With the world facing so many challenges this year, there seems to be more resentment around to accompany much of the division that exists. Letting go of resentment and grudges is what I’m writing about today…
“Grudges are a waste of perfect happiness. Laugh when you can. Apologize when you should and let go of what you can’t change.” – Drake
As human beings, we tend to respond to mistreatment by returning the favour. If we’re not in a position to punish the other person in some way, we move on to holding a grudge; and then wait for an opportunity to execute ‘justice’ at some later point. In our daily lives, these decisions tend to be nuclear and are often irreparable.
The problem with holding a grudge is that it’s worst effect is often upon the holder. We know this, it is not a new discovery. Yet we still struggle with it. We say things like “to err is human, to forgive is divine” which affirm our human weakness for mistakes and acknowledges the difficulty of forgiving another. When we withhold grudges, it becomes a barrier to our own peace. The restless negativity of a grudge festers within us and prevents us from being the best version of our self. Forgiveness does not condone what the other person did, it simply frees us from it and allows us to move on and engage our energy with aspects of life that will serve us better.
Why is it difficult to let go of Grudges?
…. Perhaps because there is so much bad advice floating around out there on how to deal with them.
Many people tell themselves a story that serves their beliefs and values, so that “everything” seems coherent from their perspective.
Part of it is a coping mechanism. Managing through pain and recovering from injury take time. Part of it is ego. We may feel that we were bested (fairly or unfairly) and everyone hates to lose. We may be embarrassed by feeling that someone took advantage of us. It may be broken trust; the ultimate slight and massive trigger of our pride and self-protective instinct. Ultimately, we feel that we are right. A grudge can feel righteous, even virtuous (perversely).
We need to remember that it is not all win or lose. Not necessarily black or white. It is not always about right or wrong. Often, we choose fights that only cause us more pain. What we need is to pick the right paths. More often than not, that path will lead to happiness.
You will not regret it:
Eventually, you will not regret you took the path toward happiness by letting go of grudges and resentment. It may be difficult, but it is healing. Even if it were one step or ten steps or the whole nine yards, you will not regret embarking on this journey.
No matter how painful or difficult, it beats having to live in pain and anger and resentment – the same kind of day, every day, for the rest of your life.
You will emerge stronger, wiser and better. You will be able to do the things you weren’t able to because you were so consumed with resentment. You’ll feel lighter, so much lighter as a result.
“Grudges are like hand grenades: it is wise to release them before they destroy you.” – Barbara Johnson.
What it takes to let go of grudges?
It takes a lot to let go of all the anger we have. There is one thing you may well need to do, first and foremost, and it’s one of the hardest things in the world for some people … You may need to be very honest with yourself.
Again, this might seem an easy thing to do, but it can be an extremely uncomfortable or even painful process.
When you follow the process and do reach a level, you are likely to grow a lot wiser, smarter, more resilient, and more good days will feel victorious.
So what is the process?
T entire process is a sum of numerous small steps. To “undo” all the pain and anger, you’ll have to follow each step carefully.
The good news is that these steps are fairly simple ones to follow and you will get wiser and better at letting go of resentment in everyday life…..
Focus on the positive aspect
What can you learn from it? What can you learn about yourself? Start looking at the positive aspects of the person and the relationship you share with them. Try to recall all the happy moments with the person and understand how they have helped you grow or change in a positive manner without their realisation. Analyse where you could have gone wrong, accept it and make peace.
If you would like to continue the relationship with the person after getting over the grudges against the person, you will have to start loving the person for all the positive traits of the person. More like giving your relationship a chance to see if it works well this way. If you feel you are being ill-treated, you can always opt out to avoid the person.
Focus on what you control
Recognise that you cannot control the actions of other people, but you can control your own. Be aware of what you can control and stop trying to control the uncontrollable.
Or maybe your “resentment” problem is other people resenting you. If that is the case, try to understand the situation from their perspective, ensuring that the things you do and say do not belittle their own achievements and aspirations, even if they are much less than your own. Again, what can you learn about yourself as a result of this?
Let go of your expectations
Letting go of resentment is sometimes having the ability to look at your expectations from others, work out if they are unrealistic and perhaps to tell yourself “Oh. Okay, even this seems to be too much to ask from life!” This challenges your expectations from others, and somehow recalibrates how you perceive the world. In a way, you really have to be willing to let go of some of your expectations.
Complement with the acceptance of what was, and the realisation of your inability to change the past. You cannot go back, ever. You cannot make it better, according to how it should have been. This is hard to do, but if it’s any consolation, you are freed from a negative grip once you accept, and let go.
This way you could nurture a desire for personal freedom. Realise that, you’re angry at some, and, as long as you’re angry at them, you’re still connected to them and they may still irritate you, they may still get to you. Use your resentment to feed your independence from their influence. Move away from them, heart and place, so they can’t hurt you.
Shift your attention
The offense could be situational. A particular topic, deal, person, etc. could be driving a deeper wedge. Sometimes we can change our focus in a way that shifts our perspective.
Whenever you feel resentful, don’t overthink the situation that is bothering you, but shift your focus onto something completely different. A great privilege of us human beings is that we have the power to choose what we focus on and instead of mulling negativity over and over in our head, focus on something positive instead. Take a walk around the block and think about an upcoming holiday, talk to your friend or focus on the task right in front of you and slowly but surely your resentment will start to dissipate.
Get another opinion
If you are bent on justifying your “rightness,” then find someone who might disagree with you. This takes courage on your part and on the part of the other person. However, if you can open your mind a bit, you may be surprised.
Seek to understand
So very often, it is misunderstanding that separates us. We are so quick to assume the worst in someone else’s intentions that we blind ourselves to other possibilities. Stop it and put yourself in the other person’s shoes. It doesn’t mean you will agree but it might put you on the path of understanding and ultimately, forgiveness.
A great way to let go of grudges is to focus on what you are grateful for in your life right now because the positive emotions that come with an attitude of gratitude will drown out the negative emotion. Find a quiet spot and write down all the things that you are grateful for whether thats in the past or present, whether that’s experiences, friendships, relationships, opportunities, material possessions or character traits you possess. Write down everything you are thankful for. This will remind ourselves that we have a lot to be thankful for and shifts our state of mind into a higher frequency that helps us to gain clarity.
At a certain point, the hard work of releasing resentment may require that you reach out to the other person and have a conversation. If your goal is healing, you will seek healing words. If your goal is to be “right,” or to solicit an apology, you are not ready to for this step. Ultimately, it is about letting go. It is a step toward self-healing. If you hold grudges, reaching out will most likely create new injuries.
“Anger and bitterness are two noticeable signs of being focused on self and not trusting God’s sovereignty in your life. When you believe that God causes all things to work together for good to those who belong to Him and love Him, you can respond to trials with joy instead of anger or bitterness.” – John C. Broger.
Why Letting go of Grudges is Important?
An emotion is a physiological response that can be triggered by an external stimulus and when this happens, we become sweaty, we tremble, our stomach tightens up and we react instead of acting with purpose. Usually it clouds our judgment and we respond wildly and once we cool down we wonder how we were able to allow ourselves to get in such a messed up state of mind.
Like any other negative emotion, resentment is destructive and won’t get us what we want but more often than not it results in even more unnecessary pain.
Prolonged anger and holding on to grudges creates unnecessary stress in our body and in order to maintain our physical as well as mental health, we need to learn how to overcome it. It is like a toxin that interferes with the balance of our bodily functions. A UC Berkeley study led by Scott Kaufman suggests that resentment or bitterness we are harbouring could be detracting from our sleep quality and our well-being.
On the other hand, letting go of grudges is healthy for our mental as well as physical well-being. According to Seth Meyers and research published in the journal Psychological Science letting go of grudges can lead to:
- Healthier relationships
- Improved mental health
- Less anxiety, stress and hostility
- Lower blood pressure
- Fewer symptoms of depression
- A stronger immune system
- Improved heart health
- Improved self-esteem
Wouldn’t you rather be happy and healthy and make rational, reasonable and sound decisions for your life than letting resentment take over and inflict pain?
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