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Published on May 22, 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

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Sarah Browne

Sarah is a speaker, writer and activist

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Last Updated on August 10, 2020

10 Principles for Success to Live Your Dream Life

10 Principles for Success to Live Your Dream Life

Are you stressed out and overwhelmed, wishing you had more time to do the things that really matter? Are you ready to do something better, something special in your life or your career?

If you’re ready to do what you want in life, then the 10 principles of success are what you need to follow.

You were born with a gift that no one else in the world can express like you. When you dance to your own music, you naturally develop your innate abilities and excel in work and life. You are a total rock star. But when you live someone else’s idea of who you should be, it throws off your groove.

Many people—maybe you—stopped following their dreams way too early in life because their talents were ignored, minimized, or shamed. They didn’t have the chops to win an American Idol competition or nab an Olympic gold medal, so they stopped expressing their inborn gifts altogether.

You don’t need to be an award winner to rock your life. Living your dream life is about discovering your superpowers and feeling vibrant and joyful when you use them. It’s about owning what makes you unique and finding like-minded people to support you.

Here are 10 success principles to help you live a rich and rewarding life on your terms that have worked with thousands of people in my workshops and will work for you, too.

1. Get a Hobby to Move Closer to Your Dreams

If you never became a professional dancer or a world-renowned author, it does NOT mean you should stop dancing or writing! These activities make you come alive, even if you “only” do them as favorite pastimes.

Engaging in a hobby is one of the most important success principles you can follow to move closer to your dreams.

When you try something creative for the first time or in a long while, you begin to see opportunities at work and in life that you were unaware of before. You also feel happier and more energized, according to a recent study from New Zealand.[1]

Some of my most burned-out executive clients reinvigorated their careers by discovering a creative outlet that refueled them after the workday ended. Research at San Francisco State University shows that having a hobby lowers stress and helps you succeed at work.[2]

So, give yourself permission to try new things and revisit old passions you gave up long ago. Setting aside just one hour a week for personal exploration can significantly change your life.

Who knows? Your creative outlet could transform into a thriving business or lead to a new profession down the road.

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2. Focus on Your Strengths, Not Your Weaknesses

Did you know that you are more likely to succeed when you develop your natural strengths rather than work on your weaknesses? The problem is that you probably don’t know where your true talents lie.

Here are a few options to help you discover your unique strengths. You can:

  • Take the VIA Character Strengths Survey[3]
  • Try Gallup’s CliftonStrengths Assessment[4]
  • Answer a few Superpower Questions

Once you understand what makes you tick, you can use these skills at work and your personal life to get more done in less time. If you boost your unique abilities through practice and study, you can accelerate your career and become a leader in a field that matters to you. It’s worth investing in yourself this way.

3. Jumping off a Cliff is NOT Required

Here’s the deal: most people are too afraid to change. When participants first come to my workshops, they tell me they have mouths to feed, bills to pay, and fear that if they follow their dreams, someone will get hurt.

The old saying “leap and the net shall appear” does not comfort them. Because they are hesitant to plunge into the unknown, they believe their only option is to stay put where they are in life. Can you relate?

You do not have to sacrifice the life you have now to start a new one. I was a psychology professor by day and singer by night for years before I transitioned into a full-time music career.

Just take a little time out each week to do what enlivens you through a hobby, volunteer work, etc. Get a feel for it.

Is it what you really want? If so, increase the time you spend doing it and make the transition when the time feels right.

4. Give Your Inner Critic Some Love

The main culprit that keeps you from stepping outside your comfort zone and getting the life of your dreams is KCRP or K-CRAP – the radio station that plays 24/7 in your head. The moment you try to do something interesting with your life it slaps you down with such chart-topping killer hooks as “Who do you think you are?” and “You’ll never be good enough!”.

Have you ever noticed that KCRP’s mean-spirited DJ sounds like your parents, teachers, bosses, and other authority figures who shut you down creatively? These folks don’t need to stifle you any longer (although they often still do) because your inner critic does it for them. That keeps you stuck in a rut.

To break free, try thinking of this DJ as a gruff old grandfather who gives you crap to keep you safe. Remember, this grumpy grandpa is woefully out of touch with the times. So, his stern opinions don’t really matter much, do they? Give him a pat on the back for his good intentions, and put your focus back on what makes you come alive.

This success principle will give you the courage to venture into the unknown where you can dance to the beat of your own drummer.

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5. Embrace Your Inner Self

Many of us don’t go after our dreams because we’re afraid folks will find out how odd or strange we are. But our little eccentricities often turn out to be our greatest strengths. Yes, it’s good to be quirky.

Odds are, you lost track of your true passions and talents before you were even old enough to know you were getting off-track. You became slowly “adulterated” by learning to:

  • Take on family roles that don’t match who you really are.
  • Spit back what teachers taught you in school rather than risk getting bad grades for being original.
  • Hide parts of yourself that don’t seem acceptable to certain social groups.

The price for fitting in is that you may wind up leading a life that doesn’t fit you all that well. Your true calling becomes clear when you embrace what makes you different from others and allow yourself to stand out from the crowd, even if it feels awkward. Often, the very qualities you view as your flaws are your greatest gifts.

Here’s How to Listen to Your Inner Voice for Greater Fulfillment.

6. See the Bigger Picture to Find Your True Calling

I cannot stress the importance of this success principle enough. Your true calling is right in front of you. But you may miss it because you’re looking for it in the wrong place.

To “see” it clearly, try widening your point of view.

Case in point: Maria felt she needed to retire early from being a police detective, so she could travel abroad. I encouraged Maria to think of ways that she could continue to serve as a law enforcer (a career she loved) and travel overseas at the same time.

A few months later, Maria landed a job with the United Nations in Bosnia training the local police force to understand and embrace human rights procedures.

Like Maria, you are an everyday rock star capable of accomplishing greater things than you can imagine. Is what you’re looking for right in front of you, too? Do you have an inkling of what it may be?

Look beyond your day-to-day activities, your current job, and even the town you live in. View your life from an eagle’s perspective and be open to new possibilities.

7. Try a Little Wish-List Magic

Pretend I’m your fairy godmother and I give you permission right now to be your most magnificent self. What kind of life would be music to your ears? It doesn’t matter whether it seems unattainable or even downright crazy. Write it down on a wish list.

Get quiet. Be honest. Think big.

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What would you like your career, your relationships, your health, your finances, and your spiritual life to be like? Jot down enough details so that your wishes seem tangible to you. Then, look at this list every morning before you start your day and every night before you go to sleep.

Sounds silly? It’s not. It works! Permitting yourself to daydream about a rich and fulfilling life is the first step to manifesting it.

8. Take Breaks to Get Clues About Your Ideal Future

Did you know that working straight through to a deadline leads to diminishing returns? Research shows that taking a break for 15 minutes every 75 to 90 minutes can help you recharge, refresh your focus, and get more done in less time.[5]

Wait, it gets better! A Stanford study shows that walking increases your creative output increases by 60 percent. Doing repetitive activities such as walking, running, riding your bike, swimming, and sweeping allow solutions to problems to pop into your mind out of nowhere.[6]

What does this success principle have to do with creating your dream life?

These mini-breaks allow you to get vital clues for what to do next to attain your ideal future. Plus, you won’t waste precious time and energy getting lost in other people’s agendas.

9. Take Action on Your Inspired Ideas

Once an inspired thought pops into your mind, take action.

This is one of the most powerful success principles for turning your dreams into reality; the sooner the better. Whatever it is—from calling an old friend to taking a new route home—be sure to do it!

Pay attention to your oddball hunches. You need to go after what you want, not just dream about it. As comedian Jim Carrey warns,

“You can’t just visualize and go eat a sandwich.”

10. Count Your Rockstar Moments

Still not sure you have what it takes to get your dream life? This final success principle is guaranteed to help.

Make a list of everything you’ve ever accomplished. As you read back through it, put a star next to each item, and let it sink in.

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You’ll be pleasantly surprised by how good you’ll feel about yourself afterward. You’ll also see how effective you’ve been in the past at getting what you want. You’ve succeeded before, you can succeed again.

You already rock. You just need to own it. Trust me, you’ve got this!

Final Thoughts

Eleanor Roosevelt said,

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”

Following these success principles will help you find the time and energy to do the things that really matter and live with clear intention.

By spending just one hour a week doing something you love, focusing on your strengths and achievements, embracing what makes you different, and acting on inspired ideas, you can create a life that is a perfect fit for you, step-by-step.

If you don’t have a clue about what your dream life could look like yet, don’t worry. Your heart knows. It has been “talking” to you for a long time. It’s just being muffled by KCRP, buried under a lot of “shoulds” and fear.

This article can also help you figure out the life you truly want to live: How to Get Motivated and Be Happy Every Day When You Wake Up.

Stand still, get quiet, and listen. It’s constantly telling you what you need to do to realize your own rockstar potential. It may be just a whisper now, but the more you pay attention to it, the louder it will get, and the easier it will be to follow.

More About Success in Life

Featured photo credit: Rahul Dey via unsplash.com

Reference

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