Letting Go of a Grudge a company mail-out for employees

Letting go of a grudge can improve your health. A recent study asked 71 people to mentally relive hurtful memories, to think of specific instances when they felt betrayed, insulted or lied to by romantic partners, family members or friends. Next, the participants were asked to add two alternate endings to the memory, one in which they harbored a grudge and one in which they forgave the offender. 

Researchers then measured their vital statistics. The study found that when participants visualized holding a grudge their heart rates and blood pressures were two times higher than when they conjured up feelings of forgiveness. They also tended to sweat more and feel more hostile and out of control. Sustained anger and hostility are known risk factors for heart disease and reduced immunity, so letting go of a grudge could have dramatic and fast-acting health benefits. But how do you stop harboring bad feelings toward another person? Here are some suggestions from the experts:

Empathize. Try to understand the factors that influenced the other person's behavior, and put yourself in those circumstances. And remember, there are probably times when you have hurt someone.

Stop expecting the person to change the past. Even if they wanted to, they cannot take back the hurtful act. Also, don't wait for reconciliation before you forgive. Take responsibility for healing yourself.

Replace bitterness with a positive feeling. Find some way to wish the other person well, even if it means just hoping he or she learns to control his or her temper for better health. - Adapted from Prevention

Don't take it personal. The relationship with your boss and other co-workers can be complicated, leaving it open to plenty of misunderstandings and misinterpretations. Don't fall into the trap of taking things personally at the workplace. If you do, you end up forging an uneasy relationship that's bound to unravel. Here are two common ways we personalize interactions with the boss, and how we need to reinterpret the situations:

My manager's out to get me. There are more than a few managers who can stand to brush up on their interpersonal skills. But a manager who lacks tact isn't usually out to get anyone. If anything, he or she gives each charge equal doses of rudeness. But if you take it personally every time a manager blows up, you'll simply end up fearful and angry and may even end up saying something you'll regret later. Instead, concentrate on the meaning and content of a manager's words, rather than his or her delivery. You may discover that there's pressure company wide to do things differently and that you have to make adjustments and be proactive. Taking the initiative, for example, to schedule regular, short feedback meetings with your boss help you to keep on top of expectations-and to feel more in control, rather than the victim of a vengeful manager.

My manager let me down. Say you're lucky enough to have a boss who's supportive, encouraging, and available. You still need to remember that managers have limitations. When the situation in the workplace changes (as can often be the case in these challenging times), they may not be as available as they were before. If they seem to have let you down because they're not giving you the kind of support you've come to expect, it would be unfair to automatically say that it's because they no longer care. 
Now it's time for you to step up to the plate. Evaluate your own job performance and get a sense of what you need to do in the new, changing environment. Take responsibility for your self-motivation and approval. And if you can't get feedback from your own manager, consider if there is someone else who can serve as a teacher and evaluator. - Adapted from Winning at Work, Mel Sandler and Muriel Gray