I like to think that I don’t hold onto grudges. For instance, if someone were to do something to spite me – perhaps, if they tried to steal my boyfriend or jeopardize my career, I would look at it fatalistically. “It was meant to happen,” and, “I was intended for something better.”
However, the seemingly small stuff really gets to me. Want to see sparks fly? Cutme off on the road. Or at the grocery store. Or let your kid squish his fists in the shredded cheese bin at Golden Corral (come on, I don’t really go there! Ok, stop judging me. I like fried okra…). These little infractions will keep me stewing for hours, sometimes days. Why? Because I feel justified in being angry, in being wronged – and these minor transgressions seem small enough not to warrant forgiveness.
But, chafing over enough of these misdeeds actually weighs us down over time. As Joan Gattuso notes in The Power of Forgiveness, these negative feelings reverberate in our minds and bodies until we actively and mindfully let them go.
- Write a letter. I actually find that this especially helps for those small, irritating events that are hard to excuse. (i.e. – To the Mom Who Let Her Son Squish the Cheese… see, you already realize how ridiculous the whole situation is!)
- Repeat a mantra. Joan suggests, “I forgive you, I release you, I let you go.” Next time you are stifling the urge to push your cart into the person counting 100 coupons (and demanding the cashier rings up everything again), repeat this mantra in your head instead.
- Forgive yourself. More often than not, we blame ourselves just as much as we blame others. On a piece of paper, write, “I, (your name), now forgive myself for all known and unknown limitations I have placed on myself or others.” And write it seventy times every day for a week. Why? Because our grudges against ourselves and others are often deeply ingrained. And the great thing about this exercise is that you don’t have to minutely reexamine every miserable episode in your life. Instead, you can just focus on releasing the blame and starting anew.
post by Kelli, nonfiction reader, skeptical spiritual seeker, reluctant Pisces, and blocked artist
These tips were all pulled from The Power of Forgiveness, available from these and many other retailers: