In the Good Book aka the Bible, Jesus said it perfectly: “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they’re doing.” Or “Let it Go” by Idina Menzel.
At some point in our lives, we are wronged by so many people over various things. It could be bullying, it could be a dispute between your loved ones or a simple stranger, even a horrifying event such as a shooting or any other crime. Whatever the case is, harboring these negative emotions into a form of a grudge are very BAD for everyone that’s involved. I’ve experienced bullying since I was younger and I always stood my ground and I would not let it bother me. Why should I? Just because you bully me, I’m not going to let that ruin my day. Same thing goes with disputes that I’ve had with family, friends, in personal relationships, co-workers and complete strangers; why hold the grudge?
We all get mad. We yell, we scream and we want to punch out a wall or someone’s face. Whatever the occurrence is, you’re ruining your mental health and the other parties involved, too. You may not even realize the psychological trauma you’re causing them.
I’ll give you an example: Recently on the news, a prominent cardiologist that treated former President George H.W. Bush was gunned down by a man who held a 20 year grudge against the doctor. Apparently, the suspect’s mother was a patient of the doctor and died during surgery and that suspect blamed the doctor for his mother’s death. However, if it was malpractice or just a simple human error or complications resulting from the surgery, there’s no excuse for holding a grudge against the doctor at all. If it was malpractice, then go ahead and sue the doctor and call it a day. But if it was just a complication from the surgery then no one is at fault. Anything can happen when you’re under the knife. Complications arise and sometimes can’t be avoided. We’re human and we make mistakes.
I understand losing a parent or loved one is tough. At first, you’re angry, you’re in disbelief, once you slowly get past this, you need to learn how to grieve. Again, grieving is different for everyone. But imagine the life that the suspect lived for the past twenty years. Step inside his mind for a minute. Why spend every moment planning and plotting your move against another human being? His grief and anger are taking over him and it’s causing psychological harm to his body. His ways of thinking become irrational and obsessed with doing harm to someone. He becomes violent and it motivates him to do something violent every day. Instead of relying on forgiveness, he chose to murder the doctor and then take his own life. Not only did he ruin the life of the doctor but his colleagues, and his family are destroyed by this, and now his own life is over.
Learning to forgive is crucial for your mental health. The repercussions of a grudge are harmful in so many ways. You can put yourself at a high risk of heart, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases because anger puts stress on your heart, causes high blood pressure and will cause blockage and plaque to form in your arteries. Ignoring your feelings impacts you and your family and impacts your mental health. Depression can come and bite you in the butt! And don’t forget that anger makes you stressed out and can also trigger your blood glucose levels to skyrocket that will lead to diabetes. Many cope with alcohol, drugs, or food to ease their pain.
Probably, the best gift you can give yourself and your body (and mind!) is to forgive. Practice the art of forgiveness and empathy. You’ll be surprised as to how it may help you and your mood. Be the bigger person and forgive the person(s) that wronged you.
I’ll give you a personal example. When I experienced a brutal crime back in April, it affected me dramatically. I lived with PTSD daily for a while and just made my depression, anxiety, and panic disorder worse than before. Since I was just an innocent bystander, I was very angry at what I saw. There’s no excuse for harming another person whatever the reason is. Was I mad at the suspect? You guessed right! Was I going to harbor a grudge against this guy? No. I wasn’t going to waste my breath on this kid. He had the decency to say “Sorry, you had to see that” to my face. I was surprised because I was expecting this, if anything, I thought he was going to stab me because I broke up the fight. I kept my calm and was able to keep both parties from attacking each other until help arrived. I saw him get arrested and after that, I saw him again because he worked in a restaurant next door to my work.
I could’ve easily attacked him for the psychological trauma that he caused me, but I didn’t. I didn’t want to stoop to his level. What really bothered me was that I asked him why he was still working after getting arrested for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon? As an employer, wouldn’t you have fired that employee for that kind of behavior that occurred on their property?? But I guess, they waited until the case got under way before letting him go. Thankfully, he never came over to my Starbucks store while I was on duty because I was terrified of him. I didn’t want him near me at all. For a while after that attack, I realized that my mental health isn’t getting any better and I needed to forgive that kid for what he had done.
I kid you not, that was hard. If I were a victim of a shooting or any major terror event, it would be a lot harder to forgive. But since I was just a bystander of the crime, I had to be the bigger person and say “I forgive you.” I needed to do that. I wasn’t pleased with his actions leading up to the crime because violence is never the answer to anything. However, for my own health’s sake, I felt much better just saying this. I had to let go of my anger and my resentment towards this kid and not let it turn into old-fashioned revenge.
Forgiving someone is healthy for many reasons:
- Improves your relationships with people including family, friends, co-workers, and strangers
- Improves your self-esteem
- Improves your mood
- Diminishes (not all but a majority of) the effects of depression
- Improves your immune system, your heart and your entire body will thank you for this
If you are one of those people who can’t forgive someone for whatever they’ve done, then start a healthy routine and practice the art of forgiveness. Remember, we’re human. We all make mistakes. Let bygones be bygones. Make amends with whoever has wronged you and who you have wronged as well. Why live your life in resentment, anger, and ready for revenge? Why put yourself and others in danger? Life’s too short to hold any grudges and any regrets that we have, too. Let it go! You do have the power to change your ways and be a better person. So whatever happens, take a step back, breath for a moment and practice on making the situation better. Be the change, not the problem.