Dr Bev Smallwood

Articles Library: Coping

Bitterness Can Make You Sick

I watched as the razor-sharp knife of the skilled surgeon performed the delicate, life-saving task of repairing an aneurism in the elderly man's stomach. I had a close-up view from a stool beside the operating table.

At that time several years ago, I shared an office building with this surgeon and his partners. He had finally said "yes" to my request to "let me watch one day." I knew it would be interesting, but I didn't know that I'd be blessed with a very graphic life lesson in that operating room.

I'll spare you most of the very gory details. I had only been used to "verbal gore," not red stuff. Thank God there are those who are called to be surgeons--I'm not!

Anyway, back to the Operating Room. The task was to cut out the aneurism and replace it with a synthetic graft.The doctor had located the aneurism, had clamped off the arteries, and had begun to remove the crud (medical term, I'm sure) from the affected section of artery. I was amazed at the amount of stuff (another medical term) that he piled into the container. This HAD to be life threatening. The blood is the life flow of the body. If it can't flow where it's needed, the person can't live.

At that moment, dressed in my surgery garb and totally grossed out, a powerful insight flashed into my spirit. This blockage is a lot like bitterness. Something negative happens in your life, and little by little, its poison accumulates, blocking the flow of life energy. Before my eyes was a living metaphor for BITTERNESS. Think through it with me.

1. Cumulative Choices Create Cumulative Harm

That patient had made lifestyle choices that resulted in an accumulation of unhealthy material in the critical arteries that sustained his life.

The bitter person also makes choices--dwelling on the offense, mentally (or physically) performing little acts of revenge, refusing to forgive. The poison accumulates.

2. The Problem Grows, And Its Impact Spreads

From a physical standpoint, the blood flow is critical. Block its flow to the heart or other vital organs and you have a catastrophic impact.

Each person has a similar flow of emotional and spiritual energy. The consequences of a blockage in these life-giving channels are just as tragic as an aneurism can be. The problem grows and its impact spreads.

Imagine that you released a drop of red food coloring into a beaker of water. At first you'd see a red dot. Soon you'd see pink water. Like the drop of food coloring, anger that is nurtured grows and deepens. It begins to affect every "system"--relationships, attitudes, motivation, and productivity.

3. Dramatic Intervention Is Necessary To Save a Life

Thankfully, under the care of this experienced and competent surgeon, the patient got a chance to live an estimated 20 to 30 years longer. He would be freer to do the things that he enjoyed. Yes, there would be a painful period of recovery from this major surgery, but it was worth it.

You may or may not need professional help to release yourself from the bitterness you've harbored. Notice I said release YOURSELF, not release the other person(s). They are going on their merry way. (Of course, this can make you madder.)

I've had clients tell me, "If I forgive, that person will go scott-free."

News flash! The other person(s) are already out there ppursuing their life interests. It's YOU who is suffering for holding onto bitterness. It you whose irritability and short fuse is robbing you of peace in relationships you value. It's you whose physical health is deteriorating because of anger. It's you whose sleep is disturbed and whose positive energy is sapped. It's you whose creativity is stifled and whose productivity is diminished.

In the next article, I'll share with you some "how-to's" on FORGIVING to RELEASE YOURSELF. Stay tuned!

Dr. Bev Smallwood is a psychologist and professional speaker who is the author of “This Wasn’t Supposed to Happen to Me.” Visit her website, www.DrBevSmallwood.com; or contact Bev at 601.264.0890 or by email, Bev@DrBevSmallwood.com. Also connect with Bev on Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, and her blogs, Shrink Rap and New Morning Devotionals.

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