Got a grudge that won't budge? Been chewing on that bone you picked a long time ago? Here's some help for moving beyond past hurts, healing wounded egos and loosening the grip that old resentments have on you.
Not only do grudges keep you in the negative, shadow side of life, holding onto them is also bad for your health. Anger,sadness or resentment can show up in our bodies as fatigue, headaches, autoimmune disease, high blood pressure, addictions, depression and more.
As the Buddha once said, “Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.”
Everybody has flaws. And every person also has perfections. You can see them if you look closely enough. But when you're angry with someone, though, tunnel vision makes it almost impossible to see beyond their imperfections. And when you hold onto a grudge, it prevents you from ever forgiving their mistakes.
If you are always focused on the pain or disappointment someone's actions caused you, you won't make space for any other possibility for the relationship.
Here are five great reasons to let go of that grudge.
Research has found that when you let go of a grudge, you instantly reduce your blood pressure and lessen both your destructive desires and self-destructive feelings. In the days and weeks that follow, you may experience:
Cooler Head and Relaxed Muscles
Letting go is not only an emotional act, it's physical too. When you loosen your grip on your grudge, your breathing will improve, your contracted muscles will relax, and you'll just smile more often. Your body will thank you!
Letting go of angry or bitter thoughts improves your resistance to disease. Bugs and viruses feed off weakened immune systems. Let down your defenses of the mind so you can better defend your body.
You'll sleep so much better when you're not lying awake at night ruminating over how to get revenge, or wishing you would have said or done something differently. Just think of all the time for sweet dreams you'll have freed up.
Anger and self-doubt always erodes self-esteem. Because, you know deep down, holding a grudge is a really symptom of low self-esteem and feeling powerless. Find the courage to let go of your animosity toward that person who bullied or betrayed you, and you'll feel more powerful. And, because you acted on your own behalf, you'll also have a greater sense of compassion and empathy as a bonus.
You can enjoy closer personal relationships when you drop the grudge. Because you've learned to trust yourself with your own feelings—after all, it took courage to drop that weight that became so familiar it felt like the only thing holding you together—you'll feel more confident asking others to entrust you with their feelings. Emotional safety heads the list for creating intimacy, and happens to be sexy too.
We all have the same 24 hours in a day. The more time you spend improving yourself and worrying less about how to fix another person, the happier and lighter you'll feel. Days filled with anger and sadness; burning desires for retribution, last words, or, if you're really clever, last laughs, can drag on. But days spent loving yourself and pursuing your personal best are fulfilling and full of riches.
If you're especially attached to a particular grudge and just can't bear to let it go, try this experiment. Try thinking only positive thoughts toward your enemy—sending good wishes and sincere desire for their success. Do it for one week, a month, or, depending on how deeply entrenched your history with each other is, dare to go a year. If you don't notice profound changes in the energy between you, after your assigned time period, you can pick up your grudge where you left off. Hopefully you'll never want to.