Seth Eisenberg
Because Relationships Matter

6 good reasons for holding grudges, and help when you want to let go

Holding grudges can keep you stuck in your own prison (Photo: RYasick/iStockphotos).

At first, holding grudges may have felt like a fortress that kept you safe. Later, grudges can become a prison of your own making.

There are at least six good reasons for holding grudges.

  • Being right.
  • A terrific story to tell.
  • Sympathy from others.
  • Don’t have to invest in a “lost” relationship.
  • Still waiting for an apology.
  • An excuse for the otherwise inexcusable.

The costs are typically greater.

No matter who the anger, pain or sadness is directed towards, the energy of those feelings lives inside you. Grudges can keep you locked in a prison of your own making.

A Google search for grudges will get you nearly 34 million results. Many point to stories and studies about the physical and mental health consequences of holding onto grudges.

That’s unlikely to be new information for anyone waking up each day with a chip on their shoulders or that heaviness in the gut that comes up when reminded of the source of our pain.

First Step is Hardest

Letting go of grudges is easier than you might know, although the first step is the hardest.

Deciding you want to.

One good reason is your own well-being. There’s just not as much room to feel happiness when you’re packing anger, sadness, and resentment.

Another could be the relationship itself.

Typically, we hold grudges towards people who matter (or once mattered) in our lives. An entirely different level of connection is possible for people who can get past their differences, clumsiness, and mistakes and forgive others for theirs.

Writing Your Letting Go of Grudges Letter

Once you’ve decided you don’t want to carry a grudge into the new year, grab a pen and paper or do it online here. Take 10–15 minutes to complete as many of these sentences as you can. When you’re finished, read the letter to yourself, and then write the letter you’d like to receive in return.

Many have found a sense of relief from this exercise, which is taught in PAIRS (“Practical Application of Intimate Relationship Skills”) marriage and relationship education classes.

Along with feelings of relief, you’ll have more room for uplifting emotions and a chance to enjoy the better year that’s coming.

If you have a partner to share this experience with, pick a grudge that isn’t about that partner. Let your partner read back to you the response letter you write to yourself.

ANGER AND BLAME

  • I resent…
  • I’m outraged by…
  • I’m fed up with…
  • I can’t stand…
  • I can’t forgive you for…
  • I needed…

HURT AND SADNESS

  • I feel hurt by…
  • I feel sad when…
  • I am disappointed because…
  • I feel awful because…
  • I want…

FEAR AND INSECURITY

  • I am anxious because…
  • I am afraid that…
  • What scares me is…
  • I’m worried about…
  • I want…

GUILT AND RESPONSIBILITY

  • I regret…
  • I may be to blame for…
  • I feel sympathy for…
  • I didn’t mean to…
  • Please forgive me for…
  • I wish…

FORGIVENESS, UNDERSTANDING, DESIRE & LOVE

  • I appreciate…
  • I realize…
  • I value…
  • I love…
  • I hope…

Don’t forget to sign your letter and write the letter you’d like to get in response.

How will you fill the room you’ve made with more happiness?

—–

The Letting Go of Grudges letter is shared with permission of PAIRS. For more information, visit www.purposebuiltfamilies.com. Originally published on medium.com.

About the Author
Seth Eisenberg is President/CEO of Purpose Built Families Foundation, a nationally accredited, nonprofit charity based in South Florida, and founder of the Operation Sacred Trust program for ending veteran homelessness.
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