We all know it's not healthy to hold a grudge, but being able to forgive someone for their past behavior isn't always easy. Yet, the result, according to A New Earth author and spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle, is that many people end up carrying around "a dreadful burden" for not just months or years, but their entire lives. And the longer you hold onto this pain, the more it becomes a part of your own identity.
Oprah says she's had to learn this lesson in her own life. On an episode of OWN's "A New Earth," with Eckhart Tolle, the talk show host recalls how she had to reconcile her negative feelings about her tumultuous upbringing and the grandmother who raised her.
"I had to learn years ago to let go of what had happened to me as a child because what I realized [was that] my grandmother, the people who took care of me, did the best they knew how to do at the time," Oprah says. "If they had known better, they would have done better."
"That is always the case," Tolle agrees.
This perspective, he believes, is what can help anyone find the path to forgiveness. "Whatever humans have done to you, it's always [that] they didn't know any better," Tolle says. "They could only act according to their level of consciousness. Nobody can act beyond their level of consciousness."
It's an idea that also has roots in spirituality and religion. "Jesus on the cross said it all when he says, 'Forgive them, for they know not what they do,' which means they are unconscious," Tolle explains. "When you realize that, you naturally forgive."
"Oprah & Eckhart Tolle: A New Earth" airs Sundays at 12 p.m. ET on OWN.