It’s good to get an apology when we feel that we’ve been wronged. Apologies help to clear the air, reestablish communication and begin the healing process.
But sometimes an apology isn’t forthcoming. Offenders may not be aware of their hurtful behavior. They may not think they’ve done anything wrong or feel that the event has been blown out of proportion. Perhaps they’ve already apologized and believe it’s time to put the matter to rest.
Perpetrators may even be unavailable to seek forgiveness. Perhaps an alcoholic father verbally abused his daughter when she was growing up, but he was killed in a car accident when she was a teen.
The result is that we’re forced to emotionally heal on our own. We have to free ourselves of hard feelings and repair the relationship in order to move on with our lives.
We may be reluctant to do this. Outrage can easily become a bazooka that we fire at the perpetrator whenever possible. We revel in our “you-wronged-me” status, secretly feeling righteous and superior behind the cloak of purported pain. It’s tempting to blame others for our actions. We could win Oscars for our portrayal of the helpless victim. In reality, we’re choosing to stay stuck. We’re allowing bitterness and anger to trump personal solace. Of course, there are times when it’s best not to seek reconciliation. If another’s actions are physically or emotionally harmful, we may be forced to completely sever ties.
Fortunately, those instances are rare. As a rule, we should release the anger and heal the breach ASAP.
HOW TO HEAL WITHOUT GETTING AN APOLOGY
Keep the event in perspective. It may seem monumental at the moment, but in the grand scheme of things, it’s probably inconsequential. Don’t let it grow out of proportion.
Place relationships front and center. Family members are the most important people in your life. Sometimes they can be inconsiderate. But it’s worth every effort to forgive and forget.
Recognize your contribution to the situation. Carefully analyze the incident. Look for ways you may have made things worse. Perhaps you were completely innocent. More likely you played a role.
Stop rehashing the event. The more you think about what happened, the larger the hold on your psyche. If you catch yourself obsessing say, “Stop!” Then replace the memory with something pleasant. Do this as often as needed.
Relax. Anger requires muscle tension. The more agitated your thoughts, the more gripping in your muscles. Break the cycle by taking a few deep breaths. Gently shake out your hands. Allow your shoulders to fall away from your ears. Repeat the process whenever your emotional thermometer starts to climb.
Focus on positive characteristics. Everyone has personal strengths. Even the person who has recently wronged you. Replace anger with statements such as, “He’s been a good provider and loving father.”
Assume the moral high ground. Just because someone has been thoughtless or rude doesn’t mean you need to follow suit. Behave in a manner that makes you proud.