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Forgiveness is a conscious, deliberate change in feelings toward someone who’s harmed you, regardless of whether they apologized or not. A good apology consists of three parts: I’m sorry, it’s my fault, and what can I do to make this right? While an apology certainly makes things easier, sometimes it isn’t offered or it’s insufficient or insincere (most people forget the third part). It was quite difficult for me to move forward without an apology, but I learned ways to respect myself and release myself from the burden of the situation with forgiveness. 

Own Your truth

Almost all aspects of life are viewed differently by different people, so why do we expect someone to always see things the way we see them? Someone who hasn’t apologized may simply feel as if they don’t need to, or maybe they don’t want to. Nonetheless, stand in your truth. You know what happened and how it made you feel, so own that. You don’t need accommodation or validation of your feelings in order to move on from the situation. Don’t offer forgiveness for the other person, offer forgiveness for yourself!

Don’t undermine the damage

In many cases, we perceive ourselves as overreacting when someone doesn’t apologize, and we usually say, it’s okay even if it really hurts. It’s important to remember that their unwillingness to apologize does not mean that the situation is okay. If you are the one hurt, you are the one who decides when it is okay. In order to move forward we have to fully experience our feelings. Acknowledging the pain and hurt you feel about the situation is an important step in the forgiveness process, so don’t tell them it’s okay when it isn’t. 

Hold them accountable

Despite your relationship with the person, it is important to hold them accountable for their actions. If someone constantly hurts you, don’t keep opening the door for them to come back into your life. Consistently letting someone who disrespected you back in, tells them that their behavior isn’t really hurting you despite the damage done. Holding them accountable by setting boundaries and removing their access to hurt you is important to moving forward.

Find an understanding

It is crucial to understand that forgiving them doesn’t depend on their apology. Forgiveness means letting what happened go and no longer letting their actions control you and your emotions. It is human nature to treat others with your own level of awareness and maturity and that differs between individuals. Finding and understanding means recognizing that all of us are human and realizing this is what allows us to release their control on us. 

Marlena Welsher is currently a sophomore at Siena College. She is majoring in psychology and minoring in criminal justice with the goal of becoming a psychologist who specializes in supporting victims of domestic violence. She loves iced coffee, going to the gym, and binge watching love island. She's extremely passionate about promoting mental health and wellbeing and loves to meet new people! Instagram: marlenawelsher
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