A sure path to happiness is to forgive and release hurtful feelings. It is not necessary to forgive and FORGET, but in most cases it is necessary to forgive and release the pain so you can regain your power and live with more smiles in your life.
In the Jewish religion Yom Kippur is the Day of Atonement. For wrongs against God one is to go to God. For wrongs against others one is to go to the person wronged and sincerely ask for forgiveness. If not forgiven one is to go 2 more times. Not a happy day, but happiness could be a result of the day.
For those of us not of the Jewish religion and culture we may be missing an opportunity to humble ourselves, act with courage, and make amends on a consistent basis. Forgiveness can be so difficult and in the days where on-line communication replaces face-to-face communication people can do wrong to others with a few brash key strokes. Relationships dissolve because we fail to talk to each other and choose to complain about each other instead.
What if we all were to create a DIY DAY OF ATONEMENT; a day where we were to GO TO God and GO TO those we have wronged and ask for forgiveness? Would our social connections be of a higher caliber? Would we act with character, confidence, and courage? Would we feel better about ourselves and be more connected to our communities if we had a FORGIVENESS PRACTICE that healed ourselves and our neighbors?
A DIY DAY OF ATONEMENT is an opportunity to look another in the eyes and come clean. It is an opportunity to show up in the world as a kind soul and prove that generally when we ask for forgiveness we are forgiven. We generally receive what we seek and mend strained relationships when we sincerely ask for forgiveness.
A sincere apology goes beyond the standard “I am sorry.” If you are the one that needs forgiveness I have collected a few simple tips that should have you on the forgiven path:
• Before making an apology it is important to EXAMINE YOUR FEELINGS. Are you feeling regret and are concerned about the good versus bad consequences? Are you remorseful due to actions that were the result of serious or painful errors of judgment and now feel urged to fix the mistake through personal change and sacrifice?
• Take time to REFLECT ON WHAT YOU DID WRONG and how it affected the other person. Forgive yourself for your err and commit to learning the life lesson, making things right, committing to personal change and sacrifice, and asking for forgiveness.
• Choose an APPROPRIATE METHOD AND/OR SETTING (make sure the apology comes through you, not another person), mind your body language (eye contact, relaxed body, no anger or frustration – even if you are still angry with yourself), be timely (not before you are ready, but don’t wait too long), and be prepared for a rough start.
• Take FULL RESPONSIBILITY without making excuses for the specific mistake, clearly accept your responsibility, and make it clear to the other that you understand the consequences of your actions (personal, emotional, relational, monetary, business, etc). Do not use the words “if” or “but”. Do not imply shared responsibility no matter what the situation. Replace the word “if” with “that” or “for”.
• EMPATHIZE with the one you hurt by communicating that you understand their hurt feelings, do not try to evoke sympathy for yourself, but assume this is a big deal for them.
• Express REMORSE and COMMIT TO CORRECTing this in the future, never justify your actions. If repayment or a corrective action needs to be taken ask the other person what can be done. Take the person back to where they were before or make them better. Commit to doing this if you are forgiven or not.
• Clearly convey APPRECIATION for the role the person plays in your life and why the apology is so important—whether or not they accept it. Describe what you think you will lose if the relationship is permanently damaged.
• Specifically REQUEST FORGIVENESS, however do not demand it or expect it
• Allow them to respond in as much time as is necessary. BE PATIENT. You wronged them, do not wrong them again or you will make matters worse and possibly lose the relationship that you value.
• EXPECT NOTHING in return, but if you get an apology back do not let that open the door for excuses. Once you have apologized move on, do not continue to apologize, but do forgive yourself. Ideally you would walk away knowing things are right between the two of you.
Before seeking forgiveness mentally rehearse the above process and tips. Of course the scenario will not play out exactly as you rehearse, but it will prepare you for the conversation. If the conversation gets off track, bring it back to this process, the next step may be exactly what the one hurt needs to hear from you.
Remember generally people are forgiven when they sincerely request it. Do what you need to do to restore the relationship to whole.
Today’s SIMPLE SMILE IGNITER is to create a DIY DAY OF ATONEMENT. If this feels too big then start with God; work this process through in prayer and commitment to make things right and making the changes and sacrifices necessary to restore your relationship with your higher power. Regardless of religion beliefs when we are universally wronging ourselves and others we are living a diminished life. Restore your life to whole by getting right with someone today.