"I'm still resentful that Don was such a workaholic for so many years, especially when the kids were little!" Carla told us bluntly during one of our coaching conversations with her.
Among other things, Carla had been telling us that her 35 year marriage was empty and she and her husband picked at each other constantly.
She knew they'd never divorce but was tired of the misunderstandings and felt like they hadn't been able to really talk for over 15 years.
Before then, she'd had a short emotional affair with a guy she'd worked with because she was so lonely but she'd owned up to it at the time and stopped it.
Both Carla and Don had been holding on to old grievances and it was making their lives miserable.
What do you do in a situation like this?
Hold on, stay in a lifeless marriage and hope for the best?
Pray for a miracle?
The truth is that we are all always doing the best we can with the thinking we have in the moment.
And we often aren't aware of or choose to ignore the hurt that our actions cause others because this "thinking" tells us that a course of action is the best we can do at the time.
In our lives, when it's come to forgiveness, we've seen that we had a part in whatever dance that went on.
As Otto was writing his book, Preaching to Monkeys, he saw that all his hurt and anger toward his father was a waste of his time and energy.
He saw that in many instances, there wasn't anything to forgive because what he imagined really didn't happen.
Forgiveness came naturally when he understood his father at a deeper level and understood his younger self.
We've discovered that if you feel you've been wronged and are holding out on forgiveness, you're holding yourself tightly everywhere in the world.
Holding onto resentments affects every part of your life and even though you've probably heard it before, forgiveness is you letting go of what's keeping you stuck.
Here are 3 ways to forgive when it's hard...
1. Know that you do have a choice.
We often don't think we have a choice when it comes to forgiveness but we really do.
This choice comes in every moment whether to latch onto the thoughts that keep you stuck and in the past or choose to focus on what brings your joy in this present moment.
When you realize that these are just thoughts that are fleeting, you don't have to keep living in a painful past.
2. Drop what happened and stop reliving it over and over.
Sure bad things happen and we're not making light of terrible events that may have occurred to you.
What we do know is that the people who have come through difficult situations have focused on the present moment and live in the fullness of who they truly are at their core.
When people hold onto resentments as Carla and Don are doing and relive them, they've decided that it's more important to keep the pain and anger alive than their own peace.
When you make your peace of mind more important than making the other person pay, your life opens up and new possibilities can happen.
3. Continue to open as love in every moment (even when you're tempted to shut down), especially for yourself.
When you open as love for yourself, you can see what will serve you in the highest way.
It might be that you open to loving this person again, starting in small ways.
It might be that you set healthy, loving boundaries with someone.
It might be that you lovingly cut ties with someone.
When you open as love to yourself and to others, you will be guided as to what your next step is.
Forgiveness is for yourself and you leading a healthy, vibrant life.
If you're holding onto grudges from the past, look toward the freedom of letting those go.