Knowing how to ask for forgiveness is more than just “I’m sorry.” It takes a sincere repentance, assuming our responsibility and some more investment. We all make mistakes and make mistakes, it is the law of life. What happens is that sometimes our failures have consequences not only for us, but also for the people around us. And that is when knowing how to ask for forgiveness makes a difference, since if it is not done in the proper way, it can deteriorate or put ethe nd to relationship.
When a disappointment appears, a wound reopens, or someone is simply offended by what happened, “I’m sorry” is not usually enough. To repair the damage caused, we must assume our responsibility for what happened and know how to manage the emotional universe. However, we are not always willing, or at least it is not so easy for us. Let’s see below what the science says about it and how to apologize properly.
Why is it hard for us to ask for forgiveness?
Despite being aware that we are not perfect, there are those who find it difficult to accept their mistake and as a consequence ask for forgiveness. In most cases, this happens because by accepting the error, the idealized image we have of ourselves is broken. Therefore, it is easier to put a blindfold on to justify yourself than to accept what happened and to suffer our ego.
In other cases, asking for forgiveness is associated with feeling weak and sometimes even invalid, especially if self-esteem is resentful. Here an error is a great weight, a reminder of how complicated it is to do things well and a reason to justify the bad concept that one has about oneself.
To this must be added the low levels of empathy that some people have, which prevents them from putting themselves in the shoes of others and wondering how they might feel. In the end, to ask for forgiveness we must transcend our egocentricity, our selfishness and that need we have for the people around us to agree with our perception of reality. Beyond being right or wrong, we must take in consideration the consequences of our actions on others and try to adopt a more humble position.
Keys to ask for forgiveness
Asking for forgiveness is the cornerstone of human relationships, without it it is difficult for a relationship to move forward. In fact, an apology on time saves not only friendships, but also relationships with a partner, work and family. This is why knowing how to do it is so important.
In relation to this, a study carried out by psychologists Roy Lewick, Beth Polin and Robet B. Lount confirms that not all forms of asking for forgiveness are effective and also points out the keys to knowing how to apologize. They are as follows.
1. Express how we feel
The first step is not to ask for forgiveness as such, we must really feel regret and be aware of our mistake and its consequences. That is, you have to feel the apology and express how we feel.
To do this, it is necessary to break with the idea that doing it is a sign of weakness, otherwise it will not be possible or if it is carried out it will be very forced and the other person will notice it, therefore increasing the damage.
2. Explain what happened
What has happened needs to be explained clearly and in detail. It is the least we can do for the other person to understand what happened. And if it is to the face much better than by phone or any other way. Eye contact is essential when apologizing, as it allows for greater emotional connection and transparency.
3. Take responsibility
Perhaps one of the most difficult steps when asking for forgiveness, since not everyone is willing to take their share of responsibility for what happens. However, it is one of the most important, since it implies the recognition of authorship, of having made a mistake. It may be an “it was my fault” accompanying the description of the errors or mistakes, although the most assertive it would be “I am responsible for what has happened.”
Be that as it may, taking responsibility implies recognizing that how you have acted has consequences and you are aware of them, as well as serving as an exercise in reflection to prevent it from happening again.
4. Say what we regret
It is not worth saying that we regret it if we are not sincere or specify what we should not have done or our forgiveness is followed by excuses. The other person waits for an explanation and, in most cases, to make sure that the damage is actually intended to be repaired. Therefore, you have to be honest when expressing it. And in the event that this is not the case, it is better not to do it.
5. Listen and offer how to repair the damage
When asking for forgiveness, it is necessary to listen to the other person: how they feel, what they think, how what happened has affected them … Empathizing with the person who has been hurt is key not only to understand the consequences of what we have done, but to understand that we care and that our repentance is true.
As is explaining what is intended to be done to repair the damage. Well, there are those who are very skilled in words, but at the moment they do not act. The truth is that no apology is effective if it is not taken to the field of the acts, that is, if there is no commitment.
6. Ask for forgiveness
According to the researchers of the study, this would be the most dispensable step of all, although we should not ignore it for this reason.
It is recommended that in an apology all the aforementioned aspects appear: a dialogue face to face in which what happened is exposed, how we feel and how we intend to solve it together with a sincere forgiveness.
Only then will it be possible for an apology to transcend, although what happens next no one knows. They may forgive us and give us another chance or they may not. The point is that we are prepared for both situations, both to try not to make the same mistakes and to assume their consequences. Because admitting a mistake and asking for forgiveness not only frees us, but also helps us continue to grow and evolve.