Recently, I had a conversation with an individual who was seeking assistance. I met this individual during training.
After our training concluded, the individual approached me and asked if he could speak with me about a problem he was having with a co-worker.
We sat down and he began to explain what happened between him and his co-worker. They had a heated disagreement and harsh words had been exchanged. According to him, the disagreement was initiated by his co-worker.
As he spoke, I could hear the anger in his voice. It was obvious he was struggling with how to move forward. Although his co-worker apologized, he didn’t feel the apology was sincere. He couldn’t let go of his anger towards his co-worker and it was affecting his performance.
I asked him how I could help. He said he wanted his co-worker to feel his pain. Every day, he saw this individual, which was a painful reminder of the incident. The anger he felt was consuming him and he didn’t know how to let it go.
Why do we hold on to grudges when we know the adverse impact they have on us? Is it because we love the pain and anger we feel towards the person who has wronged us? Is it because we want to give control of our lives to someone else?
No! According to Psychology Today, “grudges come with an identity. With our grudge intact, we know who we are – a person who was wronged.” As the victim who was wronged, we receive sympathy, understanding and support.
To give up our grudges would require us to give up part of our identity. Grudges give us purpose and strength. When we share our feeling with others, they not only validate the injustice but also our anger and pain.
So why would you let go of your grudge? After all, you were wronged! Because holding on to the grudge can consume you. It raises your stress level.
Research from Emory University has shown stress contributes to high blood pressure and heart disease.
So how can you let go of a grudge? Forgiveness!
In his article How to Let Go of a Grudge, Travis Bradberry gives six steps to letting go of grudges. According to Bradberry, following these steps will free you from the grudge:
- Take control – Make a decision to let go of the grudge and take back control of your life.
- Make it for you – Shift you focus from the individual who wronged you to you. Remember, forgiveness is for you!
- Switch places – Try to see the situation from the other person’s point of view.
- Admit your feelings – Be honest with yourself about your feelings.
- Ask for help – Seek advice and support from others.
- Verbally forgive – When we speak forgiveness out loud, our brain registers the choice
Forgiveness does not mean you forget what happen. Nor does it mean you must have a relationship with the other person. Forgiveness is for your benefit.
As a leader, who do you need to forgive?
Dr. Kim Moore
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