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    Something to Think About: Do Not Hurt Yourself

a young girl sitting on a couch sad, upset about being left out friends in background talking
Do not let hatred, envy, revenge, or anger (HERA) stay in any corner of your being.

Dear friend,

Hera was the wife and sister of Zeus, the sky and thunder god in ancient Greek religion. Hera was known for her jealousy and vengeance, which came partly as a reaction to Zeus’s infidelity. The difficulties Hera faced weren’t unique to her life or her times. Many of us face difficult interpersonal situations that awaken a different Hera within us—the Hera of Hatred, Envy, Revenge, and Anger (the anger that produces violent rage). Research shows this HERA predisposes us to a multitude of medical conditions.

Just as a physical body fighting an external infectious agent becomes inflamed and injured, and a country at war finds it difficult to keep its citizens peaceful, when we intend to hurt others—either because they hurt us or because we feel hatred or envy—we hurt ourselves. Research shows a mind fighting itself or others predisposes the physical body to cardiovascular disease, cancer, infections, inflammation, dementia, and even premature death. In one of my workshops on forgiveness, a participant got up in the middle and said, “I can’t give my ex the power to increase my risk of dementia. That’s a good enough reason to forgive him, as much as I hate to do that.”

The other reason HERA damages our system is that once we are mired in the habit of getting angry, feeling hatred, harboring envy, or seeking revenge with one person, we deploy these missiles to the rest of the world. We paint the world with our negativity and seek out reasons to validate our inner negative feelings. These feelings start defining our life’s course. Locked in the HERA prison, we start despising the world, jeopardizing our peace and even our very existence.

HERA often sneaks in from an unguarded corner of the mind, when you aren’t watching. It then multiplies, like a newly hatched virus against which you have no immunity. Carefully guard your mind—not just its living room, but also its attic, basement, and backyard—from any elements of HERA and sweep it clean when you find these hatching. Crowd your space with the antidotes—gratitude, compassion, and forgiveness. Transform your negative thoughts so they surrender to these higher values.

When you convert your hatred into compassion, envy into inspiration, revenge into forgiveness, and anger into acceptance, you’ll save yourself and the people you love from much suffering.

May you create a beautiful day by sweeping your mind clean of any hatred, envy, revenge, and anger.

Take care.

Dr. Sood 2

Read Do Not Hurt Yourself and previous blog posts.

Also, follow @AmitSoodMD on Twitter.

Dr. Sood is director of research in the Complementary and Integrative Medicine Program on Mayo Clinic's Rochester campus in Minnesota. He also chairs the Mind-Body Medicine Initiative at Mayo Clinic.

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