Holding a grudge is one of the dumbest thing we can do.
That said, it’s also one of the easiest things to do.
In essence, what IS a grudge?
When we believe someone has wronged us, and we hang on to that memory.
Notice some key things here:
- It doesn’t matter whether they did actually wrong us or not, just that we believe they did
- It doesn’t matter what their intent was (or even if it was intentional)
- Along with the memory, we hang on to a huge chunk of negative energy
- All this colours any future interactions with that person
So why do it?
Generally, we hang on to grudges for some combination of the following reasons:
- We feel justified (“It’s fair” or “They deserve it”)
- We think it’ll keep us safe in the future
- We think this is how we learn from the experience
- We feel they owe us something (payback, restitution)
However, there’s some flaws in this reasoning (well, duh)
For a start, really what we’re doing is making ourselves feel crappier. Why even do that?
We’re carrying around a huge bundle of negative emotion/energy, such that every time we think about that person, we feel bad. Also not smart.
On top of that, it’s damaging our relationship with that person.
If someone has done something bad to us and we can completely remove that person from our life? Well, that’s great. Really though? Most people we interact with aren’t like that. We often don’t have that freedom (workmates, friends, family, lovers).
The final nail in the coffin? It’s never going to make the original pain go away. All it does it make it suck longer and harder (and not in a fun way).
Now, as well as the original hurt, we’re attaching all this additional negative energy on top of it.
Over time a grudge can and will take on a life of its own. The original hurt becomes more or less a footnote, but every time we’ve thought bad thoughts about that person, it’s added a little more to a giant pile of nastiness that is building in our minds. Witness how grudges between families (or countries) can survive long after the original participants have died.
Holding a grudge won’t help us accurately interpret a situation. Suddenly, every interaction with that person will be filtered through the pain of that grudge. Every possible word and action will be (mis) interpreted as similar to or adding to that pain.
All it’s doing is maximising our own suffering and damaging our relationship.
Why do this?
We need to re-assert ourselves over this noise and choose to let the pain go.
Obviously tools like EFT or releasing can help with this process, but even things like good old fashioned (genuine) forgiveness can do the trick. If you’re truly genuine about letting it go though, it’s important to acknowledge the pain we’ve caused that other person too.
Something as simple as imagining the person in front of you, and saying “I’m sorry. Please forgive me.” can be enormously powerful for healing the damage we’ve done even by holding a grudge (let alone anything else we may have said or done).
Remember though – really, you’re not doing it for the other person’s sake. If they’ve hurt you that badly and they suddenly died, you wouldn’t be THAT bothered, would you? No, the real reason you’re doing it is for your OWN sake. To permanently get rid of all that crappy energy.
The real test is if you can think about that person, think about the situation, and feel nothing but calm and loving. Asking their forgiveness is a super powerful way to deeply and completely clear out the last vestiges of crappy energy.
We all carry grudges around. Some big, some small. Start with the biggest and work your way down the list. Every single one you can drop will result in your own life feeling and genuinely being better.