The one thing I absolutely know for sure is that I am learning the art of letting go. And the first step in that process is deciding not to hold grudges.
Of course, I’ve learned the life lesson about people who have hurt me—that perhaps they are people who cannot be trusted with my heart, or they are toxic, not safe, or extremely rude—but I’m still going to let go and not hold a grudge, because that is what’s best for me. One of the most valuable tools I’ve learned to help me let go and move on is not playing things from the past over and over in my head.
Trust me, I’ve had many things happen to me in my lifetime that for years played over and over in my head. Sometimes, I felt my heart was being stabbed repeatedly. So what I have practiced to get to this place of being able to let go is, I am learning to catch the automatic replay reeling through my head, and replace the thoughts with new thoughts. Then, I let it go.
For me, it took years of practice to get to this place of freedom. Through the years of listening to so many people’s stories—many of whom could not or would not release their past, I saw the harm of those still holding on did to their lives. They got stuck. To me, that is one of the saddest things that can happen in relationships. It’s heartbreaking to see and heartbreaking to hear. I’ve coached grown men and women who couldn’t stop playing the recording in their head from something that happened days, weeks, sometimes years ago. I can’t tell you how many times someone has been describing a painful event to me and it’s as though it happened yesterday. Many times it’s an event that happened five, ten, and even many more years ago. And sometimes, it’s not even their story! It’s what happened to the generations before them—stories that have been handed down like heirlooms. And they pass it on to their children to hold onto and pass on. Generations of families learning how to hold onto grudges is so destructive! It’s so sad to realize all the loss of precious time and energy spent holding on, of being a prisoner by the choice to hold on, and then to live covered up with the burdens of the past. Our lives are not worth that kind of lifelong prison.
I can remember a situation I went through with someone very close to me. She said things to me that deeply wounded my heart. And yet, we were both hurt in that season. Of course, hurting people hurt people, but I didn’t know that then. I just knew what she said to me was so painful—and I replayed those words over and over in my head, until the day I realized I was my own worst enemy. God was able to help me see it was my thoughts that were keeping me stuck in that moment that happened years ago—not what she said. I had the power to stop the pain—and I’d had it all along. I had the power to let go—and not hold the grudge.
The Bible says, “Be careful what you think, because your thoughts run your life” (Proverbs 4:23, New Century Version). Oh my gosh, how true is that! I’m so glad I was able to learn how to take control of my thoughts and learn the art of letting go.
I know that holding on to painful events is a very real habit for so many people. Maybe you’re one of them, and you’re holding on to what happened or what you think should’ve happened. I’m sure you have gone through very, very painful things. But letting go and not holding a grudge doesn’t mean what they did or said was right, good or okay. Not at all. Letting go is taking back your power and ability to heal and move on. Otherwise, that memory will continue to hold you captive and destroy the quality of your life. So ask yourself this question: For what purpose are you holding onto those memories? To be right? Validated? Justified? To get even? Holding on will never accomplish any of those objectives.
For so many years I would go to great lengths to prove I was right. If I didn’t have the opportunity to actually talk with the people or persons who hurt me, then I would rehearse my points in my head. It was tormenting, and over time, I became resentful. Eventually, I had to grow to a place of understanding that having peace trumped being right.
Do you want to be right, or do you want peace?
Whatever your reason for holding on to resentments, for holding a grudge, I know this one thing for sure: There’s nothing worth the price you pay for in lost time. It’s time you can never make up. It’s also time you could have given yourself to spend loving people and yourself, and living life more fully. So let this be your moment of letting go!
If you’d like personalized help, I always offer an initial free coaching session. If you’re interested just click on this link and it will take you to my coaching page. https://www.margiemcdaniel.org/life_coach_minneapolis/