Keeping a grudge and forgiveness

Death of Caesar by Vincenzo Camuccini

What is a grudge?

A grudge is a strong feeling of anger, dislike or disapproval of a person because of something hurtful they might have done or said to you in the past.

What does it mean to hold a grudge?

To hold a grudge against a person is to feel anger or dislike for that person because of something they might have done to you or said about you in the past.

Why do we hold grudges?

We hold grudges, irrespective of the cause, because we have been deeply hurt by another person. It can be quite difficult tolerating a person you have a grudge against especially when you work or live with them. The sight of them affects your mood, and you become uncomfortable whenever they are around you. When you see a paper with their names on it, there is an intense urge to rip it apart and then rip them apart. If only the opportunity presented itself at the perfect time, boy, would they have gotten an earful of your carefully thought out response to their smarty pants questions. Then they would know and understand how deeply what they had done or said had affected you whether you were at fault or not.

It is quite unfortunate that we must feel this way toward someone at some point in our lives because humans can, sometimes, be quite difficult to live with. However, holding a grudge does not fix the problem. It brings up negative emotions in you which can affect your day, your work and your relationship with people especially those closest to that person. Some of us go to the extreme points of trying to harm that person, their relationships or work because they can no longer stand the thought of them existing and breathing in oxygen.

How do I deal with a grudge?

It is a simple solution but a difficult one. You forgive them.

The path to forgiveness however is not a straight one. You must try to understand why you were hurt by their actions or words. Did their rude remark that day when you made that silly mistake take you back to when you were being bullied by your father? Did you possibly misunderstand what their intentions were when they did what they did last night? Was it really about you?

An understanding of why you were hurt by their decisions will provide you with the clarity that you need to see the path to forgiveness. It might be your insecurity that was challenged and it might be because they are genuinely assholes, either way, at the end of this exercise, you should be able to say that ‘I do not like *insert name* because they *insert action here* and it hurt me because *insert truth about affected emotions or self here*

The next step is the act of forgiveness which is to no longer allow their actions affect you in a negative way. The strength to do this comes from the knowledge that we as humans are full of eternal acts of folly. We will make mistakes many times and thus require eternal acts of forgiveness to help us learn to be better versions of ourselves through out our journey in life. And just as this human requires your forgiveness for one of their many follies so will one day require the forgiveness of others who might have a grudge against you for your own folly.

To forgive is to say ‘ I did not like what or when you *insert action here*. It hurt my feelings but I forgive you not because what you did was okay. It was not but because like me I know that you are not perfect, you will make mistakes and this is one of the many mistakes you have made. I will no longer hold it against or hold onto it. I will let it go and give you another chance to be a better person.’

In a relationship where forgiveness is needed, the act of forgiving does not make a decision for the relationship (not limited to romantic relationships). This means that your decision to continue or terminate that relationship does not depend on your forgiveness. You can forgive a person and no longer wish to continue that relationship with them.

Forgiveness gives you peace and the clarity to move on.

I must warn you this will be a difficult exercise if you decide to embark on it, this journey of letting grudges go. However, it will be worth your while in the end.

Have fun bringing peace into your life.

musings of a psychotherapist living and working in Lagos, Nigeria.

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