A look at how to get over a grudge, and forgive and forget.

Hollywood actress, Jennifer Aniston, revealed in a magazine interview this month that she has finally managed to release the grudge she held towards her ex husband Brad Pitt and his new wife Angelina Jolie. Big screen star Pitt ended his marriage to Aniston in 2005 and it emerged soon afterwards that he and Jolie were in a relationship. In an interview with a fashion magazine, Jennifer Aniston said: “People can do unforgivable things but you have to let it go. I think it’s extremely important to forgive. Otherwise it just builds up like toxic waste. There’s nothing worse than holding a grudge.”

Aniston's assessment of the toxic nature of grudges is certainly correct, because holding a grudge is bad for your physical, mental and spiritual health. Clinging onto anger and bad feeling for somebody who has wronged you hurts only yourself. Learn to release the grudge and reap the benefits. Forgiving and forgetting hurt caused to you doesn't make you weak - it will make you stronger. Forgiveness doesn't mean you have to allow the person who has hurt you back into your life as if nothing has happened. Forgive and release the hurt but reassess your relationship with this person - perhaps you don't need them in your life anymore?

Grudges erode trust and sours relationships. Evidence suggests that holding a grudge can also negatively impact your health by raising blood pressure and putting a physical strain on your heart. Carrying the negative emotions of a grudge will damage your mental wellbeing by causing you to ruminate on the hurt and blocking out positive emotions and energy.

Release the grudge

If someone has caused you emotional pain, it can be tough to let go of the hurt. Here are some tips for letting go of a grudge.

Acknowledge the issue
Releasing a grudge is not about pretending that you don't feel hurt. In order to move forwards, you need to recognise and acknowledge your pain. Ask yourself:

  • What exactly do I feel hurt about?
  • What actions or words have upset me?
  • Write down five words that best express the emotions you are feeling.

This will help you to identify the real issue. Once the issue is clear in your mind, you can begin to tackle it rather than repress it. Grudges exist when you don't confront an issue that is upsetting you.

Express Your Feelings
Writing down the details of the incident that is causing the grudge can be a useful means of gaining some perspective on a situation and getting your thoughts into order. Do this privately in a diary - never write about this online in a public forum, such as your social media page, as this will most likely escalate the situation and make things worse. In a personal journal, write about the incident and how the event unfolded. This may help you to see why a person behaved in a certain way. Be honest and you might also see an aspect of your behaviour that the other person objected to, which led to the negative situation.

Switch places
Try to see the situation from the other person's perspective. Can you see any reason why they behaved badly? Perhaps they were going through an emotionally difficult time themselves. This is not to excuse their behaviour, but to help you understand and rationalise it. Once you start to feel empathy for the other person, you become stronger. Holding a grudge will drain positivity and personal power from you, understanding the other person helps you to regain your power and makes it easier to release the grudge.

Confront the person
Without anger and in a calm way, let the person know that you are hurt and tell them exactly why you are hurting. It often helps to write this in a letter. The person may be unaware that they have hurt you, in which case you may be able to resolve the issue.
Sometimes it is not safe or wise to confront the person. In this case you could write down your grievance then take it outside and safely and carefully burn the paper. Imagine you are releasing the hurt as the paper burns and floats up into the sky as smoke.

Acceptance
Learn to accept what you cannot change. Don't dwell on the negative situation - you will only hurt yourself. If you can't make things right between you let that person go. Don't cut them out of your life in anger but release them with a calm acceptance that a relationship between you was not serving your highest good.

Let it go
Move forwards with your life and leave the hurt and its source behind. Once you have put the grudge behind you, don't think or talk about it again. Forgiveness will bring you inner peace. Forgiving a person's actions does not mean you are condoning them. Surround yourself with people whom you trust and who value and appreciate you.

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