Do you know anyone who holds on to a grudge and can’t let things go? Do you ever wonder why they choose to hang on to their anger? Most of our behaviors have a purpose and meaning behind them. Sometimes it’s difficult to figure out people’s motives or agenda, but usually there is some reason for their actions or inaction. Holdings grudges takes energy, can cause physical problems, and eats away at relationships. A grudge is anger or any emotional pain that won’t quit. Remember that anger with a history becomes resentment.
Some people choose to hang on to negative emotions because they fear experiencing more emotional pain if they let them go. They convince themselves that others will hurt them if they let their guard down and don’t want to be vulnerable again. Many grudge holders justify their decision to hang on to their pain, but for many it’s a way to protect themselves from anticipated future pain. The consequence of this approach is that it locks people out and prevents connections with others that may provide bring happiness . Others choose to punish those that hurt them and believe that holding the grudge will motivate change in their offender. They won’t let go until the other person either apologizes, accepts responsibility, and/or expresses remorse. The problem with this approach is that you give the person who hurt you all the power.
Sometimes we hold on to grudges because we lack the self-confidence and conflict resolution skills to effectively work through our negative emotions. We may choose to lash out or shut down rather than communicate assertively. Regardless of the reasons mentioned above, holding grudges keeps one stuck in turmoil and prevents positive emotions from being fully experienced. For some people holding a grudge has become a habit and they are consistently cutting others out of their lives. Next week’s blog I will discuss the art of letting go and share the power of forgiveness.