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Holding Grudges Essays

What this is really about is smart investing.

Think of the energy and the time you put into the things that happen to you as investments. With that in mind, the simple question I’m asking is what return are you getting by holding onto something painful, frustrating or irritating?

We get a much larger return on investments we make into love, happiness and personal well being, than we do investing in hate, anger and indignation. I can’t emphasize that enough. By continuing to invest in the things that hurt you, you only cause yourself more hurt.

Among all the emails I got, two stuck out. They were almost identical. Very similar people, in very similar circumstances, had wronged both writers in very similar ways. Reading them was like déjà vu. I couldn’t believe how similar these two stories were, except for one little difference.

The writer of the first email had worked through the hurt, let go and moved on; the writer of the second email vowed not to let go.

Now let me ask you — all questions of morality and theology aside — which writer would you rather be? Which one is earning a better return on investment?

I’ve noticed for myself and through all your emails a few ideas that may help you start your new investing program:

■ Time helps. Sometimes this is just a few breaths and counting to 10. Sometimes, it is years. But as the Good Book says, this too shall pass.

■ Learn from the wisdom of others. A number of you mentioned the work of Byron Katie. I can vouch for it as well. Michael Singer’s book, The Untethered Soul, changed my life, too. You may find it valuable to add some of these ideas to your life.

■ Get help. There are professionals dedicated to helping people let go. There is no shame in therapy. Very good therapists have made huge differences in my life, and many of you said that same thing.

I’m not saying this is easy, or that it will happen overnight. I’m not claiming to know exactly how you will get there. What I am saying is that the things we have the most trouble letting go of are the things we probably need to let go of the most. Imagine how much energy you could have back to invest in more positive things if you did.

If you are willing to share, I would love to hear where you have sent all that energy or do in the future. Please email me at hello@beingcarl.com.

Continue reading the main story

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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< (and as we know, our loved ones are crucial to a good life). Part of forgiveness is asking for it -- which often requires a degree of modesty. And that sense of humility can make your relationships stronger. Research also shows that forgiveness within a relationship can help both parties refocus on their goals and improve the quality of their bond.

To quote one of last year's most popular anthems, it really is best if you just let it go.

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