Holding grudges are something of a flaw in my personality, one that I have only recently come to terms with. I know now that holding grudges is puerile and essentially ineffective.
So, why do people bother holding grudges? It’s widely known how pointless the seething poison of a grudge really is. For my part, I wanted people to know I was hurt, that it wasn’t fair, I wanted justice. Which makes sense, if someone makes you suffer you think it’s only fair that they should deal with the consequences, even if they apologize- they still did it and the damage was still done, why should they get away scot free?
When it comes to holding a grudge people as a general rule have double standards. They find it hard to forgive and forget others and yet would profusely complain if someone were to bring back something egregious from their own past. I think it’s that very reason that made me focus in and do my best to get rid of my own personal grudges that I’ve held onto for far too long. If I feel I deserve a second chance, then I should start believing that others do too, after all, it’s only fair.
What if the other person isn’t really sorry? Then what? They don’t want a second change ergo I shall not give it to them; no one wins. They know you’re angry with them but it won’t really affect them. Apologies are nice but at the end of the day you’ve already decided if you are going to let go, and an apology won’t change that. If you’ve already decided to let go, an apology just confirms that idea at the back of your head and fills you with warmness; although ultimately pointless, it’s still important to apologize.
I’ve always struggled with the whole “Forgive and forget” thing, from a very young age. People have hurt me. And I can’t seem to just shake that off; in turn I am only really hurting myself more. I’m stuck being unable to trust, unable to truly be free. That’s what happens when you don’t forgive. The hatred bubbles up inside you and you aren’t really you. It’s easier, while at the same time being a million times harder, to just let go.
I’ll give you an example. Say you had a falling out with a friend and it’s gone past the point where you’re full on fighting with each other, just giving each other the cold shoulder with a side order of dagger eyes. It’s better for everyone if you just smile, act polite and try and have fun with them anyway, even if they hurt you in the past, whether they apologized or not, even if they still have a grudge against you, you’ll feel freer if you just let the whole incident breeze by and concentrate on the now. It’s a simple concept but people just can’t seem to do it!
I’m not just talking about small squabbles though, no, this whole forgive and forget thing goes far deeper than that. The saddest thing about the human trait of holding grudges is a lot of the time it’s with people we have no chance of ever seeing again, you let the effects of them stay as bitter memories and ruin your chance of creating joy in similar yet completely new situations.
I am going to tell you something that took me years to figure out; by holding a grudge you are ultimately damaging yourself. I don’t know why it took me so long to figure that out. Surely it’s obvious enough right? Recently I’ve been trying very hard to forget my own past, to forget the mistakes of not only others but also myself. I’m not going to lie, it’s fucking hard. And sometimes I fail, ok… I fail a lot. I find myself having sometimes-entire evenings tainted because I can’t focus on letting go. I can only focus on the “what if they haven’t changed?” and the “They still don’t like me” not to mention the “They have every reason not to” And so on and so forth.
But I’ll tell you, those brief moments when I do just focus on moving on and releasing the past, well, it’s beautiful. Hate gets you nowhere, neither does regret, nor sorrow. That isn’t saying you should completely forget. Learn from your experiences and become wiser but keep smiling and show nothing but kindness and fun and understanding to those who you struggle the most with.
I ask you to think about all I’ve said. Think of all your grudges and realize the damage it’s causing to you. I hope you will join me in my quest to forgive and forget, and if so congratulations and good luck because it’s not easy, but it’s worth it. You’ll be respected by others and generally live a happier life, now if that’s not a win I don’t know what is.