All the wisdom and spiritual traditions speak of forgiving others. I was recently in a situation that we are all familiar with – I had to deal with a person who is extremely difficult and unable to talk about what is upsetting her. I remind myself that this person is in pain and suffering, which then causes me to feel pain and suffering, but it does not always help in the moment. The only thing that works for me before and after one of her outbursts is prayer and the Metta Meditation. And I tell myself to forgive her and love her anyway, since maybe I hurt someone and caused them pain without realizing it. I would want them to forgive me for my ignorance and insensitivity.
I recently found a study by Emer and Proulx at the U. of Missouri which showed a linked between the ability to forgive and depression in women. Those who were empathic and had the ability to forgive were less prone to depression.
I always thought of forgiveness as an action recommended in Sunday School, not as an ability. If forgiveness is an ability, then it can be practiced and improved over time. I know from personal experience forgiveness comes more easily as I grow older and wiser, but now I know it is possible to actually get better at it.
So the next time I see her, I will remind myself to have empathy and compassion for her feelings, whatever they are! Wish me luck!