Pretty safe to say that we have all held grudges at some time or another. The past three years of my life healing journey, I have learned how to let all that sh** go. To even begin to understand how to let a grudge go, you must first understand what a grudge really is.
What is a grudge?
When someone hurts or betrays us, we automatically throw an energetic armor wall up. We are hurt that we allowed ourselves to open up unconditionally and in the end was let down by someone. You vow to never allow that to happen again and often will find that you will replay the situation over and over only to get more hurt by the thoughts that you put in your own mind about it. When you continue to think about the situation over and over, you begin to develop a resentment towards that person or persons.
What are the lasting effects of a grudge?
If you feel that you can’t forgive someone because it gives them the permission to have treated you badly, you actually are affecting your future relationships. You will bring anger, bitterness and mistrust into your other relationships. Forgiveness is the most powerful action that you can give yourself. When you forgive, you are releasing all control that the person or situation holds on you. If you choose to continue to hold those grudges, you will find that inner peace will never fully be achieved.
How do I forgive?
First you need to understand that when you forgive someone, you are not forgiving their actions or that you should pretend that it never happened. You also do not have to tell the person that they are forgiven or even include them in your daily life. You can’t pretend as though it never happened either. Acknowledge how you felt about it and how it made you react. In order to forgive, you need to acknowledge the something happened and how you felt about it. You don’t have to tell the person directly that they are forgiven, you can say “I forgive you” out loud or write it on a piece of paper then burn it.
A great exercise that I use and tell my clients to do is to write a letter to that person. You never have to send it to them but it really helps you articulate your feelings and get them out of your head. Some psychotherapists will have you use both hands to write two different letters. It has a lot to do with how your brain function and releasing some form of control. While I was on my life healing journey this was a practice that I used and wrote tons of letters. Once you start writing things out you can go even deeper than the initial pain that was caused.
Is it just about that person?
The exercise that I did countless times on my journey was to evaluate why I was still holding on to the anger. It sounds super easy, but it forces you to go all the way to the center of your being.
- Write the person who initially hurt you down on a piece of paper. Then write about the pain that was caused and how you felt or feel. This is a really important step of the exercise. Don’t get caught up in the actual offense, only the feeling that you feel and where and how you are affected
- Think back to a time that you felt the same way or at least similar to the feeling that you felt when you were hurt by the person that you have a grudge against.
- Reflect on those feelings and how many times that you remember feeling the way that you feel now against the person you are holding a grudge. You want to be able to forgive to break that cycle in case someone else is hurting you and you going to the familiar place of that pain.
- Forgive the original culprit of the source of familiar pain. This allows the grudge that you are currently holding to lose a lot of the power that it has on you.
Everyone should meditate even if they are not angry or holding a grudge. I look at meditation and preventative alternative medicine. So many people wait til they are stressed to meditate then they can’t because they are so stressed. Breathing and meditation exercise are shown to have an amazing effect on your body. This is a good read on the Huffington Post on the health benefits of meditation. Some people find unguided meditation to be very difficult. I use an app called Calm on my cell phone or iPad, you can click here to read more about the app and download it. It is a free download, but I would highly recommend the paid version of the app. This is the app that I use and have used for years.
It is NOT easy but you have to let that sh** go
Forgiving and finding a place of zen is a daily practice that you will honestly work on for the rest of your life. It does get a lot easier and you are allowed to be hurt and angry, but you are not allowed to stay there. If you have a good support system you will always need to lean on them. Find your tribe and cultivate those relationships. You can’t be at a hundred percent in your other relationships if you are holding on to anger and grudges. It truly is in your best interest to let that sh** go.