Forgiveness. If only it was as easy to give as it sounds. Apologies. If only it was as easy to receive as it sounds…. Or should this be the other way round?
I used to always be hopeful about people changing for the better and I continuously rejected that saying, “People never change.” NO! I refused to believe it. What’s the point of living if people cannot change?! Am I not living proof of how people can change? Of course they can.
If they want to.
And if they make the effort to.
(Can I get another mic?)
And there’s the key. People can change. People do change. If they want to. Wanting it isn’t enough though. There has to be some sort of effort involved; some attempt to change the behaviour.
I’m learning that there are many people who do not want to change. They do not truly want change badly enough. They are happy being unhappy; happy living in their misery and blaming everyone else for their lives. And I’ve learnt this the hard way; by making excuses for other people’s actions. Always. When I’ve been manipulated, taken advantage of, used and then cast aside (of course, while being thrown overboard I’m still trying to save the ship from sinking – worrying more about the other person than myself) I still want to believe that people will learn from their mistakes; that they’ll learn that their conscience won’t let them forget about how badly they’ve treated those they’ve said they care about, until they change for the better.
But I no longer wait in vain for such.
Because people will not change if they do not want to. And there are many people out there who say they want to but make millions of excuses why they can’t or make no effort whatsoever to do so. Or try once and then give up. No. Change is not easy. It’s not for the least resilient. Change requires an ability to reflect on your actions and your thoughts and it requires you to wonder how you could have done it differently. And to really change means humility. And two other NB things. The ability to apologise (sincerely) and to forgive (yourself and the other).
But the words mean nothing alone. Especially when it comes to apologies. The real value in an apology is the continuous attempt to change your behaviour.
“A real apology is remorse followed by silence, space and changed behaviour. A real apology is less speaking and more personal work on yourself. A real apology is looking within and addressing what caused you to hurt someone you love.” – Unknown
People don’t change when they don’t feel the need to apologise. And how do you know you need to apologise for something? When it creeps up randomly behind you every now and then. When you think because time has passed, the person you’ve hurt should get over your error because it’s “old” but deep down you know that’s rubbish. And the more you push it away the more it will eat away at you. Hitting you when you least expect it. And here’s what most people who don’t apologise miss: An apology is as much a release and healing for the other person as it is for you. Because if you have the decency to apologise (sincerely…see quote above on what an apology looks like) your conscience will be as released as well. So don’t think time heals all. Don’t think that by avoiding the person now, it will fix everything. If you need to phone that person because of that thing you did 6 months ago or 5 years ago or 20 years ago, do it. Especially if you’ve remembered it. If you need to write a letter, do it. If you need to give a hug of an apology, do it.
The second requirement for changed behaviour is forgiveness. And forgiveness happens at the core of your being. It happens when you can look in the mirror and say to yourself: I forgive you. It happens when you can forgive someone especially when no apology has been provided. Forgiveness is looking into the depths of your shadows and shining a light on them because forgiveness is whole. It’s all encompassing and it allows you to be compassionate to yourself and the other. And as much as apologising is not easy, neither is forgiveness. Because it means letting go of what you identify with; and by that I mean the past pain and hurt or trauma that you believe is such a big part of you, that it’s all you know. If you forgive you have the opportunity to create a new identity and as scary as this is it’s also uplifting and special.
When you forgive, you change.
Apologise and Forgive. And feel your soul become lighter.
A prayer of forgiveness: “If I have harmed anyone in any way either knowingly or unknowingly through my own confusions I ask their forgiveness. If anyone has harmed me in any way either knowingly or unknowingly through their own confusions I forgive them. And if there is a situation I am not yet ready to forgive I forgive myself for that. For all the ways that I harm myself, negate, doubt, belittle myself, judge or be unkind to myself through my own confusions I forgive myself.” – Unknown