Why you Need to Forgive, Even if its Hard. Letting go of Anger, Resentment and Grudges

“In a controversy the instant we feel anger we have already ceased striving  for the truth, and have begun striving for ourselves.” ~ Buddha

What if you found out that a trusted school teacher abused your child?  How do you prevent anger from overtaking you and destroying everything beautiful in your life like weeds suffocating the flowers of our gardens?

In the post “How to Control Anger in Under One Minute” we looked at three simple steps to prevent ourselves from bursting into the incredible hulk when conflict arises.  We examined everyday annoyances such as traffic and the weather.

But what about the deep seeded anger that courses through our veins for years locking us in an ugly prison of resentment, grudges and hate?

If we are honest don’t we all have some deep seeded grudge towards someone or something?  A heavy heart, lost loved one, or a belief that we have been treated unfairly?  If you do, you need to hear this, your family needs you to hear this.

“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing  it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.” ~ Buddha

There are a lot of quotes floating around such as this, but we rarely hear WHY anger isn’t good for you, just that’s its bad.  Do you ever just want to say to whoever “they” are, “ok I get it, anger is like a poisonous snake, now tell my why it’s bad for me and how I can fix it.”

WHY IS ANGER HARMFUL

1.  Health problems; anger can cause the following:

  • Headaches and chronic pain
  • Insomnia and a higher tendency for alcohol and drug abuse
  • Stress, depression and anxiety
  • High blood pressure, heart attacks and stroke
  • Skin problems
  • It also leads to diminished friendships

2.  Unhealthy outbursts:

Anger can consume you to the point that you have explosive episodes.  You may hurt your loved one with physical and verbal abuse and isolate yourself from friends and family.  This can lead to low self esteem and manipulation in our relationships.

3.  Bottled  Repression:

Bottled anger turns to depression and anxiety. It can also lead to venting at innocent parties such as your children, spouse or pet.

There is no question anger is only harming you and your family.  Dwelling on past injustices have no effect on the present other than causing you pain.  Being angry will not bring back a lost loved one or mend your broken heart.   If you can’t let it go you might face these undesirable consequences for the rest of your life.

Meet Jane Doe.  She is a friend of mine who recently discovered her husband had been cheating, in an instant her dreams were snatched from her.

On the outside she seemed to be coping but on the inside she was consumed with fury and rage. At the age of 36 she was nearing the end of her fertile window and she blamed her husband for her broken life, she was now alone and childless.  This blame kept her locked in her present misery.  Her negative thoughts crowded out any positive ones until she was swallowed up by bitterness.  She was left an empty shell.

Jane was consumed with thoughts of revenge, resentment and hurt which seeped into her new relationships.  She didn’t take the time to ask her mind what is the real problem here?  Why am I really angry?  What am I afraid of?

Jane had the mistaken notion that happiness was dependant upon her husband loving her.  Once he was gone Jane didn’t think there was anything left, her entire self identity was wrapped around him.

Attachment will only bring us suffering because all things we are attached to we can and will eventually lose.

My Buddhist teacher is always saying: “May you be happy.”  If you truly love someone you will recognize they aren’t your property, one day you will have to leave them.  If they choose to leave you before death arrives, you can feel saddened by the loss but you won’t crumble because you know that happiness comes from yourself.

This may be difficult but you can still wish someone happiness, even if they hurt you.

Some of you may be ready to debate that some forms of anger are healthy.  So a valid question to ask:  Is Anger Healthy?  Pop psychology suggests bashing your fists into pillows may be beneficial but Buddhist teachings consider that even that is feeding your emotion of anger.  I can hear you saying c’mon; I can’t even take my frustrations out on a pillow?

Don’t Feed Anger

The only neutralizer for anger is compassion; verbal or physical violence only feeds the seeds of anger, it doesn’t get it out of your system it creates a stronger emotion.

Wouldn’t it be a relief to break out of stressful prison anger keeps us bound to?

Do you sometimes feel like you’re on a revolving wheel repeating the same habits, thinking one day you will change?  The truth is that we all have the ability to experience inner peace; with psychological counselling on mindfulness, meditation and reflection we will learn valuable skills of mindful awareness.

I read this quote, and my apologizes but I don’t have the source. I still want to share it because it really stuck with me.  “The recognition that a person can choose emotional well being – even when things don’t turn out the way we want it – is the cornerstone of mental heath.”

Forgiving is hard but it can be done.  Identity your feelings, what you were attached to and what you lost.

Peaceful mind, peaceful life.  Anger will stomp all over you if you let it.  Life doesn’t always turn out the way we want, it can be really tough, but we must choose acceptance.  In a small ship rolling across a violent storm, anger will make you seasick.  Accept the storm and you will find peace amidst even the strongest waves.

HOW TO FORGIVE EVEN WHEN IT SEEMS IMPOSSIBLE

Forgiveness can change your life.  It doesn’t mean you have forgotten the past.  It doesn’t mean you have to keep someone in your life.  It just means that you have decided to move on that you are ready to be happy.

1.  Explore your emotions of hurt and the underlying fear attached to them.  Anger stems from a sense of helplessness.  Commit to change

2.  Seek professional help – You don’t have to do this alone.  There are many professionals who are trained to help you overcome these difficult emotions.

3.  Develop empathy – if someone you love was abused or hurt can you try to put yourself in the violator’s shoes?

4.  Forgiving is not forgetting – remember it and then let it go.  Its about acceptance of what is.

5. Think about your family. Consider the negative effects anger is having on your loved ones.

6. Rely on facts. – The fact is that being angry cannot change the present situation. 

7. Write down three good things that came from the negative situation.  From every situation you can find some positive outcomes.  Whether it be you made a new friend or learned something new about yourself.

8.  Acceptance, acceptance, acceptance. Let it go

9.  Live in the moment.  Practice mindfulness – be continually present with whatever experience you are having.  Mindfulness will bring you into the present moment and away from the mind’s incessant chatter.  Don’t give yourself an opportunity to dwell and exaggerate.

10.  Take up a meditation practice; visualize anger leaving your body and being replaced with a peaceful white light; imagine the healthy effects this will have on your health and relationships.

Please read this excerpt fully, it is one of the most empowering things I have ever read:  This is from the Bill Clinton story about Nelson Mandela:

Mandela made a grand, elegant, dignified exit from prison and it was very, very powerful for the world to see. But as I watched him walking down that dusty road, I wondered whether he was thinking about the last 27 years, whether he was angry all over again. Later, many years later, I had a chance to ask him. I said, ‘Come on, you were a great man, you invited your jailers to your inauguration, you put your pressures on the government. But tell me the truth. Weren’t you really angry all over again?’ And he said, ‘Yes, I was angry. And I was a little afraid. After all I’ve not been free in so long. But,’ he said, ‘when I felt that anger well up inside of me I realized that if I hated them after I got outside that gate then they would still have me.’ And he smiled and said, ‘I wanted to be free so I let it go.’ It was an astonishing moment in my life. It changed me.

If Nelson Mandela can let go of years of unjust imprisonment, we can all work towards living a more peaceful life.

For more information on anger management see:  How to Control Anger in Under One Minute and for advice on finding happiness see:  The Shocking Truth About Happiness:  Musings of a Van Dweller Forgive and Move On

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15 thoughts on “Why you Need to Forgive, Even if its Hard. Letting go of Anger, Resentment and Grudges

  1. tobyo

    **stands and applauds** and how interesting that I found this just now. for I just sent a “let it go” letter. I have been working on the mindfulness of which you speak here. It’s not easy but I know that I will get there. Thank you for posting this and thanks be to God for me finding it today. Peace and have a great day!!

    Reply
    1. Barefoot Beginnings Post author

      Oh Wow, the world has a funny of way of giving you just what you need sometimes. 🙂
      A “let it go” letter is a wonderful idea, so wonderful it should be added to the list of ways to forgive. I know of other’s who have used the letter technique to let go of resentment and it’s worked wonderfully.
      Another technique a friend of mine used through counselling was to put a rock in his shoe, the rock represents resentment and so every time he felt uncomfortable he was reminded of the resentment he carried that he needed to let go of.
      Thanks for reading and for the taking the time to comment.

      Reply
      1. tobyo

        he he. and here’s the quote I woke up to that started it: “Take chances, make mistakes. That’s how you grow. Pain nourishes your courage. You have to fail in order to practice being brave.”
        ― Mary Tyler Moore

        I have no idea how my letter will be received. I just knew that I had to find a way to move on and actually? it was a blog post I read last night that truly started it. When I awoke I was composing yet another letter in my head and then thought “why don’t I just get up, write it out and send it.” I needed some “ceremonious” event to move on and so I chose the letter as my event. Thanks for the follow and I look forward to reading more of your inspiring words! Peace to you, tobyo

  2. Littlesundog

    Excellent and meaningful post! I agree, the Universe DOES conspire to bring us exactly what we need. Thank you for the gentle reminder… I’ve been working on this very thing for a while now.

    Reply
  3. anacruiz10

    Wow this was really awesome. It really made me reflect on my personal anger issues, thank you so much!

    Reply
  4. Pingback: How to Control Anger in Under One Minute | Barefoot Beginnings

  5. Krystal Skwar

    This article was great. I like the handy list format. I think for me, the one that is hardest is “explore your emotions”. It can be very scary to do this, especially if you grew up in an Irish-Catholic family! 🙂

    Reply

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