I asked for forgiveness, they’ve accepted my apology, now what? The journey of forgiveness doesn’t end there. Consider these five things you should do to learn, grow, and reconcile with others (and yourself).
1. Take time to reflect. There may still be next steps you need to take and it is important to acknowledge them. Try looking for patterns or triggers that may have caused the issue in the first place.
For example, if you tend to overshare or act foolish at parties, which ends up embarrassing your partner, figure out the patterns and what’s in common at these parties to address the underlying concern. Perhaps you feel social anxiety so you feel the strong urge to drink to ‘loosen’ up. Instead try to address that social anxiety another way. Maybe your old college buddies are at the party, and you start acting immature to try to relive your glory days and feel young and cool again. Take time to find new ways to have fun and feel useful, or possibly even spend time separately with those friends.
2. Ask a trusted friend. If you are struggling with identifying those patterns or triggers, sometimes getting another perspective can shed some light on what we do not see. A friend, someone who knows you well and you can trust, can give you honest insight and an outsider’s point of view. The key, however, is to not get defensive when they give you an answer. Listen to them and simply take it into account during your personal reflection.
If your friend honestly tells you that when you drink you tell more crude jokes or start arguing about politics making those around you uncomfortable, hear them out. It is quite possible that you might not be reading the room right while drinking. Even if you’d rather not share the issue with a friend, still try to reflect on what you would honestly tell a friend in your situation.
3. Change what you can. Once you figure out what the patterns might be, adjust what you can to not let the issue happen again. Be flexible and give several options an honest try. If you and your partner keep having a fight about finances, try building out a budget together. Be honest and realistic with what you need in the budget. Do not let it fail on purpose to make a point. It might not work the first time, and that is okay, but the important thing is to keep the line of communication open and adjust where needed.
4. Learn new skills. The journey to forgiveness has shown what does not work, but you still may not know what could work. For example, what could be done to manage your temper or react to someone else’s temper, to avoid reacting negatively next time? Now would be the time to learn a new skill to help handle these situations. Do some research. Ask someone you know who is good at that new skill you want to learn or has possibly struggled with the same concern. You might be surprised to hear what worked for them. If you need a little extra help, engaging in therapy can help you learn new skills and refresh your perspective.
5. Have a bigger conversation. Understanding the underlying beliefs, situations, and concerns that drive our thoughts or behaviors can help us have better empathy for ourselves and others. For example, you might find yourself reacting with anger or treating others poorly, the same way you hated how your father treated you when you were a child. Maybe you run out of patience quickly with your boss who reminds you of your critical mother, never saying anything nice to you about your work and only micromanaging your every move. Once you understand the origins of your behavior and the underlying issues, you can identify what you want to change and how. Try having this bigger conversation with someone you trust or even a therapist.
The process of forgiveness isn’t always easy. You can trust JFS therapists will be available when you need that extra bit of help to figure things out. Call (407) 644-7671 or complete our online form to request an appointment today. Telehealth counseling appointments are available. Medicare, Medicaid, and most insurances accepted, and a sliding fee scale available for those who do not have insurance.
Ashlyn Douglass-Barnes, LCSW is the Clinical Director and a licensed clinical social worker at JFS Orlando. Ashlyn has worked in a variety of settings including outpatient community based mental health, inpatient/admission psychiatric hospital, substance abuse/DUI, dialysis/medical, and in home/office outpatient therapy.