A grudge is a story of hurt and resentment that we believe to be true and justify over and over in our thoughts. The core of the story usually involves blaming someone else for what happened, which turns us into a victim and leaves us feeling powerless, bitter, and sad. Most times, these emotions of hatred can do no harm to others, while it keeps us emotionally and mentally engaged in the past.
I too have experienced these negative emotions and their effects. A couple years ago, I held a grudge and anger towards a loved one who had hurt me. I started losing sleep, being constantly stressed, and developed acid reflux. My health started taking a toll and this was my first realization of the damage I was doing to myself. I had to accept that while I was perpetually overthinking and felt distressed and frustrated, it made no difference to others. To get a grip of myself I had to let go of the emotional venom that was lodging within me. I had to do something that was difficult – forgive. But for the first time I experienced that by forgiving someone who has hurt me, I was forgiving myself. I was being more compassionate towards myself by not dragging the unhappy past into my present. To clarify, by practicing forgiveness, one doesn’t give consent to the wrongdoer, rather it’s a conscious choice to not give them the headspace and your precious time.
Forgiveness is advocated in science and religious faiths for overall wellbeing. Psychologists generally define “forgiveness as a conscious, deliberate decision to release feelings of resentment or vengeance toward a person who has harmed you, regardless of whether they actually deserve your forgiveness”. By being unforgiving, the bitterness also harbours ill-wishes toward the other person who has caused harm. Jain Dharma further reiterates how this trap causes Hinsa (violence) to oneself by initiating a vicious cycle of Karma and its consequent outcome. By practicing forgiveness, we are not attracting the influx of new karmas.