Just How Long Should You Hold A Grudge?
There was a time, a long time ago, I would just not let things go. As a young boy, I had been pushed around so much, that I grew up making it clear, it would never happen again. Going from one end of the spectrum to the other, was not the solution either.
When someone does something wrong to you, it is natural to either want to seek revenge, or hold a grudge against that person. A grudge is a way of not letting the offender off the hook for their transgression. Many times it gets tangled up with the concept of forgiveness, rather lack of. Both can have the same impact on your health emotionally, but are definitely different.
When it comes to forgiveness, while the one who committed the offense has the actual responsibility to offer the remorse, it is still the recipient who likely carries the ill feelings long after the event has occurred. This can lead to many emotional issues such as depression, conflict, anger, just to name a few. Forgiveness does not mean forgetting what happened, but you stop giving it the weight sitting on your emotional life.
When it comes to someone holding a grudge, the entire issue falls on the individual holding on to, and carrying out the grudge. Carrying a grudge is the equivalent to carrying out revenge. Where revenge often leads to a back and forth, with each side getting even, a grudge is one sided, and usually continued until the recipient relents, or dies.
The problem for the recipient, is that they know that they have done nothing wrong. And therefore actions committed against the recipient just lead to more head scratching. It is the person with the grudge, who instead just continues to build the anger and frustrations because an end is not coming, or at least soon enough. This does not hurt the recipient, it hurts the person with the grudge. Hence, the meme at the top of this post. And next to my favorite expression, “I would not piss in your mouth if your teeth were on fire,” I love this expression, “Holding a grudge is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.”
And that is the best analogy for the downfalls of holding a grudge. I am in no way saying that a person should not deal with something that went wrong or was handled wrong. But there has to be an end at some point. I could easily hold this position from my childhood decades ago. There are numerous people I am currently friends with today, that were unimaginable back then.
I must admit, I have an advantage in this thinking. Once known for having “knee jerk” reactions to conflict, I am now often described as “comatose” even when it comes to a traffic issue such as someone cutting me off in traffic. Though I developed this thinking early on as a cancer survivor, I soon found myself slipping back into the old ways of not letting things go. But as I faced other health crisis, one after another, I had finally convinced myself, the change in my thinking I had to do.
If whatever is happening, does not have an impact on my goals, and I really have only one goal in my life at this point, spending as much time with my daughters as I can, I let it go. It just will not matter as much as the love I have for my daughters. And it really is that simple for me. What you do with your life has no bearing on mine.
There was a time, less than a decade ago, I might have felt differently. Not anymore.