Negative experiences are inevitable in this world we live in. That we cannot change. What we can change, however, is how we relate to those experiences when they happen, and how we process them after we experience them. Ultimately, if we train our minds to cultivate awareness and benevolence, we will suffer less when things happen and process them better after the fact.
No matter what we have experienced, if it is a part of our past it is a part of us. Therefore, since it is not leaving anytime soon, we ought to accept it and forgive it. Otherwise it is simply a burden if it is not processed.We forgive, if not what someone did or we did, then at least to forgive the very fact that it exists in our past and to accept it as a part of the variety of past experiences that make up who we are.
The negative past experiences can often be thought as just garbage, but with a little practice we can learn to find the gold in the garbage. Bad experiences could be thought to be a burden, something unwanted. Of course we don't seek out suffering, however these life experiences have much to teach us, to contribute to our wisdom. With each new experience we are able to have greater understanding, greater skill, and hopefully greater patience. We also have the ability to teach others about the dangers of this or that situation, and how to cope when times get hard. Through suffering we become teachers.
Our suffering makes an imprint on our minds, one which either resolves with time or remains unresolved. If the event becomes unresolved over a long period of time it can subconsciously color everything in our life, even though we are not aware of it. If we suppress it it is called our “shadow self” (see “The Shadow Self”). What is most important is that we process these experiences, maybe with a therapist or a loved one, to talk through the experience in order to bring some resolution to it. The who, what, where and when is often easy to think about. But the why is often very hard to process. Knowing that you are not lesser because of your past experiences is an important self-knowledge that you can know in your heart, maybe through meditation on your own innate completeness. Forgiveness for yourself and others not only frees you and others of the burden of a negative relationship, but it also liberates you from any grudges that contribute to a closed heart.
When these negative experiences are processed successfully, you may know better what happened in such a way that gives your heart rest. Being at rest with your past is a sign of processing it. You may cry as well, and don't be afraid to cry as much as you want. Emotional hurt can be seething inside us without an outlet. Once you offer an outlet the tears come pouring out. Seek out your peace by processing your past with an open heart. Here's a good forgiveness practice for healing the past:
Breathing in I remember the past, breathing out I forgive the past.
May you come to relate to your past with kindness, forgiving what was and learning from it, that you may find gold in the garbage.