Why holding a grudge is bad for you (and how to let it go)

WEDNESDAY, March 27, 2019 (HealthDay News) — It’s surprisingly easy to hold a grudge, but whether it involves a friend, a co-worker or a loved one, it can fill you with bitterness, keep you stuck in the past and even lead to anxiety or depression.

That means you’re the one suffering from the situation, and not necessarily the subject of your anger and irritation.

Besides the emotional toll, researchers from Glasgow Caledonian University and Edinburgh Napier University, in Scotland, found that holding a grudge can also heighten feelings of physical pain, even if that pain has nothing to do with the incident in question. So, if your lower back is bothering you or you have the achiness of arthritis, your pain can feel worse if you’re stewing over the grudge.

Letting go of a grudge starts with forgiveness. That doesn’t mean you’re excusing the behavior the other person exhibited, and you may never forget it, but if you can forgive the person for their mistake, you can break free of the hold he or she has had on your life.

The benefits are wide-ranging and immediate. Making a conscious decision to let go of the anger and resentment that keeps you rooted in the past will allow you to focus on your present and what’s important to you today.

Letting go of grudges frees you to focus on the positive relationships in your life — the ones that bring you true happiness and contentment. It also lessens feelings of anxiety and hostility, while improving self-esteem and your health in general.

As you let go of grudges, they will no longer define you, and you’ll feel like a burden has been lifted from your shoulders.

Why holding a grudge is bad for you (and how to let it go)

Whenever you are around someone against whom you are holding grudges, your behavior changes automatically. You lose control, become upset, avoid them, feel the bitterness inside, and anything that comes inside in your head about them is negative only. It is also true that you can easily lose temper and get irritated around them. But have you ever realized that holding grudges only hamper our self-growth?

Why Holding Grudges Stops You From Growing?

Freeing someone from your negative thoughts will free your mind and it feels like flying again. But when you carry a grudge, you are not able to open your heart towards anyone as freely as you should. In fact, research suggests that those who don’t forgive others are susceptible to high blood pressure, heart problems and poor immune systems.

With physical problems come mental disorders like depression and anxiety. These disorders are enough to make you unhappy and angry. It seems like they revolve around problems rather than finding a solution to it. So, stop lying to yourself and let the grudge go for your own betterment. Forgiveness frees you from the grip of pain and heaviness at the same time. The question comes how? Well, let us give you an idea about how not to hold grudges against someone.

How To Let The Grudges Go From Within?

Why holding a grudge is bad for you (and how to let it go)

Holding a grudge is a vicious cycle and freeing yourself from it does take time. So be patient, hold the will and get going!

1. Communicate The Issue

If you are holding a grudge against your closed one whom you could actually communicate the problem then don’t refrain. Communicating doesn’t mean solving it out completely but venting out your feelings can make you feel better. The person in front of you will also understand the places where situations went wrong. The situation of being hurt will pass on with your communication and the process of forgiveness begins itself.

2. Don’t Make The Other Person Villain

It is possible that you are holding grudges without knowing that the person is even aware of his actions. It might not be his intention to hurt you but miscommunication is the reason for a broken heart. Have you wondered that the person might also be going through personal struggles and may need additional help? So, instead of making them a villain, clear the issue nicely.

3. If Forgiveness Of Others Matter, Don’t Hesitate

Instead of getting on with your life with a grudge for your own mistake, talk to the person and say sorry. It might be important to keep your ego aside in this case but remember that you have one life to live freely and you are going to try your best for it. Even if someone doesn’t forgive you, you can at least enjoy your life with the feeling of trying it once. Moreover, don’t forget to forgive yourself and move on.

4. Keep Emotions Aside For A Moment & Act Bigger

Anyone who is going through a pile of emotions may not be able to find the solutions for current problems and grudges followed. You may need to act bigger and apologize first. Take the responsibility to renew and strengthen your relationship. Be clear of your thoughts and tell them ‘I am mad at you because you did this.’ It will also let the other person grab a chance to express his hidden thoughts and clear out the grudges altogether.

5. Be Kind

One thing is clear; whenever you hold grudges for someone, you cannot act very kind around them. And this is why the process is tough and long. But when you let your guards down with kindness and forgiveness, you would actually be appreciated around. Acting kind and being nice will definitely not let you go down.

A Word From The Writer

Self-forgiveness is the strength you must imbibe within. When you let the grudges go away, it actually shows your power and no weakness. And if you love yourself, I am sure you will only fuel love in others. Healing of your emotions quickens and you are never the victim of any irrelevant situation. Even if you are, you know that you can break the vicious cycle with your mental superpower.

Why holding a grudge is bad for you (and how to let it go)By Len Canter
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, March 27, 2019 (HealthDay News) — It’s surprisingly easy to hold a grudge, but whether it involves a friend, a co-worker or a loved one, it can fill you with bitterness, keep you stuck in the past and even lead to anxiety or depression.

That means you’re the one suffering from the situation, and not necessarily the subject of your anger and irritation.

Besides the emotional toll, researchers from Glasgow Caledonian University and Edinburgh Napier University, in Scotland, found that holding a grudge can also heighten feelings of physical pain, even if that pain has nothing to do with the incident in question. So, if your lower back is bothering you or you have the achiness of arthritis, your pain can feel worse if you’re stewing over the grudge.

Letting go of a grudge starts with forgiveness. That doesn’t mean you’re excusing the behavior the other person exhibited, and you may never forget it, but if you can forgive the person for their mistake, you can break free of the hold he or she has had on your life.

The benefits are wide-ranging and immediate. Making a conscious decision to let go of the anger and resentment that keeps you rooted in the past will allow you to focus on your present and what’s important to you today.

Letting go of grudges frees you to focus on the positive relationships in your life — the ones that bring you true happiness and contentment. It also lessens feelings of anxiety and hostility, while improving self-esteem and your health in general.

As you let go of grudges, they will no longer define you, and you’ll feel like a burden has been lifted from your shoulders.

It's not about the person who wronged you. It's about who you want to be.

  • Karen, 65, is very angry at her ex-boyfriend. It seems he asked her best friend out on a date, a few days after breaking up with Karen (when she wasin high school).
  • Paul, 45, can’t forgive his sister, because, as he sees it, she treated him like he didn’t matter when they were children.
  • Shelly talks of her resentment toward her mother, whom she is convinced loved her brother more than her. While her relationship with her mother eventually changed, and offered Shelly a feeling of being loved enough, the bitterness about not being her mother’s favorite remains stuck.

These people are not isolated examples or peculiar in any way. Many people hold grudges, deep ones, that can last a lifetime. Many are unable to let go of the anger they feel towards those who “wronged” them in the past, even though they may have a strong desire and put in a concerted effort to do so.

Why holding a grudge is bad for you (and how to let it go)

Why do we hold grudges when they are in fact quite painful to maintain, and often seem to work against what we really want? Why do we keep wounds open and active, living in past experiences of pain which prevent new experiences from being able to happen? What keeps us stuck when we want to move on and let go? Most important, how can we let go?

To begin with, grudges come with an identity. With our grudge intact, we know who we are—a person who was “wronged.” As much as we don’t like it, there also exists a kind of rightness and strength in this identity. We have something that defines us—our anger and victimhood—which gives us a sense of solidness and purpose. We have a definition and a grievance that carries weight. To let go of our grudge, we have to be willing to let go of our identity as the “wronged” one, and whatever strength, solidity, or possible sympathy and understanding we receive through that “wronged” identity. We have to be willing to drop the “I” who was mistreated and step into a new version of ourselves, one we don’t know yet, that allows the present moment to determine who we are, not past injustice.

But what are we really trying to get at, get to, or just get by holding onto a grudge and strengthening our identity as the one who was “wronged”? In truth, our grudge, and the identity that accompanies it, is an attempt to get the comfort and compassion we didn’t get in the past, the empathy for what happened to us at the hands of this “other,” the experience that our suffering matters. As a somebody who was victimized, we are announcing that we are deserving of extra kindness and special treatment. Our indignation and anger is a cry to be cared about and treated differently—because of what we have endured.

The problem with grudges, besides the fact that they are a drag to carry around (like a bag of sedimentized toxic waste that keeps us stuck in anger) is that they don’t serve the purpose that they are there to serve. They don’t make us feel better or heal our hurt. At the end of the day, we end up as proud owners of our grudges but still without the experience of comfort that we ultimately crave, that we have craved since the original wounding. We turn our grudge into an object and hold it out at arm’s length—proof of what we have suffered, a badge of honor, a way to remind others and ourselves of our pain and deserving-ness. But in fact our grudge is disconnected from our own heart; while born out of our pain, it becomes a construction of the mind, a story of what happened to us. Our grudge morphs into a boulder that blocks the light of kindness from reaching our heart, and thus is an obstacle to true healing. Sadly, in its effort to garner us empathy, our grudge ends up depriving us of the very empathy that we need to release it.

The path to freedom from a grudge is not so much through forgiveness of the “other” (although this can be helpful), but rather through loving our own self. To bring our own loving presence to the suffering that crystallized into the grudge, the pain that was caused by this “other,” is what ultimately heals the suffering and allows the grudge to melt. If it feels like too much to go directly into the pain of a grudge, we can move toward it with the help of someone we trust, or bring a loving presence to our wound, but from a safe place inside. The idea is not to re-traumatize ourselves by diving into the original pain but rather to attend to it with the compassion that we didn’t receive, that our grudge is screaming for, and bring it directly into the center of the storm. Our heart contains both our pain and the elixir for our pain.

To let go of a grudge we need to move the focus off of the one who “wronged” us, off of the story of our suffering, and into the felt experience of what we actually lived. When we move our attention inside, into our heart, our pain shifts from being a “something” that happened to us, another part of our narrative, to a sensation that we know intimately, a felt sense that we are one with from the inside.

In re-focusing our attention, we find the soothing kindness and compassion that the grudge itself desires. In addition, we take responsibility for caring about our own suffering, and for knowing that our suffering matters, which can never be achieved through our grudge, no matter how fiercely we believe in it. We can then let go of the identity of the one who was “wronged,” because it no longer serves us and because our own presence is now righting that wrong. Without the need for our grudge, it often simply drops away without our knowing how. What becomes clear is that we are where we need to be, in our own heart’s company.

Why holding a grudge is bad for you (and how to let it go)Holding a grudge increases stress, heightens blood pressure, creates facial tension and even causes you to sweat more, says research conducted by Hope College in the US. Learn to let go with these science-backed strategies…

Quit the constant vent sessions

One of the first steps in letting go is to talk less harshly about the offence and the offender, suggests the Stanford Forgiveness Project – a series of research papers that studied the ‘stress cycle’ caused by holding a grudge. When using kinder language to talk about an incident, it reduced people’s stress levels and sense of victimisation.

Swap swear jars for ‘thank you’ jars

Have a ‘gratitude jar’ in your office to encourage employees to appreciate each other and the benefits of working in that environment, says business coach Denise Chilton. After 45 days of enforced gratitude, you can reprogram your brain to focus on the good, according to Loretta Graziano Breuning, author of Habits of a Happy Brain.

Don’t ‘should’ all over each other

Tony Robbins explains that we hold grudges because we get caught up on how others ‘should’ have acted in a situation. “If you want to be stressed, all you have to do is expect life and all the people in it to think, behave, speak and act the way you have predetermined they should,” he says. Instead, realise people did the best they could with the tools they had.

Why holding a grudge is bad for you (and how to let it go)

Humans are a very self-preserving species. When we’ve been wronged, we want the world to know. We want the responsible party to pay for their indiscretions. We want other humans to be accountable for their hurtful actions. Is that so bad?

To put it simply, the answer is yes.

The reasons for holding onto that grudge may seem valid to you: You were incredibly upset, the wrongdoer deserves to feel your wrath, you’re a Leo and it’s just in your nature. But is that other person — or their actions — really worth jeopardizing your own health?

Gandhi once said, “Forgiveness is an attribute of the strong.” It takes a lot of courage to move on from a painful experience inflicted on you by someone else. But if you do let go of that anger, you’ll be bettering yourself in more ways than one. Below are 10 reasons why it’s better to forgive than hold onto a grudge.

Holding onto anger could hurt your heart.
Why holding a grudge is bad for you (and how to let it go)

Bottling up your angry emotions can take a serious toll on your physical health. A study published by the American Heart Association suggests that high levels of anger may increase the risk of coronary heart disease, particularly in older men. Repressing those feelings also may increase your blood pressure, Men’s Health reported in 2013.

Showing rage could make an impression on children.
Why holding a grudge is bad for you (and how to let it go)

Little kids mold their behavior to their environment, and that could be especially true when it comes to hostility and anger. According to a study published in the journal Cognitive Development, babies can not only sense anger, they adjust their behavior around it. What’s more, even very small children have a long memory: researchers found that toddlers were able to classify who was anger-prone based on previous outbursts.

Even a short episode of anger could carry health implications.
Carrying around anger can threaten your well-being, but even just a spurt of it could do the same. A study by the Harvard School of Public Health found that subjects were five times more at risk for a heart attack and three times more at risk for a stroke in the two hours following an angry outburst.

It messes with your mental health.
Why holding a grudge is bad for you (and how to let it go)

Upsetting situations have a way of staking real estate in our minds, leading us into a thought spiral that can affect our mental health. Anger has a way of exacerbating anxiety and stress, and as psychologist Laura L. Hayes, Ph.D., explained, holding onto these hostile emotions can manifest into something more dangerous.

“Anger prepares us to stand our ground and fight. It helped our ancestors survive, but in today’s complex technological world, it is often more hindrance than help,” she wrote in a Slate blog last year. “The angrier you feel, the less clearly you can think, and therefore the less able you are to negotiate, take a new perspective, or effectively handle a provocation.”

Anger could be associated with developing type 2 diabetes.
According to data published by the National Institutes of Health, anger could potentially lead to diabetes through risky health behaviors.

While there’s no direct link between temperament and subsequent diabetes risk, there were still some noteworthy findings. In the study, individuals with the highest levels of anger had a 34 percent increased risk of developing the disease compared to those with lower temperaments. Researchers found that those with chronic anger were more likely to smoke and had a higher calorie intake, two factors that could lead to the development of type 2 diabetes.

Holding onto resentment can cause stress.
Why holding a grudge is bad for you (and how to let it go)

It’s already frustrating enough actually living through a trying situation, but not letting go after it happens may be causing even further damage. Bitterness and anger can cause higher levels of stress and increased heart rate. The antidote? Forgiveness. Research suggests that pardoning others (or even yourself) creates lower physiological stress responses.

Letting go of a grudge will lift you up.
Turns out, holding onto that anger may physically weigh you down. In an experiment published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science, researchers had 160 undergraduate students recall a time they were in a conflict before they were asked to participate in a physical jumping exercise. Those who thought about practicing forgiveness jumped the highest, suggesting that the burden of a grudge may be more than just a mental one.

It’ll help you sleep better.
Why holding a grudge is bad for you (and how to let it go)

Who doesn’t want to get more Zzz’s? Instead of tossing and turning over things you’re upset about, try a little forgiveness instead of counting sheep. One 2005 study found that subjects who let go of resentment saw improved sleep quality among other health perks.

Forgiveness will strengthen your social bonds.
Even your relationships can benefit from releasing a grudge

“Countless studies have shown that holding grudges and keeping in negative feelings is bad for your mental health, increasing anxiety and frustration,” says Meyers. Case in point: Research published in the journal Psychological Science found that when people were told to nurse a grudge when thinking about wrongdoers, they had stronger negative emotions and greater stress responses (namely, higher heart rate and blood pressure) than those who were instructed to imagine granting forgiveness.

Read the whole story: TIME

Comments

learn to forgive-whether you are right or wrong- so that you enhance your wellness.
let go of bitterness-many people’s lives have been so adversely affected-health-wise because of holding grudges.
Holy spirit does not dwell in a person who holds grudges.let go of this evil monster so that God can bless you.

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Why holding a grudge is bad for you (and how to let it go)

WEDNESDAY, March 27, 2019 (HealthDay News) — It’s surprisingly easy to hold a grudge, but whether it involves a friend, a co-worker or a loved one, it can fill you with bitterness, keep you stuck in the past and even lead to anxiety or depression.

That means you’re the one suffering from the situation, and not necessarily the subject of your anger and irritation.

Besides the emotional toll, researchers from Glasgow Caledonian University and Edinburgh Napier University, in Scotland, found that holding a grudge can also heighten feelings of physical pain, even if that pain has nothing to do with the incident in question. So, if your lower back is bothering you or you have the achiness of arthritis, your pain can feel worse if you’re stewing over the grudge.

Letting go of a grudge starts with forgiveness. That doesn’t mean you’re excusing the behavior the other person exhibited, and you may never forget it, but if you can forgive the person for their mistake, you can break free of the hold he or she has had on your life.

The benefits are wide-ranging and immediate. Making a conscious decision to let go of the anger and resentment that keeps you rooted in the past will allow you to focus on your present and what’s important to you today.

Letting go of grudges frees you to focus on the positive relationships in your life — the ones that bring you true happiness and contentment. It also lessens feelings of anxiety and hostility, while improving self-esteem and your health in general.

As you let go of grudges, they will no longer define you, and you’ll feel like a burden has been lifted from your shoulders.

More information

Johns Hopkins Medicine has more about the health benefits of forgiveness.

Why holding a grudge is bad for you (and how to let it go)

(HealthDay)—It’s surprisingly easy to hold a grudge, but whether it involves a friend, a co-worker or a loved one, it can fill you with bitterness, keep you stuck in the past and even lead to anxiety or depression.

That means you’re the one suffering from the situation, and not necessarily the subject of your anger and irritation.

Besides the emotional toll, researchers from Glasgow Caledonian University and Edinburgh Napier University, in Scotland, found that holding a grudge can also heighten feelings of physical pain, even if that pain has nothing to do with the incident in question. So, if your lower back is bothering you or you have the achiness of arthritis, your pain can feel worse if you’re stewing over the grudge.

Letting go of a grudge starts with forgiveness. That doesn’t mean you’re excusing the behavior the other person exhibited, and you may never forget it, but if you can forgive the person for their mistake, you can break free of the hold he or she has had on your life.

The benefits are wide-ranging and immediate. Making a conscious decision to let go of the anger and resentment that keeps you rooted in the past will allow you to focus on your present and what’s important to you today.

Letting go of grudges frees you to focus on the positive relationships in your life—the ones that bring you true happiness and contentment. It also lessens feelings of anxiety and hostility, while improving self-esteem and your health in general.
As you let go of grudges, they will no longer define you, and you’ll feel like a burden has been lifted from your shoulders.

Why holding a grudge is bad for you (and how to let it go)

It can be really hard to let go of grudges, but it turns out that holding on to them might have some consequences to make it worthwhile. According to a new study out of Erasmus University, holding a grudge can act like a literal weight on your shoulders. And this is only one of several studies that suggest there are negative consequences to staying angry.

In the study from Erasmus University, which was published in Social Psychological and Personality Science, researchers asked participants to reflect either on a time when they had forgiven someone or on a time they had not forgiven someone. Afterward, subjects were asked to jump five times in the air as high as they could without bending their knees. Those who reflected on forgiveness jumped 30 centimeters on average; those who thought about holding a grudge only jumped 22.

In other words, holding grudge makes it as though something really were literally weighing you down.

I mean, in reality of course it’s all in your head, but it functions as though it’s real. Which sort of begs the question whether expressions like "carrying the weight of the world" or "that’s a weight off my mind" exist because humans subconsciously picked up on this phenomenon, or if our minds only act this way because of our language. But that’s a chicken and the egg problem for another day.

As strange as the Erasmus study may seem, however, it is certainly not alone in suggesting that holding a grudge has consequences well beyond whatever it might happen do to your relationship with that person. In fact, there may even be health consequences to holding grudges.

In a study from Hope College that measured facial muscle tension, sweating, heart rate, and blood pressure, researchers found significantly higher stress responses from participants when they were asked to imagine holding a grudge against someone or seeking revenge than when asked to imagine having empathy with offenders or forgiving them. "When people think about their offenders in unforgiving ways, they tend to experience stronger negative emotions and greater [physiological] stress responses," one of the researchers explained to WebMD. And while they were only measuring short term effects, it’s possible that there could be similar long-term effects as well, which is not at all good considering the health effects long-term stress can have.

Another study from Concordia University found that staying bitter towards other people could also have consequences for physical health. One of the researchers explained, "Persistent bitterness may result in global feelings of anger and hostility that, when strong enough, could affect a person’s physical health."

In fact a 2009 survey from the University of Georgia found that people who were more likely to hold grudges were also more likely to have a history of heart disease, high blood pressure, stomach ulcers, arthritis, back problems, headaches, and chronic pain (though no link was found between grudges and other ailments such as cancer or stroke).

So what does this mean? Well, probably that it isn’t healthy to hold onto negative emotions about other people and that doing so doesn’t just weigh you down but can have real consequences for your health. So if you find yourself holding onto petty grievances a lot, you might want to figure out a way to forgive and forget.

And if you’re grappling with people who have hurt you in more serious ways. well, I’m definitely not going to tell you that you have to forgive them before you’re ready — or forgive them ever for that matter, especially if they haven’t changed their behavior or expressed sincere remorse. But for your own sake, see if you can find a way to let go of the bitterness. Because you deserve to feel better and to stay healthy.

Almost everyone you know might have hurt you at some point in your life. You could have even ended a few relationships because of the hurt they gave you.

However, most of them went off their way, but it was you who held on to the anger and the anguish inside, as a grudge. It pops up as memories and thoughts whenever you feel depressed or frustrated, and rips open your vulnerable past.

What Is A Grudge?

Grudge is a typical emotional complex that negatively affects our personality, motivation, wellbeing, and achievements. The key components of a grudge are anger and resentment.

A grudge is a toxic desire to get back at someone who has wronged us. A grudge makes us seek vendetta and do things we might regret later in an even bigger way.

Why Do You Hold Grudges?

  1. Holding a grudge places the victim on a moral high ground, a position borne out of righteous indignation. They often don’t want to give up their vantage point.
  2. A grudge keeps the offender captive in the victim’s mind with the belief they owe a recompense. If they offended you, then they must pay something back in addition to an apology.
  3. By holding onto a grudge, the victim can extract larger tangible benefits, especially if the perpetrator is in a close relationship with them.
  4. The act of holding a grudge pressurizes the offending person to be wary of repeating the transgression.

Why Is A Grudge Bad?

Grudges are bad because they bottle up feelings of anger and remorse. Holding grudges can be unhealthy, displeasing, and stressful to the person holding them.

▪ People who hold grudges tend to engage in black-and-white thinking (also known as all-or-nothing thinking). In this, people view the world and others’ actions as either all good or all bad — without any room for in-between possibilities.

▪ Grudges can hold us back from moving on with our lives. A grudge can demotivate us from working consistently on a hard task. It can frustrate us into abandoning our goals.

▪ A grudge replays the emotional pain when someone had hurt us, causing us to relive the negative experience over and over again.

▪ Instead of focusing on the positive, or moving forward positively, grudges keep our minds stuck in the past. This often leads to negatively fantasizing about our perpetrator’s losses and doom.

▪ Some people take out their grudges on others, but there is an even worse way to handle it: to deny it exists at all. It is our defense mechanism to protect us from the fright or the fury of the wrongdoer.

By stifling the memory, we also gag the accompanying negative emotions. This stops us from building resilience (our ability to cope with adversity and adapt to changes) and flexibility (our ability to respond to difficult situations with actions based on current feedback).

So we do need to let go of our grudges. But how to go about it?

How To Let Go of A Grudge?

If you’re still weighing up whether it’s a good idea to let go of your ill-will against those who have wronged you, beware that holding grudges can corrode your happiness and peace.

So, here are a few highly effective ways to let go of your grudges:

I. Forgive and Stop Expecting Compensation

This is the best and the most recommended way to release your grudges.

We trigger a grudge when we forget people are imperfect and prone to mistakes, and we refuse to forgive them. But forgiving is the exact opposite of holding grudges.

And, forgiving doesn’t come easy. Often, it is a long process, from beginning to forgive to completely forgiving.

Many are resistant to and revolt at the idea of a pardon. Some even savagely criticize those who speak for forgiveness. Like this lady who responded on a social media post:

“I do not believe in forgiveness. Adults make choices, and bad choices have consequences. It’s on them. Not me!”

  • Forgiveness does not mean you accept and behave as if there was never any wrongdoing.
  • It does not mean you’ve absolved the perpetrator of their guilt, so they’re free to repeat it.
  • It also does not mean you have agreed to heal your relationship with the transgressor.
  • Finally, it does not automatically restore your trust in them.

Forgiveness involves putting a stop to the negative effects of the violation in your mind and life.

By forgiving them, you reject playing the victim’s role. It lets you choose your own happiness, instead of continuing to define yourself in terms of victimization. Forgiving is not forgetting.

Let’s explore forgiveness from a psychological point.

2 Dimensions of Forgiveness

  1. intrapsychic state (letting go of inner anger and resentment), and
  2. interpersonal act (telling the offending person “I forgive you”).

The first dimension is the more crucial part of forgiveness. Forgiving someone essentially means you stop feeling angry or resentful over the transgression.

The second dimension is secondary. You may choose not to return the relationship to normalcy. Forgiving does not mean you need to forget their vile act; you don’t.

4 Types of Forgiveness

  1. Hollow forgiveness (no intrapsychic but interpersonal) – when you tell them “I forgive you” but do not forgive them actually in your mind.
  2. Silent forgiveness (intrapsychic but no interpersonal) – when you forgive them in your mind, but do not let them know.
  3. Total forgiveness (both intrapsychic and intrapersonal) – when you forgive them in your heart and tell them you have forgiven them.
  4. No forgiveness (neither intrapsychic nor interpersonal) – you continue holding a grudge against them.

To forgive is to release the mental space occupied by your grudges. It means you cancel the debt you think they owe you.

While forgiving, there is no need to let them know you are forgiving them; you can forgive them “silently.” You have no responsibility for helping them release their guilt.

Forgiving them means you will not seek any revenge or demand any compensation. When you forgive them, you no more expect them to make amends for their past transgression.

Why holding a grudge is bad for you (and how to let it go)

Sometimes when we have been exposed to experiences that were hurtful, it can be difficult to heal. Especially if we feel that someone has wronged or harmed us. These feelings can take the form of grudges. Grudges are feelings of resentment that can be unhealthy to the individual carrying them. To let go of a grudge, try some of these suggestions.

1. Acknowledge The Grudge

Figure out what it is that’s causing you to hold on to the grudge. You have to know what the problem is in order to solve it. When you allow yourself to see the real issue you can then make a choice to move forward from there.

2. Communicate

Grudges begin to take root as issues go un-confronted which is why it’s helpful to clarify your feelings on the situation. Think about whether your feelings are something you want to work through internally, or whether you want to talk it out with the other person.

3. See Things From Their Perspective

To gain a better understanding of the other persons view point, try to put yourself in their shoes. The more you understand the person who you are holding a grudge against, the easier it will be to let go of that grudge. The longer we hold a grudge the more difficult it is to forgive and move on.

4. Accept The Situation

Rather than stew in the grudge, choose to accept it for what it is. You can choose to create your own healing, without waiting for an apology from the other party.

5. Don’t Dwell

Once you decide to let go of your grudge, make sure you keep going and don’t look back. Don’t put too much thought into the situation or continue to discuss it with others. Dwelling grudge will only make it harder for you to let go. If the issue is ever brought up again in conversation, just change the subject quickly and leave it in the past.

6. Stay Positive

Instead of holding on to resentment, use this as a valuable lesson that can help you walk away with a better understanding of yourself. For every negative situation, there is a positive.

7. Choose To Forgive

Choosing to forgive does not mean your choosing to forget. It’s just accepting that no one is perfect and acknowledging that people make mistakes. Forgiving is not the easiest thing to do, especially if you’ve went through a lot of pain, but it’s the only way to truly have peace.

Why holding a grudge is bad for you (and how to let it go)

Why holding a grudge is bad for you (and how to let it go)

0:53 What it’s like to be estranged from family

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Holding a grudge is one thing, but it can feel even more personal when it involves someone in the family.

Psychotherapist and author Nancy Colier of The Power of Off: The Mindful Way to Stay Sane in a Virtual World, told Global News when it comes to family, it’s often impossible to just walk away.

We have a sense that we should be able to figure this out with family because of that blood bond,” she said. “Also because family can be incredibly involved in many areas of our life,” adding when we get into a complex situation, it can get tricky to work around it.

A grudge is a form of grievance she added, something that often causes pain. And when you hold one against a family member, it can root back to experiences in the past, ones you live over and over again if you continue seeing this family member.

“You’ve been treated wrong,” she explained, adding that people who hold grudges feel disrespected and humiliated.

Imagine seeing the same person at a wedding, anniversary or over the holidays. While you may not be estranged, it’s the repetitiveness of that person in your life that makes it more difficult to have a healthy relationship.

Common grudge holders

When it comes to holding grudges within the family, Colier said it’s not that one group of people hold more grudges than the other. It often depends on the situation, but in her work, she has seen more people holding grudges against their parents. She said in this scenario, it becomes a cycle of “what ifs.”

“‘If only I had a parent that respected me or supported my interest in guitar and what have you, then I can be this,’” she explained. “And we can waste our whole lives with this thinking.”

When you hold onto this type of grudge, it can interfere with how you live your own life.

Why holding a grudge is bad for you (and how to let it go)

Why holding a grudge is bad for you (and how to let it go)

“Sometimes grudges can be used in a very unhealthy way to keep people from taking responsibility of their own lives.”

But is it ever OK to hold on to a grudge forever? Colier said with grudges, in particular, people love using words like “let go” or “hold on” or “forgive and forget” without actually understanding what these words mean.

“People believe that it means, ‘it didn’t hurt me anymore,’” she said. “What we’re saying is we’re going to keep our energy and focus off the one who wronged us.”

On the other end of the drama

On the flip-side, if someone is holding a grudge against you, as New York City-based psychotherapist F. Diane Barth previously wrote, start by apologizing.

“If you actually did something wrong, take responsibility, acknowledge that you made a mistake, and do what you can to rectify it,” she wrote.

“If you do not think that you did anything wrong, but you know that the other person believes that you did, let them know that you understand that they have a different perspective than you do and that you had no intention of creating the problem that you and they are now facing.”

How to let go of a grudge

Colier said if you are working on letting go of grudges within your family, the approach and outcome isn’t always guaranteed.

When we keep holding onto a grudge within the family, what we’re really doing is “perpetuating our own suffering,” Colier said.

To me, to let go of a grudge means that we’re going to actually connect with, ‘what got hurt by that other person?’” she explained. “W e cling to that hurt and that wound in a way that the other person was not going through.” It starts with communicating the issue at hand.

Have you actually approached that person and explained your side of the story? Does this family member even know why you are holding a grudge? These are things to consider looking outside the box, she added, and sometimes this means letting go of your ego.

Next, practice mindfulness — you may not get the answer or understanding that you want. When you are in the company of that person, you need to be mindful of your own actions and behaviours around other family members.

The next thing is to ask yourself what would happen if you drop the grudge altogether.

“What am I really risking if I drop it?… because that is a choice,” she said. “Who would I be if I didn’t have this in my identity? Every time the thought comes up to the retell grudge, we just say ‘no.’ I’m not going to feed that toxicity in my own mind.”

Why holding a grudge is bad for you (and how to let it go)

Grudges aren’t inherently a bad thing. In fact, in the short-run, they can be a positive emotion. When you are indignant in the moment, you’re telling yourself, It’s not OK to be treated this way. However, if the resentment festers, it can transform into unhealthy anger, which can take a physiological and mental toll. Feelings of revenge spike cortisol levels, a stress hormone. In this elevated state, blood pressure and heart rates rise while levels of oxytocin, the love and bonding hormone, are depleted. Studies show holding onto anger erodes one’s health while granting forgiveness enhances it.

If you’ve nursed a long-term grudge, you’ll understand why they’re so seductive; they comfort us (I’m hurting), give a sense of purpose (My suffering matters), and reinforce a victim mentality (I’ve been wronged!). Powerful emotions like jealousy, anger, resentment, and sadness are usually tangled with the hostile feelings, which can make it harder to just get over it. That’s why so many people hold on to grudges for months, years, and even lifetimes.

While it’s not easy to let go of a grudge and forgive, it is worth giving yourself the gift of letting those negative feelings go. We asked psychologists, professors, and even a divorce coach to get their best advice for releasing persistent feelings of ill will. Here’s what they said. Answers have been edited for length and clarity.

Evict the Person from Your Head

The one who hurt you may be living inside of you in a psychological sense; you may think about the person, and have dreams about the person, and that can make you miserable. If you choose to forgive and are ready to do that, then you set yourself free from the inner preoccupation with the person. Why let them live one more day inside of you, and all the while doing so rent-free? Long-held grudges that bring us down mean that the one who hurt us wins twice: first with the original offense and now with a challenging inner misery. Don't let the person win twice! – Robert Enright, professor and founder of the International Forgiveness Institute

Live in the Present

Create a pro/con list for maintaining the grudge, identifying how the grudge is helping and harming you. When you find yourself engaging in thoughts related to the grudge, acknowledge the thoughts, but recognize that these are just thoughts, not your reality or the position from which you need to operate. Distract yourself with something else. Bring your attention to the present, as grudges exist in the past. Remind yourself that going down the grudge rabbit hole isn't a productive use of your time. Focus on your values regarding how you want to spend your time and mental energy. Understand that letting go could be a process, and don't beat yourself up for coming back to the grudge at times. It's served a purpose, but it can also be detrimental. When you find yourself "grudging," acknowledge your feelings with compassion and bring your attention back to yourself––your experiences, your present, and what you hope to shape for your future. – Stacy Rosenfeld, psychologist and director of Gatewell Therapy Center

A Little Empathy Goes a Long Way

It’s helpful to try to see things from the other person’s perspective in order to get a better understanding of their motivation or actions. Attempt to put yourself in the other person’s shoes and come up with as many alternate possible explanations of what transpired as you can. Your goal is not to excuse their behavior, but rather, to help you rationalize where they could have been coming from. Of all the other alternate possible explanations you came up with, which one empowers you the most? Hint: When you choose the explanation that is most empowering to you, it will help you let go of the grudge and the negative energy drain associated with it. – Cheryl Dillon, divorce coach and co-founder of Equitable Mediation Services

Find the Right Audience

If you are holding a grudge because you feel unheard, misunderstood, or not believed, reach out for help to become heard. Here’s the condition: Seek to be heard by people who care about you and can still remain objective. It is not helpful to seek to be heard by those who merely validate or reinforce the narrative you’re already telling yourself. Family and friends, as much as they care for you, are naturally biased towards you. So if you don’t have friends that can listen well, show care and concern, validate your experience, while also speaking truth, consider reaching out to a therapist or counselor. You deserve freedom and peace. Elevate above this grudge and pursue paths that bring you more liberty and fulfillment. – Melody Li, licensed psychotherapist and relationship specialist

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Most people have had a time where someone has hurt their feelings at work. Whether it was intentional doesn’t seem to matter the angrier you get. Sometimes you can hold onto that anger for weeks or even months. This is when it becomes a grudge. Holding onto a grudge is not only bad for work relationships, but it can be detrimental to your physical health, mental health, and home relationships. Even though it can be hard to let go of a grudge, there are some ways to make it easier.

Evaluate Your Feelings

You can’t simply ignore your feelings, at least not for long. Recognizing your feelings for what they are can help you to move on more easily. Take time to evaluate how you are feeling and why . Write your feelings down if that helps.

Focus on the Present

Living in the past makes it hard for you to move on from a grudge. Instead of focusing on what someone has done to hurt you, focus on what you can do to build a positive relationship moving forward.

Be Aware of How Your Grudge Affects Others

If you don’t care about how holding a grudge affects you, you should know that you’re not the only one affected. Your family, friends, and coworkers suffer from you holding grudges. Moving past it will help you to maintain important relationships. Think about this the next time you want to stew in what someone did to you.

Face the Person Who Hurt You

A good way to move past an issue is to confront it head on. However, you need to make sure you aren’t aggressive or too angry when confronting the person . Stay in control of your emotions. Create a goal for the conversation and say things that move towards that goal. For example, let’s say that somebody said something that offended you and you want to let them know that. You might want to say something like, “what you said in the meeting yesterday was disrespectful”. Don’t go off on any tangents and stay respectful.

Use this advice and share it with your employees when they are having trouble letting go of a grudge at work.

Your Wellness & Work-Life Newsletter

Don’t Hold a Grudge

Holding onto a grudge is something that, being human, we do. At one time or another, you probably have found someone’s behavior or intentions unforgivable. But holding a grudge is harmful and counterproductive. A grudge works like a slow leak, a small hole through which your energy continually seeps.

Letting go of a grudge is actually healing. Finding a more constructive way to deal with your feelings is the key – you don’t have to wait for the offending person to apologize.

Why Do We Hold onto Grudges?

Grudges stay with you, like chewing gum on the bottom of your shoe. You probably have a belief that holding onto resentment will prevent you from ever being taken advantage of again. Ironically, a grudge maintains the illusion of having control while actually making you more vulnerable.

For example, if your co-worker is giving a special presentation at a staff meeting, you may decide not to attend because of a grudge you hold against her. As a result, you are uninformed of a crucial decision made at the meeting, and this may affect your job performance.

Maybe you hold onto a grudge because you want to get even. You may believe that letting go of your grudge is too easy on the other person. In reality, revenge is rarely satisfying.

The Mental Stress

A grudge and the need to get even can become all-consuming. As you replay what happened to you over and over again in your mind, the sense of being wronged grows disproportionately. The intense negative emotions you feel begin to drain you of mental energy, not the energy of the person you are angry with.

The Physical Stress

Anger doesn’t just affect your head. According to the Mayo Clinic and the American College of Cardiology Anger can cause an irregular heart beat, and potentially contribute to heart disease, high blood pressure, ulcers, and other health problems.

The Block to Progress

As long as you nurse a grudge, you don’t think about constructive solutions to problem. The grudge “blinds” you. Expressing the hurt and asking for an apology builds assertiveness and the ability to move on.

How to Get Rid of a Grudge

  • Review the situation carefully and calmly
  • Determine if the slight was real or imagined
  • Think of alternative explanations – put yourself in the other person’s shoes
    • Did the person really mean to hurt you?
    • If they were insensitive, was it deliberate or an accident?

    Practice having a conversation with yourself. It might sound like this:

    The Grudge: “If I’m nice to others, they should be nice to me.”

    The Nudge: “It would be great if the world worked that way, but it doesn’t. I’m wise enough to realize that people aren’t always fair or nice.”

    The Grudge: “I just can’t stand that this has happened to me.”

    The Nudge: “Of course I can stand it. I don’t have to cave in emotionally and turn all my good feelings over to this one bad incident.”

    The Grudge: “That person is evil and horrible and deserves my hatred.”

    The Nudge: “This person is human, like me. They have bad days, problems in their lives and pressures that I don’t know about. I can’t control all the difficult people I meet in life, but I can control how much I let them get to me.”

    A Ritual Letting Go

    Still Struggling to let go? For some people, a personal ritual that symbolizes the internal struggle can help you let go. Your serious side may say you’re being silly, but if it gets you back on track, try it. Here are some examples that others have used:

    Banish the grudge – write your feelings down, put them in an envelope and send them to a fictional address in Siberia (skip the return address). Chances are the letter will never reach Siberia, but it won’t find its way back to you either.

    Record the grudge – talk about your feelings while you record them. Yell, curse or cry, but get it out of your system. When you are finished drop the CD in a recycling bin, record over it or save it for some day in the future when you can laugh at the moment.

    Whatever the method, the important thing is to concentrate on the good feeling of letting go.

    Written by Marcia Carteret, M.Ed. and Interculturalist. Ms. Carteret is a writer and lecturer on a range of mental and physical healthcare topics. She has been a regular contributor and consultant to COPE. To learn more about Marcia go to www.dimensionsofculture.com.

    Edited by Mary Sue Mcclain
    COPElines are published by COPE, Inc.

    This material may be reproduced without permission provided that it is not modified or altered in any way and acknowledgment is made to COPE, Inc.

    Why holding a grudge is bad for you (and how to let it go)

    Most of us have harboured feelings of resentment after being hurt or deceived. It seems justifiable to do so, particularly when the pain was unexpected and feels utterly undeserved.

    A close look at grudge-holding shows, however, that the only person who suffers is the one who holds the grudge. As Angela Buttimer, a psychotherapist in Georgia, put it, ‘When we hold onto grudges and resentment, it’s like drinking poison and expecting the other person to get sick.”

    Johan Karremans at Raboud University in the Netherlands reviewed a number of studies on the relative effects of grudge-holding and forgiveness. He found the inability to forgive is inversely related to the psychological wellbeing of the offended, particularly in relationships where there’s strong commitment. John Gottman, expert in marital wellbeing, would agree. He notes when couples hold onto anger and resentment, their negative feelings only intensify and separation becomes more likely.

    That’s not surprising: anger increases confrontation, and sabotages the chance of finding compromise. This was demonstrated in a study at Georgetown University, where groups of people were shown different video clips designed to produce no strong feeling or one of three negative emotions — anger, disgust or sadness. He then tested participants’ ability to take the perspective of another, for example by asking them to imagine a game of chess from their opponent’s viewpoint. Angry participants were less able than others to imagine any point of view other than their own.

    Nursing a grudge — and in particular feeling anger rather than experiencing negative feelings generally – may also compromise physical health, particularly as we grow older. Meghan Barlow at Concordia University compared the relative effects of holding onto anger with those of feeling sad in a group of older adults. Those who were angry had higher levels of low-grade inflammation and suffered more chronic illnesses than those who felt sad, and this was particularly so among the oldest participants. In other words, it’s not the life event, but how you process it that counts.

    Holding a grudge is clearly toxic. It damages psychological wellbeing, is associated with physical ill-health, makes compromise unlikely and can even destroy relationships. So if someone has hurt you, how can you let go of your anger?

    You could simply try imagining yourself forgiving the other person — studies have shown even this can help us feel more in control of negativity. The Stanford Forgiveness Project teaches participants to become more forgiving by challenging their own fixed beliefs, considering alternative explanations for the other person’s behaviour, and learning to become aware of and control their own emotional state through relaxation and breathing techniques.

    Michael McCullough at the University of Miami found writing about your experience also helps, especially if you include what you learned from any unhappy experience.

    Finally, forgiving doesn’t necessarily mean going back for more. If someone hurts or betrays you repeatedly, and if they continually refuse your requests to talk things through, you may need to step back from that relationship.

    Forgiving means letting go of negative feelings only. Once anger goes, trust the logic that remains.

    Why holding a grudge is bad for you (and how to let it go)

    Despite your best efforts, it’s impossible not to be hurt or disappointed by loved ones at some point in your life.

    But often the most challenging aspect of getting hurt is letting go of any lingering resentment after you forgive them. Sometimes, you may find that you’re holding a grudge — even if you’re doing so unintentionally.

    Knowing what sorts of things might mean that you’re holding a grudge, even if you don’t think you are, can help you figure out a way to move forward.

    You lost your cool over something unrelated

    When you’re holding a grudge, all sorts of things can cause you to get frustrated. Not only that, but you can find yourself taking advantage of any opportunity to let your voice be heard. And that means that sometimes you might get upset over things that really aren’t related to what you’re actually upset about.

    “We may have a grudge towards someone but pretend like things are fine; until an unrelated issue sets us off,” Connie L. Habash , a licensed marriage and family therapist and interfaith minister, told INSIDER. “Putting too much cream in the coffee or fighting over the TV remote can turn into a major blow-up due to the backlog of unresolved feelings in the relationship.”

    Thinking about what you’re actually upset about — or why you had that reaction to something that’s seemingly minor — can help you figure out what’s actually at the root of the issue.

    You’re avoiding them

    “Often, we’ll find ourselves avoiding someone that we have resentment or an unresolved issue with,” Habash said. “We find great excuses to do a task in another room from our partner, become slow to return phone calls from a friend, or feel that we’re just too busy to get together.”

    If you’re upset with someone, even if you’re not fully aware that you are, you may not want to spend a ton of time with them. It’s understandable. But recognizing what’s going on and talking things through with them can help you move on.

    “If you find yourself avoiding someone you have previously been close to, reflect on what happened the last time you were together, or even further into the past,” Habash said. “Consider talking about the problem so that you can feel comfortable with them again.”

    You still feel bitter

    Holding onto feelings of resentment is a surefire way to tell that you’re not over an issue. If you’re unable to move forward without feeling embittered or angry when you think about the incident, then you’re probably harboring a grudge.

    “Moving on means choosing not to let the hurt and anger have power over you,” Kevon Owen, M.S., LPC , a clinical psychotherapist, told INSIDER. “When the resentment persists, the grudge is still going strong.”

    When you think about them, your feelings are negative

    “The best way to tell if you’re holding a grudge is to use your memory,” Sal Raichbach, doctor of psychology at Ambrosia Treatment Center , told INSIDER. “Take a look at the feelings that arise immediately after you think about an old friend, a past co-worker or an ex. If your first reaction is negative, it’s likely that there is an underlying reason that you feel that way, even if you can’t recall what that reason is.”

    You might not always think that you’re still upset with someone over a certain thing, but you very well could be. Thinking about what sorts of feelings a person or situation brings up can help you figure out what’s really going on.

    You’re all about fairness or want to make sure that they see your side of things

    If you’re mostly concerned with the other person understanding where you were coming from and ensuring that they see your side of things, that’s another potential sign that you might be holding a grudge.

    “Resentment is the feeling we have been wronged by someone else and holding a grudge is the belief that we will feel better when we have shown the other person how angry we are,” Carrie Krawiec, a licensed marriage and family therapist in Troy, Michigan, told INSIDER. “If we can hurt them like they have hurt us.”

    You might not think that’s what you’re doing, but it very well could be.

    You feel nothing

    Feeling indifferent to a person is another way that you might be able to tell that you’re secretly harboring a grudge.

    “Preventing yourself from feeling anything requires a lot of effort,” Owen said. “Choosing to become emotionally detached and uninterested in someone you’re trying to forgive. Why spend that much time and energy . it’s because there’s still a grudge.”

    You cancel plans at the last minute

    There are days that you just want to stay in rather than go anywhere — that’s true for just about everyone. But if you feel like you need to (or want to) cancel plans with someone, you might want to reflect a bit more on the reason why.

    “You might plan to get together with a friend or go out with your boyfriend, but then decide to cancel at the last minute, just because you don’t feel right about it or aren’t “up to it,” Habash said. “The feeling that causes you to want to back out is likely a resentment lurking beneath the surface.”

    Thinking a bit more about what’s going on can help you figure out if you’re canceling plans because you truly want to stay in or because there’s something else going on.

    It’s easy for you to get irritated with them

    “Think about how much emotional threshold you have towards most people . even annoying ones,” Owen said. “Now compare that to how much emotional reserve you have towards someone you feel wronged you. It’s less. It’s a wound that’s barely healed. Irritability towards someone you’re working to forgive is a barrier to overcoming a grudge.”

    Talking through things with the person in question or working through things with the assistance of a trained professional can help you move forward, once and for all.

    Think about the last time someone really did you wrong. Maybe a family member forgot your birthday, or your boss passed you up for a promotion. Now, take a moment to notice what you’re feeling. Does thinking about the event make your heart beat faster or your breathing become shallow? Does it leave a bad taste in your mouth? If so, you’re holding a grudge, which can be bad for your health.

    Ricky Bobby is going to hold a grudge over this one.

    The negative emotions that come with holding on to a grudge are actually a stress response. Just thinking about the event sends your body into fight or flight mode. When a threat is imminent, this reaction is essential to your survival. When a threat is ancient history, holding on to that stress wreaks havoc on your body and can have devastating health consequences over time. Holding on to a grudge means you’re holding on to stress, and researchers at Emory University have shown that holding on to stress contributes to high blood pressure and heart disease. Learning to let go of a grudge will not only make you feel better now but can also improve your health over time. There are six steps to letting go. Follow them closely and watch your grudges disappear (and your emotional intelligence improve).

    Step 1. Take control.

    You need to take control of your life and decide that you are ready to let go of the grudge. This means no more waiting for the other person to apologize or somehow make it right. When you’re waiting for someone else to act, you’re giving him or her control over you. Letting go of the grudge is about your own health and well-being. It’s essential you do it on your own terms.

    Step 2. Make it for YOU.

    The process of forgiveness and letting go is for you, not the person you’re forgiving. Forgiving can be hard to do when the person you’re forgiving doesn’t deserve it. You’re choosing to let go for your own health and happiness, and the other person doesn’t need to know that you’ve forgiven him or her. You’re not letting the person off the hook or inviting him or her to repeat the offense—you’re just letting the past be the past.

    Step 3. Step into his or her shoes.

    Take a moment to think about the situation from the other person’s perspective. This will help you understand why he or she acted that way. Sometimes, you’ll discover extraneous circumstances that make the other person’s actions easier to take. Other times, you’ll find zero justification for his or her actions, and that’s okay. Either way, you’ll improve your perspective and possibly develop some empathy to assist you in letting go.

    Step 4. Acknowledge your feelings.

    You cannot let go of a grudge until you acknowledge how bad the offense made and makes you feel. If you ignore or deny your feelings, you won’t process them, and they will resurface when you least expect it. The more honest you are with yourself about exactly what you felt and feel, the easier it is to prevent these feelings from having a hold on you.

    Step 5. Don’t do it alone.

    This simple step is the most difficult one for many people. When you’ve been wronged, it can be embarrassing to reveal to another person exactly what happened and admit how sore you are about it. The simple act of talking it out with a friend is a great way to acknowledge your feelings (thus taking away their power). It’s also a great way to get some new insight into your situation. You aren’t the only person who has been treated poorly by others, nor are you alone in being bitter or hurt about it. This happens to everyone, and you’ll be surprised how quickly a good friend will admit he or she has experienced the same thing.

    Step 6. Verbally forgive.

    You don’t have to say it to the person (there are many instances when doing so is a bad idea), but you must say it out loud. Literally verbalize your forgiveness, and the fact that you are letting the wrongdoing go. Just as writing something down makes it easier to remember even if you never revisit what you wrote, verbalizing your forgiveness is an action (not just a thought), which makes it “real” to your brain. This may sound hokey, but try it. You’ll see how powerful this final step is.

    Grudges can be tough, especially when it’s hard to justify the other person’s actions or your own inability to let it go. Since even a small grudge can be detrimental to your health, do yourself a favor and give these six steps a try.

    Grudges or resentment are often described as poison, slowly weakening the person who cannot let go.

    But that’s not just a metaphor. Some medical researchers believe it can take a toll on you physically.

    Johns Hopkins hospital describes it as being in constant fight-or-flight mode.

    This causes constant changes to your heart rate, blood pressure, and immune system.

    When those three things are on a roller coaster, the rest of your body suffers.

    Psychologists say refusing to forgive and let go. Messes with your mental health as well.

    People who hang onto grudges are more likely to go through severe depression and PTSD.

    To err is human, to forgive divine, and forgiving will probably make you feel better.

    The good news is that you can change this behavior and ultimately, your health.

    If forgiving others doesn’t come easily for you, try practicing the Reach Forgiveness model which the study says calms stress levels.

    • Recalling the incident that hurt you
    • Empathizing with the person who wronged you
    • Thinking of forgiving that person as an altruistic gift
    • Committing yourself to forgive them
    • Holding onto that forgiveness without taking it back

    One study published in the International Journal of Psychology suggests that the more you pray, the more forgiving you can become.

    But no matter how you are able to do it, remember, forgiveness is essential and will heal your heart in the process.

    It's never anyone's intention to hold onto a friendship grudge and the toxic energy associated with it. But at a certain point, enough time passes and it can feel extra challenging to move on from things that were said…or, in some cases, not said.

    As it turns out, there’s actually a satisfaction factor—and a feeling of self-righteousness and moral superiority—that comes from holding onto a grudge, according to New York City-based psychotherapist Sarah Saffian, L.C.S.W. M.F.A. But that feeling of satisfaction is also the reason grudges are so tough to let go of: “If you allow yourself to release the grudge, that can give the impression that you’re letting someone off the hook,” Saffian explains. “Holding onto a grudge is a form of self-protection. Because anger is a more powerful feeling than vulnerability and acknowledging that you’re hurt.”

    Still, there is a way to navigate these emotions and—better yet—finally move on. Saffian gives us the step-by-step guide for how to let go of a grudge.

    Depending on how much time has passed, it can be tough to remember who said what and when, but reflecting on the original incident—and examining your own role in it versus only criticizing the other person’s behavior—can be super eye-opening, says Saffian. For example, you should ask yourself: Why did you feel the way you did during (or immediately following) the interaction? How would you describe the feelings you felt? Say, the action that was taken by the other person was small. Why did you react so strongly? Keep in mind: This isn’t about blame, it’s about pinning down the source of the tension and trying to contain it.

    Are you getting something out of carrying this around? Does feeling right make you feel better? Are you holding onto hope that the other person will come around? What’s the likelihood of that happening? Basically, this part is about examining the amount of mental space the grudge is taking up and working to detach from those toxic feelings, explains Saffian.

    It’s easy to say: “I can’t forgive her because she hasn’t expressed remorse. If she apologized, we’d be all good.” But that’s where you need to flip your definition of forgiveness and think of it as a gift to yourself as opposed to for your friend. If you forgive a person privately in your heart—especially if you know it’s not possible to turn the other person over to your side—it’s healthier for you. The advice Saffian gives her clients? Write a letter that you won’t send and use that as a tool to find the words to express yourself. What made you angry? Why are you still angry? Spell out what it will take for you to care less? Per Saffian, you can’t switch off feelings, but holding onto them gives the other person too much power. Writing a letter is an act of letting go.

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    Some common synonyms of grudge are ill will, malevolence, malice, malignity, spite, and spleen. While all these words mean “the desire to see another experience pain, injury, or distress,” grudge implies a harbored feeling of resentment or ill will that seeks satisfaction.

    never one to harbor a grudge

    When is it sensible to use ill will instead of grudge?

    The words ill will and grudge can be used in similar contexts, but ill will implies a feeling of antipathy of limited duration.

    ill will provoked by a careless remark

    When could malevolence be used to replace grudge?

    Although the words malevolence and grudge have much in common, malevolence suggests a bitter persistent hatred that is likely to be expressed in malicious conduct.

    a look of dark malevolence

    When might malice be a better fit than grudge?

    While the synonyms malice and grudge are close in meaning, malice implies a deep-seated often unexplainable desire to see another suffer.

    felt no malice toward their former enemies

    When is malignity a more appropriate choice than grudge?

    The words malignity and grudge are synonyms, but do differ in nuance. Specifically, malignity implies deep passion and relentlessness.

    a life consumed by motiveless malignity

    In what contexts can spite take the place of grudge?

    In some situations, the words spite and grudge are roughly equivalent. However, spite implies petty feelings of envy and resentment that are often expressed in small harassments.

    petty insults inspired by spite

    When can spleen be used instead of grudge?

    The meanings of spleen and grudge largely overlap; however, spleen suggests the wrathful release of latent spite or persistent malice.