Which One Wins?


The man’s question caught me a little off guard. Actually, I’m glad he asked it, but it came as a total surprise. Before doing so, he asked for my permission to make the inquiry. He said, “I’ve been wanting to ask you a question for about two and a half years. It is not my intent to pry. Do you mind if I ask it now?” By this point, he obviously had garnered my attention.

In a lot of respects my life is an open book. At least the parts of my life that I’m comfortable sharing are an open book. I’ve made any number of people aware that I write a daily blog. In fact, I’ve invited members of the five different boards I work with to catch a daily snapshot of my nonsense if they have an interest. My blog is about life. It is about my life. It is about finding the adventure in the midst of the ordinary. It is about my quest to make it all count. I don’t always get it right. My blog is about that as well. Across the two plus years that I’ve been sharing my story, I’ve increasingly taken some risks in making myself vulnerable, but aren’t we all?

I’d be the first to admit that my life is ordinary. I don’t have any special skill set or ability that sets me apart or makes me stand taller than others. Routine and commonplace are pretty much the parameters in which I find myself. I’m privileged to work with some amazingly capable and talented individuals. I like my job. I like my life.

The man wanting to ask me the question was leading me away from a larger group of people to afford some level of privacy related to his asking. He repeated, “I’ve been wanting to ask you this question for two and a half years because I don’t understand it. I’ve always found you pleasant and supportive. You seem like a really nice guy to me. That’s why I don’t understand.

By now I was really puzzled. At the same time, to be totally honest, I was experiencing a small amount of anxiety. He definitely now had my full attention and interest. Before he asked the question, I had the thought: “What If he backs out of taking the risk to ask me? After all, if he’s been wanting to ask for two and a half years, it has to be a sensitive subject or one with which he is not totally comfortable. Otherwise, he would have already asked.

Like I said, the question came as a total surprise. He asked: “Why does “*&%A@CA)” hate you so much? Without even having to think about it, I replied: “That is really a good question. The only way you’ll ever know the answer for sure is to ask him.”

Looking at the person who asked the question, I went on to say: “I really hope that he doesn’t hate me because that is really an unhealthy way to live. While I regret that not everyone is in my corner, to live with on-going anger and hatred takes its toll on the holder of the resentment.

According to the folks at John Hopkins: “Whether it’s a simple spat with your spouse or long-held resentment toward a family member or friend, unresolved conflict can go deeper than you may realize—it may be affecting your physical health. The good news: Studies have found that the act of forgiveness can reap huge rewards for your health, lowering the risk of heart attack; improving cholesterol levels and sleep; and reducing pain, blood pressure, and levels of anxiety, depression and stress. And research points to an increase in the forgiveness-health connection as you age”.

According to Karen Swartz, M.D. ,Director of the Mood Disorders Adult Consultation Clinic at John Hopkins Hospital, “There is an enormous physical burden to being hurt and disappointed. Chronic anger puts you into a fight-or-flight mode, which results in numerous changes in heart rate, blood pressure and immune response. Those changes, then, increase the risk of depression, heart disease and diabetes, among other conditions. Forgiveness, however, calms stress levels, leading to improved health.

Even more alarming, according to Dr. Michael Barry, a pastor and author of The Forgiveness Project, sixty-one percent of cancer patients have forgiveness issues. The chronic level of anxiety created by harboring negative emotions takes its toll on a person’s health.

Mark Goulston, M.D., expresses it this way: “Holding a grudge is like swallowing poison and expecting the other person to be hurt by it. He suggests that holding a grudge does at least things:

  • It Ages You
  • It Hurts Your Heart
  • It Beats Up Your Body

There is no denying it: “Prolonged resentment has even created a new terms called post-traumatic embitterment disorder (PTED, a feeling of injustice and disturbing memories that can cause depression, anxiety, and rage.”

People who live in the darkness of bitterness and anger toward another, often don’t realize that their negativity and bitterness spills over into other relationships. It is like drinking hemlock when it comes to relational skills, a sense of contentment and a desire to live.

I like the story of the Cherokee grandfather talking with his grandson. He confesses that there are two wolves inside of us that are consistently at war with each other. One of them is the good wolf that represents characteristics of kindness, bravery and love. The other is the bad wolf, representing dimensions of hatred, greed and fear.

The grandson gives it some thought and asks his grandfather: “Which one wins?” The grandfather wisely responds: “The one you feed.”

All My Best!




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