This brings up an important point regarding conflict resolution and relationship stress: apologies matter. If someone wrongs you, and then gives you a lame, half-hearted apology, don't you often feel even more angry and hurt? (I know I do.) But a sincere, heartfelt apology can melt anger, re-establish boundaries, and mend rifts, even if it's delivered later than it should have been.
An adequate apology requires a few key ingredients:
- Taking full responsibility for one's actions, without blaming the other person.
- Expressing remorse for the pain caused.
- Assurances that steps will be taken to prevent the same mistake occurring in the future.
Once the apology is delivered, though, the matter isn't closed. There's the question of forgiveness. It's often difficult to forgive, especially when the pain of the situation is intense, partially because forgiveness often feels like permission: if what happened wasn't okay, does forgiveness mean condoning what was done? For the record, when someone says, "I'm sorry," essentially saying "That's okay," is not the same as saying, "That was an okay thing for you to do; please do it again!" Forgiveness is more about letting go of anger and hurt feelings associated with a situation, which helps the forgiver even more than the forgivee. Forgiveness is something that we do for ourselves as much as for the other person, if not more.
The following forgiveness resources might help you deal with the stress of being 'wronged':