Increasing the Odds for Forgiveness
That’s what Gilly says. She’s a pesky student played by comedian Kristin Wiig in a few sketches from Saturday Night Live’s 2009 season. When Gilly’s teacher, played by Will Forte, scolds her for blatant naughtiness, she says the right word but there’s a big problem: she is completely insincere. Gilly is guilty and she is mighty proud of it.
The skits make me laugh every time I watch them. They also serve as a great tutorial on what not to do when you are the guilty one.
Let’s say you’ve made a mistake. You said the wrong thing, missed an important anniversary or failed to adequately empathize with a loved one’s feelings. In other words, you’re a human being who is flawed. Join the well-populated club!
What will restore joy to the scenario?
If we want those who have been hurt or offended to forgive us, we have to do our part. Have you acknowledged the damage created by your behavior? Can you be Un-Gilly?
In some cases, “sorry,” “my bad,” or “please forgive me” will be sufficient. More often than not, additional words are needed.
“I am sorry you are hurt” is a nice thing to say but something very important is missing. A true apology must acknowledge the specific behavior that evoked hurt or upset feelings.
You have a much better chance of receiving forgiveness if you say something like “I see how my forgetting it was our ninth anniversary has hurt you. I’m sorry.” Or “boy, I really missed the boat on understanding how sad you were about what happened in your interaction with your boss. Can you forgive me?”
When we take responsibility for our part in a disappointing interaction with someone, there is a much better chance that everyone wins. We grow. We are less likely to repeat that mistake again. The offended party might be able to modify their opinion of you. Let’s hope so.
Steve Maraboli, author of Life, the Truth and Being Free, takes a firm stance about this:
“If people refuse to look at you in a new light and they can only see you for what you were, only see you for the mistakes you've made, if they don't realize that you are not your mistakes, then they have to go.”
With the holidays approaching fast, I hope any feelings of dread are outweighed by eager anticipation. But if dread is predominant, what would happen if you could step back and ask yourself, is there someone I have not forgiven? Would our next contact be better if I could see past that person’s mistakes? Do I need to ask for an Un-Gilly apology?
If your trepidation is about seeing someone whom you have offended, how can you help them to see past your mistakes? Perhaps the situation calls for you to make a sincere apology . . . even though there is no guarantee it will alter their view of you. This is when you have to give Maraboli’s “advice” serious consideration!
The above paragraphs might make it sound like this forgiveness business is easy: it isn’t. But grudges are big fat killjoys so it’s worth a try to iron out some kinks in those relationships that mean a lot to you. Here’s hoping for the best of all outcomes when you go Un-Gilly.
Comments on this blog post are welcome — see the bottom of this page.
Prompts for Joy
Click here to see Gilly the imp at her worst.
Click here if you want Darlene Love and Patti LaBelle to give your holiday spirits a lift.
A favorite place to get perspective, in Lucia, CA.