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Last Updated on December 8, 2020

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)

Holding grudges holds us back, but healing can’t always happen overnight.

When we forgive, we free ourselves.

“Sometimes closure arrives two years later, on an ordinary Friday afternoon, in a way you never expected or could have predicted. And you cry a little, and you laugh a little, and for the first time in a long time…you exhale. Because you are free.” — Mandy Hale

Letting go creates growth. Then, we can heal. Our hearts become open again to others if we let a grudge go. We stop seeing ourselves as victims but rather victors. This doesn’t lessen the accountability you may give another person. It just ensures that you do not mishandle them or yourself, or anyone else for that matter.

People may hurt us, but they don’t have to have power over us.

Forgiveness free us from the pain and the grip of the past. There may be a reason for anger. The grudge may be justified. But it also may be keeping you living a happier life.

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Forgiveness is something we do for ourselves, not for the benefit of others. It is the healthier, stronger way to be. However, it does not mean that person must stay in our lives. Still, if you don’t try, you won’t find out if it’s possible for a person to be redeemed.

Redemption is possible. You would want someone to give you the chance to be better. So, find it in your heart to let the grudge go. Holding a grudge won’t get you anywhere faster and will ultimately slow you down.

Release the need to prove yourself right all the time. Release the need to assert your needs over another’s. Release the grudge, even if you still have to say goodbye.

Why Holding a Grudge Is Bad For You?

Research has found that people who hold grudges, being less prone to forgive, had higher blood pressure and were more likely to die from heart disease.[1] It also affects your immune system and metabolism, as well as organ function.

Overall, your physical wellbeing is impacted not by the pain you feel towards the person’s actions but your holding onto the grudge that doesn’t allow you to see anything else[2]. You live in the problem rather than the solutions. You lie to yourself that you’re fine when everything is falling apart. You shorten your life with the anger you hold. You lessen its quality, too.

Not only does holding a grudge have physical effects, but one can develop depression and anxiety. It makes you unhappy, plain and simple. It makes you angry, which creates stress over the situation. It is widely accepted that stress is bad for your health, both mental and physical. Your immune system may remain compromised if you don’t compromise with the person.

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Grudges keep you replaying your hurt feelings and fueling the anger that wants the other person to feel pain. It blinds you to better ways. You may find yourself doing the very thing that hurt you to others if you don’t forgive and find healing. In the end, you may become the worst version of yourself in order to try to feel that you are not a victim of their mistakes.

Holding a grudge can often lead to focusing on the negative, which can hold you back from living a life of gratitude and joy.

If you develop the habit of holding a grudge, this can lead to developing unhealthy relationships full of guardedness and secrecy. You may refuse vulnerability or authenticity in your day to day life because you fear possible negative consequences.

We make ourselves smaller by holding our hands into clench fists. We rise higher when we let go and walk forward into the life that was meant for us.

How to Stop Holding a Grudge

Letting a grudge go can be a long, difficult process, but it’s one that will ultimately be worth it. Try engaging in some of the following techniques to move past the grudge and into forgiveness.

1. Don’t Play the Victim

To overcome a grudge, you must leave a victim mentality behind and also allow yourself to feel the pain, knowing also that a grudge prolongs the healing process[3]. Establish boundaries and visualize releasing the grudge to start to free yourself.

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Instead of playing the victim, see yourself as the hero of your own story, willing to let the grudge go to create the best possible life for yourself.

2. Don’t Vilify the Other Person

Focus less on vilifying the person and more on their intent. Life is not always black and white. Your feelings were hurt, but that may not have been the person’s intention. If it was, remove them. However, if miscommunication was removed from the world, we’d have far less broken hearts and hurt feelings.

Try to communicate with the other person if possible to understand what happened on their end and why things went the way they did. You may need to step back and realize not everything everybody does is because of you. It could be a reflection of how they are doing or something they are struggling with in their own life. Try to give them the benefit of the doubt before making them into the villain of your story.

3. Remove Emotions to See the Truth

When someone is struggling, they don’t always know how to put it into words and speak kindness. Sometimes, you have to be the bigger person and remove your emotions from the situation and help them. Sometimes, you have to be the one to say “I’m sorry” first because you have the emotional capacity for self-reflection, even if they don’t. Give them the chance to also own up, and your relationship with them may be strengthened. Talk using “I” statements, e.g. “I feel this because this happened,” not “You did this to me.” This will help the other person become accountable without feeling attacked.

This is how we renew relationships. We may move forward again because we know that life is short. We have flaws, too. We must not discount those for the sake of proving someone else right.

4. Act With Kindness

You can always say, “Talk to me. What’s really going on? You tell me you’re fine, but how are you really?” Everyone appreciates this. It also helps them to let their guard down. Maybe their actions aren’t about you. Or maybe they are. But if you say this to them, you won’t have any regrets. You will do the right thing no matter what and show them your maturity, that you refuse to be reactive just because they know how to get under your skin. You respond instead.

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You may even get help for them.

5. If It’s Time, Let the Relationship Go

It’s not about whether you believe people can change or not. It’s giving the opportunity for them to show you that they are more than the sum of their mistakes. So are you. Allowing for such humanity is both healing and humbling. Even if they were at fault, it doesn’t mean you need to only see them for their worst moments.

If someone did something truly hurtful and with the intent to hurt, then it’s okay to let them go. A life of joy comes from positive connections with others. If this particular connection is no longer serving as a source of good energy, feel free to leave it to the past and move on to finding better relationships. Once you let go of the grudge you had with the other, you’ll find you have more energy to devote to new connections.

6. See Forgiveness as a Strength

If there’s an opportunity to give someone the benefit of the doubt, take it, because you would want them to give you such a benefit. It doesn’t mean you’re weak to let the grudge go. It’s the opposite. It takes strength to start over, to forgive, to let kindness win. It takes strength to put the ego aside for empathy. We don’t know what road someone has traveled to get where they are. All we can do is walk beside them in the time we have given to us. We can even help change their course for the better.

Final Thoughts

If you can do nothing else, be kind without need of anything returned. Even if it means saying goodbye, let the grudge go with kindness towards both yourself and the other person.

Once you are able to forgive and let go of the grudge, you can start to live a better, freer life. You’ll find that you suffer less, feel less angry, and feel more empowered as the hero of your story.

You never know how someone may later serve you in life if you don’t give them a chance now. Holding grudges shortens our lives, hurts our mental health and ruins our relationships. Let a grudge go and know that you will have a happier life if you do so.

More Tips on Forgiveness

Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

Reference

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Sarah Browne

Sarah is a speaker, writer and activist

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Last Updated on April 19, 2021

How to Deal With Anger (The Ultimate Anger Management Guide)

How to Deal With Anger (The Ultimate Anger Management Guide)

We all lose our temper from time to time, and expressing anger is actually a healthy thing to do in our relationships with others. Expressing our differences in opinion allows us to have healthy conflict and many times come to an agreement or understanding that works for everyone. However, there are times when anger can become overwhelming or damaging, and during these times, it’s important to learn how to deal with anger.

Expressing anger inappropriately can be harmful to relationships, both personal and professional. You may express too much anger, too often, or at times that are only going to make things worse, not better. In this article we will look at anger management techniques that will help you better control your emotions.

Let’s take a deeper look at how to deal with anger.

Expressing Anger

Anger is a natural and normal part of almost any relationship. This includes relationships with your significant other, kids, boss, friends, family, etc. Anger provides us with valuable information if we are willing to listen to it. It clues us in to areas where we disagree with others and things that need to be changed or altered.

Unhealthy Ways to Express Anger

Here are some common yet unhealthy ways to express anger that you should avoid:

Being Passive-Aggressive

This is a term many of us are familiar with. Passive-aggressive behavior happens when someone is angry but uses indirect communication to express their anger.

Some of the more common passive-aggressive behaviors include the silent treatment, making comments about someone behind their back, being grumpy, moody, or pouting, or simply not doing tasks or assignments that they should.

This is a passive-aggressive person’s way of showing their anger. It’s not very productive but extremely common.

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Poorly-Timed

Some people get overwhelmed and express anger in a situation where it can’t really do any good.

An example would be getting angry at one person in front of a crowd of people. All that does is make people uncomfortable and shuts them down. It’s not a healthy way to express anger or disagreement with someone.

Ongoing Anger

Being angry all the time is most often a symptom of something else. It’s healthy and normal to express anger when you disagree with someone. However, if someone is angry most of the time and always seems to be expressing their anger to everyone around them, this won’t serve them well.

Over time, people will start to avoid this person and have as little contact as possible. The reason being is no one likes being around someone who is angry all the time; it’s a no-win situation.

Healthy Ways to Express Anger

What about the healthy ways[1] to adapt? When learning how to deal with anger, here are some healthy ways to get you started.

Being Honest

Express your anger or disagreement honestly. Be truthful about what it is that is making you angry. Sometimes this will entail walking away and thinking about it for a bit before you respond.

Don’t say you’re mad at something someone did or said when it’s really something else that upset you.

Being Direct

Similar to being honest, being direct is a healthy way to express anger.

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Don’t talk around something that is making you angry. Don’t say that one thing is making you angry when it’s really something else, and don’t stack items on top of each other so you can unload on someone about 10 different things 6 months from now.

Be direct and upfront about what is making you angry. Ensure you are expressing your anger to the person who upset you or you are angry at, not to someone else. This is very counterproductive.

Being Timely

When something makes you angry, it’s much better to express it in a timely manner. Don’t keep it bottled up inside of you, as that’s only going to do more harm than good.

Think of the marriages that seem to go up in flames out of nowhere when the reality is someone kept quiet for years until they hit their breaking point.

Expressing anger as it occurs is a much healthier way of using anger to help us guide our relationships in the moment.

How to Deal With Anger

If you feel angry, how should you deal with it right at that moment?

1. Slow Down

From time to time, I receive an email at work that makes me so angry that steam is probably pouring out of my ears.

In my less restrained moments, I have been known to fire off a quick response, and that typically has ended about as well as you might imagine.

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When I actually walk away from my computer and go do something else for a while, I am able to calm down and think more rationally. After that happens, I am able to respond in a more appropriate and productive manner. Doing things that helps you learn how to release anger can make an uncomfortable situation more manageable before it gets out of hand.

2. Focus on the “I”

Remember that you are the one that’s upset. Don’t accuse people of making you upset because, in the end, it’s your response to what someone did that really triggered your anger. You don’t want to place blame by saying something like “Why don’t you ever put away your dishes?” Say something more like “Having dirty dishes laying on the counter upsets me—can you work with me to come to a solution?”

When you are accusatory towards someone, all that does is increase the tension. This doesn’t usually do anything except make your anger rise higher.

3. Work out

When learning how to deal with anger, exercise is a great outlet. If something happens that angers you, see if you have the opportunity to burn off some of the anger.

Being able to hit the gym to get a hard workout in is great. If this isn’t an option, see if you can go for a run or a bike ride. If you are at work when you become angry and the weather permits, at least go outside for a brisk walk.

Besides working some of your anger out through exercise, this also helps to give your mind a chance to work through some ways to address what it is that upset you.

If you’re not sure where to start with an exercise routine, check out Lifehack’s free Simple Cardio Home Workout Plan.

4. Seek Help When Needed

There are times when we could all use some help. Life can be stressful and overwhelming. It’s perfectly fine to seek some help from a mental health professional if it will help you get back to a healthy balance.If you find that you are angry all the time, it might be a good idea to go talk to an expert about learning to control intense emotions. They can give you some sound advice and ideas on how to get your anger to a more manageable and healthy level.

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5. Practice Relaxation

We all seem to lead incredibly busy lives, and that’s a good thing if we are loving the life we are living. That being said, it is very beneficial to our physical and mental well-being to take time out for relaxation.

That can mean spending time doing things that help us calm down and relax, like being around people we enjoy, practicing deep breathing or listening to music. It could be making time for things that help bring us balance like a healthy diet and physical activity.

Many people incorporate techniques such as yoga and meditation to calm their minds and release tension when learning how to deal with anger. Whatever your choice is, ensure you take time out to relax when warning signs of anger start to bubble up.

6. Laugh

Incorporating humor and laughter on a regular basis will help keep anger in check and help you get over a bad mood and feelings of anger more quickly. This isn’t part of formal anger management techniques, but you’ll be surprised by how well it works. Remember, life is a journey that’s meant to be enjoyed fully along the way through healthy emotion. Make sure you take time to laugh and have fun.Surround yourself with people that like to laugh and enjoy life. Don’t work at a job that just causes you stress, which can lead to anger. Work at something you enjoy doing.

7. Be Grateful

It’s easy to focus on the bad in life and the things that cause us negative emotions. It’s vitally important to remind ourselves of all the wonderful things in life that bring us positive emotions, things that we easily forget because we get caught up in the whirlwind of day to day life.

Take time out each day to remind yourself of a few things you are grateful for in order to help you learn how to release anger and invite in more positive feelings.

Final Thoughts

Life can be overwhelming at times. We seem to have constant pressure to achieve more and to always be on the go or motivated. People we are around and situations we are in can cause stress, anger, and negative emotions. At times, it can seem to be too much, and we get angry and our emotions start to get out of control.

During these times, keep in mind that life is an incredible journey, full of wonder and things that bring you joy. When you find yourself angry more often than is healthy, take time out to remember the good things in life—the things that we seem to forget yet bring us so much positive energy and emotions.

Use some of the tips included here to help with how to deal with anger and better control your emotions.

More Resources on Anger Management

Featured photo credit: Andre Hunter via unsplash.com

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