Holding a grudge is like slowly sipping poison; it will continue to hurt you until you stop. This week, part-4 in the 6 Ways You’re Missing Your Life takes us into deep waters. We make choices, and choices have repercussions. That person may not have meant to hurt you. You and your feelings were collateral damage of their actions. What will you do with your feelings? Believe it or not, it’s up to you. When I first introduced this idea to my then high school-age daughter, she blew a gasket, she was understandably furious, it’s a complicated concept.
We all would prefer to resist painful feelings, but when we do, they fester. Holding onto righteous anger deteriorates your energy. Every time you think about some unpleasantness in your past you invite it right back into the present. You must dig down, feel the feelings, and grieve your loss. Your choice to perpetuate the hurt affects your life and everyone around you.
You don’t have to agree with the choice or action of those who hurt you. You don’t have to let them back into your life. However, you must confront the fact that they have a different viewpoint, and perhaps radically different story. You can’t control others, but you can control your feelings, your choices, and your energy going forward. Forgiving yourself is the first step.
“But I didn’t do anything, why would I need to forgive myself?”
- Did you invite this person into your life at one time?
- Is the situation occurring in your life?
- Does it still hurt you to think of it?
I spent nearly 3 years involved with, and then running from, a sociopath. He once tried to strangle me in my sleep after an argument. It was a living hell and the experiences I endured informed many years of my life afterwards. It took me a long time to separate out the threads of belief and decision colored by what I had encountered. Was I a victim? Was I to blame for not getting away sooner? Did I deserve what I got?
These ways of thinking are predicated on blame, shame and a black or white, right or wrong view of life. In this view there is no room for grey, no room for humanity and the paradox of life. Because of this prevalent believe system, we wonder… was I to blame? When you fall into this way of thinking you cut yourself off from compassion, empathy and the ability to forgive yourself and others.
We must take responsibility (ability to respond) for the predicaments we find ourselves in, for our behaviors and beliefs. We must learn to connect with ourselves and others from a respectful place of observation. When we remain in observation without judgment, blame or shame we are liberated.
Allowing ourselves to feel the full spectrum of emotion and to grieve is an enormous part of the release. When we blame, hold a grudge, or seek revenge we give away part of ourselves. We freely give this part to the very person with whom we feel angry or hurt and then we blame them for taking more from us.
I understand how difficult this work is. I’ve been there. If you are interested in this topic, I offer workshops and inspirational coaching on self-compassion, boundaries and purpose.