When you know that you have done the wrong thing to someone, you should ask for God’s forgiveness and should ask the person for forgiveness. God will forgive you. The person may forgive you too. You should ask the person for forgiveness in person to allow him or her to see that it is a genuine request for forgiveness—if this is at all possible. People will respect you more when you just come out and genuinely apologize for the things that you have done wrong. Don’t try to make excuses for what you have done wrong—just apologize. When you try to make excuses for what you have done wrong or try to engage in a debate about whether or not what you did was really wrong, then you cause even more pain for your victim or victims and run the risk of never getting forgiveness from that person.
Although some people may never forgive you, you should try your best to get their forgiveness because you are the person who caused the pain in the first place. The one thing that you can do in the future to prevent causing people pain is to simply not strive to intentionally hurt people. When you have developed a reputation for being compassionate, then the times where you unintentionally hurt people will be less of a problem because people will automatically excuse you because your compassionate reputation precedes you.
One thing that makes me angry about people who intentionally hurt others is when they try to cover up the hurt that they have caused. When they attempt to make it appear like they had nothing to do with the hurt that they caused, this represents the essence of cowardice. I have a difficult time not going wild on someone who knows that he or she has intentionally inflicted pain on me, but comes around me acting like everything is okay—like nothing has happened.
Let’s be better people and not intentionally hurt people. If we would not intentionally hurt people, we would not have to carry with us the pain of knowing that we have done the wrong thing to somebody, and what a pain that is.
Antonio Maurice Daniels
University of Wisconsin-Madison