Are you feeling hurt, hanging on to resentments or just unable get over the grudge you’ve been harboring for months, or even years? The rationale side of your brain knows that you should forgive and forget, but your stubborn side can’t make it happen. Holding on to past resentments does many things, none of which are healthy. You might not be ready to admit it yet, but it’s time to let go. Here’s why …
So, you’ve decided to hold onto your grudge like a security blanket. You want to show whomever wronged you, who’s boss. The problem is that you’re actually stacking the deck against yourself. You get stuck in a cycle of prolonged depression and anger. If the mental health risks aren’t enough to convince you to forgive and forget, perhaps the physical health risks are. By clasping onto resentments, you are more likely to experience stress-related health problems than your more forgiving peers.
Rewarding Good Behavior
Here’s the bright side. By relinquishing your need to hold onto bad feelings and negativity, you’re all but guaranteed to receive some happy tidings in return. Rewards include lower blood pressure, improved immune system response time, reduced anxiety and depression, and increased energy levels. Look at this way: by avoiding uncomfortable situations, giving the cold shoulder, or simply spinning the wheels of your brain as you replay past events, you’re using up all your energy on bad things, so there’s no room left to experience the positive. By forgiving, you free up your mind to allow an opening for better memories and moments to enter.
Tips for a Healther You
Spiritual counselor Starla Dean likens forgiveness to the untying of a knot. By truly forgiving, you enable your body to untangle the knots that have been living inside you. Here are five tips for freeing yourself from the chains of anger in favor of turning the bad tides to good ones.
1. Tell your story to someone who will listen and love, whether that’s a trusted friend, relative, stranger or to yourself in the comforts of your most silent moments. The goal is to get the story out of your system. This doesn’t mean waging an angry diatribe, it means a gentle recounting of what happened and how it affected you. Everyone deserves to be heard, this is your way to do it in a helpful instead of harmful way.
2. Feel the pain. It’s crucial to experience your feelings so that you can ultimately pass through them. Avoid beating yourself up. Instead, simply feel with the intent of experiencing your way through and out of the pain.
3. Forgive yourself and then others. Accept that you’re not perfect, nor are they. As living beings we are prone to moments of greatness and those not so stellar ones too. Forgive them and yourself for being human.
4. Paint a different picture. Use the experience as an opportunity to see things in a new and positive light as opposed to getting stuck in the tragedy. The moment is over. It’s time for you to get past it.
5. Grow by appreciating the lessons learned from the situation and the potential for a new path. Life events change us on many levels. You can resist that fact or flourish because of it. When you’re ready, share your newfound compassion with the person that once wronged you. You will both feel a whole lot better in the end.