I’m willing to bet there’s at least one person in your life that causes you a great deal of angst. This is a person you don’t like very much, yet your circumstances require you to be around them (or to hear about them or to have to deal with them). Think co-worker, family member, or friend of a friend (who’s really a frenemy).
I call this person your anti-person. (The exact opposite of your person.) You know what’s interesting? I’ve been working as a women’s empowerment coach for 14 years, and I’ve never worked with a sister who hadn’t experienced an anti-person. In fact, there’s a pretty good chance you’re already thinking about yours as you read these words. (If so, please keep reading. I can help.)
The problem with anti-people is less about the fact that they’re in your life (although that is monumentally irritating). The problem with the anti-person is that they trigger you to enter a very unhappy zone called the grudge.
A grudge is a feeling of ill will or resentment against someone because of something they’ve done to you (or something you think they’ve done to you). It’s unexpressed, repressed emotional energy.
You may think that if you hold your tongue, stuff your feelings and pretend everything is okay (even when it’s not) things will eventually be okay. But they won’t. That’s not how it works.
Ignored emotions, don’t go away. The energy of them has to go somewhere. When not expressed, they get stored in your body, where they fester and become toxic. Repressed emotions land you in the vortex of the grudge. You do not want to be in this place.
A grudge is emotional cancer. It will take over your whole life and color it dark. It will literally steal your life force.
When you’re in a grudge, the mere mention of a person’s name can trigger a meltdown. Grudges hook your energy. Even when you aren’t around your anti-person, you’re still thinking about them. You have imaginary conversations in your head where you tell your anti-person exactly what you think of them. (So satisfying, but such a waste of your energy.) When you’re with your friends you vent to them and make the case against your transgressor. (Guess what? Your friends are tired of hearing about it.)
You’re busted, right? I’m willing to bet you’ve done this, and you’re nodding your head in agreement. Finding yourself in grudge land is nothing to be ashamed of, but it’s a supremely stinky place to be. It makes you miserable. (It also makes you miserable to be around.)
Living with a grudge turns you into your worst self. You become an ultra sensitive, ticking time bomb, so consumed with dark feelings you can’t focus on anything else. You DO NOT have to live with your grudge anymore. It IS possible to neutralize your anti-person. (Aren’t you tired of giving a person you like so little so much control over your life?) In this week’s episode of GrooveTV we’re gonna handle your grudge in 3 simple steps. Press PLAY already. Let’s set you free.
Step 1: Name your obsession
The first step to releasing your grudge involves telling the story of it. If you’re in grudge land, you know how to do this. In fact, you’ve probably done it hundreds of times. (Maybe thousands. Who knows?)
When you’re in grudge land you obsess. You turn the power of your brain over to your anti-person and the story of your conflict. (This, of course, means you have less brainpower available to do productive things in your life.)
I want you to tell the story of your grudge once and for all. (As in, pretend this is the last time you will ever tell this story.) Write it down. Preferably with pen and paper. Include every detail. As you do, I want you to pay attention to the unfinished business of it.
Unfinished business is anything left unsaid or undone. It’s what you wish you would have said or done, but didn’t say or do. We want to identify your unfinished business, because incomplete experiences stay hooked into your emotional inventory until they’re processed.
Don’t worry about processing as you write. We’ll do that in Step 2. To begin, just get it all out of your heart and down on your paper.
(Side note, if you have more than one grudge vying for your attention, as a pre-step make a list of every grudge. Then walk through one at a time.)
Once you have your story down, it’s time to process. Let’s do that now.
Step 2: Hate all over it
Ya know how when you get a cut, you have to clean it out before you bandage it up and let it heal? Emotional cuts work like that too. When you’ve been injured (in any way), you need to process your feelings about it. But I’m willing to bet that instead of processing, what you usually do is repress. (Because that’s what most people do.)
Repression fuels dark emotions like hatred, anger, jealousy, resentment, sadness, frustration, and disdain. It’s very scary to feel strong negative emotions. You could be surprised by your own intensity, or you might be afraid you’re a horrible person to have such ugly feelings.
You’re not a bad person because you have a bad feeling. #GetYourGrooveBack
You’re a human person, and you’re gonna have all the feels at one point or another in this thing called life. (You and I are playing a no-shame-game here, remember? No beating yourself up.)
Ignored emotions don’t go away. They fester. So no more ignoring, okay? It’s time for you to name your feelings, so that you can get rid of your grudge once and for all. Let’s do that right now. It’s time for an emotional cleanse.
Return to your story, and read it through. As you do, write down how the events of your saga make you feel. Name every emotion. (Identifying and calling out the feeling lessens its hold on you.)
Once you’re finished, answer a few more questions to complete your cleanse.
- What would you like to say to your anti-person?
- What do you wish they would say to you?
- How do you want this story to end?
Once you’ve finished, please burn or shred your paper. (Not kidding. I’ve witnessed the unfortunate aftermath of a client story being found and read by the wrong person. Apocalypse.) Burn or shred.
As you destroy the paper, imagine all of the dark emotions it contains going up in smoke (or being ripped to bits). Take a deep breath or two. Decide right now, that this is where you’re gonna let it go.
Our final step handles the how to of the letting go.
Step 3: Practice Disconnection
It’s time for you to stop giving your energy to your anti-person. They do not deserve your life force. But if you still have to see them, hear about them, or deal with them, that’s easier said than done, right?
Even when you’ve told your story and felt your feelings, your anti-person is still going to bother you. But that won’t last forever. It is possible to lessen how much they bother you, or even to neutralize their impact on you entirely. To do this, we practice disconnecting, and that’s just like it sounds.
You’ve been in a habitual thought pattern. Your brain is on an automated loop of pain and agitation as it relates to your anti-person (and your grudge). We need to change that up. To begin, you start paying attention.
Awareness is an underrated commodity.
From now on, when you’re around your anti-person, or the topic of them is raised, pause on purpose to notice what’s going on with you. Are you triggered? (In the early stages of conditioning this technique it’s normal that you will be.)
Being triggered is different than reacting to a trigger. Your power (and your freedom) depends on your ability to pause each time you’re triggered. You don’t have to jump back into the vortex. Don’t do it. You have a choice. You just have to be awake to make it.
Take a beat. Take a breath. Then close your eyes. In your mind say NO. Then imagine there is a cord between you and your anti-person. Cut that cord. (Yes. I literally want you to imagine the cord and the cutting.)
I know this can feel a little woo-woo if you haven’t done a lot of visualization work, but it works. Your brain needs a shake-up. It needs you to interrupt your old way of thinking about your anti-person. Using a visualization does the job.
Once you’ve cut that cord, bring your attention back to what matters. Refocus on what is most important to you. Respond in the way that gets you closest to that. Disconnection completed.
Expect to have to repeat this cycle numerous times. While your emotions will lessen with each pass through the steps, it’s typical to have to repeat the process. Don’t worry about how many tries it takes. Focus on the process itself. And do it until.
The more you do it, the stronger you get. You’re building emotional muscle. That will serve you in all areas of your life. Practice makes powerful. So practice.
While letting go of a grudge will not necessarily change the circumstances that created it, doing so will give you your power back. Which will help you address the situation from a much more productive mindset. (Check out my blogs How to say no like you mean it and How to set a boundary for real for some additional help.)
That’s it for the week. Remember that I never want you to blindly take my word for anything. Only you know what’s right for you. I just happen to have a few coaching tools that can help you get closer to that wisdom. Give this lesson’s advice a test drive in your life, and let me know how it goes. There are three ways for us to interact.
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And you got this!