5 Signs you still hold a grudge, and 3 ways to release your pain and forgive
Let me know if this has ever happened to you. You go out with friends, and you see someone who betrayed you in the past. It could have happened several years ago, or it could have happened last month. While you thought you made your peace with the situation, you see or hear something small and insignificant—she tosses her head, or she laughs—and all hell breaks loose in your body. A knot forms in your stomach, your pulse quickens, and your blood pressure increases. You say something you hope sounds pleasant as she toward you, and then you escape. You find yourself in the bathroom counting to 100 or outside on the patio meditating. Maybe you find yourself in front of the bar, asking for a bowl-sized margarita. And as you ask for extra salt or continue your count, you realize that you are still holding that grudge, Cupcake.
You get through the night, because hey, you are a classy Cupcake, and when you get home, you think, “What the hell is wrong with me? I forgave her for all that crap.”
And maybe you thought you did. After all, you said you forgave her aloud. Perhaps you shook her hand. Maybe you even did some sort of “cleansing ritual” that helped you “move on” with your life.
Then you did what all of us do: you avoided that memory and squashed your emotions so you could actually enjoy parts of your life that did not involve past conflict. Which really means one thing: you did not really forgive your adversary. I’m sure it came as a huge surprise when you saw her face to face and all these negative emotions starting heating up your body, catching like a huge toad in your throat as you forced yourself to make eye contact and act professional when you really wanted to act like a character straight from (any) Housewives or WWE.
SO, let’s go through five signs that you haven’t really forgiven someone:
1.Your body betrays you.
When you think of the moment or the person, your body tightens. Maybe you clench your hands, or your teeth, or even your eyes. Or maybe you experience the feelings I mentioned at the beginning of this blog.
2. You cannot say her name without inflection of any kind.
Either you speed up, raise or lower your voice, or you may even say it quieter than your normal tone. Or maybe you say it with gritted teeth. Don’t believe me? Ask a friend.
3. You cannot look at so much as a picture of her.
When you see her, or even a picture of her, you feel anger, repulsion, or you hear some inner voice saying something snarky about her.
4. When someone tells you something positive about your adversary, you feel jilted or jealous.
This is a sure sign that you are holding on to something that doesn’t serve you. You are actually in a place of “lack,” such as, “There is not enough for both of us, and I do not have enough.” The only thing this kind of emotion attracts is more negative emotion. You are amazing in every way. Remember what energy created you.
5. You secretly wish for some kind of misery upon her.
Not something as drastic as the Black Plaque or smallpox; however, watching her break a heel, getting caught in the rain without an umbrella, or having a flat tire on her way to work would make you happy for days. This is definitely a sign for you!
OK, so now that you are being honest with yourself, let’s move on to the fun stuff, Cupcake! Grudges be gone!
Before you do any of them, feel into your heart, and your body. Remember the transgression, and rate your emotional reaction from a scale of 1 to 10. Try each one of these exercises, and after each exercise, rate your emotional reaction again.
1. Realize that whatever happened just “HAPPENED“
Let go of judgment or rationalization. The event is not good or bad. It is just a story that your ego built. Remember, your ego feeds into your ethos, which is how you present yourself to the world so everyone sees you in a particular way. This creates judgment, both good and bad, but only relating to one part of you. When something happens that appears to damage your ethos, your ego becomes greatly agitated.
And therein lies the problem. Your ego is part of the brain that thinks its job is to take care of you. (You can read more here.) You have to genuinely thank your ego (and your brain) for doing such a great job, and then reminding both yourself and your ego that whatever happened is not harming the essence of you. You are created with the same energy as the oceans, the volcanoes, and everything else that God has… Click To Tweet. If you can remember that, and feel that, then you can see how this “perceived” injustice is nothing more than one blade of grass in a field, or one pebble in a mountain. Release your anger into that same energy, and let yourself remember the energy you truly are. You do not need anger to exist as you.
2. Read something that helps.
A friend lent me the book Transforming Anger by Doc Childe and Dr. Deborah Rozman. It discusses a few strategies, but the one I like the most is turning to gratitude first. Find something—ANYTHING—that you can be grateful for that person. When you feel the
gratitude in your heart completely, change the vision to the current problem, and let the anger“transform” into gratitude, love, or both.
I admit, when I first tried this, it took some practice. I simply did not want to feel love or gratitude for my husband after he demolished all my work for my final research project before I turned it in for a final grade. I was furious, and I admit I had to go through a list of several memories until I could feel strong gratitude, and it took some time to switch my brain from a positive memory to a negative memory and feel gratitude or love. The trick here is to relax, take your time, and wait until you can feel true gratitude before you “switch” the image.
3. Confuse your ego; confuse your emotions.
Find a nice, quiet place where you can just focus on yourself (poolside, meditation room, Epson salt bath, anywhere in nature). Relax, and find an instance in your life where you felt the opposite of whatever feeling this antagonistic person generated. It doesn’t matter what the emotion is—happiness, pride, love—it just needs to be positive, and as strong or stronger than the negative emotion (shame, guilt, anger).
Close your eyes, and allow yourself to feel the positive emotion for ten seconds. Let this emotion fill your mind, your throat, your heart, your stomach, and your entire body. If you need longer to get to this state, take longer. Then, for ten seconds (or the same amount of time it took you to feel the positive emotion within yourself), allow yourself to feel the negative emotion throughout your entire person.
Now, feel your positive emotion for five seconds.
Now, feel your negative emotion for five seconds.
Now, feel your positive emotion for the length of this sentence.
Now, feel your negative emotion for the length of this sentence.
Positive.Negative. Positive. Negative.
If you did this correctly, your brain should be a little disoriented, but only because it doesn’t know what to feel. It is basically free, which is where it should have been this entire blog post. 🙂 Yay! You rock, Cupcake!
Take stock of your heart, emotions, and body. Honestly rate your negativity level, on a scale of 1 to 10. Which exercise seemed to have more impact on you? I am sure you already know where this is going. If your body gives you feedback of 2 or below, you are doing great! I suggest you do the exercise again, until your body gives you feedback of 0. Repeat as necessary. If you go several days without feeling anything, that’s great; however, if old feelings return, give yourself permission to relax and go through one activity that you like. There is no judgment, and no time limit. The ego can be a powerful thing, and some habits are harder to break than others.
So, I’m curious as to which one of these you liked better. If you have another activity that you do to release your anger or resentment towards someone, please share it with us, as you are sending out a karmic boomerang that will return with even more goodwill toward you!
As always, let me know how it’s going, and keep it frosted (as in sugar sweet, not icy anger)!