Holding Onto Grudges Can make Your Arms Tired

The world can sometimes be an angry place.  Well, at least some of the people in the world seem to be angrier than usual.  I can actually understand that because, as a recent victim of credit card theft, I have been feeling a little cranky myself lately.  I always prefer to think that people basically want to help each other and show compassion. Sadly, some people’s milk of human kindness seems to be skim milk!

Years ago, Randy Newman wrote a song describing the confused state of a world in which people still have the core desire to help and forgive others, yet are afraid that they will lose part of themselves if they give too much, so they hold on to anger and fear. One of the verses goes like this:

“Bright before me, signs implore me to help the needy and show them the way.  Human kindness is overflowing….but I think it’s going to rain today.”

I have had to remind myself that while I might be justified in feeling ticked off in certain situations (did I mention credit card theft?) there is only one letter difference between Anger and Danger. Danger comes when anger runs amok.

There is an old movie, “The Portrait of Dorian Gray.” In that film, Dorian Gray was an angry, bitter man who couldn’t let go of his anger and he treated people badly.  In his attic, there was a painting of Dorian, which began taking on the manifestations of his negativity. Every time Dorian’s anger got away from him, and he hurt someone; an ugly gash or scar or horrible expression would appear on his likeness.  Dorian, himself, never changed; but his portrait became a hideous image of the monster he had become.

I think that’s what happens to us when we allow negativity, anger and an unforgiving spirit to dominate our lives. Our souls become our portraits and bear the scars of our anger. Eventually, all of that poison makes us sick and the weight of the grudges we are holding crush us.  Lest you think that it might be nice to remain young and unlined while your picture takes all of the beating; the rest of the story is that Dorian’s anger finally caught up with him and he turned into dust. Bummer.

Anger can be productive, if you are standing up for something that is important to you and it gives you the incentive to change something that needs to be changed. But that is a result of healthy and controlled anger…not the kind that stays inside and makes you into a hissy, snarky troll. So, before your anger turns into danger, try to channel that energy into something productive. Do it before you turn into dust!

Linda Henley-Smith is an author, speaker and coach who helps people find their funny bones and put things into perspective. Check out her website at  www.lindahenley-smith.com

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