The cost of holding a grudge and how to set yourself free!
There was a time in my life when an ex-boyfriend really hurt me. I was wounded emotionally and had a very hard time letting it go. I was so angry and extremely bitter for a long time. A friend of mine had noticed how these negative feelings were affecting me. One night, he told me something that stuck with me to this day: “Forgiveness isn’t for him, it is for you”. I was carrying the weight of a grudge and it was really dragging me down. He explained to me that forgiveness is not for the other person, it is for us. It allows us to let go of that negative energy and start our subsequent relationships with a clean slate and an open heart.
After that experience and a lot of reflection, my mindset changed. I don’t believe in holding grudges anymore. Especially when it comes to my family. I am afraid that if I hold a grudge and stop talking to a loved one because of an argument, something will happen to them. Then I wouldn’t have a chance to rebuild our relationship. “Life is too short” as the old cliche says, and we never know when it will be the last time we speak to someone.
Holding a grudge weighs us down emotionally. It affects our mental and physical health, and burdens our lives in ways we are too stubborn to notice.
Many people hold grudges, and some last a lifetime. When someone holds on to these negative feelings, they are becoming more bitter as time goes on. Chances are, they will develop many grudges in their lifetime, which wouldn’t be a particularly happy way to live. The stereotype of the bitter old man/woman? That archetype presumably originated from someone who held many grudges, for several years. The root of a grudge seems to be emotional pain, and we respond to this pain by being stubborn and cutting that person out of our lives. Stubbornness is not a good trait. We think by being stubborn, we are standing up for ourselves, when in fact, we are causing more harm to ourselves than good.
“ Grudges play an interesting role in our psyches. Sometimes we can’t let go of our hurt feelings even though we want to, and other times we’re just not ready to let go. Either way, holding onto a grudge feels like a mental consolation prize — you were wronged so now you get a grudge.”¹