It is impossible to change the relationship we have with the world around us without changing the relationship we have in ourselves, with ourselves. This is the secret teaching of the ages.
Our task, if we want to be free human beings -- if we want a life in which we no longer carry around with us "what he did," "what she didn't do," "what never worked out" -- begins with discovering that there can be no real freedom for us until we understand the nature of the tyranny of the past that still lives within us. And one of the main areas of this unchallenged dictatorship that still holds us captive is our inability to forgive.
Do you know people -- maybe who aren't even alive anymore -- that you haven't been able to forgive? Are there certain events in your life you just can't release? You should know by now that what you can't release isn't the person or the condition that you see as being the source of your pain. What seems to be "stuck" isn't an old situation you can't release; it's a thought.
Over and over again, certain negative images -- crammed full of the conflict felt in the moment of their creation -- are unconsciously revisited by a part of us that actually wants that dark visitation. Why? Because this familiar pain confirms, in a very strong fashion, our certainty of who we are by re-creating what once happened to us in life. Something in our own mind actively recollects what it does from our past, regardless of how it wrecks the present moment for us. To be punished by any past presence is to be a prisoner of your own past.
There is freedom in realizing -- seeing the truth of the fact -- that whatever is holding you captive right now has no right to do so. None! The split second that you see you're a captive of your own mind, you have the freedom to challenge it because now you are starting to think toward your own negative states instead of thinking from them.
Forgiveness comes with realizing that whenever you start thinking about someone or something from the past, you have literally been lured into the "presence" of that past event. And in that moment, there can be no forgiveness because the "you" living it out (again!) can't forgive anything any more than an image in a pond can make clear the waters in which it is being reflected. Seeing this as being true effectively ends not just the wrong relationship you have with your own mind in that moment, but it also ends the feeling that someone else is to blame for your pain.
We cannot let go of any pain without letting go of the self in which this pain lives on.
If you want to have real forgiveness, it begins with giving yourself up each and every time some past presence presses its will upon you. Use the will of this new understanding to lay down your "self" when you see that it is needed. Do this, and I promise you that who gets up won't be the same "you" that laid down your life. Something new will rise where you once were, and it will be free from the past... which means you will be free to forgive.