Who hasn’t been hurt ever in their lives? You might have felt terrible at some point in your life. Children feel awful when they get scolding by their parents. Parents may also feel hurt when children say something inappropriate to them. Sometimes a simple conversation between partners takes a dramatic turn of accusations and blame game, friends gossiping behind your back, the person you love betrays you. There are endless moments when you can feel deeply hurt. Generally, you get over your feeling of hurt-you don’t keep it in your heart which helps you forget and move ahead.
Nevertheless, when you nourish anger, resentment, bitterness, or negative feelings long after someone has done something to hurt you then it takes the form of a grudge. Grudge may also develop without any valid reason behind it with mere assumptions that someone is against you or planning to do wrong things with you even when it is not correct.
You decide not to talk about it, even if you know you are deeply hurt. What are you doing? You are ‘holding’ on to the grudge. Word attached with a grudge is always ‘hold’. Holding on to the grudge as if you are holding something precious close to your heart.
WHAT IS IT DOING TO YOUR MENTAL HEALTH?
A study found that when people were told to nurse a grudge when thinking about wrongdoers, they had stronger negative emotions and greater stress responses (higher heart rate and BP) than those who were instructed to imagine granting forgiveness.
You may relive those experiences every time you think or interact with that person. You might not share your inner feelings of hatred and prefer to keep them to yourself. You keep on ruminating about every moment as if replaying an episode of damage done.
It is more damaging to you by persistent bitterness, anger. Slowly, resentment towards one person becomes generalized. Harboring negative feeling expose you to unpleasant emotions and thoughts, which may incline your mindset towards negativity. Negativity is a vicious circle that you might not wish to enter.
Without your conscious realization, you will get trapped in a loop of negativity which, in turn, hampers your mental well-being.
Studies have shown that unhealthy emotional regulation, blaming others, suppressing emotions, and holding on to negative feelings lead to more negative feelings. Holding on to a grudge not only plays havoc in your mind but also hampers your physical health.
When you secure your grudge close to your heart-you become the anger, you become the bitterness, you become the resentment, you become the grudge, you are no more yourself.
HOW TO FIND THE STATE OF FORGIVENESS
I agree it is easy to say to forgive. However, if you make an effort to look within, then you may find an answer. Answer to the question why is it necessary to forgive? Answers lie within you. It lies in your thoughts, emotions, and behavior.
Forgiveness doesn’t necessarily come easily. Nevertheless, many of us can achieve it. With little effort on your part, you can move towards the path of goodness that is forgiveness.
The path of forgiveness is never easy yet, with the help of the below-given steps, you might like to think about adapting it in your life.
1)Acceptance of the inner pain
To bring change in any sphere of your life, first, you need to accept it. Acknowledge that you are hurt. Accept that it’s been a long since you are holding on to the negative feelings towards the person who had hurt you.
2)Introspect/dive deep within you
Try to answer difficult questions. Are you the same person? Or do you find yourself becoming a bitter version of yourself? Does holding on to negative feelings solve your problems? It is highly unlikely that bitterness makes you feel any better. Consider how pain and hurt have changed you? Consider how has it affected you?
3)Bring your focus to present
You are required to come to terms with the fact that the past cannot be reverted. How much you wish to reverse the past- it cannot be reversed. The person has done the damage but, the damage was done in the past. However, you are still holding a burden of, in present, in form of a grudge. Being here and now may help you to forgive by weakening the hold of negativity which has its ties in past.
4)Develop a forgiving mind through the practice of empathy
Forgiveness is not easy especially when grave injustice is done. Sometimes, it brings out more anger in a person with a mere mention of forgiveness. It is a process that needs time, patience. At such moments, you need to hold on to your strength which might slowly help you to let go of the grudge. If you are still finding it hard to forgive, you can choose to practice with someone easier to forgive—maybe someone who hurt you in a small way, rather than deeply.
If you get news about the death of the person whom you were not able to forgive, how would you react?
You might either get into another spiral of guilt because the person is no more or you try to punish yourself for not forgiving as holding on to a grudge loses its intention if the person is no more in the world.
There is a danger of sliding into self-loathing. When this happens, you may not take good care of yourself—you might overeat or oversleep or start smoking or engage in other forms of “self-punishment.” You need to recognize this and move toward self-compassion.
You need to honour yourself as a person to forgive yourself. But Most of us tend to be harder on ourselves than we are on others. We struggle to love ourselves.
6)Analyse the consequence
According to Johns Hopkins Psychiatrist Karen Swartz, “forgiving someone relieves stress and lower blood pressure”.
Studies have also found that the act of forgiveness can reap huge rewards for your health, lowering the risk of heart attack; improving cholesterol levels and sleep; and reducing pain, blood pressure, and levels of anxiety, depression, and stress.
Whether you are right or wrong-when you forgive, you take a step to enhance your mental wellness. You ultimately reach a state where you look at your mental well-being as more important than a grudge. It allows you to move toward the final stage.
7)Let go of the hold
Till you hold on to a grudge, you allowed the person to hurt you more.
Free yourself from the clutches of the past and free yourself from the hold of the wrongdoer by forgiving. You are helping yourself by not letting someone else control your thoughts, emotions, and even actions. It gives you immense strength and courage.
“To understand everything is to forgive everything”.
“Forgiving is not a gift to someone else. Forgiving is your gift to yourself”.
Best wishes, Pallavi Sahu Rehabilitation Psychologist