I am always amazed with the huge emotional baggage that people carry on their heads and hearts for years! They can go into a rewind within seconds and bring out the vivid details of the past hurting event as if it was still wet and fresh. This can happen only when the hurtful event has been revised and replayed in the mind or with other sympathisers again and again in totality, hundreds of times over. Generally if the person who has inflicted the hurt has been forgiven, the hurt gets forgotten as life moves on. But holding on to grudges over long years builds up resentment and hostility in the mind which eats up your vital systems and blocks your positive thought process and overall optimism. The dark negative blinkers can colour black your perceptions and impact your relationships and overall mental health.
We see individuals who are grief stricken with some fresh episode. That is understandable. Mrs. Y broke into tears with the fact of her husband ‘cheating’ her. She was a happily married person with two lovely daughters until last week. She could not decide alone by herself how she should react to the terrible episode that shook her world and what she should do about it for future. We asked her what she felt like and what she would like to do- to which her answer was also not unusual to us. ‘She would love to hit him hard many times and wish he was dead’. The dilemma was that she loved him and had a family to maintain. It’s a horrible situation to be in and many who have experienced this would agree to the trauma. Mr. X who had ‘caught’ his wife red-handed not once but a couple of times lost his trust and faith in her ultimately and decided for a divorce. It seemed inevitable as he could no longer forgive her nor ‘kill’ her. So he decided to clean up his house by breaking up completely. That was his way of coming clean of negativity and starting fresh.
These are hurts of severe intensity that are very hard on humans and require super-human energy to reconcile and continue living with the person who has inflicted the hurt. Hurts such as physical abuse, betrayal by spouse, marital infidelity, compulsive lying by a spouse, getting ditched and divorced without a preparatory dialogue or discussion, getting cheated financially and other pathological behaviour, generate intense emotional upheavals and are difficult to forget and forgive. People affected feel ‘victimised’ and ‘destroyed’ by the other in such acts.
There are hurts that appear to be more routine and simpler in nature but nevertheless upset people. Most times such hurts make us tougher and smarter as we learn to negotiate through relationships. They also help us accept the frailties of our friends and families. We realise that most people are not perfect and clear in their minds and neither in their communications. People also play games with others to keep their vested interests intact and to maintain their sanity in a complex world. Most times people forgive small misdemeanours of friends and family and get going again. Many are not able to do this much too and hold onto them resentfully.
Holding grudges big and small are damaging to the head and heart. When people get hurt, they have to find a method of handling it. There has to be a coping strategy to handle such intense emotions. There is no one classical way to handle it- each one finds a solution to the dilemma that gets generated by the trauma. It depends on multiple variables in the person’s life that decide the solution and the resolution to the problem. Whatever may be the level of hurt and the level of grudge, what is imperative to know is that it needs to be cleaned and healed before it becomes poison and destroys you. Someone said, ‘holding grudges it like drinking poison and hoping that the other may die’!
The fact of the matter is just the opposite. If you hold a grudge close to your heart for too long and do not work on resolving it, it will eat you up from within and make you sick. Chronic illnesses such as diabetes, hypertension, migraines, allergies, depression, anxiety, begin to develop in your body which could actually be psychogenic in nature. They later become a higher grade illness as they become psycho-somatic. People have an option to either change the stressful situation or get out of the situation and create a new positive one. Some who do not want to exercise that right to get out of the situation or actually feel there is no escape from the situation are in a ‘catch 22’ situation.
Whatever may be the reality, resolving the issues, dissolving grudges, forgiving the other and moving on with a clean positive mind is an imperative. A hostile, resentful, and grudging person is like a skunk spreading the foul smell all over the house and disturbing the family. Nobody is happy with a disgruntled person around. Neither the person and nor others.
Mental hygiene is of utmost importance to all mankind as physical hygiene is. We ignore the mind as we polish the body, decorate it and put it on public display with an air of normalcy. The heart needs cleaning too. The mind has to rise above the human frailties, accept people as they are or reject them judiciously. But at no time should you carry your emotional baggage forever for it is too heavy a cross to bear. Each one should learn to put an expiry date to their grudges and learn to throw it in the garbage bin to be sent to the incinerator for a permanent dissolution.