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How to Let go of a Grudge

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Holding a grudge requires a great deal of energy, and whether you’re the recipient or holder of a grudge, it can make life miserable. Studies have shown that holding on to anger is bad for emotional and physical health. Toxic anger contributes to cardiac illness, high blood pressure, substance abuse disorders, an inability to form and maintain relationships, loneliness, depression and anxiety.

Why do we hold grudges?

Multiple factors such as innate personality characteristics, childhood experiences with conflicts, hurt and anger, family dynamics and a tendency to see situations and people in an “all good” and “all bad” manner contribute to grudge holding.

These factors can hinder one’s ability to understand complexities and nuances in people and situations. When a grudge holder feels upset, he is likely to draw the broad conclusion that the other person is fully responsible for the conflict. The grudge holder is also more likely to see himself as the victim, creating feelings of powerlessness and hopelessness.

What should I do if I’m the object of a grudge?

  1. Accept that you can’t change a grudge holder’s perspective. Avoid in-depth discussions of the situation that created the conflict; the less related engagement, the better.
  2. Apologize. Although you may not agree with the grudge holder’s beliefs, he is holding a grudge because of hurt feelings he can’t articulate and work through.
  3. Forgive. It’s important to forgive a grudge holder for your own benefit. Holding on to toxic anger is emotionally and physically detrimental.
  4. Move on. Letting go of the grudge holder’s grasp and moving on with your life is imperative. We can’t change other people, but we can change our reactions and the way we live our lives.

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