Question–What does holding a grudge have in common with caffeine, drinking alcohol, and a room that’s too warm or bright? They’re all things that could potentially impact our sleep quality. A survey published in Psychology and Health journal found an interesting correlation between individuals’ sleep quality and their willingness to forgive (both others and themselves)—as well as how that affects overall health and quality of life. They’ve also found that getting a good night of sleep is the secret ingredient to fat loss and feeling great–what’s not to love! Meditation before bed, is a great way to let go of all the drama from the day, lowers blood pressure, increases intuition, along with many other benefits, and can lead to a better night’s sleep.
Harboring resentment toward someone who has insulted, demeaned, cheated on, or otherwise hurt us certainly isn’t empowering. Instead, it’s been shown to actively cause us harm, both physically and emotionally. Research shows that when people keep obsessing about the indiscression–it ( indiscretion) increases the base level of the stress hormone cortisol in our bloodstream, which in turn impacts the immune system, cardiovascular system, GI system, and sex drive— lots of costs. Your mind is the builder according to Edgar Cayce, the famous psychic, so why not fake it until you make it by having positive thoughts which will raise your vibration. This will help you take back the controls by responding rather than reacting to the indiscretion.
Of course, forgiving ourselves or someone else isn’t always easy. And, it’s about more than just saying the words–It’s an active process in which we make a conscious decision to let go of negative feelings. On a spiritual level, forgiving the control of the negative situation, even karma, or negative feelings and thoughts can set the person free to have positive feelings, karma, thoughts, and situations moving forward.
For many people, it’s easy to hang onto resentments. It is like swallowing our own poison. When we’ve been wronged, it feels validating to think of ourselves as a blameless victim. But playing that role makes it hard to move on, because it makes us feel powerless—we can’t have it both ways. When we are either a victim or a victimizer, we walk the middle way, like Jesus.
Ready to release some hurt? Let’s set aside everything we think we know about holding grudges and follow these expert guidelines from Real Simple by Melanie Mannarino regarding releasing the hurt and lightening our emotional load. I found these particularly helpful since I am dealing with an issue myself that needs some resolution one way or another.
Consider what’s good for us: Admittedly, in holding a grudge, there’s a sense of strength and righteousness in the short term–the quest for justice seems right. But it doesn’t cure the resentment. It’s not about whether the offender deserves forgiveness–we deserve it–a life free of that gnawing and discontent. Ego is edging God out according to the late Wayne Dyer. We need to take the high road. Remember we are not forgiving the action, just the control the lack of forgiveness has over our ability have inner peace.
See the other person through new eyes: Try to see them more broadly, in terms of their humanity and when they might have done good–replacing the negative emotions with more positive ones of empathy or sympathy.” They know not what they do, in judgement, remember mercy. The person may not have had a role model growing up on how to act in a kind manner.
Don’t wait for someone to “earn” our forgiveness: It’s an unselfish gift. If we want to be happy and heal ourselves when we’ve been hurt, we must forgive whether or not we are asked for forgiveness. Sometimes it helps to picture the person receiving our forgiveness, and say it to ourselves, if we cannot confront them, and more importantly forgive ourselves.
Separate forgiveness from giving up: Even if we’ve suffered an injustice, we can offer the gift of goodness to the other person, knowing they made a mistake—whether or not they understand what they’ve done, are sorry for it, or try to make amends–otherwise we tend to pass our resentment on to others, In a family, the children inherit the anger and that shouldn’t be theirs.
Forgive freely, but don’t necessarily forget: Instead, reframe the relationship—but know that we have a right to redefine the relationship. (i.e. we can forgive her parenting criticism and still choose not to vacation with them anymore). Boundaries may be helpful with some healthy detachment.
Find the lesson in the offense: on the positive side—the grudge becomes a story we can use to improve our lives and guide us to even become grateful for the opportunity to avoid similar behavior and for an example of how not to treat others. Everything happens for a reason. Spiritually, this may be a karmic lesson, and the offense may have been necessary to occur in order to pay karmic debt from a prior life.
Only confront the offender if we think it will change things: If a compromise does seem possible, we can sit down with the person and tell them, “You hurt me, and I’d like for us to avoid having that happen again.”
Know that it’s never too late. Really: We can even forgive someone who is deceased–from our first-grade teacher up to our current boss, and practice forgiving everybody so they don’t ‘win’ twice. If you hold on to it, they win again. Forgive them, and it takes away their power.
Regarding my aforementioned challenge, I feel many of these will be helpful, however, I must admit that I prefer eventually putting our cards on the table so that we can learn from each perspective to better move forward.
Progress, not perfection, Warriors!