Letting Go – Of Grudges, Anger & Resentment

In this month’s blog series, let’s talk about letting go. Not in the Marie Kondo, tidy-your-house kind of way that’s currently trending, but in terms of lightening our emotional load so we can live fuller, happier lives. I’ll share insights as to why we need to let go of the things we are psychologically holding onto and how to get better at not letting other people, situations or things weigh us down or hold us back. Let’s start with some of the most harmful of things we hang on to – grudges, anger, and resentment.

Internal erosion

Cliffs, beaches, mountains, metals, glaciers – these are all things that erode because of external forces bearing down on them. Humans are the same; we erode internally when we let harmful or negative outside influences impact us and turn into grudges, built-up anger and resentment. This erosion can manifest itself in many ways such as poor health, low self-esteem, rage, depression, stress, addictive behaviours, and numerous other destructive ways. We’re the ones who suffer when we hold on to hate; it becomes a prison we’ve put ourselves in. However, we hold the key to our own freedom when we build up our defences, learn how to let things go or channel our hurt and anger into something positive.

Lighten the load

Anger and resentment are most commonly directed at other people, but can also stem from negative experiences with certain situations, businesses or even large institutions. While some anger is good for us and propels us to take positive action and make social or personal change, other types of anger can build up inside and turn toxic while we carry the heavy burden of this resentment around. Here are ways to lighten the load so that we can break free of negative energy, move forward with reaching our goals and be a source of light for ourselves and others.

  • Dig deeper

If you find yourself resenting others or holding on to that negative energy longer than you should, then dig deep inside and do a little soul searching to understand why you’re feeling that way. You may uncover that you’re more hurt, jealous or sad than angry, and that by identifying your feelings, you can actually alleviate some of the bad blood cursing through those veins. During this process, you may find other revelations; perhaps you had a bigger role in the situation at hand, or that your anger towards others may not be completely justified. Introspection, meditation, journaling – these are all ways to get started to better understand ourselves and our feelings.

  • Be free

It’s not easy to just ‘let it go’ when we’re truly upset with someone or something. There are a lot of healthy ways to express anger, such as burning it off physically, removing ourselves from the situation, being with happy people and enriching our lives in more positive ways. We often feel like things aren’t in our control, but how we handle our emotions always is.

  • Set limits

Many of our grudges or angry feelings are due to things that happened to us in the past that we just can’t seem to get over. We may replay the mental movie in our heads over and over but still not come to any conclusion or closure. Why not set a personal limit on how long we should fret or fume? It’s important to acknowledge our feelings, but put a time limit on it. The same goes for when someone has said or done something that we didn’t like. There’s a statue of limitations on how long we have to air our grievances…it doesn’t make sense to bring up something minor that happened way back when and you didn’t say anything then or within a reasonable time frame. Some things just need to be dropped. Naturally there are exceptions to this, such as a physical/emotional abuse, criminal acts or other instances where you weren’t able to act at the time.

  • Take the high road

Forgiving others is not an act of weakness or giving up, it’s an act of integrity and personal strength, and it’s entirely empowering! There are zero benefits to holding on to grudges and negative energy, yet we often cling to any wrong-doings against us (or our loved-ones) like we’re holding on for dear breath. Why not let it go? Forgive. Release it. Be free. The view from the ‘high road’ is spectacular, and what you gain in terms of reduced stress, positive energy and simple joy are well worth it.

  • Communicate better

While we don’t have to go around absolving everyone of their hurts or harsh words, we can get better at resolving conflicts and learning how to collaborate and problem solve. Problem solving is a true skill, but like anything else worth doing, it’s worth doing it well. Much of problem solving can be credited to strong communication skills. You don’t have to be eloquent or write out a speech, simply saying “Dude, that wasn’t cool” can avoid so many future issues and arguments. People aren’t mind readers and it’s up to us to be clear on what we need/want/tolerate/accept.

Take a few minutes to imagine your life without any grudges, resentment or anger. Would anything be different? Would you sleep a little better, smile more, walk a little taller or take more positive risks? With less weighing us down, it’s amazing just how high we can soar.

“In the process of letting go you will lose many things from the past, but you will find yourself.” – Deepak Chopra