Forgiveness key to moving on

Jan Aitken
Jan Aitken
Holding a grudge can be hard work, life coach Jan Aitken writes.

Do you remember the Vogel's bread ad on TV a few years ago? It featured Kiwis living overseas and the lengths they went to to protect their precious bread.

We were laughing about one of the segments in the ad the other day. The one where ''Michael'' is sitting at one end of a couch in a swanky converted New York warehouse apartment and his American partner is sitting at the other end.

He's complaining that she burnt his toast.

She, clearly irritated that this is still a problem, exclaims, ''It was a year ago, Michael. Let it go!''.

As she stomps off he replies ''But it was Vogel's!''.

For Michael there was no getting over this. It was a grudge he was holding on to.

Despite being amusing, the ad got me thinking about grudges and forgiveness.

Have you ever had someone hold a grudge against you, even if you have apologised and tried to make amends in some way?

It may even be that you are not sure what you are meant to have done.

It can make things really awkward between you and the person holding the grudge.

Most of us at some stage will hold a grudge. At some point in your life, it's likely you will have had someone do something to you, inadvertently or on purpose, that you perceived as being hurtful.

How did you handle it? Did you just brush it off? Did you try to sort the problem out? Did you let it simmer and then hold on to a good, full-blown grudge?

Holding a grudge can be hard work. They can be a real energy drainers.

Sure if someone has done something that genuinely hurts then anger, resentment and a load of other unpleasant emotions may well be the result. That's OK; it's normal.

It's holding on to all that for a long time that becomes the problem.

We hang on to grudges for many reasons. It may be we even feel justified in holding a grudge against someone. It tends to take the unpleasant emotions and amplify them, increasing the sense of hurt.

In turn, we become more angry and resentful and things can really spiral out of control. It raises your levels of the stress hormone cortisol and can have a detrimental effect on your health in the long term.

It's easy to slip into feeling like a victim and lose any sense of personal control and power. That's a real quagmire to get stuck in.

The antidote is forgiveness.

It's something that is easy to say, but it doesn't come easily to many of us. Not many of us are born with an ability to forgive!

Remember, holding a grudge is more likely to harm you than the other person.

Stop punishing yourself and reliving the situation.

There's a lot of mental and emotional energy used in holding a grudge.

Forgiving someone doesn't condone what they have done. It doesn't mean you have to be bosom buddies with them.

You are not forgiving them for the good of their health, you are forgiving them in order for you to move on and re-gain your personal power.

You might need to go through the above questions more than once, but it's worth it to live in a happier headspace.

Jan Aitken is a Dunedin-based life coach.

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Holding a grudge

Reasons to start a grudge and hold it can include. -

• It helps you to feel better. We find ourselves feeling consoled in some way.

• It feels like a good way to punish the wrong-doer or teach them a lesson, to show them that they have really upset you.

• It may protect you from further hurt by keeping the barriers up.

• It helps you gain sympathy or you get comfort from others for the situation


Learning to forgive

Here are some things to think about to help you let go and forgive. -

• Identify what it is that's at the core of your grudge. Is it really the individual or what they did to you?

• What does the hurt caused really mean. Do you feel sad, angry, belittled or undervalued? There may be several emotions. Acknowledge your feelings. You may not be comfortable with them. That's OK.

• Be honest with yourself. Was it a misunderstanding or has the other party deliberately harmed you? Have you asked them? Was it something major or actually something small that you have inflated into something bigger?

• Did they apologise? Was it sincere? Do you actually want to let it go?

• What would it reasonably take for you to feel better about the situation?

• Which of your values have been stomped on?

• What can you do about the situation? What are your options? Make a conscious choice about what you are going to do.



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