How to Let Go of Grudges

Written by Joanna Brown

You may have been hurt by something someone did to you, or perhaps you feel sorry for something you did to another.

Either way, grudges are a means of carrying pain with you throughout life. Letting go can be hard, especially when the pain is deep and within you for a long time.

Here is a process to help you understand forgiveness and let go of grudges:

Allow yourself to feel the pain. 

Find a quiet room to sit and be alone. Remember and acknowledge the situation or behavior and listen to emotions that stir. Release tears or yells and screams. We often suppress our emotions to get on with everyday life, but the pain is still buried within and slowly seeps out through anger, resentment, shame and jealousy.

This negativity will drain you mentally and physically, so acknowledge your pain, allow it to surface and it will eventually be released. No matter how strong you believe yourself to be, you are only human. Our emotions are cues to understanding ourselves and our beliefs, so we must experience and learn from them.

Consider the other person involved. 

If your pain is caused by the actions of others, try to understand what caused him or her to behave in that way. Every person is doing his best in life given their upbringing and their conditioning.

If you believe the person was intentionally malicious to you, feel sorrow instead of anger towards that person. People are only malicious because they are hurting within themselves, from insecurity, jealousy or suffering from their own grudges. We can't change people, so we can either live without them or rise above their misery and choose to determine our own happiness.

Forgiveness does not mean accepting. 

We often mistake forgiveness as excusing or accepting the behavior or situation. But forgiveness is just a means of acknowledging the incident occurred, acknowledging the pain you feel and releasing yourself from the burden of the memory. It does not mean forgetting, but making a choice to live in the present and the future, instead of the past. It's making a choice to longer hold another person or yourself in debt.

Understand that forgiveness is not weakness or giving in. It takes a stronger person to forgive as it is the biggest step to moving forward in life.

Out of mind, and onto paper! 

Grab a pen and paper and begin to write a letter to yourself or the person who caused you pain. Include the following:

  • What happened?
  • Why did it happen?
  • What haven't you said that you feel ready to say now?
  • Explain how you feel about the problem.
  • List any regrets you have about the situation.
  • What do you appreciate about what happened?
  • What could you have done differently?
  • What do you want to happen now and in the future?

Being able to pull all your thoughts out of your mind and on to paper will feel like a huge weight has been released from inside you. Consider whether you would like to send the letter to the person involved. If it can't be delivered or it is better not to then that's OK.

But rather than keep the letter, rip it up, burn it or throw it away and as you see it disappear before your eyes, imagine the pain disappearing from your heart and finally letting go of that grudge.

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