Your grudges are giving you premature wrinkles, aches and pains, headaches, and digestive issues.
Don’t believe me? Resentment releases cortisol in the body, which essentially is the stress-causing hormone. Too much cortisol, or prolonged exposure to excess cortisol, actually affects our DNA and can prematurely age us.
So while a few extra fine lines are nothing to be ashamed of, the idea of aging your body beyond it’s years by stressing yourself out with resentment is avoidable.
Of course life will throw us plenty of its own stressful experiences, but grudges and resentment are stresses we create. With long working hours, pandemics, and economic uncertainties, we really do not need any extra help getting stressed out.
Sometimes, though, we get trapped into thinking that our resentment and grudges are worth our time. We may feel self-righteous in our anger, and use it as a way to prop up our self esteem. If our resentment makes us feel holier-than-thou, we may hold onto it because we want to feel superior.
Maybe we mistakenly think we are punishing the object of our resentment, and they deserve it, and we think we’re teaching someone a lesson. Unfortunately, our pupils are almost never paying attention. People learn when they want to, on their own time, when they are ready.
The truth is that when we hold onto grudges and resentment, we’re only punishing ourselves. Maybe you have the power to hurt someone who isn’t very self-aware, but does hurting others ever feel good? No. It doesn’t. It’s a losing game.
It comes back to old Buddhist adage,
“Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.”
Anger is stressful. Not just emotionally, but scientifically. Experiencing anger releases cortisol which can cause mental illness, decreased immunity, disease, fatigue, heart problems, and a host of other issues. So if you care about your health and well-being, it’s imperative you learn to drop the grudges and choose to forgive.
Maybe you’re not ready to have compassion for the person in question. You don’t have to forgive for the other person’s sake (although I recommend striving towards compassion.) You have to forgive for yourself. For your health. For your future.
So, maybe you want to be forgiving, and you want to let go of your resentment, but you’re not sure how. Grudges may feel part of your identity, and it’s hard to break the thought patterns to let them go.
So, how do you learn to let go of grudges and resentment, and preserve your health and vitality?
Learn to Forgive
Forgiveness costs nothing. Literally all you have to do is to decide to forgive yourself, forgive the other person, forgive the system, the company, the industry, or whoever or whatever it is that is causing your chest to feel tight and turning your knuckles white.
You can read my blog post on forgiveness here, but I’ll give you the summary:
Write it down. Write down who you are forgiving, including yourself, and why.
Say it out loud. This can be fun and kind of funny. Humor always helps dissipate anger.
Let it go. You can literally burn up the piece of paper you wrote on. You can picture stuffing the resentment in a balloon, letting go of the string and watching it float up high in the sky until it disappears. Choose to let it go.
Meditation, walking, and doing things that bring you into the present moment can all help you become more mindful. Whether it’s cooking, yoga, knitting, or even choosing to be completely present as you sit down to enjoy your food without distractions, mindfulness helps us cultivate calm. Exercise, practice breath work, and make time for things that
Learn to Detach
Let go of expecting people to behave the way you want them to. Let go of needing particular outcomes to be happy. You will constantly be disappointed by life if you always need people and things to go exactly as you’d like them to be. Learn to roll with changes, and the unexpected, and find harmony anyways.
What others do is never about us, and no matter what other people do, we don’t have to react to it. We can remain calm. We can find peace in our internal world.
No one makes you do anything. No one can make you feel any way. No one is responsible for your bad behavior but you. Accepting this will set you free.
If you are an adult, you are exactly where you are right now because of a series of choices you have made. The sooner you accept this, the sooner you can actually get to where you want to be.
Living Well Will Always Be the Best Revenge
If revenge is your motive, getting angry at someone is the opposite of what you want to do. What does a bully want? A reaction! They want you to get upset! If you get upset, they feel powerful. Don’t play.
If you really want to piss someone off, don’t piss yourself off with your disappointment. Piss them off by glowing up and living your best life. Piss them off by stepping into your power, letting bullshit roll off your stress-free skin, and sipping champagne in the sunshine while flipping through a book on how to manifest anything and taking notes on how to make a million dollars while doing what you love.
Practice gratitude and replace your anger with thankfulness. Learn to see the blessings in your life and watch them grow.
If you want to piss someone off, let them see you eating well, meditating, wearing fabulous outfits, working out, looking good, and feeling even better. Piss them off by having as much fun as possible, seeking out comedy, laughing til your stomach hurts, hanging out with your friends, taking up new hobbies, cooking fabulous food, and going after your dreams.
Think about it. It’s very effective revenge. If someone wants to see you pain, make it a point to let them see you dripping in pleasure instead.
Realize What Matters
No matter how much of an asshole someone is, one day you and them will both die. Ask yourself if you want to look back on your life having spent it angry over what Becky did to you in the 9th grade. Do you want to spend your parents funeral resenting their drinking problem, or that time they didn’t show up for you?
No matter who you choose to let into your life, forgiveness frees you up to do the things that matter to you. You can spend your energy complaining about what you hate, or you can spend it doing something to create a shift towards what you love.
Spend your precious and finite energy on what you love, and on what feels good. Think about what you want your life to look like when it’s your time to go and you’re looking back at how you spent your time.
If you’ve been holding onto resentment for a long time, it may take time to learn to forgive and let go of grudges.
Use this as practice in forgiving yourself. If you mess up and feel yourself ruminating over what a prick so-and-so is, or feeling like you never had a fair chance because of your parents, just notice the thought, forgive yourself for having it, and then start having another thought.
Think of your thoughts like a TV channel. You’re watching a movie, and it ends, and you pick up your phone, and some show about spider eating contests and maggot bathing comes on. Just because it’s playing doesn’t mean you have to watch it til the end. Change the fucking channel, or at least get up and go for a walk or do your dishes or something.
Understand None of Us Are Perfectly Well Adjusted, Self-Actualized People, and Learn to See The Child In Adults
Sometimes we expect people to be perfectly well-adjusted humans, even though we know damn well we aren’t. No one is perfectly well adjusted. We all make mistakes, feel insecure, relapse, say things we don’t mean, act obnoxious, or childish from time to time.
Practice seeing the little kid in other people. Little kids aren’t out to harm anyone. They’re just learning to navigate the world, feel safe, loved, and like they belong. Sometimes they pick up misguided methods for achieving those feelings, because they learn them from adults, who learned them from other adults, who didn’t know any better.
Cut people a break and love them anyways. You don’t have to have tea and cookies with them every afternoon. It’s ok if you pretend you don’t see them at the grocery store. You don’t have to be best friends, and obviously use your judgement with who you spend your precious time and energy on, but you can forgive everyone (yes, everyone) and accept them as they are. You. Will. Feel. Ten. Times. Better. When. You. Do.
So drop the grudge. Let go of your resentment. Your skin and heart will thank you.