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Ten Tips to Help You Throw Off Grudges

I’m percolating on a blog about high wires and mustard seeds. Meanwhile, you might enjoy reading this piece by licensed clinical social worker Nancy Norman. Used with permission, Nancy offers 10 tips to help you throw off grudges. Those resentment gremlins like to hide in soul closets, year after year. Sometimes they ambush when least expected. Perhaps 2017 will be the year to throw off these joy-sucking monsters. Read below and see:

Are Grudges Too Heavy to Carry?

By Guest Writer Nancy Norman

What is a grudge, anyway? Webster says it’s “lingering ill will towards a person for a real or imagined wrong.” A synonym is “resentment.”

Mark Sichel, a therapist writing in Psychology Today, defines resentment as “receptively replaying a feeling, and the events leading up to it, that goads or angers us.” He adds that not overcoming resentment is probably the single most devastating obstacle to repairing a relationship.

This pen and ink drawing shows a woman barely able to care a huge bag on her back with the word grudge across the bag.
A grudge can be a heavy burden.

Resentment is different from being angry with someone. You get mad; you get over it; you put it behind you. But grudges aren’t finished. They offer endless reruns; they fester; they create barriers to closeness; they shout out any chance of resolution except by the person feeling them.

Sichel lists 10 steps to letting go of resentments. I’ve added ideas to his list:

Addictive State of Mind

1. Approach resentment as the addictive state of mind it is. If you can’t keep going over and over how you were offended, you’ll lose the resentment.

2. Realize that you are using resentment to go over old dramas. What your neighbor just did reminds you of an earlier hurt. But you can’t change the past.

Transferring Onto Others

3. Examine how your resentment may come from emotionally confusing people in your present life with people from your past. Your boss has characteristics, both good and bad, of your mother or father. When the “bad” ones show up, the intensity of your anger is often measured by the past–not the present.

4. Acknowledge that you cannot control those who have rejected you. Many resentments come from feeling unimportant to someone who matters to you. You can’t make people like you.

Resentment always hurts you more than it does the person you resent. Quote by Rick Warren, with art showing a park bench by a tree and water.
Quote by Rick Warrren


Fake and Fraudulent Power

5. Recognize that your resentment gives you only a false sense of power and superiority. You feel “better than” the one who did you wrong. But there’s no real power in judging others. It’s a lonely existence.

6. Learn to identify signals that provoke resentment. Get familiar with the words and actions that seem to cause lasting anger and blame. This awareness can help you move through the hard feelings.

Powerful, Healing Words

7. Put a thought between your feelings of resentment and chewing on them. Therapists call it “thought stopping.” It takes practice, and it works. Get a phrase in mind that you’ll use when feeling resentment such as, “I can give myself peace.” This interrupts the resentment-ruminating cycle. Say it any time resentment flares.

Sign on window says, "Holding a grudge is letting someone live rent-free in your head."
“Holding a grudge is letting someone live rent-free in your head.”

8. Unless you look closely, you can convince yourself it’s all the other person’s fault. Look for your part in the offense, forgive yourself for that, and make a goal not to let it happen again.

Pardon and Peace

9. Declare an amnesty with the person you resent–whether he or she is aware of it or not. The person you resent may be long dead, but you have the power to grant a pardon. Extend the pardon to yourself as well, for holding that grudge.

10. Forgive when you can, and practice willful and deliberate forgetfulness when you cannot. These acts are gifts to yourself rather than giving in to the people you resent.

AA says that “resentment hurts me most.” To gain more peace of mind, I lay down the grudge. And I look for things to carry that bring me happiness instead.

(Note: The above article appeared in “There’s a Blog in My Eye” over a year ago and has been a favorite among my blog hits. It originally was published in LIFE After 50  and is used with permission. Below is some advice to ponder that a friend found on a sign. It seemed appropriate in thinking about grudges.)

A black printed sign with the words quoted in blog.
The words say: “People are often unreasonable and self-centered. Forgive them anyway. If you arer kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives. Be kind anyway. If you are honest, people may cheat you. Be honest anyway. If you find happiness, people may be jealous. Be happy anyway. The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway. Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway. For you see in the end it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway” (author unknown).

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Writer and editor, desiring to entertain and enlighten, focusing on the good, beautiful and true in the present and the past.

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