Let’s start with definitions from the dictionary…
apology | əˈpäləjē | noun (plural apologies) 1 a regretful acknowledgment of an offense or failure: we owe you an apology | I make no apologies for supporting that policy. • (apologies) used to express formally one’s regret at being unable to attend a meeting or social function: apologies for absence were received from Miss Brown | my apologies for the delay. 2 (an apology for) a very poor or inadequate example of: we were shown into an apology for a bedroom. 3 a reasoned argument or writing in justification of something, typically a theory or religious doctrine: a specious apology for capitalism.
forgive | fərˈɡiv | verb (past forgave; past participle forgiven) [with object] stop feeling angry or resentful toward (someone) for an offense, flaw, or mistake: I don’t think I’ll ever forgive David for the way he treated her. • (usually be forgiven) stop feeling angry or resentful toward someone for (an offense, flaw, or mistake): [no object] : he was not a man who found it easy to forgive and forget | they are not going to pat my head and say all is forgiven. • cancel (a debt): he proposed that their debts should be forgiven. • used in polite expressions as a request to excuse or regard indulgently one’s foibles, ignorance, or impoliteness: you will have to forgive my suspicious mind.
Did you learn something new about apologies? The common understanding of “apology” usually stops at the first definition: ‘a regretful acknowledgement’. I personally had no clue about the third one!
Now, in forgive, did you notice it is all about how you feel? It does not speak of wiping them of their sins. It is all about how we feel!!
For a long time I saw apologies and forgiveness as a packaged deal. One could not exist without the other. If someone apologized to you, you forgave them. And that is genuinely how it went for me in my life. When someone apologized to me, my feelings of anger and resentment went away as if by magic.
In fact, the two are not related at all.
Both have to do with the givers, only. Someone wronged is not ‘owed’ an apology; and no one who apologizes is owed forgiveness, either. The two are separate and distinct. If one apologizes because they have to, then it lacks sincerity and what is the point? If one has to wait to receive an apology before they can forgive (no longer feel anger or resentment) then they are still at the mercy of the person whom they perceive wronged them. If someone apologizes then you might feel obligated to forgive them (or at least say you have) but then what have you done with your anger and resentment?
If we feel we have harmed someone, intentionally or not, and feel regret, it makes us feel better – absolved – of our remorse in the matter to apologize. So what then when we apologize and someone refuses to ‘accept it’??!! Our release of remorse does not depend on the other’s forgiveness. It cannot. If we do this, then we are giving away the power over our emotions. I may always wish I had not done something, but if I’ve apologized I need to lay the baggage of remorse down with it. No one can absolve me of remorse but me.
If we feel we have been harmed by someone, intentionally or not, it is not the wrong doers responsibility to apologize to make us feel better. That is giving power over our emotions to another. We can’t do that. That’s no way to live!
“Let it go” is a very common suggestion from others: “Just let it go. It’s not worth it.” While entirely true, if it were that easy we wouldn’t even be having this conversation. That doesn’t mean we need to disregard this piece of advice. It just means it needs to come with instructions.
Let it go is an energetic happening. You can’t do it by ruminating on the events. What you do is replace it with something higher in vibration. Sometimes it is just another phrase that helps things along.
I recently let go of something that has been plaguing me for a couple of years. Someone misappropriated something very sentimental in value to me. “Losing those items” haunted me. Until the other day when I settled on this, “I hope that the energy of my belongings is transforming the one that needs it.” If I can’t have it then let it still carry on it’s healing where it is more needed. Because that’s what I was missing in its absence…the healing properties I ascribed it. Then I visualized where this pain was being held in my energy field and I released it (let it go) by pushing it out of my energy field and then I recalled my energy that was attached to it to fill that hole! It worked the first time I did it! But I keep doing it to make sure to continue the healing.
We each have to find the way of healing that works for us. You can’t put your healing in someone else’s hands by waiting for either an apology or forgiveness.
Apologies and forgiveness are not for receiving.
They are actions we take for our own growth and benefit. When we apologize we accept culpability and are transparent. We express ourselves in an authentic way and grow from the experience. We have decided that is not behavior we wish to represent us and we make amends.
When we forgive we free up space in our energetic body. We experience lightness and relief. Anger and resentment are toxic when they remain in the energetic body. We cause ourselves great ill by holding on to them. We might wish to blame the wrongdoer but it is we who are doing self harm.
There is the Ho’oponopono Hawaiian forgiveness practice that is popular right now: “I am sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you. I love you.” I found the story behind it interesting. This is an unusual custom that does not ring as healthy for everyone. But I see it like this:
I am sorry = I have remorse; Please forgive me = please do not hold onto your anger and resentment; Thank you = thank Universe for this experience; I love you = I am love.
In truth, if I understand it correctly, you say these words to yourself. This makes a HUGE difference to me and makes it all make sense without the interpretation above. The belief is that if you heal yourself, you heal your world.
Now that is the real purpose of apologizing and forgiving.
I love you.