Ever wonder about the expression “to bear a grudge?” We don’t have grudges the way we we have a dislike for someone, or even a hatred for someone. No, we bear grudges: we carry them as a heavy load or an overwhelming weight.
What is it about grudges that keeps us clinging? Why can’t we just dump them like yesterday’s trash?
What does it take to release this burden we impose on ourselves? Here are some steps to freedom:
1. First, take an inventory of all your existing grudges. I know I have several.
One is toward a guy who swindled me out of several thousand dollars. I guess I’m as angry with myself as I am with him because I fell for his pitch. Another is toward someone who promised to keep some information about me confidential, but instead broadcast it to a large number of persons. Again, was I complicit in allowing this to happen?
2. Next, analyze your grudges.
Are they similar in origin and intensity? How much time and effort do you expend thinking about them and obsessing about the person who did you ill?
3. Look within.
Ask yourself, what in the world am I doing to myself? Why am I allowing myself to be stuck in this emotional trap? Grudges that I have held (and maybe still bear) seem to go on and on. Am I so annoyed, or even infuriated with what a person has done to me that I feel compelled to bear a grudge indefinitely?
4. Try on some new glasses.
Is there another way to feel about the person who betrayed me? What if I resolve never to trust that person? Or to cut off any future contact? What if I can actually forgive him?
5. Choose another way.
Finally, ask yourself: Is it possible to weigh the effect of the betrayal versus the damage a grudge is doing to me and consciously decide that bearing the grudge is just not worth it?
I hope so.
Pennell Somsen says
I don’t bear a lot of grudges but one I do carry around, although I think about it only occasionally is against a drunk man who took over the microphone on the night of my parents 50th anniversary and babbled on about my father (nothing about my mother who was one half of the anniversary and really just wanted to dance). The band, hired for a specific period of time had to stop playing because of this fool. My daughter helped me discover the reason I cannot forgive this man whom I barely know and who probably is not even alive now, is that I can’t forgive myself for not grabbing the microphone away from him or asking the band to play over him. So the guy was a jerk. He blathered on when the guests had been specifically asked not to speak so that people could dance. But there are lots of jerks that I have not only forgiven but forgotten. Clearly this one has more to do with me than with him. Thanks for a great article!