Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Forgiving the Unrepentant

What do you do when someone wrongs you, you want to forgive them, but they are not sorry at all? It is a dilemma that many of us face, and we handle it in different ways. Some of us hold grudges for weeks, months, and even years, while others ignore the situation to avoid conflict, but the unfair treatment constantly manifests itself. Both responses are unproductive and wind up hurting the wronged person more than the one who did the bad deed. So how do we forgive the unrepentant and move on with our lives?

I am hardly an expert, but evaluating the situation from the inside out works for me. Can I work this out amicably? Did I do anything that I have to make amends for in this situation? If so, will making the first step repair the relationship? If the answer is no for each question, I change my tactics. The first thing I do is take a step back from the person and wait to see what happens. Many people will not say “I’m sorry,” even when they know they are wrong. I prepare myself to accept that I may never hear those words from my aggressor, because pride is often stronger than admitting the truth.

Someone I care about has been in this unfortunate situation with a relative for several years now. The initial attack shook her so deeply that she collapsed and was rushed to the hospital as a result. I was angry at everyone involved, including her, because I couldn’t understand why she made herself sick over untrue accusations; I realized later that the attack roused her insecurities, and the fact that it came from someone she cared about took a heavy toll.

My advice is to accept that you may never receive the apology you deserve, but to grant forgiveness anyway. It doesn’t have to be a verbal declaration; as long as you make peace with the past and move on, good fortune will smile on you more than anyone else in the situation.

Can you forgive those who are blatantly unapologetic?

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