Are You Struggling with Grudges?
Updated: Oct 12
Inevitably, loved ones will sometimes hurt or disappoint us. It is a part of being in any loving relationship — whether between parent and child, friends, or spouses. After all, even our loved ones are only human and may make mistakes or decisions that cause us pain. However, when we hold on to that pain instead of offering forgiveness, our hurt feelings can become a serious grudge.
Grudges are persistent feelings of ill-will or resentment resulting from a past insult or injury. Our hearts hold onto the wound as a form of protection, those ugly feelings protecting us from further hurt by putting us on the defensive. This mistrust is only natural, as our subconscious seeks to protect against the possibility that the target of the grudge might cause us more pain. Nobody likes to feel vulnerable!
Our feelings are meant to heal with time, and long, festering grudges are counterproductive. But if we can't find a way to let go, our grudges can sometimes last us an entire lifetime. That past pain can then become bitterness or feelings of anger that cause us to lash out at our loved ones. We may spend months or even years angry at those who hurt us, paying that negative energy forward by using our pain to hurt others in arguments.
Sometimes we even hold grudges against ourselves, unable to forgive our own missteps or failures.
Ultimately, the only ones who suffer from a grudge are ourselves. When that negative energy and pain stays with us, it weighs us down, even causing physical and mental health issues.
Does any of this sound like you? Don't worry. If you're struggling with grudges, I have a few tips to help you let go and restore a more peaceful, satisfying life.
Identify the Grudges Holding You Back
Have you ever been around someone and realized that everything they do angers you? Or perhaps you always felt that you didn't want to be near them. This could be a sign that you're holding a grudge. The first step in clearing up that negative energy is identifying the grudge that is holding you back.
Try to pick out the particular occasion or occasions that made you feel so negatively about the target of your grudge. Then consider why this situation hurt you so badly and why letting go of your grudge feels impossible.
At first, you may end up feeling worse. But now, it's time to think critically about the situation and evaluate the consequences of your grudge.
What does it cost you to hold this grudge?
How is it holding you back in life?
How does this person or situation make you feel?
How can you overcome these feelings?
Often, these questions will give you valuable perspective and begin to open doors in your mind that lead to a path of forgiveness.
Recognize That Holding Grudges Isn't Helpful
Holding grudges isn't productive. Actually, it's downright harmful. Grudges make it hard to move forward with your life. And when you bear that burden of anger or resentment, your body releases hormones that can cause you to have a higher heart rate, high blood pressure, depression, and anxiety, or trouble sleeping.
Past pain also makes us keep people at a distance and gets in the way of forming deeper, more satisfying, and healthy relationships with others. Everyone needs and deserves love, but grudges are a common way to block it!
If you come from a Christian background, you won't be surprised to hear that the Bible contains many examples of grudges being spiritual poison. Perhaps the most well-known lesson against holding grudges is the story of Cain and Abel. Cain became jealous of his brother and the favor his brother received from God when both men presented their offerings. Instead of recognizing his anger, where it came from, and that holding a grudge wasn't helpful, Cain let it consume him. And many of us know what happened next: Cain killed his brother and tried to cover it up. Instead, he was driven from the land and doomed to spend the rest of his days as a restless wanderer.
Practice Letting Go
It may sound strange to practice forgiveness, but the old adage holds true — practice makes perfect. When you're crippled with grudges, forgiveness may require you to make the active choice to let go. Then you must continue to make that choice again and again until the feeling of release becomes true.
If you're thinking about forgiving the family member, friend, or spouse who violated your trust, you may find that you're struggling to let go of your grudge. Having such an inner struggle is common. However, I invite you to try having empathy. This is the doorway to forgiveness. By practicing compassion, you can see things from the other person's perspective, leading to reconciliation if you desire it.
Performing forgiveness exercises with a life coach is an excellent way to practice letting go of your grudge. For example, you can imagine that your pain is a thick rope connecting you and the person who wronged you, then visualize yourself letting go of that rope. You can also journal, write a letter, meditate, or pray.
Share Your Feelings
Grudges typically form when an issue isn't fully addressed. Maybe you don't feel like your feelings were heard or that the target of your grudge has expressed enough remorse. If you haven't taken the time to explain how you are hurting, it could be getting in the way of your healing. People aren't mindreaders; even if they realize that you're holding a grudge or avoiding them, they might not understand why.
The best way to address your grudge and share your feelings is to talk to the person who hurt you. Approach them and the situation without placing blame or playing the victim. Let down your guard and kindly ask for the space to share your feelings about what happened and your experience.
After calmly sharing your respective feelings, ask yourself whether you believe this is something you can move past. If the answer is yes, you can continue down the path of healing together.
Commit to Forgiveness
Contrary to what many people think, forgiveness is a choice. It is not something owed to us or others. Forgiveness is a gift from us to us. When you decide to forgive and let go of the grudge, you choose to let go of the bitterness and your need for revenge. You accept things as they are and recognize that this is an opportunity for growth.
It does not mean you are settling or saying that hurting you is okay. You are simply placing your current mental and emotional wellbeing over the wounds of your past.
Of course, commitment can be difficult. If you need help getting to a place where you can forgive, you can consult a life coach for direction or even seek strength from a higher power.
KF Life Coaching
Struggling with grudges can have a severe impact on your spiritual, physical, and mental health. Sometimes the idea of forgiveness feels too impossible to think about, especially when your pain runs deep. But I hope these tips help you get on the path to forgiveness and growth.
Thankfully, you don't have to face these challenges alone. My services at KF Life Coaching are dedicated to empowering and offering hope to couples, individuals, and families trying to overcome personal obstacles to improve their relationships. This can include rebuilding bridges and forging new bonds through forgiveness and understanding.
If you are interested in learning more, get in touch today! Together, we can start your journey to healing.
Marketing by Joseph Studios