Bitterness and anger trapped inside your body- sound fun to you? The common practice of holding a grudge, or harboring negative emotions against someone who has wronged us, is poisonous both mentally and physically. So why do we do it? Even when the hurt feelings are justified, grudges only serve to hurt us further while doing nothing to solve the offense suffered or repair the damaged relationship. Here’s some steps you can take to release the ugly feelings, and move toward forgiveness and inner peace.
1. Sort through the emotion; get to the heart of what hurt you.
Before confronting another in anger, or determining you can never forgive them, find out if there are deeper issues involved. Perhaps the offender hit a deeper nerve they were not even aware of. There is an old writer’s motto that states, “I write because I don’t know how I feel until I read it.” Journaling out all the feelings involved in the offense, the grudge, and the reactions you are having might reveal other ways to look at things and release much of the pain, leaving room for forgiveness.
2. Make a simple pro/con list.
Write out all the benefits of holding on to the bitter feelings. Write out all the benefits of letting it go. Who is the grudge hurting? How is it helping solve the relational problem? The answers to these questions hopefully will give motivation to let go of the pointless, poisonous feelings.
3. Use spiritual beliefs to give you strength.
Most people believe in the golden rule. Most people believe that we are each imperfect as human beings and often require forgiveness from others. Getting in touch with the frailty of the human condition can soften our hearts and make room for understanding another’s actions. Meditate, pray, or engage in whatever calming practice feels good to you and helps you get in tune with inner peace and let go of anger.
4. Get help.
Some grudges result from serious abuse or a pattern of inappropriate treatment. If you feel the pain and anger you are harboring toward another stems from actions more serious in nature than typical relational conflicts, seek out a therapist who can help you talk through the issues. A therapist at Wasatch Family Therapy can help you let go of bitter feelings, and create healthy relationship boundaries. Especially when the hurt and grudges are being held onto within a family system, a trained family therapist can be invaluable and life-changing as the family is able to safely discuss the deep grudges.
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