Select Page

July 10, 2024

Episode 31: The Myth of Closure

In this episode, Pam and Sarah discuss the idea of letting go of the need for closure and the importance of forgiveness without receiving an apology. They share their personal experiences with closure and how they handle situations where they don’t receive the apology they want. They emphasize the importance of accepting reality, practicing self-compassion, and doing the internal work to find closure on your own. They also discuss the external actions that can be taken, such as engaging in activities that bring joy and fulfillment, and seeking emotional release through talking to a friend or venting. They conclude by highlighting the gift of letting go, which creates space for new experiences and growth.


  • Closure is not always dependent on receiving an apology or explanation from someone else. It is an internal process that involves accepting reality and letting go of the need for closure.
  • Self-compassion is crucial in finding closure. It involves processing emotions, accepting the human experience, and sending love and care to oneself.
  • External actions, such as engaging in activities that bring joy and seeking emotional release through talking to a friend, can contribute to finding closure.
  • Understanding that everyone is doing their best and having empathy for others can help in letting go of grudges and anger.
  • Forgiveness is a choice and a process that can lead to personal growth and creating space for new experiences.


Links, Corrections, and Whatnot

We mention our episodes about why asking for help is so hard and Unwinding Anxiety

Other Ways to Listen & Subscribe





This transcript was generated by AI so please ignore any weird errors. If there is anything really terrible, let us know.

Pam (00:00)
So a couple of episodes ago, we talked about why it’s important to apologize more often. And kind of organically out of that conversation came this idea of how you handle when you don’t get an apology that you want. So we thought that we would talk about the idea of kind of letting go of that need for an apology or, or even letting go of this need for closure.

So that’s what we’re gonna dig into today.

sarah (00:35)
I want to start by asking you, because I was thinking about this earlier today. I was on my Peloton bike and I was thinking, when have I needed closure? What’s my relationship with it? Because I just wanted to come in with clarity on that. And I wanted to know where you stood with that. How do you feel about apologies? Can you let go of things easily? Or what relationship do you have about that?

Pam (00:59)
Yeah, I was thinking about it too, and it’s such a complex question. I feel like I don’t have a really strong need for closure in a lot of ways. Like, I don’t think about, you know, like, grudges or, you know, or like think back on past relationships and like wish that I could have a conversation with them about something and, you know, and get that closure. But I do.

sarah (01:03)
Mm -hmm.

Mm -hmm.

Pam (01:28)
have some instances where I have wanted closure because of a wrong that I did. So not me needing something from them, but like I’ve gone back to people that I hurt years ago and sent them a letter and said, hey, you know, I just wanted to apologize for how I treated you at this point and you know, yada yada. And so that closure is more important for me because it’s a wrong that I’ve done.

sarah (01:34)

Pam (01:52)
I don’t feel like I have a lot of need for closure for wrongs that other people have done. I think that that’s something that I’ve just kind of, I naturally am like, well, you know what? I do let things go pretty easily.

sarah (02:02)

So when you’ve reached out to people because you feel that you’ve done a wrong and you feel that you want some kind of closure, does it matter to you if or how they respond or is it more just you get the closure by taking that action?

Pam (02:23)
I think, so in all cases, the people have responded and accepted the apology, but I think that I would have been okay with them not. It was really more that I needed them to know that I knew that I had acted in a way that was not right and that I had harmed them. So I almost like gave myself the closure, if that makes sense.

sarah (02:45)

Yeah, it does because to me and tell me if I’m right or wrong, it’s more like about your relationship with yourself. Yeah.

Pam (02:56)
100 % it is. Yeah, it’s more like I didn’t feel

Like I didn’t behave in a way that aligns with who I think that I am or who I am now or who I want to be. So yeah, and it was kind of forgiving myself for how I behaved in extending that apology to them.

sarah (03:13)


Mm -hmm.

I like that because I think yeah if our closure is contingent on someone else giving us their approval, I think that’s like the problematic thing about this idea of closure because I think so much of it is around our relationship with ourselves.

Pam (03:38)

It is. Yeah.

sarah (03:45)
Yeah, I yeah I’m similar to you in that sense that I don’t really have grudges and that’s not because I’m insensitive I’m deeply sensitive so very very much impacted in the moment by the way relationships unfold if relationships end If I feel that I’ve been treated in a way that hurts my feelings I’ll really feel that I think with time though, I

I just sort of see people’s actions as theirs. Right? And so I don’t tend to take things that personally with time. I’m able to let that go. So I don’t really have a lot of grudges with, you know, I don’t have no grudges against any exes, friendships that have, where we’ve parted ways or friendships that have soured. That’s fine. Right? If anything, maybe they’re not in my life, but they don’t.

feel anger really. So I think that that’s something that I really like about myself because it makes, I think it helps my baseline of happiness, like it helps increase my baseline of happiness and also helps me feel more peace of mind.

Pam (05:00)
Yeah, I agree. As you’re talking, I’m trying to think back to things that did bother me at the time and why they don’t anymore. And, you know, like I in college, my college boyfriend cheated on me with this woman that looked like Sheryl Crow. So for like eight years, I couldn’t listen to Sheryl Crow music, you know, because it brought it up. And now it’s just funny to me. It was very triggering to me. And now it’s just funny, right? I hold no ill will to.

sarah (05:05)
Mm -hmm. Mm -hmm.

All right. It was it was triggering for you. Yeah. Yeah.

Pam (05:29)
towards him or her, you know, it’s like, or she’ll grow. Yeah, she’s fine too. But I think like, you’re right that we can’t let other people’s actions dictate how we’re feeling. Like we can’t hold on to these grudges about something that someone else did. Like you can investigate why.

sarah (05:32)
Or Sheryl Crow. She’s fine. Yeah.

Pam (05:59)
you feel the way that you feel about it and see if there’s anything that you need to do for yourself. But if you get stuck on like this person harmed me and I will never be okay until they repair it, you’re just not going to get anywhere.

sarah (05:59)
Mm -hmm. Mm -hmm.

Mm -hmm.

I think that that’s true because I think that when we want, when we say we want closure and I’ve said it as well in the past, like I want closure for this, this didn’t work out or this person hurt me or this job, you know, I was fired, you know, this desire for closure. There’s nothing really that even if the other person says sorry or explains their perspective, usually we actually know why they did it. Like we know it’s just that we don’t like that answer.

So we wanna hear something different. And so I think our idea of closure is more not so much that the other person has to say something that’s really gonna click. It’s more like something needs to click within us that we decide that consciously we wanna let this go. And we’re gonna find a way to do that. And that might be complex and take different forms depending on what the hurt is, what.

you know, what the situation is. It’s not always going to be the same, but I think it’s more of an inside job, the closure versus we can’t demand, even if someone apologizes, like that, you might appreciate that, but it might not give you the quote unquote closure that you want. I think that has to come from within.

Pam (07:28)
Right, you’re looking for an apology or a conversation to make you feel a certain way and the other person isn’t necessarily going to say what you want them to say or make you understand it in the way that you want to understand it. So you just get in this cycle of like constantly going back to it and repeating it or trying to have the conversation over and over again and never making any progress because they can’t give you what you need internally.

sarah (07:34)

Mm -hmm.



Yeah, and yes, and so what is it that you need internally when you say that you want closure? Some of the things that we might need is like psychological relief if we’re suffering, some kind of meaning or understanding. I just want to understand so it can make sense to me. A feeling of control or empowerment, right? Because something’s happening outside of our control. We didn’t want it to go that way and we think, well, if I get more information,

Pam (07:56)
that you have to make that decision.

sarah (08:25)
I might feel more in control and ultimately to feel better, to heal or to grow from it. So those are some of the things that we’re seeking typically when we say that we want closure. And I think those are all valid. Like, of course we want all those things. I guess what I’m questioning is, well, is getting closure quote unquote from another person, is it really gonna give you any of those? I mean, it might, but it very well might not.

Pam (08:54)
Yeah, the control one is really interesting. That I think is a huge piece. Like you’re trying to analyze this thing went wrong. How do I stop it from going wrong in the future? Like obviously that’s not a conscious decision. People aren’t sitting there thinking that, but that is a big part of it is like, how do I stop this? So I never feel like this again. If I get all the information possible, then I can make sure that I don’t do something that causes this in the future. I don’t.

sarah (09:05)



Yeah. Yeah.

for sure.

Pam (09:23)
you know, make a friend like this, like you are trying to change the future by analyzing the past.

sarah (09:30)
100 % and I also think sometimes change the present. It’s like, if I just find out more than I can get in there and try to navigate the situation, I may make it go another way.

Pam (09:40)
Yeah. Yeah. And I wonder if there’s also a piece of like, even if rationally, you know, if someone else has harmed you or wronged you, there’s still a piece of it where you feel like you did something that either made them do it or allowed them to do it or, you know, somehow you’re at fault. So if you can get them to apologize and get them to convince you that…

sarah (09:57)
Mm -hmm.

Pam (10:08)
you know, you had nothing to do with it, you can like get rid of that guilt that you have or that fault that you feel like you have in someone else’s actions that you actually had no control over.

sarah (10:12)

Right, yeah. All right, so the next thing that I want to explore, since I think we both agree that someone else can’t always give us the closure that we want, how can we then create some of that closure that we’re seeking when we feel that we need it?

How do we do it?

So to me, I was thinking there’s kind of two parts of it. The first is what we love talking about is the mindset work. So some of that inner work. And then I think there are some external actions you can take as well. So if we start with the internal work, I think the first is just accepting reality and not accepting like saying that you like it and sugar coating it, but just accepting that this is actually.

what is happening and not fight with it. And with that, knowing like our reality won’t always be perfect. We’re not always gonna get what we want. We’re not always gonna be treated in ways that we would have chosen. And that’s true for every human on this planet.

Pam (11:42)
Yeah. I think stoicism kind of plays a big role in this for me, like kind of that acceptance piece of like, it is what it is. And I’m not going to get too worked up about it because I can’t change it. And I’d rather focus on the things that I can change. And just kind of having that that mindful calm of

sarah (11:48)
Mm. Mm.


Pam (12:09)
of that acceptance. And it’s like, you can accept something without condoning it. Like, yes, this thing happened and it’s not okay, but I’m not gonna harm myself anymore than I have to. I lived through it and it’s fine and it was wrong, but I’m okay.

sarah (12:14)
Yes. Yeah.

Yeah. Yeah. And I think, I mean, it’s just the reality that like, I’m allowed to be me and you’re allowed to be you. And you’re not always going to act in a way that I, you know, might have envisioned that I would want it or might have scripted it. I mean, how could you? You’re allowed to be you, right? And so part of it is just like accepting that everyone is kind of doing their thing and doing their best.

and their actions might end up inadvertently or inadvertently hurting you, but they’re just living their life. And in a way, it’s freeing. Why do we think everybody should be doing things that make us feel good?

Pam (13:13)

Right. And like, are you holding other people up to the same standard and same expectation that you want them to hold you up to? Like, are you getting hurt and harmed and offended by things and then expecting apologies for things that other people are like, what? Well, you know, like, would you want them to get upset about every time you

sarah (13:33)


Pam (13:49)
didn’t notice their haircut or like whatever it is like.

sarah (13:51)
Yeah, or didn’t call them back or… Yeah.

Pam (13:54)
Yeah, like put some perspective in here and think about like how many things do you actually want to get worked up about and require apology for and have harm what could be really great healthy relationships without that layer of like anger and expectation and you know just I don’t know I feel like people get worked up about a lot of things where it’s like you know.

sarah (14:03)


Pam (14:23)
Do you have to?

sarah (14:25)
Yeah, I think that’s so true. And I think we have expectations of people that we love and they might not meet our expectations. And again, I don’t think they’re always doing something necessarily bad and it can still hurt us. Like objective, like what’s bad, what’s good. I mean, most things, the majority of things, you know, have more than one truth to them. So, I mean, if I think of one example, a recent example of someone with whom I’m close,

Pam (14:47)
Mm -hmm.

sarah (14:55)
was moving through some health challenges and I really wanted to be there in a specific way for them. And they didn’t want me to be there in that way. Like I wanted to know everything and join in appointments and help quote unquote, because I thought that was helpful. Well, guess what? They didn’t. And I could feel hurt by that because I thought, well, you know,

this is how I want to show up as a friend. And this individual has every right to say what they want and need. And that doesn’t mean that it’s, you know, in the moment it might sting or I might feel disappointment and have all those emotions, but for me to hold a grudge or be angry or want something different, you know, I can’t, like, I mean, I can want it, but I can also practice letting it go and just…

letting that person be that person and letting me be me. I can’t force them to want to have the type of engagement that I was looking for in that moment.

Pam (16:06)
Yeah, I kind of think what you’re kind of getting to is intent. Like, did this person say they don’t want me to be around because they dislike me and don’t want me around helping them? Or are they saying that’s not what I need? Thank you, but. And, you know, if someone intentionally harms you, then that’s one thing, but, but.

sarah (16:11)
Mm -hmm.

Yeah. Yeah.

Of course, but so often exactly so often it’s not intentional and we still feel hurt and feel like we need explanations where we harbor things versus practice because we’re sensitive as humans and we want to belong and all and all that stuff. But if the exactly what you’re saying if the intention isn’t to hurt then why bother holding on to that?

Pam (16:34)


Yeah, so if you can put yourself in the other person’s shoes and, you know, take their perspective, even if you still disagree with it, or, you know, even if you still feel like it caused you harm, at least if you can have that empathy and that ability to see things from their perspective, then you can maybe create a little bit of a shift in how you’re thinking about it. And, and again, this goes back to stopping your own self harm.

because that’s what you’re doing when you get wrapped up in a grudge or being angry about something that you could let go and that doesn’t really require repair or an apology or something because the intent wasn’t there. You’re just injuring yourself over and over again by continuing to hold on to it.

sarah (17:25)
You have.

Mm -hmm.


Yeah, I think that’s absolutely you’re just injuring yourself. And there’s one like small nuance though that is coming up for me because I agree with you and this, you know, idea of putting yourself in their shoes. But I think part of it is also beyond that. Like even if you don’t understand, what would it take to just give them your positive intent and believe that people are doing their best. And even if you don’t understand it, think that’s fine. They’re just doing their life.

Pam (18:09)

sarah (18:12)
And I don’t need to understand, because I think that’s part of the closure thing too. It’s like a control. Well, if I understand and they have a good enough reason, then I’ll let it go. But we might not ever understand. It might not make sense to our brains, but it makes sense to their brains. And how, yeah.

Pam (18:26)
Yeah, I love that. I love that you said that people are just doing their best, because that is something that I try and remind myself of is, you know, everyone is really doing their best with the tools and situation that they’re in, the tools they have, the situation they’re in, the resources that they’ve got, the knowledge that they have. Like you have no idea what that person was dealing with up until the point that they…

sarah (18:34)

Pam (18:52)
said or did whatever that is bothering you. Like they could have had the worst day and then took it out on you and that sucks, but it happened, right? So if you can be like, yeah, okay, you know what, they’re just doing their best and I don’t get it, but it’s okay. Cause like the other thing that’s coming up is like, if it’s a pattern, if this person harms you repeatedly, then that’s one thing. But if it’s like, you know, your partner had a bad day.

sarah (18:53)
Mm -hmm. Mm -hmm.

Yes. 100%. Yeah. Yeah.

Pam (19:22)
Can you give them some grace and let it go and not rub their nose in it? You know? What?

sarah (19:27)
Yeah, absolutely. Of course. Yeah, we’re not saying just become a doormat. Yeah.

All right, so that’s some of the internal work I think we can do.

Pam (19:40)
Yeah. Okay, so what can we do externally, like with the other person or actual actions that we can take?

sarah (19:49)
Okay, the first thing that’s coming to my mind is around self compassion. So this is, I mean, it’s an internal process, but it’s also an, you know, a practice as we talked about. So choosing to be real with yourself about what’s going on. And so part of that is processing your emotions. So naming how you feel like, wow, ouch, I can feel super hurt by this or feel super pissed.

I feel really disappointed. I feel hurt. Whatever the situation is, just to like name that emotion and allow yourself to feel it as a part of the emotional processing. And then going through the self -compassion process, which we talked about in an earlier episode, but around naming your feeling, allowing yourself to process it, reminding yourself that that’s part of the human experience, and then sending yourself love and care.

So you’re doing some of your own healing versus looking to another person to do it for you.

Pam (20:54)
And I think a big piece of it for me is it’s so easy when you have a strong reaction to something, like you get mad about something, to just stay at that surface level in the emotion, in the anger. And if you can have the mindfulness to stop and be like, why is this making me so angry? And kind of figure out like what’s underneath that. Like maybe I’m just hungry, you know? Like.

sarah (21:08)


Pam (21:23)
Why am I responding so strongly to this? And if it’s something that you can pick up that’s like a pattern of yours, like I always get angry when, you know, people leave their cart in the middle of the aisle at the grocery store, like things like that, you know, whatever it is that that is your pattern, then you can start to unwind that a little bit for yourself and, and make your reactions not as significant in the future.

sarah (21:30)
Mm -hmm.


Pam (21:51)
to these things, like getting that piece of self -understanding, but more often than not, what I find is when I get really mad about something or like really worked up about something, and then I can take that second to be like, why does this really bother me? By the time I get done thinking about that, I’m like actually laughing at myself because I’m like, yeah, it’s me. Like I’m the one being ridiculous here. Like they were just living their lives. They’re just doing what they’re doing. And I made this a thing.

sarah (22:03)
Mm -hmm.


Yeah, yeah, yeah.

You made it be something about you. Yeah, yeah. Yes, okay, I love that. You have the self -reflection piece and you can do that by just stopping, pausing, taking a breath, reflecting. You could do it by journaling. Never a bad idea, right? I read this really cool journaling tip. I think it would work for this too. If you’re feeling like overwhelmed with the, you know, feelings and thoughts about something that…

Pam (22:21)
Yes, exactly.

Mm -hmm.

sarah (22:49)
that’s happened that you’re trying to work out. You write down like one to two pages, just scribble down everything you can about the situation, everything that’s in your brain. And then you pull out the two to three sentences that are the most true.

Pam (23:03)
Ooh, yeah. I have another one, which would be to write the story from the other person’s perspective.

sarah (23:05)
Cool, right?


Pam (23:17)
I think, yeah, makes you actually have to think about whether they, you know, made the decision to hurt you or like what was going on in their world when they did whatever they did.

sarah (23:31)
Yeah, I’m like thinking potentially an empathy booster or potentially an anger booster. Depends how you write the story. Yeah.

Pam (23:34)

Well, yeah, it could be, but I’m thinking, if I went through that practice and I was really mad about something and I tried to write it from their perspective, even if I was still mad about it, I feel like having to write out what I think they did, it would actually kind of put it in perspective and I’d be like, I’m probably being a little hyperbolic here. Like I’m probably putting more.

sarah (23:51)
Mm -hmm.


Pam (24:05)
intent and more harm into it than is real. Kind of that idea that we’ve talked about a few times of like putting things to words really puts them in perspective and you can start to be like, yeah, I think I’m being a little bit too harsh here, or it can help you see like, this is why this hurt me so much because they behaved this way. And then it helps you kind of unwind like, okay, now I know what I need in this situation or why it was such a strong feeling.

sarah (24:24)

What I like about that idea that you suggested is that it’s such a productive thing to do. Like it’s such a, you know what I mean? It’s such a like tangible thing that where you’re taking another perspective versus just going on loop in your brain about something you’re forcing yourself to at least try on another perspective for those five to seven minutes that you’re writing out the story from them. So I think, and I think it’s probably not something that a lot of people do because,

often we’re really married to our narrative, especially when we’re feeling emotional about something. So I think that’s a really bold suggestion. I like it.

Pam (25:12)
What are some other tools that people can try?

sarah (25:16)
I think, and this is something that I do regularly, because if we’re upset about something that happened in the past, once, you know, we’ve processed it, we’ve thought about it, we’ve, we’ve worked with our emotions, it’s productive to then think about, well, what can I do in the present and the future that will bring me joy or fulfillment? So some type of activity, whether that’s leaning into new hobbies,

leaning into relationships that do make you feel joyful or good or like yourself, investing in yourself, investing in your life in a way that feels good, whether that self care or involving some other individuals. And again, it’s that conscious choice, like now I’m gonna do stuff for me because if we’re releasing, then we have space for that new life, for that new activity.

Pam (26:11)
Yep, I like that idea. And I would add on, it can be really helpful to do something physical. Like whether that’s taking a walk or, you know, exercising or for me, like cleaning the house is an amazing palate cleanser for my brain. Like if I’m mad about something, if I can just take, you know, an hour and clean, it’s a physical thing. I got like podcasts or music in, like it just sort of like…

sarah (26:18)


Pam (26:37)
takes away the strength of that feeling and I’ll be in a much, much better mood afterwards.

sarah (26:43)
I love it. Great. And then you’re going to have a cleaner house as well. Yeah. Yeah. What?

Pam (26:47)
Yes, which always feels better.

one on your list here that says emotional release. And I think that is a really important one. You know, talking to a friend, talking to someone who doesn’t have any part of the situation, you know, getting an external perspective or just someone that you can vent to. It’s kind of the same thing of like putting the story.

sarah (26:56)
Mm -hmm.

Mm -hmm.

Pam (27:20)
words. Like if you could just tell someone else and have them listen, you can feel understood and you know cry if that is what feels good. Like whatever it is, just like getting it out of your head I think is so helpful to just kind of blow off the steam of of it building in there and does this pressure that builds up when it is contained like that.

sarah (27:44)
Yeah, yeah, share, share your pain. It’ll, it’ll become, it’ll become lighter.

Pam (27:47)


sarah (27:52)
One thing I believe about forgiveness is that it won’t necessarily happen naturally. But if we want to forgive someone, we can choose to work on that and we can choose to forgive them. So I don’t know all of the steps that it will take because every situation is different and every pain is different and every person is different.

So I think there’s different steps, but I do think if you decide you want to forgive this person and you want to let go and you want to forgive yourself and you want to let go for whatever happened, then I think it’s worth investing in that process, choosing, believing I can do it because millions of people around the world forgive grievances, big and small every single day. And they’re all the lighter for it and happier for it. So if you decide this is something you want to do,

then I think committing to it and committing to finding the tools, resources, process to help you release and let go, I think is a great, great goal to set for yourself.

Pam (29:03)
I agree.

sarah (29:03)
I think I would just end with this my final point here which is even if it can feel challenging to do so even if it can feel like a journey to release something forgive someone there is a big gift in letting go and The gift is you’re creating space for something new

really letting go of the old, but you’re creating space for something new. That’s new life, new experiences, new surprises, and new opportunities.


It’s Easy to Get Our Best Tips

We won’t email often but when we do, it’ll be good. Enter your email address below to get on the list.

(Don’t worry, it’s free and we won’t try to sell you anything.)