Deb Sofield


Don’t Hold on to Grudges

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I have been thinking about a few clients that I work with, and have come to realize that there is one thing that seems to hold many of them back from being amazing rock star speakers. That one thing is an old hurt from someone in their past who is now irrelevant and who basically told them they were awful speakers and to keep quiet.

Now I don’t know what the teacher or another adult actually said, but to a young person, what they heard was, “Don’t open your mouth again.” And here we are years later, and the idea of speaking out loud to a small or large group causes such anxiety that I find I am working with them on more than voice and diction and breathing exercises. Together we’re “exercising” anxieties from their past to bring healing here and now for their future.

While many of my clients would tell me that they don’t hold grudges, the fact is they do. I can hear it in their voice.

Overwhelmingly, many still feel the hurt or embarrassment of long ago by someone who was in authority, usually when they were very young, so to survive, they’ve nursed that pain quietly for years. Some have told themselves that it really didn’t bother them, and yet they can tell me (in amazing detail) what happened to them much too much for not caring. While some struggle to remember the precise incident, they still have a painful memory of something from their past that even today makes them break a sweat or choke up when it comes to being singled out to speak or lead.

Grudges–we all hold them against others–some for a good reason and some for reasons that are so old and irrelevant we have forgotten the details of what really happened.

That being said, the clients I am working with just know and remember it was hurtful or upsetting, so in their mind, it is best to keep the door shut as to what happened.

I understand that hurt feelings are real, and for many cause great pain, but I have to wonder when the time will be up to cross that old injury off the list?

You know the old saying, holding on to hurt or anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. As you well know, it doesn’t happen that way no matter how much you secretly hope it does. So in the here and now, as someone who is dealing with this old pain, what will you do to remove the stumbling block from your path?

I know the easy word to the wise is to “forgive.” Frankly, that isn’t all that easy when feelings, emotion and time have passed. And forgiving others who caused you pain seems like the easy way out for them instead of holding that person accountable for their unkind, hurtful and just plain mean actions.

You’re right.

And you’re wrong.

I say you are right only to acknowledge that the pain was real and nothing can take that away, and I say you are wrong because the idea of forgiveness isn’t for them and their actions; it is more for you and your sense of well-being and peace and success.

Yes, success, because it is a vital part of this equation. In so many incidents, your success in business, in relationships and in life, all depends on you being able to articulate your message.

At this age and stage in your life, do you really care about the “other person” who caused you pain? Maybe if you loved them at one time, but now they are most likely long gone, passed away or so out of your current sphere or environment that hanging on to them, well, my friend, that just doesn’t make any sense and deep down you know it. And, by the way, they have totally forgotten about you.

So now, what do you do?

A few years ago I took a counseling course, and this “chair talk” exercise was the most emotional that I saw in the class. Probably because many class members had felt they were unjustly attacked or unkindly spoken to years ago (or even yesterday) and they didn’t get their chance to fight back or point out where the other person was wrong. I am sharing this because I saw how powerful and effective it was in helping heal the emotional hurt that began so long ago and I am hopeful that it will do the same for those of you who may also be struggling.

So, for some reading or listening by podcast who may need it, let’s try this exercise:

Imagine yourself sitting in a chair opposite the “speaker of ill will,” then go ahead and bring up the incident. Replay it in your mind, and then speak back to the person in defense of yourself.

That’s been the sticking point all along. You never got to defend yourself!

Say whatever it is you need to say–say it all! Lay it on the line–no holds barred–and get it out of your system. That is why you need to speak out loud, preferably where no one else can hear you giving them, as we say in the South, “what for” talk.

Now imagine them leaning back or sitting down and saying they are sorry and meaning it.

They have no excuse for their actions.

Silence now fills the space between you… let it linger, and then get up and leave.

Now that you have heard their apology or excuse of why they did what they did take it or leave it, but consider the issue over…done…finished. Finished!

While I know this is “play acting,” if you have the strength to do this exercise and let go of the hurt, you will (within time) come to realize that the damning words of others have hurt you more than they hurt them. Now you have had your say, so it is time to put the matter to rest.

They were wrong.

You are right, so now live like it, and stop allowing an irrelevant, random, hurtful comment from your past quiet your voice for your future.

Is it about forgiveness? Yes, it is, because you deserve more than you are allowing in your life by keeping your “hidden door” a secret. It’s time to open the door by the handle (or a good kick or a shoulder push). Now, the most imaginative image that will meet your senses once you adjust to the light is that…the room is empty.

Your anxieties all these years were built on a lie that you were told and believed. When the truth of the matter comes to light, it is then you will see that it was nothing but wasted words by someone who is now irrelevant to your life and who does not have a hold on you anymore.

The reason you don’t need to hold grudges is that by hanging on to the burden of the problem, you make them relevant when in fact they are not. What they are is irrelevant now, so it is imperative that you let it go and live as you were meant to live, and as your coach and friend, I see that living as out loud and with a voice that will sound like and be recognized as one of success.

Deb Sofield

Deb Sofield is a Keynote Speaker, Author of the book, Speak without Fear – Rock Star Presentation Skills to get People to Hear What You Say and Encouragement For Your Life ~ Tough Love Memos to Help You Fight Your Battles and Change the World, Radio Talk Show Host in the Salem Network, Podcaster and President of her own Executive Speech Coaching Co., which trains women and men for success in speaking, crisis communications, presentation skills, media and message development in the U.S. and abroad.

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