Your emotions are your greatest guiding post. There are usually some major emotional signs and clues that you need more forgiveness in your life.
So, how can you tell?
If you have your guard up, and it keeps other people out of your life, not just the person you would love to have an apology from.
If you hold up a shield, and tend to use it as a battering ram when dealing with challenging people.
If you wear armor and disappear inside of it.
If you see yourself in some of these statements, don’t feel guilty or like you are being singled out as the “only one” living this way. These scenarios are common.
As with many things, what we did to protect ourselves as children we discover later in life to be habits that are more destructive than constructive. These things can end up by “owning us” in a strange way.
When we need an apology to heal or move forward unencumbered, it’s much the same. If we haven’t received an apology or processed a painful experience fully, we may adopt ways of dealing with a hurt that ultimately keep us wounded, stuck, or harbor resentments any of which shackle us and negatively affect our relationships. Again, these are problems not exclusive to “the one” who wronged us.
These unprocessed hurts can show up in the form of building internal walls, being defensive to the point where it’s almost aggressive behavior, and being locked away emotionally because we’re afraid of getting hurt again.
Even in daily life we can stumble into moments requiring forgiveness in order to move forward with an unencumbered relationship.
I am sure we can all identify a moment when we realize a resentment we are holding keeps us from being our best selves.
Picture this scenario that’s happened in my house: say you’ve been snapped at because you left the refrigerator door open too long on a hot day. Then, forever after, you find yourself muttering under your breath about how you pay the bills. You have the urge to hold the door open longer just to spite them. Or you avoid being in the kitchen with that other person, a little afraid you’ll get “caught.”
Minor moments like these can snowball. The little blip of resentment about bill-paying can gather more evidence and energy every time something similar happens. It gets tacked on to that first refrigerator moment. Pretty soon you have a boulder of ice between you and the other person.
One of the best ways to prevent deeper and wider relationship chasms can be to take care of them sooner than later. You probably don’t want to tackle the sensitive scenario in the heat of the moment when you are still inflamed and emotional.
Instead, get a little space and find a calm moment to talk through the situation. Play it through in slow-motion with the other person.
~ Share how you felt (using “I “ statements) and what you thought at each step of it.
~ Listen to the other person’s experience of it without interrupting
~ As you listen to each other, try to open your heart and mind to allow for that other experience beyond your own.
~ Ask for what you would love to hear.
~ Offer them a chance to apologize, and the chance for you to forgive them.
Even if it’s uncomfortable, you can trust that there is peace on the other side. You will have made a good effort to process the incident so it doesn’t keep affecting you the same way as if you hadn’t.
Don’t let an unmanaged moment coat you in armor and put a shield in your hand that you’ll have to lug around forever after. You can lighten your load through forgiveness.
If that other person won’t apologize and you’re still hurting?
Reach out to Project Forgive for tools. You can’t change the past, but with forgiveness, you can change the future.
~ Suzanne Dudley Schon
Suzanne Dudley Schon, Coach, Speaker, and Author is a catalyst who is passionate about helping people to see
differently, think differently, and act differently so that they experience freedom, joy, and true success – as they
define it – in every area of their lives.