It’s a hard thing to do—to completely let go of something painful and forgive the person who may or may not realize that they've hurt you.
So how do you do it? For example, how do you forgive your college boyfriend when he has you really down in the dumps?
The following are three tips to help you forgive:
1. Look for the Lesson
Many Buddhists consider huge difficulties to be a sign you're an old soul—the bigger your misfortunes, the closer you are to enlightenment. Whether you believe this or not, it's certainly a valuable exercise to re-frame life's bad events as tests of your character. If you feel particularly wronged by your boyfriend, ask yourself what is the lesson here for you. Patience? Compassion? Resilience? Forgiveness? Open-mindedness? What strengths must you develop further?
2. Let Go of Resentment
There is a fantastic quote from Malachy McCourt that says: "Resentment is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die." Recognize that when you resent someone, you are not only hurting yourself, you're also giving this person control of your emotions—and that is definitely not what you want to do.
3. Switch the Focus from Blaming Him to Understanding Yourself
If you're upset at your boyfriend, take the focus off him for your inner distress. Shift your mental energy to allowing yourself to understand your part in the equation, and what you can learn from the situation. It's important to take these lessons so that you're better equipped to navigate and avoid hurtful situations in the future.
Forgiveness puts the final seal on what happened that hurt you. You will still remember what happened, but you will no longer be bound by it. Having worked through the feelings and learned what you need to do to strengthen your boundaries or get your needs met, you are better able to take care of yourself in the future.