How many times have you rerun the tape, gone over the details of who said what to whom, of how it all happened, of the injustice and blame or the guilt and shame? How many times have you done this—and did it ever help you feel healed, more joyful or happier? How often do you have to repeat this before you see that all of it is going nowhere other than prolonging your unhappiness?
We are not trying to be simplistic. From a rational point of view, it can seem impossible to forgive: You are hurt and want revenge and it is the other person's fault—so why should you forgive? But if you want to reach closure, then you have to confront this desire to hold onto the story, because it simply causes further suffering. You are the one feeling the pain, and the longer you hold on, the more suffering you cause yourself.
To forgive includes fully acknowledging your feelings: how angry, upset, betrayed, bitter or indignant you are; how unfair life is; how let down and sad you feel...and that it's absolutely okay to be this way. You know and feel the pain, but the desire to no longer continue the suffering is stronger; you care enough about yourself to not want to carry the anger or sadness any longer.
If you don't forgive, it's like carrying heavy baggage that weighs you down so you can't go forward, but you can't go without it, because it contains your history, your identity. Or it is like holding onto hot coals, but you're the one getting burned. Letting go of the past—of the story and the details—enables you to open to the present, to who you are now. You don't need to live in the drama, to keep the story alive, to maintain suffering. You can come back to sanity and goodness and bring that sanity into your life.
As Gangaji says in our book, Be The Change: "We have all experienced being hurt by someone, such as our parents, lover, or friend. But it is not about denying the hurt; it's actually about opening and meeting the hurt, and then the hurt itself becomes a deepening of our heart. In that moment, it is natural for forgiveness to occur."
Try Ed and Deb's forgiveness meditation