What is a grudge? A grudge is the resentment of another for a past harm. Psychologically, a grudge is what remains when an emotional injury hasn't healed properly or completely; essentially, an emotional wound or scar.
A few weeks ago, I wrote about how your body sends your mind signals when you are feeling specific emotions (to review that article, click here.). A grudge is your mind sending the following signal to your consciousness:
I continue to have thoughts about that person because of what happened, and because I still have unresolved feelings about the person and experience.
If you find yourself preoccupied with resentful feelings toward another person, you are holding a grudge. You have three options: continue to hold the grudge, address your feelings with the appropriate person, or decide to actively move on with your life. You could also do some sort of combination of the three.
Option #1: Hold on to the grudge. The benefit of this is you get to focus all your anger and resentment at this person inside of your head. The downside is chronic angry and resentful feelings puts your mental and physical health at risk. The other downside is you learn (or continue) to suppress your feelings, which will feed the cycle of being hurt and not advocating for yourself.
Option #2: Address your feelings. The purpose of sharing your feelings with the appropriate person (the perpertrator) is not to get that apology or for the person to grovel for forgiveness (though that would be nice), the purpose is to find your voice, to advocate for yourself. This value is sometimes lost in the process. Advocating for yourself is taking ownership of your life, it's saying that I can't control what other people do but I have power over my actions and how the actions of others affect me.
Option #3: Move on with your life. Many choose this option, but be careful. At face value, moving on and even learning from your experience sounds like a healthy, well-adjusted way to live. This option may very well work, but be aware that for some, continuing to be the "bigger person" may result in emotional and relationship issues later in life.
Why do some experiences result in grudges while others are resolved and released? That's a great question to reflect on. Is it simply because you have fully expressed your feelings and have complete understanding of the situation or are there other factors?
Many hold grudges because of the fear of what may happen if their true feelings of anger, sadness, and resentment are expressed. Expressing your feelings in a healthy way usually won't result in the catastrophic damage you imagine. It will result in a personal sense of accomplishment and mastery of one's environment.
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