Letting Go and Letting God: No-Grudge November

Just as boys decide not to shave their beards and girls swear off meat to better themselves, this November I am working on not holding grudges. For as long as I remember, it has been very difficult for me to get past situations and not let them affect me. I believe it stems from being the child of a very amazing yet sometimes, in my opinion, too forgiving mother. Growing up, I would see my mother apologize for things that were not her fault, move on so quickly from incidents, and act like everything was fine the next day. Nothing was ever really resolved and a week or two later, the same incident would happen again. I eventually developed the notion that when you forgive a person too soon or act like a situation never occured, that person does not learn their lesson. So, I began to hold grudges. If someone did something to slight me or something that hurt my feelings, I would stop talking to them, distance myself, and hold onto that grudge. It didn’t matter if the person had apologized. I still felt like if I accepted their apology, they would go and do it again.

While it is okay not to forgive someone until you are ready, it is not okay to carry around that anger -- that is what I was doing. Everytime I’d see that person, my chest would tighten with anger. I am not an angry person, so that anger would feel like a gorilla on my back, dragging me down into a hole of depression and isolation. Growing up, I also felt like I could not express my emotions, so I would bottle things up and hold onto them. This summer, I exploded. I let out all of my anger, sadness, disappointment, anxiety, and fear. I screamed. I cried. I lashed out. All because of a 20 year-old grudge I had held inside of me.

There has been so many people in my life that I have cut off or stopped speaking to because of a misunderstanding or a small incident that just dragged out. Many people called me a “savage”, but I don’t want to be that way anymore. It’s not glamorous. It’s actually very sad. Friendships have deteriorated, bridges have been burned, and ties have been severed, all because I held onto a grudge. I’ve been learning that it is okay for me to feel a way about a situation and to hold my position, but it is not okay for me to walk around with that anger inside of my heart. That anger only affects me, not the other person. I never want someone to have that power over me again and neither should you. Below I have listed some ways to let go and let God handle all your worries and stresses.

  1. Pray about it.

People joke that prayer is the answer for everything, but it really is. I used to wake up with an attitude, mad at the world for no particular reason. Now, I pray every night for the Lord to bring peace to my mind, body, and soul and take any anger or negativity out of my heart. He’s done it for me and he’ll do it for you.

    2. Talk it out or write it out.

This year, I feel like I am on a journey of growth. I am tired of holding in my emotions to avoid confrontation and make things easier for someone else. It is time to get in control of my pain. I’ve found that journaling really helps. I write letters to the person I am at odds with and say all that I wish I could say to their face. If you’re bold, send them the letter or say it to them. I also talk to a professional. It’s nothing to be ashamed about. Hampton University has a great team of counselors at the Counseling Center that will listen to you. They are not there to tell you what to do or invalidate your feelings. They are there to help you work out your issues and guide you. Ask for Mrs. Churn, tell her I sent you.

3. Take a drive, get your favorite food, or do something that makes you happy.

For many of my friends, they let go of things very easily. When they are irritated, they will take a long car ride, get their favorite food, or color/paint to ease their minds. If you're like me, it’s probably going to be a little more difficult, but it is worth a try. Make yourself feel good. Take your mind off of the bs.

4. Reflect on yourself.

Ask yourself, “Is it really other people making me angry or is it just me?”. Misplaced anger is very real. When other elements are out of balance in my life like I just got a bad grade on a test or I’m just not where I want to be in life, every other situation becomes amplified. At the end of my “moment”, which my mother calls it, sometimes I don’t even know why I am so upset or feel a way. Most of the time, it is anger stemming from another situation. Always remember to reflect on yourself and ask “why am I mad?”. If you can’t think of an answer, you should probably get over it.

5. Be solution-driven.

In situations where someone has upset me, it’s very easy for me to have an “F*** It” type of attitude and put the situation behind me. I’m discovering that that is the foundation of all of my grudges. By saying “F*** it”, you are not addressing your emotions or the pain the situation has caused you. You are burying the situation deep, which is allowing it to still cause you pain or uneasiness. Be solution-driven. In a relationship tip I received, it said “Do not look at an argument as it is you versus the other person. Look at it as both of you versus the issue and work together towards a solution”. This is going to be the hardest step for me as I take things very personally and feel that it is better just to move on from a situation. However, it just drags the situation out. Now, when in a conflict, after the angry has subsided, I will talk with that person, try to make them see my side and listen to theirs, and come up with a solution that satisfies us both.

All November long, I will keep these five steps in mind and I hope you will too. It will be difficult as people love to pluck your nerves around the holidays, but I feel it will make me into a better person and you as well.