We subconsciously hold onto grudges as if we may need them later, like they are useful mementos. We file them away under important things to remember with a post-it note attached; that person said I was unintelligent, they told me I wasn’t good enough, they lied to me, etc.
Grudges encompass the most useless emotion of all: anger. It sweeps us to places beyond our normal state, and can turn the sweetest voice into the harshest. Anger holds no boundaries, and it consumes most who get in its path.
If grudges hurt our soul, and anger is so consuming and useless, then why do we still allow ourselves to feel their forces?
I’m not entirely sure, but I have a few of my own reasons why I have held grudges which I will chat about, and what I find useful in dissolving them.
I find the following notion incredibly helpful in categorising what to let go of and what is unforgivable; to think of everyone as you on a different journey. We all have a huge amount of empathy for ourselves, which is natural, but sometimes we don’t give others enough.
For example, someone bullied you in school. Put yourself in their shoes. What could have been their motive? Perhaps they were making up for something lacking within their own self, either internal or external. You might remember that they didn’t have a great home life, or that they got teased by their friends so they projected that onto others. Maybe you had something they wanted.
If you analyse a persons motives, you may find the solution to why they hurt you. If someone hurt you to an extreme point where there was absolutely no warranted reason, then there is no point in trying to understand it, but you still need to let it go.
Forgive them, but not for them. Do it for you.
I love the idea that if someone tried to give someone a present and they denied it, who’s present is it? It is still the person who failed to gift the present, right? If someone is angry at you, and you do not accept it, that anger is theirs. No one can give you anything you don’t want. A grudge works the same way. The person you have a grudge against most likely won’t even know you feel that way, so the only person feeling shit is you.
I’ve been on both sides of the spectrum. I’ve forgiven so easily that I’ve forgotten what was said to me in the past, and it frustrated me that I couldn’t come up with examples of what had caused my hurt. I thought it would be useful to remember so that when they tried to come back into my life I had legit reasons why they shouldn’t. However, this is toxic and useless.
I’ve also been on the side of the spectrum where someone has pissed me off so much I have never forgotten. I held the grudge so that I would never treat someone the same in the future when I am in the position they were. If I remember how they made me feel- I won’t ever make the same mistake. I can justify my thinking, but that doesn’t make it right. I’m still the only one feeling pain from the past, so it’s pointless.
So basically, the grudges I have held have been because I don’t want that person coming back into my life, or because I never want to become that person.
The most important thing I have realised is that you have to trust yourself. Trust your gut instincts with people, and trust that you will always remember your truth. You don’t need to hold onto your hurt to justify why you don’t want someone in your life anymore. You don’t need to remind yourself of the person you don’t want to become. Let go of your past hurts, stand up for yourself, and don’t let anyone gift you a parcel of anger.