“You set yourself free when you forgive.” Great quote and I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Have you ever felt so angry, hurt and disappointed that you lie awake at night, tossing and turning? The moment you hear their name, your heart races and your blood turns hot as it rushes through your veins. When you see them, you muster a frown or look away just to prove a point. When they are finally out of your sight, you take a deep breath, relieved, feeling pleased and satisfied with yourself. You have, indeed, shown them just how cross you are with them.

But lo and behold, the satisfaction does not last. It never does. Before long the anger buried deep within resurfaces. Your body goes into a frenzy as it slips back into another whirlwind of emotions. You are still tormented by what they did or what you think they did to you. Their words keep ringing incessantly inside your head, gnawing away at your soul. When you close your eyes at night, their image haunts you. Your body has become paralysed. You have been robbed of your precious sleep. Your creativity. Your peace. Because all you can focus on is the object of your torment.

You are angry and you are hurting, it is understandable. But, I have news for you. More often than not, the person you are losing sleep over. The one who has dumped rubbish inside your heart and soul forgets has forgotten all about you. They are out there living their life and on their terms whilst you are left there, broken and paralysed.

Anger can be a necessary emotion at times. It alerts us to that which we do not like. At times, we are pushed to reflect, perhaps make some changes for improvement. But, anger, if not well managed, is one of those emotions whose consequences are truly destructive. Anger leads to bitterness which is an even stronger emotion.

When you are angry and bitter, the tendency is reckless behaviour. You spew words without thinking and/or make rash decisions. Often times the words uttered in anger are words best kept to oneself. And, we all know that once uttered, words can never be retrieved. Some decisions made in anger once acted upon cannot be reversed either. The consequences of all of these can be far-reaching and can leave a lasting dent. A dent which can be impossible to repair.

Forgiving someone who has wronged you can be the most trying thing one can ever do. More so if the person who has hurt you won’t acknowledge your pain and/or show the slightest bit of remorse. But holding on to anger or a grudge will not help you either. Your body undergoes a tremendous amount of strain as you switch from one emotion to the other. Your body in trying to keep up with all the havoc going on inside of you works far more than it should. Sooner or later something will have to give. And, in this case, your health suffers. You then begin to destroy YOU and not the person your anger is aimed at.

Science informs us that anger as a strong emotion triggers that fight and flight response. The body recognises that something isn’t right and it releases hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol to help it along. The gut is compromised as the brain shunts blood away from it and towards the muscles as it positions itself for a physical attack. Your blood pressure rises, your heart rate soars, sweat oozes out of you and your temperature rises. And if this happens long enough your body gives way. Disease creeps in. Headaches, digestion problems, stress which leads to depression, heart attack, stroke; I could go on and on.

So how do you liberate yourself? How do you combat this soul-destroying mission?

The short answer is you FORGIVE. Yes, forgive with all your heart and soul. Exhale and let it all go. You don’t have to shake their hand or give them a friendly peck on the cheek. You don’t even have to let them know that you have made the conscious decision to forgive them. Forgiveness is about YOU, not them.

But, there are more steps you can take too, which are:

1) Recognise and realise that you cannot control someone’s actions, thoughts and behaviour. But, you can control yours.

2) Embrace your feelings and thoughts. Allow yourself to feel what you are feeling because you are only human and there is nothing wrong with that.

3) Think positive thoughts about yourself. This boosts your confidence and self-esteem. You will need this to tackle the next stage which is the hardest.

4) Do not give value to hurtful words and actions. By now, they know which button to press and they know you go on a rampage each time they press that button. Why not? You have made it easy for them. You have become too predictable and they are probably being kept entertained at your expense. What you want to do is withdraw their power and you do that by not acknowledging their trivial pursuits. Which ties in with my next point;

5) Modify how you react to things. Turn it around. If it means showing them kindness instead of retaliating, then do so. No mean feat, but doable. That will catch them off-guard and perhaps, just perhaps, it will make them stop to consider the consequences of their actions.

6) Maybe now is the time to work on your negotiating skills. Talk things through and find a common ground if it is something you can agree on.

7) You have a right to say NO to things which leave you feeling resentful. Say what you think and feel, firmly, calmly and clearly. Stand your ground without being aggressive and realise that in life you cannot always avoid conflict. You just got to develop skills to resolve it!

8) Last, but not the least, consider the possibility that you could be wrong about them and their intentions. There are times when people hurt us unintentionally and it is only by approaching them and talking things through that you realise they never meant to hurt us. Sometimes they are not aware of the consequences of their words or actions at all!

As hard as it seems, you can do it. It will be hard but recognise that the only person you have any power over is yourself. When you let go of anger and that grudge, you are taking back the reins of your life. They can no longer hurt you because their actions no longer affect you. Do not forget that no one is perfect and people will disappoint you. The most important thing to remember is that you hold the key!