Humans are born with abilities to discern and alter our environment as well as the people surrounding us. A small child has no issue conveying his or her: needs, angers or frustrations to the adults in the room. It may take a few attempts to get what they want and you’d think it was the end of the world if/when you fail to provide it, however, once the need has been satisfied or an alternate solution is presented, the child moves on without blame or anger. They let go of what seemed so grave at the time and move on. It may seem selfish, however, when we break the word down it means Self-Ish. Being True to Self.

Somewhere on our life path, we loose our innate ability to be Self-Ish. The practice of asking for what we need, free of holding grudges toward those who can’t or wont provide them for us. We begin to identify with our grievances as if they were us. Keeping them alive for years, decades or even a lifetime. The fundamental drawback of never letting go of what has hurt, disappointed  or you disapprove of, you inadvertently strengthen them to the point they cause physical, emotional or financial decay. The irony of this practice is: when you hold anger toward people, they become part of your life

Imagine you have a backpack strapped to your shoulders. Inside this pack is a collection of all the grievances you think about, talk about and worry about. Now, to each grievances, assign a 10lb (4.5kg) rock. Each rock remains in the backpack until you release it through forgiveness. Take a moment now to write down all the things you’re unwilling or unable to forgive or let go of. Big grievance, little ones, ones know are absolute… ALL OF THEM!

Now, for each assign a rock: add those numbers together.  Potentially you’re carrying: 10 – 50 – 100 – 5000 lbs of useless emotional weight. Does this make sense to you?

Each and every grievance you hold in your life is a self imposed burden. Even if the other person did an unspeakable wrong, holding that grievance will impact you far more than the other person. They are busy worrying about their life, their grievances over family, work or everyday life issues. If you think for a second they are loosing sleep over what you can’t forgive from the past, you are categorically mistaken. You are damaging your own health and most likely the health and enjoyment of those around you.

Carrying grievances or being unable or unwilling to forgive others or self can produce:

  • Chemical imbalances: Resentment causes imbalance in the  hormones from the various glands of the body, producing many physical symptoms and diseases.
  • Weakened immune system: The stress of bitterness weakens the immune system and heightens your susceptibility to physical ailments. Often doctors can trace physical disorders to a point in time when bitterness began to develop.
  • Premature Aging; Grievance have been linked to fatigue and loss of sleep. Soon your eyes and facial features reflect your inner distress.
  • Depression: It takes emotional energy to maintain a grudge. When your emotional energy is exhausted, you become depressed.
  • Stress: Hating someone produces stress hormones in your body. You become worn out and unable to cope with daily challenges.
  • Detrimental emotional focus: Bitterness and resentment create an emotional focus toward the person who offended you. This focus causes you to become like the one you resent. The more you think about his/her actions, the more you begin to reflect the basic attitudes that prompted the initial problem.

What to do about it?

In part 2 we look at how forgiveness immunizes you against depression, premature aging, stress, obsessive  thinking and illness.

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