top of page

When we’re not forgiven

Living the human in existence, you have hurt somebody. This could be relatively small: you made a joke about someone’s appearance that really didn’t land well. Or it could be really, really big.

In spite of the scale, large or small we caused hurt But we can also all learn to practice accountability. Accountability doesn’t mean apologizing to save our reputations, or making excuses for our actions . It means taking a deep, long look at ourselves, what we did, who we hurt, and the consequences of our actions.

It also means to be proactive, to make that harm better. The truth is, we can’t make anyone else forgive us. But we can learn to pardon ourselves and do better in the future. To make things brighter and better.

Apologize. Sincerely Apologize

It’s possible that even though you thought you’ve made a good apology, your sentiment didn’t actually sound like you really meant it. I'm in a very hurtful situation that I unintentionally caused harm and I've sincerely, genuinely apologize more times then I can count.

If you’ve apologized for hurting someone but haven’t received forgiveness, it’s a good idea to really think over whether your apology was genuine. On a personal note I do know mine was and always will be.

I've learned one hole we often fall into is making an apology about ourselves, our feelings of guilt, and our desire for forgiveness, rather than about the harm we caused to the other individual

  • an acknowledgement of the offense

  • an explanation for why the apologizer caused harm

  • an expression of remorse

  • a meaningful offer to make amends

To communicate all these elements in the real world, therapists tell us being very specific about what you did wrong and how you hurt the other person, and explicitly using the phrases “I’m sorry” and “I was wrong.”

Research also tell us that people are more likely to forgive if given a chance to express their side of a situation, so make sure you really listen to the other person and understand how your behavior affected them before you apologize.

A genuine apology isn’t just the act of saying “sorry”: it’s understanding the humanity of the person you harmed and the damage you inflicted.

You are not just granted Forgiveness

You made a deep, genuine apology, but you still haven’t been forgiven. What now?

Forgiveness is a personal long battle.

It’s possible that the person to whom you apologized doesn’t feel they can forgive you now, but may forgive you later. Maybe never. However, that has to happen at the person’s own pace and meet their own needs.

Like I stated above, it’s also possible that the person you hurt will never forgive you — and even if they do forgive you, they may never want you back in their lives. That is terribly painful, but it’s something you have to accept. I may have to accept that too but I'm hoping it doesn't come to that.

After all, the process of being accountable isn’t about my own guilt, even yours. Its simply about addressing the needs of the person you hurt, and figuring out how to do better in the future.

Yes, this is understandably difficult to experience, the truth is nobody owes you forgiveness, and you don’t get to decide how other people feel about you. After all, pushing someone whose boundaries you may have already violated defeats the purpose of making an im truly sorry.

While not being forgiven can make you feel like there’s no way forward, remember that ultimately the other person’s decision to forgive you is less important than your own decision to take accountability and grow.

As therapist Kai Cheng Thom says at Everyday Feminism, “One shouldn’t try [to] aim for forgiveness when holding oneself accountable. Rather, self-accountability is about learning how we have harmed others, why we have harmed others, and how we can stop.”

Commit to Growth

You just can't control whether someone else forgives you. You can only control whether or not you take all this as an opportunity to grow. To learn. fact, it’s your responsibility to take steps to right the wrong you’ve caused and to become a better person. There's always room to improve.

While the person you harmed has the right to not be involved with this process or interact with you in any way, you can still take actions to grow as a person and avoid causing future harm.

And even if the person you hurt doesn’t forgive you, you do deserve to experience self-forgiveness. That is something I myself have trouble with. It's hard for me. I'm always hardest on myself.

You can’t make anyone forgive you, but you can choose, every single day, to be the kindest, most empathetic, and most caring version of yourself. The person you hurt deserves it — and so do you.

I hope this helps you.

Much love,


15 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


Rated 0 out of 5 stars.
No ratings yet

Add a rating
bottom of page