- What is a grudge?
- But how can forgive and let go of grudges when . . .
- How to Let Go of Grudges if you want to achieve inner peace
- 1. Acknowledge the hurt
- 2. Listen to advice from your folks
- 3. Take stock of how you are being affected
- 4. Take the high road
- 5. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes
- 6. Decide to forgive
- 7. Realize forgiving isn’t condoning
- 8. Practice letting go
- 9. Think of the benefits when you let go of grudges
- 10. Don’t let anger define you
- 11. Stop playing the blame game
- 12. Embrace positive energy
- 13. Reason with your mind and not your emotions
- 14. Build grace
Everyone, at some point in life, finds themselves holding on to a grudge because it feels justified. To let go of grudges is easy. Even when it appears justified, no good can come out of holding a grudge.
What is a grudge?
A grudge is a
- persistent feeling of ill will or resentment resulting from a past insult or injury.
- a feeling of resentment harbored because of some real or fancied wrong.
Thing is, nursing a grievance is human and natural. Everyone hangs on to a grudge at some point or other. If you are asked to let go of grudges that seem to have almost become a part of your life, it is not easy. Yet, when you offload it, the sense of relief and freedom are absolutely worth it. Harboring a grudge can hurt you in the long term.
But how can forgive and let go of grudges when . . .
Yep. That cheating partner. The parent who didn’t care. The best friend who ignored you. That bully in your office . . . all legitimate grudges. What to do? How to let go of grudges that are literally eating you up inside?
If you’ve experienced any of the above situations, you feel vulnerable and naturally you want to protect yourself from getting hurt again. Once bitten . . . you know. And holding on to that pain can be sort of a weapon to use in a relationship – each time an argument pops up – it becomes a don’t-bring-that-up-remember-when-you-did-this.
When you have to be wary about a partner because you don’t trust them results in a relationship that eventually becomes miserable, even after apologies are made or when the person genuinely makes an effort to change their behavior.
And yes, there are times when no apology is forthcoming. Without that “I am sorry” from the person who appears not to care at all that you’ve suffered, the only obvious outcome is the painful scar. It becomes a memento of how you were treated badly so you can get others to care. You think you deserve the kindness, but what you do receive is never enough.
Grudges are like acid. They slowly disintegrate your emotional and physical health. According to a an article on the healing power of forgiveness, when we are constantly angry and unforgiving, our body gets into a fight-or-flight mode. We are constantly on edge and our negative mindset makes our other relationships suffer.
Letting yourself be consumed by bad feelings from someone destroys your peace. Why not try the following life-changing steps that can help you achieve inner peace?
How to Let Go of Grudges if you want to achieve inner peace
As we know, grudges take time to grow, and getting rid of them is a process. Here are 14 steps that can help you let go of grudges. You could seek a therapist’s help to get you through them, if you like.
1. Acknowledge the hurt
Truth is, you were wronged. So as a first step, why not describe what happened and how you felt? Write it in a journal or as a letter to the person. Venting this out can be incredibly powerful especially when you put them in that imaginary chair and let your anger towards them loose. Don’t forget to appreciate yourself for your effort to cope with what happened to you.
2. Listen to advice from your folks
Turn to your support system of family and friends to rant about the painful details. Use them as sounding boards. But remember, even those who love you can get tired of listening. And if they tell you it is time to move on, listen to them. Take their advice. Then let go of grudges that hurt you.
3. Take stock of how you are being affected
As you wallow in your grudges, it is a good idea to stop to think about the negative effect they have on your life. Maybe you believe that life is normal and you are going about your routine as usual, but somewhere deep inside you, you probably feel miserable without understanding why. The problem with negative feelings is they have a domino effect and if you hold on to them for too long, they impact other aspects of your life as well.
4. Take the high road
Clichéd I know, but taking the high road is perhaps the most important step you can take to make yourself let go of grudges. How can you do this? In simple terms, you make a conscious effort to ensure you are not conquered by negative feelings. We have a choice. Why not make it a positive one?
5. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes
I know this is not what you want to hear, but it takes maturity to stop and consider how you would feel if you were in the other person’s shoes. It is easy to say they are at fault but what if you were in the same position some day? So, you disagree with what they did. But why not pause to see the situation from their perspective? Maybe it can help you understand why they did what they did. Try and understand their reasons. It might make it easier for you to forgive.
6. Decide to forgive
Wait – before you say anything – it is true that forgiving someone who hurt you is a gift you give to yourself. That does not mean you must forget what happened or settle. Forgiving is not about getting the other person to act differently. It can even be about forgiving yourself for something you did or how you behaved, along with trying to right things.
7. Realize forgiving isn’t condoning
Acceptance is not agreeing to things. Thing is, people have a sense of justice and even if they know that it is in their best interests to let go of grudges—and that they can’t control something—they are afraid that if they let go, the person who hurt them will assume they won, or that the victim is okay with what happened. Acceptance is about understanding that one cannot backtrack and create a better version of what happened.
8. Practice letting go
When we show empathy, it enables forgiveness. Seeing things from the other person’s point of view and knowing they have unresolved pain—that when they act in their self-interest it must inevitably conflict with yours—can perhaps help you handle your own pain. Try this visualization exercise. Imagine a thick rope connects you and the person you need to forgive. Then imagine letting that rope go. You can also practice daily affirmations, writing in a journal, meditation, tracking your thoughts. When you let go of grudges, there’s a sense of transformation in yourself. You feel like a new person.
9. Think of the benefits when you let go of grudges
Committing to let go of grudges will bring you a bunch of benefits. You will enjoy peace of mind. You’ll get back your personal energy—energy that you were wasting on grieving over and over. You will have a sense of freedom and the ability to trust.
10. Don’t let anger define you
I have always found it fascinating to see how people can forgive the worst crimes. Even so, they still have the right to see justice done. My mother was abandoned by my father when she was pregnant. She struggled to raise me and yet she found it in her heart to forgive and let go, rather than bear a grudge. She did not what the anger she felt to define her. She chose to accept, forgive and let go – for her own sake – and moved forward. It was tough. But she did it.
11. Stop playing the blame game
I know someone who constantly talks about the lousy childhood she had and how her mother did not care. She grew up doing this. And as an adult, she blamed everything that happened in her life on her mother-daughter issues. Her anger simmers all the time. But eventually, she realized that her anger was not doing her any good. It was not helping her in any way. She had to get out of it. Take control of her life. And be kind to herself.
12. Embrace positive energy
I believe in this. When we focus on embracing positive energy, we slowly lose our grip over our grudges. And that’s a great thing. What does embrace positive energy mean? Visiting places and hanging out with people who make you feel good. We yearn for more of this good feeling and this gets rid of any negativity. In short, be with people who lift you up.
13. Reason with your mind and not your emotions
Our minds and our feelings are different things entirely. The mind allows us to think, reason and create. Our emotions mainly let us react. When we are caught up in an emotional issue, it is better to avoid trying to think, reason and create.
If we give ourselves just a moment to work on this, we will realize the positive impact they have on our lives. Our state of being will automatically be adjusted for the better, and it will be easy to let go of negative feelings in exchange for a healthier, happier and more loving life.
14. Build grace
Grace is a wonderful thing when we need to let go of grudges. It is a higher form of forgiveness, in a way. Practicing grace essentially implies being ready to forgive, in anticipation of being hurt by someone that matters a lot – a partner, child, parent, colleague at work, etc. When we forgive people for future offenses, we avoid developing grudges.
I know all of this sounds difficult and perhaps something you may not be ready to do to let go of grudges; but believe me, the goal is your inner peace.
As my Mom loved to say—holding grudges is hard. Being miserable all the time is hard. If you had to let go of one thing—why not choose you?
Just one thing though – if you are the sounding board for someone who is struggling with letting go of grudges, feel free to dig deeper into why the person is so intent on dwelling on the past. Where are they at right now? If you think you’ve had enough of it, feel free to say, kindly and with compassion that you cannot keep listening. And while you may not expect the person who’s hurt to move on, you do need to look after yourself too.
Wednesday Wisdom is a series with short bursts of easy-to-consume wisdom in the form of inspiring stories, verse, quotes, anecdotes, reflections, easy meditation, thought-provoking questions and humor. Yeah, some days are not so short.