times I’m sorry can even feel insulting. It’s as if they have said they are sorry, so you have to forgive them. It’s implied. Is that fair? It doesn’t feel fair to me.
It doesn’t feel fair to children either. It also doesn’t enable them to develop empathy or compassion. I never force my kids to say they are sorry. I discourage it. Instead I ask them to go and acknowledge how what they did hurt the other person and ask for forgiveness.
“I know it hurt you when I hit you in the arm. I won’t do it again. Do you forgive me?” Sometimes the answer is yes, and all go off to play happily. But sometimes the answer is, “no!” That is okay too. That means there is still fear involved, or anger, or both. They don’t trust that they won’t get hit again, or they doubt the sincerity of the one asking for forgiveness. The point is, the hurt party is given the power to bestow forgiveness or not. Forgiveness is requested, not indirectly demanded.
I promise you that making this one change in your life will improve all of your relationships. As much as I long to be the perfect Mom, Wife, Sister, Daughter, Friend, etc., I mess up. I hurt or let those closest to me down once in a while. Or a lot. Sigh.
It is amazing how acknowledging how your actions have made someone else feel and asking for forgiveness changes everything. No more, “I’m sorry, this and this happened and that’s why I couldn’t….” or “I’m sorry, but you….” Or a quick thrown out, “I’m sorry,” and then a quick topic change.
Get ready to get courageous, because you need to be hella strong to make this step. It’s called vulnerability, its called accountability. It’s a little something called: love.
“I hurt you by what I did. I will really try not to do it again. Do you forgive me?”
Wishing you the joy of harmonious relationships, Heather