There’s an amusing saying:
“If Tetris has taught me anything, it’s that errors pile up and accomplishments disappear.”
I don’t know a better quote for describing the effect of holding grudges.
Where this is particularly noticeable, and damaging, is in the area of relationships.
Everyone is growing. Everyone makes mistakes. Everyone is occasionally tired, thoughtless, distracted or careless.
Things happen and people get hurt – no matter how careful we are towards the person we love (see also: every parent ever).
This is a normal part of life, and to be expected.
Where it all gets messy is when our partner makes these mistakes and we choose to hang on to those mistakes instead of letting them go.
Eventually, this will kill any relationship. How can it possibly survive when every time we look at them our head and hearts are filled with the thousand awful things we remember them doing?
As always, it’s helpful to keep things simple. Make a choice:
Do you want to have a loving, happy relationship …
… or do you want your relationship to die?
I realise that sounds melodramatic and a prime example of either-or thinking, however on a long enough time scale, that’s your choice.
Of course, if you’re only in the relationship for the short term or you really don’t give a shit about the other person, then feel free to ignore everything I’m saying.
The thing is, if we don’t proactively choose to let go/heal/whatever the myriad of minor (and not so minor) bumps and scrapes that eventuate from any average relationship, then we are actively choosing to let the relationship die.
No one can sustain under that much pain. Eventually, the traumatic blocks stack up until they hit our ceiling and it’s game over for that relationship.
If we refuse to learn, if we refuse to let go of these blocks, these hurts, we’ll be doomed to live the same relationship over and over. Watching blocks build up, experiencing all that pain until eventually we’re forced, once again, to quit.
The other thing here is – much like Tetris, you have to keep working at this constantly. Couples counselling once a year or once a decade isn’t going to cut it. You have to get up every damn day with the intention of letting go of whatever pain comes up.
If we don’t let it go, we’ll be doomed to think about it again and again, letting that wound fester like a rotting abscess.
Every time we rethink about something that has wronged us, to some degree we are reliving that trauma. We’re strengthening the neural pathways. We’re making it worse for ourselves.
What may have been a fairly minor misunderstanding, after we’ve thought and rethought about it dozens or hundreds of times can expand into a soul crushing trauma of biblical proportions. How on earth can we be expected to remain loving towards someone with that kind of storm raging through us?
Plus, of course, much like Tetris, small hurts or mistakes lead to larger ones.
Why is this? Because we look at events through the filter of our minds. If we decide (for whatever reason) that a person is, say, untrustworthy, then everything they do will be viewed through that filter. Every little word and action will be judged and suspected. Grudges lead to judgement.
In short: once we have a belief, we use our brains to find data to validate that belief.
Now sure, some people are untrustworthy, that’s fine. But a lot of the time we paint people incredibly unfairly, simply because of some trauma or other that we’re carrying around. Half the time it really has nothing to do with them at all.
On top of that – this is someone we’re supposed to be in love with. Shouldn’t we be at least trying to be loving towards them? How can we do that if we’re harshly judging every little thing they do and say?
The key, of course, is not too get too carried away with our minds. Realise that it’s our belief that is making us “find” supporting evidence. Once we drop that belief, voila, most or all of that evidence will fall away with it. We’ll see that our prejudices have been colouring our observations. Our pain has been creating more pain around us.
The great thing is – when we knock out a grudge or limiting belief, it’s like knocking out a line in Tetris. Except it also ensures that it will (almost) never come back. When we heal the hurt that caused us to believe someone was untrustworthy, we will have learned that lesson. For a start, we’ll be able to accurately interpret their actions. Secondly, we’ll stop attracting seemingly untrustworthy people into our lives. We won’t need to; we’ve learned what we needed to learn, the universe can now move us on to our next lessons.
Best of all, unlike Tetris, the more we let go of the slower the blocks stack up. It’s a game which starts insanely hard and gets easier and easier the more we play.