An apology is a gift, if it is genuinely heartfelt. And the way to accept a gift is with appreciation. When we have been hurt, it can be difficult to let go of the pain, the anger and the grudge. We won’t be able to accept the gift of an apology while clinging to a grudge. So, we must manage our anger, let go of the bitterness and choose forgiveness.
Forgiveness is a choice, not a feeling. It is the decision to let go of a grudge and stop carrying it around. It is an act of the will. It is a cooperation with the healing process. The proper response to a sincere apology is to say, “Thank you.”
Forgiveness must not be confused with trust, however. An apology merely begins the process of rebuilding trust. Trust only returns after enough trustworthy behavior has been demonstrated. Therefore, accepting an apology is a way of saying, “I’m willing to start the process of rebuilding trust between us.” It doesn’t mean, “I trust you because you apologized.”
An apology requires vulnerability. Don’t use that vulnerability as an opportunity to cause more hurt. Don’t “rub it in.” Appreciate the gift. Accept the vulnerability in good faith and participate in healing the wound.