Sometimes we make mistakes. Big ones. If you're like most other people, it's hard for you to ask for forgiveness. It's easier to look for excuses, try to pass the blame to someone else and come out of the whole mess looking clean. That is our ego.
When we ask for forgiveness, we swallow our ego. It's one of the hardest things to do, but there's a way to fix things when we ask for forgiveness. Even if we're not forgiven, we liberate ourselves from the feeling that we could've done more.
When you have messed up big time, these five suggestions on apologizing just might work even when you've done the unforgivable.
1. Acknowledge where you messed up
This is the first thing you need to understand: you cannot demand forgiveness. It's the choice of the other person. But, when you want to be forgiven the way you apologize makes a big difference.
Start by acknowledging your mistake. Your acknowledgment gives the other person hope that you won't make the same mistake again. Recognize your failure. Then, you can honestly ask for forgiveness.
2. Explain what went wrong and take responsibility
There must be a reason behind your actions. Why did you do what you did? It's important to reveal the motivation. The important thing here is to be honest. Do not make excuses. Take full responsibility for your actions, but explain the motive behind them.
3. Show genuine regret
When you hurt someone with your actions, they are going through an emotional rollercoaster. It may be your parent. Maybe you hurt your partner. Maybe it's someone who deeply believed in you. Whoever this person is, they cannot stay indifferent to your actions.
In order to ask their forgiveness, you must show you truly regret doing what you did. Understand why they are hurt and how you made them feel. When you demonstrate such empathy, this person will understand you care about the way they feel. Of course, you have to be honest. Never fake empathy! Most people can see through that act.
4. Tell them you'll fix things (and follow through!)
After you show you understand your mistake, explain why you made it and you say you realize how that made the other person feel, it's time to focus on the future. What will you do from this point on? How will you prevent similar situations from occurring? You have to guarantee you won't act in the same manner again. Moreover, you have to stay true to that promise.
5. Allow them to be angry
You think asking for forgiveness is hard? Forgiving is even harder. When people are really hurt, they find it hard to act like nothing ever happened. It's partly ego, but the other part is the lost trust. If this person trusted you and you didn't respect that, they will be reminded of that moment whenever they look at you.
Let them express their emotions. Maybe they won't forgive you at this moment. Accept that. Make your honest apology and leave the decision to them. This step doesn't guarantee you forgiveness, but it does make you a better person.
Be patient when you ask for forgiveness. If the wound is serious, it will need time to heal. The person may not be ready to make peace with you yet. But, if your apology is true and respectful, you're making the first step towards reestablishing communication.