As a counselor and marriage coach with 22 years experience and 2 million visitors and listeners to my website and radio program, I hear this phrase quite a lot.
I might able to help you with this. I am not exaggerating when I say that most advisors, counselors, and even clergy are misguided about this topic. Few people understand the process of forgiveness with the depth that I do.
Many people have trouble forgiving. Others think they have forgiven, but really haven't. To forgive is to forget, and they haven't forgotten.
Some people say they can't forgive but what they really mean is that they won't. But even some of these I can help.
Most people have the wrong idea about what forgiveness means. They think that it means liking the person, being friends with the person, or pretending that nothing happened. They think forgiving means that you have to have something to do with the person. This seems like an injustice to them, like letting the person get away with something.
For this reason, they don't want to forgive because they think it means pretending nothing happened.
But this is not the case. It is possible to confront someone who harmed you in the past, point out what they did to you, ask them to apologize and be sorry, and then shake the dust from your feet and never have anything to do with them again. But before you try this, you need to be very solidly grounded and really have forgiven them. Reading my books helps.
If someone steals your bike, you can forgive them, but still make them return it and call the police too. You get justice without feeling guilty or being troubled in the slightest. You just didn't hate them or resent them. That's all.
Furthermore if you don't judge a person in the first place, you don't have to forgive them in the second place. You can see that they are wrong, but you discern their wrong without adding a pinch of judgment and resentment. It is okay to discern, just don't resent.
I will keep this article short. Let me just say that forgiving someone does not mean making nice with them. It means having dropped resentment against them.
Most people don't know what forgiveness means. It doesn't mean being friends with someone who hurt you. It means having let go of your resentment toward them.
People tend to think that forgiveness is some active thing of having to be kind to the offending person, hugging them or whatever. They think forgiveness is making an emotional decision to forgive.
Forgiveness is not so much what you do, it is what you drop.
It means dropping (letting go of) the grudge. And the way to do this is to let go of the resentment.
It helps to see why it is good to let go of the resentment. first by seeing just what resentment is and how it harms you. Secondly seeing how the one who did something to you was also a victim and doing unto others what was done to him or her.
Lastly, there is an intimidation factor that has to be dealt with. But this only when you have accomplished the first two steps.
My meditation and my books are helpful.