OK, first let me explain what forgiveness means. Forgiveness is definitely not a smarmy "I will look down on you and turn the other cheek so that I can be the martyr". It is also not "I will be the judge, jury and executioner and forgive but – how dramatic – never forget". If your version of forgiveness is anything like that, you will suffer from lack of forgiving for a long time to come. You may even end up with physical symptoms of this lack of forgiveness eating away at you – cancer, blocked arteries and what not.
So what is forgiveness then?
We have all sorts of challenges throughout our lives. We have conflict on so many levels – with work colleagues, friends, relatives, and also within ourselves. You know as well as I do there is no way to avoid all conflict in life. Even if you try, the harder you try to avoid conflict, the harder it pursues you.
Every person that you have conflict with is an actor on a larger stage called life. You are also an actor on the same stage.
We have these conflicts because each one of them forces us to learn more about ourselves. We finally "get it" and we understand why we needed to go through the experience. Sometimes the lessons are easy, for example we clash on the sports field so that we can prove who is the strongest. Understanding that lesson is forgiving your opponent for hurting you.
Other times the lessons are more serious, for example when you trusted a friend who stabbed you in the back. Maybe you saw the warning signals long before the incident happened, but you chose to ignore your intuition and the situation got out of hand, and instead of saying "Now I know that next time I should trust my intuition" we say "that person is a so-and-so and I will never forgive him". Guess what? While you roll around at night thinking about this person, they sleep like a baby. While you spit fire whenever someone mentions this person, your body bears the brunt in stress while this "bad" person doesn't care. Once you see what the lesson was about, you will realise it was all about you, your understanding, your experience, and none about the person you needed to forgive.
So why is it so difficult to forgive? Because we love to wallow in the "injustice" that people do to us. We get stuck on one thought and don't move on to the next one.
However, if you ask yourself "what am I learning?" every time the thought appears, eventually the answer will follow your question. If you follow this process until you no longer have any "negative" thoughts about the person you need to forgive, you will finally get the answer. Once you fully understand, the knowledge is embedded in every cell of your body, and there is no looking back. Then you have forgiven.
How long does this take? How long is a piece of string?
But if you don't start today, you could spend a lifetime resenting and no time forgiving.
This is a perfect time to think of the list of people you need to forgive, and ask "what's in it for me?" about each of them.