I read recently that “you can’t shake hands with a clenched fist.” Apparently, Indira Gandhi originally spoke these words during negotiations over a border dispute in the early 1970s. When I read this quote on this particular day, it really stuck in my mind as a great motto for all of us in our everyday lives.
The book ‘Peace of Mind: Daily Meditations for Easing Stress’ mentions guests (twins) on a popular talk show who had cut off contact with one another. One twin related how her brother hadn’t talked to her for years even though they lived two miles from one another and they often passed each other on the street. On the show, the man told his sister that he stopped talking to her because he was mad at her about something and he wanted her to apologize, but she never did.
The author goes on to mention that staying angry at people, while it may not end a relationship, can severely damage your ability to connect with that person if you are not able to let go of negative emotions. While we can’t change the actions or behaviors of others that have caused us anguish, we can strive to reconcile the past with forgiveness in the present.
How can we let go of anger? Write a letter to vent your feelings, but don’t mail it. Or maybe simply remember good times with this person and identify their good qualities. Focusing on good instead of negative things can help you release your anger. If there is someone in your personal or professional life with whom you’ve experienced some conflict, be the bigger person and extend your outstretched hand, not your fist.
As far as I’m concerned, nobody says it better than The Eagles in their song The Heart of the Matter…“There are people in your life who’ve come and gone; they let you down, you know they hurt your pride; you better put it all behind you, ‘cause life goes on; you keep carrying that anger, it’ll eat you up inside; I’ve been trying to get down to the heart of the matter, but my will gets weak and my thoughts seem to scatter; but I think it’s about forgiveness…”