It’s Elul again, and the fragrance of forgiveness is in the air. You’ve tried and tried, but have never been able to forgive anybody and are not likely to in the future. And this dilemma is compounded by the fact that you can’t forgive yourself.

A grudge is a very heavy thing to bear. It can, G‑d forbid, cause you illness, as well as suffering for the person you bear a grudge against, both in this world and the next. The reason we don’t forgive is because we seek compensation, compassion, validation, revenge, restitution or justice. Unfortunately, bearing a grudge isn’t the way to get any of those things. We hold on hoping that the other person will express remorse and ask forgiveness, justifying our pain and anger. And we wait.

Instead, here are 10 steps to forgiveness that may not be easy to implement, but are definitely doable. Do them slowly. If you manage to forgive even one person using this method, you’ll have lightened the load on your heart, increased the measure of forgiveness in the world and maybe even tipped the scales in favor of all Jewish people.

1. Think about the person in your life who you feel has wronged you and towards whom you still bear a grudge. Then rate the incident from 1-10, relating to the degree of severity you accord it. For example, if someone forgot your birthday, that might be a 1 or a 2 (OK, maybe an 8 if it’s a spouse). A colleague who caused you to be fired might be a 7 and prolonged serious abuse would be a 10. Of course, only you can decide how severe the offense was.

See: The Jewish Pathway to Forgiveness

2. If you suffered to a degree of 3 or less from a person, especially if it’s in the past (i.e., not still recurring), try to forgive them and let it go. It isn’t worth holding on to. Try to be gracious and magnanimous about small insults and sleights to your honor. G‑d is described as being slow to anger. Emulate Him. Ask yourself if this is something you want to waste your energies on—something you want to take to the grave? Try to let it go and forgive them.

3. Is this personal? Ask yourself if the person’s negative behavior is just the way they behave with everyone; in other words, if the pain they caused you wasn’t personal. A teacher who used to pick on you and scarred you for life is in a different category than a teacher who bullied everyone. Although you might have suffered at the hands of this person, everybody did, and although you wish someone had protected you (maybe someone else whom you harbor a grudge against), there’s no need to hold on to the pain, seeking validation, because it’s already been unanimously validated. This person was bad news. People with difficult personalities suffer a lot. They’re usually as miserable on the inside as on the outside. Try to forgive them, or at least let it go. And in future, stay as far away from them as possible.

See: Must I Forgive Everyone?

4. There are people in our lives who are constant naysayers; they rain on our parade, make prophecies of doom and try to discourage us from following our heart’s passion. They undermine our confidence and sap our hope. The best revenge on these types is success. If someone told you that you can’t draw and now your paintings are worth $50,000 apiece, do you really need to bear a grudge against them? If someone predicted that you’d never amount to anything and you finished top of the class at an Ivy League college, do you really need to waste your time thinking about them? They were wrong, and maybe you even owe them a debt of gratitude since people’s gloomy predictions can often egg us on to achieve. It might give you closure if you send them a message or a gift highlighting your accomplishment, like tickets to your performance to the drama teacher who told you didn’t have any talent.

See: How Can I Forgive Them?

5. Next, ask yourself if the hurt was a one-time or time-sensitive occurrence. Sometimes, someone we love and trust does something very painful, but it’s a single instance or they were going through a bad time of it. If they have asked forgiveness, made amends or continued to act in a loving way afterwards, then try to put the incident behind you. We are human. All of us has an off-day, week, month (even a year!) and don’t always consider the consequences of our actions. Also, especially if this was a one-time deal, ask yourself how you might have contributed to the offense in some way, even unintentionally. Ask yourself if it’s worth ruining a relationship, or the memory of one, by forever harboring resentment.

6. The casting director. We don’t cast our own lives. G‑d puts people in our lives to teach us lessons, to give us gifts, to help us learn and make amends, to help us on our journey and, ultimately, to grow closer to Him. When they have finished their purpose, He removes them from our lives. Sometimes, He eases them out; sometimes, they leave in what may feel as an act of betrayal. The opposite is also true. You may have experienced a relationship in which you’ve bent over backwards to terminate, and it just won’t go away. People leave us because they are recast by the Heavenly casting director. Wish them well in your heart, thank them for the gifts they bestowed upon you and forgive their sudden departure. They have finished their run in your production. They have finished their Divine purpose in your life.

7. Redefine your relationship. If someone has hurt you and is still in your life, perhaps you would find it easier to forgive them if you redefined your relationship. Maybe the thing that the person did is unforgivable in a best friend, but tolerable in an acquaintance. Maybe if you see the person less often or protect yourself by keeping an emotional distance, the person will be less able to hurt you. And you will find it easier to be more forgiving of them that way.

See: Saying I’m Sorry

8. If the person who hurt you is no longer in your life, but still alive and accessible (and who isn’t nowadays through social media?), try contacting them and hashing it out. Explain how much they hurt you and ask them to explain, to reframe and to attempt to assuage your feelings. Maybe they can; maybe they can’t, or won’t, but often just taking the initiative will give you some degree of closure.

See: Waiting for an Apology

9. Nothing happens in our lives without it coming from Above. That doesn’t mean people are allowed to hurt us, only that no one hurts even a finger without it being decreed by G‑d. G‑d is All-knowing, and knows when even what we perceive of as bad is good for us. Review the experience for what you gained from it. Did someone sue you, thereby teaching you how to protect yourself? Did someone’s bullying teach you compassion for those weaker than you? Did you learn increased honesty from a thief?

10. A heavy load. Go to the sink and fill up two glasses of water. Hold them up in front of you so that your arms are parallel and at a 90-degree angle to your body. Time yourself and hold them for as long as you can. You will see that you can’t hold on to the glasses for very long. Holding them causes you tremendous pain, after even a few minutes. That is nothing compared to the emotional, spiritual and even physical pain we cause ourselves when we hold on to negative emotions. It’s our choice how long to hold on to those glasses. But even if we can’t release them completely, we can put them down and rest for awhile. So when you find yourself replaying painful scenes from your life and feeling full of anger, hurt and recrimination, stop the film and put it down like you did the glasses. Even if you end up picking them up again an hour, day or month later, you’ll have benefited from setting them aside for a while and resting. Remove the memory from your consciousness for a little while and take a break from it.

See: The Art of Forgiveness

Pain is a necessary ingredient of spiritual growth. So is forgiveness. Forgive others their transgressions and G‑d will forgive yours, and we can all enter the New Year with a clean or, at least, a cleaner slate.