As this holiday season rolls around, so do the reminders of the importance of gratitude. People are inundated by the social media posts with pictures of loved ones, captions announcing how blessed folks are for family, holiday decorations echoing the themes of “Thankful, grateful, blessed.” On top of all that, there’s the pressure of giving the right gifts to remind the people in your life that you appreciate them.
But one powerful tool from the gratitude toolbox seems to get missed during the holiday season. Ironically, this is the tool that could make more impact than any gift, social media post, or “grateful” home decor.
This is the powerful tool of apologies.
This post is going to be short and sweet (since I plan on taking my own advice and taking some time to reflect on my own blessings, shortcomings, and loved ones), but if you really want to keep the people in your life feeling close and appreciated – have you ever considered apologizing to them for the times you made mistakes?
We all make mistakes. In every relationship. We are human beings and we are not omnipotent; we only have the information that’s available to us when we make decisions. Due to this limited ability of humans, we are bound to make mistakes, even when we have the best intentions.
A lot of times our loved ones have to make their own internal sacrifices to uphold relationships when we accidentally wrong them. Moreover, a lot of the time, the emotional toll that this takes on people is often not acknowledged. Our loved ones carry the burden of our mistakes without us even realizing it sometimes. It’s so easy to take it all for granted. However, our loved ones continue to do this because they love us. They do it because we are worth it. They do it because they want us to feel safe – and what bigger blessings are there than loved ones who will sacrifice because of how much they love us?
And to my friends in the crowd that are wondering, “But what if I apologize to someone for my own mistakes, but they wronged me too, and now I’m threatening the boundaries that I put in place with them?” My answer is this: “Forgiveness is not an invitation to a relationship.” Forgiveness doesn’t mean taking down your boundaries, forgiveness means retaining your boundary but sending a letter over that boundary to the other person that says, “I’m sorry for my own mistakes.” Forgiveness doesn’t even affect your boundary, forgiveness simply relieves you and the other person from the baggage of the past.
So if you are truly grateful, if you truly feel blessed, think about taking the route of humility to express some of that. None of us are perfect, none of us always make good choices, and sometimes the best gift to someone we love is to acknowledge our mistakes to them. If you love someone, if you’re grateful, put humility first. The gift of honesty and humility will probably go a lot farther than gifts cards or social media posts.