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Avatar 11-09-2012 03:40 PM

Is there a difference....
Today's pondering: Is there a difference between one saying they are sorry and them asking for forgiveness?

I'm curious to hear the thoughts of others on this.

SNeacail 11-09-2012 04:51 PM

I guess that would depend on the person making the statements. Do they see a difference? I don't see much of a difference, but my husband does and it causes issues between us. I guess someone can say they are sorry (regret) you were hurt, without feeling the need to seek forgiveness for their actions.

InquiringOne 11-09-2012 05:02 PM

I think people tend to ask for forgiveness in much heavier situations or when they feel they've committed graver wrongs. But I don't see them as essentially different. I'm not sure if that is my catholic-cultural background coming through or if that's more widespread.

GalaGirl 11-09-2012 05:06 PM

I see it as a multi-step process in the larger "Making Apology" dance we sometimes must do in relationship.

If I have hurt someone by mistake, when I become aware of it I must

1) Tell them I am sorry for the hurt and I will try not to do it again. (my turn in the apology dance)

2) Ask them if they can forgive me. Now it is their turn in the apology dance because they have to choose (A) or (B):
A) If they choose "yes" and forgive me?

1a) Now I must ask how can I make amends so we are back in right relationship:
  • Sometimes just saying sorry is deemed enough and they will tell me so.
  • Sometimes just acknowledgement is NOT enough and something else is could be required of me to make ammends. Like if I borrow a book and got it wet, I may have to buy them a replacement book first before we can be good again.

B) They choose "no" and do NOT to forgive me. They do NOT grant opportunity to make amends.
Just because *I* say I'm sorry and start the apology process, doesn't mean they automatically will forgive me and give opportunity to make amends so we can return to right relationship. I may have hurt them and broken trust so they may not be willing to be at risk to me again.
3) Relationship status is now:

A) We agree to return to where we were and continue the relationship.
B) The relationship is severed.

Most of the time infractions are minor and you run thru the whole dance almost on autopilot. At the crowded store this week I accidentally bopped a man with my purse on the arm when walking past in a narrow aisle and I said "Oops! Sorry!" and he said "No prob! It's ok!" and we both kept on going with our grocery lists.

But for larger things in deeper relationship there could be bigger time in between steps of the Apology Dance and it won't be THAT fast. Sometimes a person have to take a mental step back and evaluate and discern if they are willing to try again or not here. It may also be a case of "I do forgive you, but I no longer want to continue in relationship."

I have had to tell a few people that -- friends who got too flaky to tolerate. I forgive them the thing, but I was over the chronic goofy so it was healthier for ME to forgive and then let the friendship go. No opportunity to make amends, no continuing friendship.


LilacViolin 11-09-2012 05:54 PM

Oh Gala, I like that.

I ask for forgiveness. It is something that I feel is important. I ask if they will forgive me for hurting them (after acknowledging the wrong) and what I can do to help rebuild the trust.

Some of this comes from our culture. It is ok to say "sorry" but the other person often replies "Oh, it is ok." Well, it isn't ok to hurt someone, intentional or not. So when I use the word forgiveness it takes out that social response to an apology.

NovemberRain 11-18-2012 06:38 AM

I have a long history with 'forgiveness' and lack thereof. I had quite a few horrific things happen in my childhood.

I was very fortunate to have an experience with one person who perpetrated some of the horror. He was in town, and asked to have dinner with me. I had made up my mind that the relationship could not go on with out me bringing up to him that I recalled it as horror. To my endless surprise, he brought it up first. We had a wonderful discussion. He apologized, before I asked. He said 'what do you want from me?' I said I would have wanted it not to happen, but given that we couldn't have that, I wanted apology, which he had already given. (basically, GG's scenario)

It was the only conversation I had like regarding events from childhood, so I was (and remain) very grateful that it was the first one. The rest of them were not as pleasant, and most of them will never even get to happen.

'I'm sorry you feel hurt' and 'I'm sorry you got hurt' are radically different statements than 'I'm sorry I hurt you' or even, 'I'm sorry that I did X, and that you feel hurt because I did that.'

I guess I've never had an expectation that anyone would ask forgiveness, so I don't include it when thinking of such events.

I guess I view forgiveness as mine to give or withhold, and I am the sole decision maker about it ~ to me it's irrelevant whether one asks or not. The hurt is mine to choose, or give up (it's FOR-giving). I'm the only one who hurts by not giving it. (that said, I have withheld it) (also there is the importance difference between forgiving and forgetting. I forgave, but I did not forget, because I was not willing to allow it to happen again.)

SchrodingersCat 11-18-2012 08:45 AM

Not that I'm a big Dr. Phil groupie... but I always remember this one thing he said [paraphrased]:

Forgiveness does not mean saying that what you did is okay. It means I'm no longer going to bear the burden of your bad behaviour. If I forgive you, it's not about you, it's about me. It's about me not carrying around that anger any more, allowing it to continue hurting me. Whether or not you are sorry, it's better for me if I can forgive you.

It's important to remember that "forgive" is not "forget." There are people who have wronged me without remorse or apology, and I've forgiven them because it wasn't healthy for me to waste my energy hating them. But you can bet your last dollar, I never gave them the chance to do it again. And for those who have apologized, I'm still wary to give them the opportunity again. I have to be sure that they've actually learned their lesson.

Now if it so happens that you are genuinely apologetic for what you did, and you are relieved and grateful that I've forgiven you, then so much the better for both of us.

So in that sense, I never ask for forgiveness. The most I can do is express my genuine remorse for hurting you. What you choose to do with that is your business.

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