Let’s say a friend throws a party without inviting you, or a co-worker misses a deadline that’s crucial for your pet project. You may be gracious enough to forgive if you receive a sincere apology, but what happens if the other person refuses to say the words you long to hear?
You can forgive others in these tough situations without feeling like a doormat. Learn why it’s wiser to move on instead of waiting for an apology, and how to make the first move.
Benefits of Forgiveness
The advantages of forgiveness are the same whether the other person apologizes or not. Think of pardoning others as something you do for yourself rather than for them.
1. Lighten up. Grudges are a heavy burden. When you release your anger and disappointment, you’ll free up energy you can devote to the things you love.
2. Show compassion. Each of us makes mistakes. When you give someone a second chance, remember that you’ll probably need one yourself someday.
3. Strengthen your relationships. Family and friends are precious. Develop connections that can withstand conflicts. Resolving your disagreements can even draw you closer together when you cooperate on finding solutions.
4. Take control. You’re in charge of your own happiness. Start feeling content right now instead of checking your phone to see if your boyfriend apologized yet.
5. Promote healing. Most of all, a loving and forgiving heart is good for your mental and physical health. You might even live longer.
How to Move On Without an Apology
Sometimes you want to forgive, but resentments still linger. These steps will help you overcome the barriers to reconciliation.
1. Wish others well. Imagine yourself celebrating the good fortune of someone who offended you. Force yourself to speak kindly to them, and you’ll eventually start to cherish them for real.
2. Hold yourself accountable. In most cases, you probably played some part in the conflict. Acknowledge your actions and figure out how to make positive changes.
3. Put yourself in their shoes. When someone fails to apologize, it usually has more to do with them than with you. They may feel ashamed or vulnerable. When you think about their pain, you may feel like you have more in common.
4. Resist all-or-nothing thinking. Distinguish between the human being and their actions. If your boss criticizes you unfairly, list the things you still like about her.
5. Write it down. Venting your feelings in a diary or an imaginary letter helps to sort things out. You can express yourself freely without worrying about widening the divide.
6. Reach out. If someone close to you has trouble apologizing, you may need to make an extra effort. Let them see how you apologize and take responsibility for your actions so they can discover more options.
7. Set boundaries. On the other hand, you may decide to limit contact if the relationship is dragging you down. You can still have affection and respect for someone you may need to keep at a distance at least temporarily.
8. Cultivate your peace of mind. The more secure you feel, the easier it is to focus on helping others rather than judging them. You’ll understand that your future depends on your choices rather than real or imagined insults.
Forgiveness allows you to let go of the past and free yourself from anger and resentment. It’s a decision you can make on your own regardless of whether others apologize or show little remorse. You have nothing to be sorry about when you give yourself the happiness you deserve.