Focus on Something Else
As the New Year approaches, now is a good time to think about shedding everything that doesn’t serve you, from not-so-great habits to toxic friends. It’s also an ideal time to take inventory of your negative thoughts, especially if you’re holding onto a long-held grudge or have animosity toward others.
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Of course, it’s not possible to have positive thoughts and reactions toward everybody and every situation all the time, but keeping your mind focused on the good in life is arguably better for your mental health. If you’re still clutching tight to resentment toward someone (or a few people), here are five ways to let go of a grudge before 2019 hits.
1. Stop the Snap Judgments
When you think about the grudges you’re holding, can you pinpoint them to a specific incident? Did you have some sort of falling out with the person you’re feeling animosity towards? If not, snap judgments may be to blame. Sometimes the grudges we have come from the snap judgments we make. In order to avoid these kinds of grudges in the future, be sure to give people the benefit of the doubt. Resist the urge to take their comments and actions personally—they’re not necessarily directed at you. Then, approach people with an open mind. If you find yourself labeling people or counting them out as friends based on quick assessments, you’ll soon find yourself steeped in negativity.
2. Process It by Asking Yourself Questions
If you’re holding a grudge because of a certain situation that still has a great impact on you, take the time to really think about why you’re still angry, hurt or whatever emotion you’re feeling. Why does the incident still affect you? What would it take for you to get over it? How do the effects of the situation play out in your daily life? There’s a big difference between being slighted or wronged and being permanently changed by someone else’s actions.
3. Talk It Out
One of the best ways to let go of a grudge is to talk it out. Approach the person you have animosity for and tell them how you feel. Be calm and respectful to get their side of things. They may apologize once they realize how their words or deeds have impacted you. However, if the grudge you have is based on a snap judgment, it’s best to talk things out with a trusted friend first. Aim to get to the bottom of why you feel the way you do. Getting your emotions out will certainly help you feel more at peace.
4. Know the Damage a Grudge Can Do
Who’s most impacted by the grudge you’re holding? You! Holding a grudge is like drinking poison in the hopes that the other person dies. The resentment you hold onto doesn’t do anything but hurt you in the long run. You’re the one still stewing. You’re the one ruminating in negativity. And, you’re the one whose mind is consumed. Holding a grudge takes up valuable brain real estate and emotional energy. However, letting it go will free up mental and emotional space for more positive thoughts.
5. Practice Letting Go
Simply saying that you’re going to let go of a grudge doesn’t mean your feelings of resentment will immediately disappear. You’ll need to practice releasing your emotions and channeling positivity so you can replace your negative thoughts with more self-serving ones. Create a mantra you can say to yourself when you start going down the rabbit hole of resentment. Or start a journal so you can keep track of your thoughts and begin putting your focus towards a new chapter in your life. Before you know it, your grudge will erode away—but it will take time.
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