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Consult a counselor to help you let go of a grudge. Simply click here to connect with one via BetterHelp.com.
Do you find yourself holding grudges?
And why shouldn’t you? Why shouldn’t you feel angry that someone treated you badly? Why shouldn’t you dislike a person who did you wrong?
After all, they were the jerk that started it through their bad actions. You have every right to be angry about that!
However, anger really only goes so far. The problem with a grudge is that, by definition, it is anger about a situation that has been felt for a prolonged period of time.
Some people can carry grudges for years in extreme circumstances. And in looking at what they might have been subjected to, it may seem perfectly reasonable for that person to still be angry about how they were treated.
But what good does that anger do? Does it improve your life? Does it make you happy? Does it help you cultivate a peaceful mind?
Of course not! It’s anger!
Anger can feel just and righteous at the time, but it wears on you as the years tick by. It robs you of happiness, joy, and sometimes relationships with other people; because happy people don’t want to spend their time around bitter, angry people.
That grudge you’re carrying serves no other purpose than to make your own emotional health worse in the long run. That’s why it’s so important that we learn how to let that anger go so that grudge can fade away.
The tips we have for you are focused on two areas. First, we need to address the situation that is causing the anger. Second, we need to actually address the grudge and let it go.
1. Identify and acknowledge the hurt.
At the root of the grudge is some wound that needs to be addressed. What is it? Is it someone who didn’t do what they said they would? Was it someone who hurt you? Is it trauma or some other negative event that is still sticking around? Can you identify where exactly that hurt and anger is coming from?
In many cases, you’ll probably be able to identify it pretty easily. For example, “X person did something bad to me, so I’m angry and hurt that no one seems to care.”
In other cases, it may not be so easily identified. For example, a person who had a bad childhood may have many experiences fueling their anger. Some may be stronger than others.
There’s also the possibility that the real problem is buried under a more visible problem. For example, the person with a troubled childhood may see the troubled childhood as the problem, when really the problem is them feeling as though their parents didn’t love them. It all ties together, but it may not be easy to identify without the help of a trained counselor.
2. Identify a solution to the problem.
Can you identify a solution to the problem? Is there a tangible thing that will make you feel better if you take it to the person that wronged you (assuming they want to make things right)?
Granted, this probably won’t be an option often. Not everyone is sorry about the negative things they do. Hell, they may be happy that you’re still angry and upset about it.
But if you happen to be in a situation where the person wants to make it right, identifying what will help you let go of your grudge is the right step.
It might just be something as simple as an apology and acknowledgment of the wrong they did. But, on the other hand, maybe it’s the person making the situation right again by doing a particular thing.
That will help undermine and end the anger, but it may not dissolve it completely. It may still take some time to actually let it go.
3. Try to resolve the issue with the person who hurt you.
Can you sit down and talk with the person who hurt you? Asking them about their perspective will help you put yourself in their shoes to better understand each other.
Maybe a parent was absent, and their adult child resents them for that. But maybe the parent was absent because they had to work two jobs to pay the bills and ensure their child got the education they needed to get out of that living situation.
It’s reasonable for the child to be angry that their parent wasn’t there. Still, it’s not like the parent was purposefully abusive or malicious. They were just doing what a lot of people have to do to survive.
But what if I can’t resolve the issue with that person?
It may be the case that there isn’t going to be a resolution with the person. Perhaps what the person did was too heinous to ever consider forgiving them, in a traditional sense. Maybe they are someone you can’t or won’t talk to because they are destructive or malicious. That can certainly be the case.
The steps that follow can still allow you to let go of your grudge.
4. Practice forgiveness through acceptance.
Forgiveness is such a bad word for the type of acceptance that it’s often talking about. People tend to think of forgiveness as being genuinely remorseful, asking for forgiveness, and then being granted forgiveness by the harmed person. And while that is certainly a type of forgiveness, it’s not really what is meant when the advice “practice forgiveness” is dished out.
A better word is acceptance. Acceptance is acknowledging the reality of the situation and being able to say, “Okay, this happened to me.” Rather than, “Why did this happen to me? How dare this happen to me! This shouldn’t have happened to me!”
Acceptance doesn’t mean you condone the behavior or that you’re okay with the behavior. Neither does forgiveness, for that matter. It’s just saying, “Okay, this happened to me.” And then looking to see how you can healthily continue with your life without destroying everything it touches.
5. Ask yourself, “How does this serve me?”
Anger can be useful as fuel to stand up for yourself and demand just treatment. But, anger can just as easily become an anchor around your neck that will drag you down.
At some point, you need to ask yourself, “How does this anger serve me? How does this grudge improve my life?” Does it? The answer will probably be no.
The truth of the matter is that anything you do angry, you can also do stone-cold sober. Most of the time, there’s no great reason to be angry about a thing that happened. It makes no difference at all on the outcome of the thing.
It can be like screaming at a brick wall. Does the wall care? No. Not at all. In that scenario, all you’re doing is messing up your own mental health and making your throat hoarse.
6. Don’t dwell in the anger.
Some people like to dwell in their anger. They do this by regularly picking at and pushing their fingers into their wounds. They regularly remind themselves about how wronged they were, how unjust it all is, and that everyone should still care about it.
The problem with that is that people will stop caring about it sooner than you think. They have their own things to worry about. Chances are also pretty good that the person who did the harm won’t be thinking twice about it later. And if they’re really not a good person, they may even be happy that you’re still hurting yourself over this thing that happened.
Your wounds won’t heal if you keep tearing them open. At some point, you just have to stop doing that.
7. Don’t let the event define who you are.
People can stifle their own growth and well-being by clinging to their grudges. The anger serves as a wall that keeps other people out because most people aren’t going to look at an angry person and want to try to get past it. That denies you the opportunity to forge new and healthy relationships with new and healthy experiences.
Worse yet, some people end up defining themselves by their grudges. “I’m just the broken girl that no one wanted.” “I’m the angry guy that can’t find peace with myself.” “I’m the random person that no one cares about.”
And then they end up making those thoughts true because they reject anything that doesn’t fit that narrative. A person who tells themselves that they are unlovable because their parents didn’t care for them may constantly reject people who claim to care about them, because why would anyone?
That grudge about how their parents acted continues to fuel the hostile feelings, which causes them to act hostile to anyone that isn’t following the narrative of what they believe about themselves.
8. Remind yourself that they were probably doing the best they could.
People are often doing the best they can. The problem is that a person’s best may not be all that good. Even trying to be good can be such a distant thing to even try to reach for.
Consider an alcoholic father. Dad’s been a mean drunk all his life. Once in a while, he’s alright, particularly while sober, but then he starts drinking again, and you can’t stand to be around him. But what dad doesn’t talk about is the PTSD he’s dealing with from being abused when he was a little boy. He doesn’t believe that anyone can help him. The alcohol numbs the pain and allows him to function, but it also amplifies the anger and hostility that he puts out.
And his children resent him for it, and rightly so.
But what is dad’s best? Surely his best is going to counseling to get help and dry out, right? Well, maybe. But dad is also working against decades of unaddressed trauma and negative habits that are so ingrained that he doesn’t see himself as someone that could be better. And to him, the fact that he doesn’t hit his kids is a drastic step up from the childhood that he had, where he lived in terror of his own father.
Life is hard and bitterly ugly for some people. A person’s best isn’t always good. And while sometimes it is fair and reasonable to be angry about a situation or how you were treated, you will have to eventually make a choice to let it go. That’s easier to do if you can put yourself into the shoes of someone like dad, who needs to face his own lifetime of trauma and actions.
But that acceptance, that forgiveness, it’s not for dad or whoever you’re holding a grudge against. It’s for you, so you can have peace of mind and not have those ugly things hanging around your neck for years of your life.
Still not sure how to get over the grudge you are holding? Speak to a counselor today who can walk you through the process. Simply click here to connect with one of the experienced counselors on BetterHelp.com.
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