One thing we can all count on in life is someone disappointing or upsetting us. But what’s important is finding ways to go on with your life, without holding on to anger, which turns into grudges, and in most cases resentment towards the other person. It is especially hard when someone you care about hurts you and it is worse when the idea of “paying them back” is something you contemplate; there are no winners in this situation, just more hurt feelings and a downward slide that pulls you away from healing and moving on.
Forgiveness is the only way to let go of resentment and offenses that provokes damaging thoughts of revenge. I know forgiving can be easier said than done and often times it is a process that does not happen overnight; but it is a choice that can be obtained. You can take freedom by the hand and not let hostile feelings control you, or hold on to a bag of grudges and trap your mind in painful thoughts that re-opens wounds repeatedly. The only way to heal, is to accept the fact that you were hurt and then make a decision to lessen the grip another person has on you, by focusing your energy on positive aspects of your life that are joyful and going well, not just on the deep seeded pain you may have encountered.
Forgiving someone does not mean you are excusing their wrongs, but it allows you to not remain under the control of a past incident that happened that does not deserve priority in a life full of purpose and positive experiences. Holding on to grudges can consume you, making you feel like a victim and cause your outlook on life to become bitter towards other people.
I am not suggesting that abusive behavior should be excused or overlooked – in this case, it is paramount to involve the proper authorities to help you, this is entirely different from walking around with a chip on your shoulder over a minor offense that has snow balled out of control.
For the sake of your health, it is never wise to harbor painful emotions. Negative emotions such as, stress, depression, and bitterness has physical consequences: high blood pressure, elevated heart rate, and an increased risk of heart disease. The longer you hold a grudge, the more likely your negative emotions can potentially take a toll on your heart and your health, according to CNN’s senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen.
It is impossible to be successful in life when letting anger or vicious emotions dominate you. It takes a lot of energy and time you can never get back. Furthermore, when you trap your peace behind a wall of anger and grudges, you push good people away, versus drawing them towards you.
Included are ways to manage your emotions and not let grudges run and rule your outlook on life:
1. If you find yourself stuck in anger, un-forgiveness, or carrying a grudge – it may be helpful to take some time to talk with a person you’ve found to be wise and compassionate, such as a spiritual leader, a mental health provider, or an unbiased family member or friend.
2. Realize you’re only hurting yourself by holding a grudge – refuse to internalize your pain
3. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes – would you want someone to build animosity towards you unknowingly, or to communicate and give you the benefit of the doubt?
4. Consider what you will gain by letting go of the grudge
5. Don’t let pride dominate your right to apologize or accept another person’s apology
6. If you believe the person was intentionally malicious to you, feel sorrow instead of anger towards that person. People are only malicious because they are hurting within themselves
7. Determine your own happiness, don’t let it rely on other people or the perfect situation
8. Make a choice to live in the present and not in the memory of the past, if it provokes painful thoughts and occurrences
9. Write everything down on paper that occurred to offend or hurt you and what you would have preferred to happen and then rip the paper up and throw it away, imagine the pain disappearing from your heart and the grudge releasing when you shred the paper
10. Realize forgiveness and letting go of a grudge is a process, there might be triggers to remind you of the pain, after you have chosen to move on; but firmly remind yourself that you are bigger than the pain of the past, as often as you need to, and don’t let it rule you
Letting go of grudges does not depend on someone acknowledging that they offended or hurt you – that may or may not happen, but it is about taking ownership of your peace, and not letting challenges dominate your right to move on towards a meaningful life full of passion and purpose.
By Le’Juana Searcy