“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.” – Buddha
Grudges. So many people can spend a disproportionate amount of their life holding a grudge.
It can feel so logical, so important. After all, if we have been wronged by some other person, then why shouldn’t we feel bitter toward them? Why should we not hold on to the memory of what they did, and continue to hold it against them? Surely they do not deserve our forgiveness after what they did?! Right?
And so we continue to hold on to that feeling. Refusing to forgive them, harbouring ill thoughts toward them. Perhaps secretly hoping that something nasty happens to them. And knowing with absolute certainty that if they ever asked for your help or support, you would tell them exactly where to go! (And certainly these 5 cases illustrate the absurd lengths some will go to maintain a grudge).
But look at it this way. How much effect does your ill-will have on them? How harmed are they by you thinking unpleasant thoughts about them?
Absolutely nothing. No effect whatsoever to them.
No, holding on to a grudge has no impact on the object of our fixation – chances are they are not even aware that you are holding that grudge, they are too busy getting on with their own lives.
You, however? Obsessing about the unfairness of what they did to you, continually running over and over the event, fixating your attention on wishing ill on them – even if it has no ill effect on you (and it is highly arguable that all that negativity will have a detrimental effect on your own health, both mental and physical), just think of how much of your time and mental resources you are expending on holding and maintaining the grudge.
Holding a grief really is like swallowing poison and hoping it kills the other person…
Far better to let go of the grudge and move on.
Far better, although not always easier! So what can you do to give up the grudge and move on?
- Acknowledge and accept the wrong-doing. Accept that it happened, and it is now in the past and that nothing anyone can do can ever changed that it happened; however, we can change how we react to it from this point on!
- Realise that there are always 2 sides to any situation – we all do the best we can with what we have, and even though it may have been unpleasant for us, the other person was actually doing what they thought was for the best.
- Consider what lessons there might have been in the situation for us. By which I mean positive empowering lessons. Just imagine, pretend even, that there might have been something positive to learn which would help you in the future. Consider what that might be? Some say everything happens for a reason, what might the reason have been? And even if things don’t always happen for a reason, is there something positive we could have learned anyway?
- Consider how we might use what we’ve learned to help us toward a more helpful and healthy future – turn what happened into some source of good, even if it is just the tiniest of sparks of good.
- Find a way to forgive the person. What? Yes, find a way to forgive them. For by doing so we let go of our hold, we free ourselves up to be open to more positive thoughts and feelings. We don’t need to actually forgive them to their face – often that may not help – rather just be able to feel in our heart that we forgive them. Letting it go often brings about a huge wave of relief!
It has been said that the best form of revenge is to live a fulfilling and happy life. And whether we view that as revenge or not, it is certainly a far more healthy way to react to the situation.
If you are ready to let go of grudges, and to move forward, check out Keith’s Forward Through Forgiveness and let go of the past once and for all.
Have you found this useful? Do you have any questions? Thoughts? Opinions? I'd love to hear them! Leave a comment and share your views!
Also published on Medium.