Apologies and forgiveness are important because endless conflicts generate such deep and intense emotions. Even after the fighting stops, people still feel the pain, hurt, anger, fear, and hatred that produced the conflict and its horrors in the first place. Without apology and forgiveness, little progress beyond a ceasefire can be made.
To forgive does not mean you have to forget. In fact the opposite is true. We have to remember the past to keep it from happening again.
Immediately after breaking trust, you should act quickly to heal the relationship. This tells the victim that you are aware of the break in trust and care about your relationship. This also means the victim doesn’t have to deal with both suffering the consequences of the violation and having to confront you with the consequences of your behavior.
Apology - An apology has to be heartfelt and reflect true remorse for past actions.
Remorse – to feel guilt, shame, sorrow, and regret over one’s actions.
Regret –to feel badly about the choice you made and be disappointed in yourself.
A good apology should include:
1. Apologize for how you hurt the other person (victim). Be specific.
2. Give a thorough report of what happened. Take responsibility for your actions, and express remorse for the harm that the victim endured because of the event (even any parts that were not your intention or not directly due to your actions).
3. Also, be sure to carefully explain why you made the choices you made and what events led to the violation, so the victim can understand the events that led you to your decisions. This will help them see the reasons behind your actions and give them a better understanding of your beliefs and values that are likely to shape your actions in the future. It will also help them believe that you are not likely to repeat the action that hurt them. Your remorse indicates to the victim that you have also suffered as a result of your actions, and the victim may be less likely to seek revenge and or make the situation worse.
4. Be sincere. The victim is paying close attention to your motives and intentions, so you need to sincerely work hard to repair the harm from the event. Make every effort to show through your words and actions that you genuinely desire to earn the victim's trust again.
5. Make being trustworthy your daily goal – If there are few if any past trust violations, the chances for trust repair are better than in relationships with a history of trust violations or few trust-confirming events. Make it a priority to honor trust on a daily basis in order to make it easier for trust repair if needed again.
6. Restate and agree on expectations for the future, and be trustworthy in the future. You are likely to be on "probation" for a period, as the victim tests to see if you actually resume trustworthy behavior. Keep this in mind and take positive steps to by telling the victim exactly what they can expect from you. Then commit to following these standards in the future.
7. Reaffirm commitment to the relationship. Remind the victim of your shared goals and interests, as well as how much you value your relationship. Express your emotional attachment to the other party, and strive to demonstrate that the relationship is a top priority. You can re-gain your integrity and trustworthiness as you make obvious choices that show you care about the relationship more than your own self-interest.
8. Provide restitution/ penance(make it up to the person). Include in your verbal/ written apology the concrete actions you will do to show your good-faith effort to make up to the victim for the harmful effects of the violation. What the victim wants more than your kind words is something tangible (they can see, feel or touch), since they lost out on what they were counting on.