Thursday, August 16, 2012

Begrudgingly De-Grudging - How to Let Go of a Grudge (Part 2)

For your health!


You can do it! The single most important step in forgiveness is giving up the irrational belief beneath your anger - the demand that other people act in the way that you want.

TIP: Look for the should's in your thinking, i.e.:
- He shouldn't have done that to me;
- People shouldn't act this way;
- I've been good, decent, and caring so I should be rewarded.

When you find yourself having thoughts like this, challenge them. While it would be very nice for people to act decently and respectfully toward one another, is there any reason to believe that they must behave this way? Of course not.

Remind yourself that everyone is fallible and that you can choose to accept this reality or fight against it - often at great cost to yourself.

Exercises to advance the inner talk that makes forgiveness possible:
- Write a letter to the other person, but don't plan to send it. Express fully how you feel, why that person's actions have hurt you and made you angry, and declare assertively, to yourself, that you forgive them.
It may take several days and many drafts to get the letter just right. You've completed the exercise only when you feel that the letter you've written is so honest and authentic that you would welcome receiving it yourself. (Actually sending it is always an option for the future.)

- Bury the grudge - literally! Write out the thing you're angry about and bury it in a pot of soil. Decide that for three months, you'll act as if you've forgiven the other person. The paper should degrade in the soil, just like your anger will fade as time goes by. This powerful symbolic exercise may seem silly, but it is extremely therapeutic, and it works!

- Enlist help. Have a friend or relative take the role of the other person. Confess all your anger and painful thoughts to that person. Encourage the "stand-in" to resist your attempts to rationalize your past behavior and to discuss only the ways that lead to forgiveness. This creates the "ideal" situation for expressing your pain and working through it with a level-headed "opponent." Be sure not to fall into the trap of having them pick sides and agree with your anger because this will only foster the grudge, as discussed in Part 1.

- Tap into the power of imagery. Use a technique such as deep breathing to achieve a fully relaxed state. Then imagine yourself talking with the person who hurt you, and imagine forgiving them or at least acting in a friendly, accepting way. This technique releases anxiety and connects the act of forgiveness to calm, pleasant feelings.

Best of luck to you all for freedom, love, and peace through forgiveness!

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