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How to let go of grudges in order to protect your health and relationships

Most of us have at least one grudge we've clung to, but leaving them behind is better in the long run.

SEATTLE — You may think holding on to grudges is the easy way to keep distance between you and someone who has wronged you, but there are better and healthier ways to forgive and forget while respectfully ending unhealthy relationships.

"Grudges cause us to feel powerful. A grudge, you know, is 'I've been hurt, and I don't want to let go of it,'" behavioral expert Dr. Gregg Jantz of A Place of Hope said. 

He explained that grudges can lead to resentment and feelings of bitterness in the person holding the grudge, and can have physical health consequences. The grudge and feelings attached to it can lead to loss of sleep and increased levels of the stress hormone, cortisol.  

"If we don't forgive we look through the word through the lens of bitterness that distorts our reality. We're probably not trusting, we're probably hypersensitive, so it really has injured us." 

Forgiveness can also increase serotonin and oxytocin levels, he shared. 

He clarified, and said that forgiving someone who has wronged you does not mean that what they did was okay.

"It doesn't mean that we have to be in relationship with that person. It doesn't mean that we have to trust them again. It doesn't mean 'oh I have to like them now,'" he said.

With strong, clear boundaries and the choice to forgive, you can let go of a grudge and the negative feelings associated with it. 

"Forgiveness is the greatest gift you can give yourself," Jantz said.

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