We’ve all been wronged at some time in our lives and it isn’t always easy to forgive. There are, of course, differing view on forgiveness, but holding a grudge is rarely seen to be a good thing, although I did find a quote by the Australian writer, Liane Moriarty, who said,
They say it’s good to let a grudge go, but I don’t know; I’m quite fond of my grudge, I tend it like a pet.
I think that is the nature of grudges really. In fact if we don’t tend to our anger and resentment, it has no chance of becoming a grudge. The way that resentment turns into a grudge is by rehearsing the offence over and over again in our minds. When you listen to someone who has held a grudge for many years, it sounds as if they are talking about something that happened last week.
To be wronged is nothing, unless you continue to remember it.
Holding a grudge is a strange thing in a way, because we have a tendency to feel that if we forgive the other person, we are letting them off the hook, whereas, in actual fact, research would suggest that we are releasing ourselves. If we keep on going over and over the offence, we will experience the pain of it over and over again too.
There are many effects that holding a grudge can have on our lives. When someone holds a grudge it infects all their relationships. It makes it impossible to enjoy the present moment. People holding a grudge may feel at odds with themselves. It is hard to find any other purpose in life. They lose connection with other people. It is difficult to sleep. Charlotte VanOyen Witvliet PhD says,
When people think about their offenders in unforgiving ways, they tend to experience stronger negative emotions and greater physiological stress responses.
What can we do about it?
Choose not to dwell on the offence.
Recognise that you are harming yourself.
Acknowledge that you may never get an apology.
Choose to begin the process of forgiving anyway.
Stop being a victim.
Remember that you can’t change anyone else.
And Finally, Anne Lamott says,
Not forgiving is like drinking rat poison and waiting for the rat to die.