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Still holding grudges

May 16, 2017 - 19 comments

For the life of me, I can't figure this out.  I've done a lot of work on myself the last few years.  One of the things that I tried to work through was holding grudges.  This required me to take a good look at all of the grudges and the people I was holding them with, evaluate the situation, acknowledge the problem and then forgive them.  

My therapist asked me dozens of times, "Why do you hold grudges?"  The answer was, "It's my fuel.  It keeps me going and now I know that this person won't ever be able to get over on me again.".  Same question, same answer dozens of times.  Then one day after a lengthy discussion about on particular grudge that I was a little less willing to let go of, she asked me, "What do you get from holding this grudge?"  The word "nothing" fell from my lips before I could really even figure out what I wanted to say, and when it did, it lifted a huge weight off of my shoulders.

From that day, I went through all of my grudges, acknowledged what was done to me, accepted it and then let it go.  I knew that holding grudges served no positive purpose in my life and only caused me grief.  Some of the people I got to address personally.  Some are on the other side.  With each one, letting go let more weight off of my shoulders.

Fast forward to today.  For some reason, I am holding a grudge with someone that I have to interact with a couple of times a week if I am unlucky.  This whole thing is over a discussion/argument that took place probably 15 years ago.  It's ridiculous that I can't just drop it.  Its not even important and I know that it doesn't serve me any purpose.

There are 168 hours in a week.  I have to spend 1-2 hours maximum in this persons presence and it just irks the hell out of me.  This person is not a communicator.  She has mannerisms and facial expressions that are off putting.  When we speak, we get along just fine but I can't help but hold on to the tension from all those years ago.  I don't understand it.

This person is of no consequence to me and I am frustrated that I am giving this thing this much time right now.

Does anyone else do this?  Better than that, has anyone ever discovered a way to just drop something?  Compared to the things that I was able to give up, why is this so difficult?

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495284 tn?1333897642
by dominosarah, May 16, 2017
Interesting topic as i discussed this the other day with one of my friends.  I was a huge grudge holder.  If you did me wrong there would be hell to pay.  Little did i know it would be more my hell than theirs.  For me it was always a win lose thing.  I always had to win in the end, no matter what.  It was also hard for me to let go.  I realize now i cant control others actions, only mine.  Usually the ones we have the grudges with dont even know.  I had to work hard on this as i was basically a prisoner in my own head.  On the off days, i just look at them and think damn, im glad i am not you!!  Yes, i still have more work to do on this!!

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by clean_in_ks, May 17, 2017
You don't know me, so I hope you don't mind if I comment.  I am assuming you won't mind since this is a public rather than private journal.

My spouse is from the South and I don't know if it's a cultural thing back there or not, but I have NEVER in my life seen so many grudge holding people!!  My hubby left there many, many years ago.  Maybe that has helped him to be different from his family back there, I don't really know.  He forgives his siblings even when they want to continue to hold a grudge.
He is kind to them, sends them bday cards, and treats them like he wants to be treated.  The love he is showering on them is slowly melting away any of their grudges towards him

In my opinion, I think it is easier to be fueled by anger.....keeps your energy going and is more "comfortable" than processing the anger and finding out what's behind it.
I am a person who always used to JUMP to anger first.....never showed hurt.......but behind my anger, when I am honest with myself, is ALWAYS some form of hurt.  To acknowledge the hurt and admit the hurt takes a lot more out of us than staying on cruise control which anger allows us to do.  Even if it's old anger....when being totally honest with ourselves, we usually find there was some form of hurt that occurred.

Stages:  Disappointment......Hurt......Anger.......Resentment

I used to skip right to the anger in my younger years.  LOL
And when I began working on my inner peace in the years that followed, I learned to clean out the resentments.
Resentment is just old anger allowed to festered and it robs us of our joy.....not the person we are resenting.

It comes fairly easy to me today.  But not without years of practice identifying what was going on inside of me.  I mean I blew up this morning because a Dr Pepper can (inside a 12 pack box) exploded IN my refrigerator and made a HORRENDOUS mess; in the fridge, on the floor, all the food inside, on and on......but I was hurting...... just physically this time rather than emotionally....but still hurting.

Resentment is just old anger allowed to festered and it robs us of our joy.....not the person we are resenting.

Hope this may help in some way.  If not, it helped me to write it to you.....(grinning)~


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by dominosarah, May 17, 2017
Aww Clean, nice to see you!  You always make sense

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by clean_in_ks, May 17, 2017
Aww Sara....right back atcha!  I love you dear one~

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by Barb135, May 17, 2017
I used to have a hard time letting go of grudges, too... There was always the idea in the back of my mind that someone had hurt me and I had to stay angry because I was making them pay for what they'd done/said... It finally dawned on me that the only one paying was me... the person who had hurt me or made me angry had, most likely, forgotten what they'd done/said a long time ago and here I was still making myself sick over it.

There was an incident with one of my brothers a couple years ago that really devastated me and I had a very hard time with something he did/things he said.  For a couple of months, I couldn't even think about the incident without bursting into tears and I finally realized that I couldn't go on like that.  I talked to a good friend about it and one of my sisters who was involved in the incident and was finally able to forgive my brother, so I could put it behind me... I don't talk to him unless I have to, because that wasn't first time he'd done something like that and I won't give him a chance to do it again, but I'm not carrying a grudge against him, either.

I've learned that forgiveness doesn't excuse the wrong or pretend it didn't happen.  It brings it out in the open and sets me free, not the other person.

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by AnnieBrooke, May 18, 2017
I have a sister who is a bundle of grudges.  The people she's angry at are in the most part unaware, they might suspect she has some unspecified resentment against them but don't know really what it is.  Also in some cases they have found it easier not to engage with her rather than try to get to the bottom of it because she is so emotional and irrational -- you could talk to her all day to clear the air and she would be just as mad about the very same issue tomorrow.

I think she does this because it is very important to her to be right in an argument, and continuing to keep the argument fresh (in her mind) as though she has not lost (or merely been ignored) means she might someday be right and the person she is mad at will say "You're right" and she will feel good about herself.  

She gets really hooked by people who seem to act (in her mind) as though they look down on her (and this is even if they don't even think much about her at all. They are supposed to be thinking about her!  LOL)   She hates being treated offhandedly.  

If she were to walk away from the grudge, it would be (to her) like acknowledging that she doesn't even exist. Being wildly emotional and irrational is better than being nonexistent.  

She is tough to have to solve problems with because she will throw all the old arguments in your face years after an agreement was reached, if it was contrary to what she had wanted.  (You should have seen it when another sister, my dad's trustee, decided something different than her recommendation last year.  She brought it up again and again, even after the legal action had been completed.  She even brought it up again last month, snippy and angry.)  And heaven help you if there is any characteristic about yourself that she has judgements about.  She will hit you with a moral-superiority based argument designed to show how superior she is.  

I suppose the moral of this long story is that in my life the person who holds the most grudges and wouldn't dream of letting them go is also the person who has the most insecurities, and is looking to others to tell her she is impressive and important, and they don't tell her this, and it makes her furious.  Which, of course, self-worth comes from the inside out, and no number of others telling her complimentary things about herself will create it.

My suggestion about how to let go of grudges would be to look at what you want from that person, such as some kind of validation, and work on getting that validation in a different way.  Then it might not feel so important to get it from that source.

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by specialmom, May 18, 2017
I have gone into deep thought when I have a visceral reaction to someone (or in other words, hold a grudge).  I've wondered why some people affect me this way too.  Often, there is something going on within me.  they hit a nerve or a pet peeve of mine.  At least, that is often the case with me.  Now, I don't believe we have to like everyone.  I can give people a few tries and eventually determine that I just don't like them.  But when I react so strongly that I get worked up . . . that's not pleasant.  I try to think about THEIR human side.  Every body has a story.  A person that is overbearing, nit picky, controlling, micro managing is annoying to me . . .   but maybe that person was raised by a parent who was never happy with them, they never felt good enough and this is the way in the adult years they act.  I don't have to be around them but I also don't have to hate them for it.  

So, that does often work for me.  To give myself permission to not be friends or like the person but to understand that they have a reason most likely unknown to me that creates their faults.  And it is probably  a hardship in their life they've suffered.  Or look within as to a reason.  If they belittled you at one point and this hit the raw insecurity within from your own past experience, then it is about understanding this and working on being more at peace with yourself.  

Not sure that made sense.  But thought I'd give it a try.  I really like introspective people who try to figure themselves out and work on self improvement.  You go, Brice!  

Avatar universal
by brice1967, May 18, 2017
Thanks everyone.  Most everything everyone said makes sense.  The more I look at this subject and the person specifically, I realize the problem is theirs and not mine.  I recently learned a few things that make sense and kind of puts a name to the face, so to speak.  This person has all kinds of personal problems that they have been trying to address for years.

This person is a micro manager and is over compensating for some things.  I found out that I make this person uncomfortable at some level and it probably goes back all of these years when we first met.  At that time, this person was just starting to address their problems.  Years later, I began to address mine.  Now, working alongside this person sometimes, I am just picking up the vibes from this person.  It's subtle... little faces or over dramatic sighs as well as the need to always be right.

I had to work with this person yesterday.  It was a big event and this individual was really stressed out.  Me being the new guy, so to speak, was just there to do my best, accommodate everyone and maintain a safe environment.  I did that and managed to have a blast.  At the end of the event, it was determined by all involved on our end that things went swimmingly!  This one person was the one who was completely worn out.  Everyone else was still ready for more.

I guess at this point, the problem is mine.  This person just bugs me but this new part time gig is too fun to get away from.  I'm sure this person doesn't remember what happened all these years back and I don't want to bring it up because I sense that this person is somewhat fragile in regards to their past.  So, I'm not going to bring it up.  As long as these events keep going off like they are supposed to and I am not hindered from doing my part, I am going to just leave it alone.

She just kind of irks me with all of the melodrama.  It's not necessary.

Thanks for the feedback, everyone.  

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by Dee1956, May 19, 2017
WOW! Some of my favorite people all together.

Thank you Brice, I really like to read what you write.

Just off the top of my head, due to my family members who hold grudges for 30 or more years. Is it possible this is a learned behavior? Or a combination of nuture vs nature?

CIK, I hear you! I have a habit of jumping to hurt vs anger. I don't hold grudges however I do hold on to the fear. The fear of offending again so that they then throw it in my face years later. (i.e. family) I wonder if my fear is a sort of a grudge?
My experience has taught me I never know when or how or why they will blow up at me for some real or imagined slight.  It scares the hell out of me.  I'm now wondering if my hurt feelings is a sort of grudge in reverse

I was born in to a very controlling, judgemental family. Over the years I have come to realize that they all suffer from anxiety but it comes out as controlling.
I just suffer from anxiety and did not realize until recently that the rest of my family has it too.
They just all present as so confident that I never realized someone can be anxious and it comes out as controlling because they are so anxious they have to "feel" they have control. Or they can have anxiety and present as mean,  cold hearted. I think they do it to protect themselves.
Thanks everyone, I am going back to read everything again, this is helpful!

317787 tn?1473362051
by Dee1956, May 19, 2017
I would love to know what you all think about how to stop the "knee jerk" reaction to others rude remarks. I've thought about counting to 10, deep breathing thugh that might not work right in front of the people haha

Avatar universal
by brice1967, May 19, 2017
Dee, "holding grudges" may very likely be a learned behavior.  My mother held grudges but normally they were with people she already didn't like for one reason or another.  I may have picked it up from here.  Obviously it is some kind of a contrived protection device.  By holding the grudge we try to assure ourselves that we 'will never let that happen again."  

Frustration sometimes sets in because we eventually find out that we cannot control other people.  If we could, we'd never hold a grudge or harbor ill feelings towards another person.  We'd just forgive and move along or simply not take offense in the first place.  

A little more of a background story regarding this person I am having a personal issue with.  Many years ago, she was the receptionist in our family doctors office.  I came in with a sick kid and she began to lecture me on paying my bills on time.  I asked her what she was talking about.  She said we were in arrears and she felt that it was concerning.  I told her I didn't know what she was talking about.  I researched the situation and spoke to my wife about it.  We owed the doctor for something regarding the delivery that insurance didn't pick up.  We made an agreement with the doctor and with the previous receptionist/business manager but we were paid up and NOT in arrears.

Next time in she shot me a look, so I stepped up and politely addressed the situation.  I said, "the last time I was in, you expressed concern about our account being in arrears.  We had an agreement with the doctor and the previous business manager and according to our records, we are paid in full."  She just gave me another look and dismissed me by turning her back on me....  The lecture she gave me was embarrassing and worse, factless.  Then to have her turn her back and not say a thing???  If we could have finished the discussion then, I'm positive I would have dropped it.  No big deal, everyone makes mistakes.  But to purposely make me look like some kind of schlub, uncalled for...

The situation from her end lacked decency from beginning to end and I think that I felt disrespected by not getting an apology.  I am going to move past this.  I am going to have to deal with this person from time to time and I can be decent.  I'm just going to have to get over her little looks.  Oh, and I noticed that she does it to other people too, so its really not just me.

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by AnnieBrooke, May 19, 2017
I can see someone being annoyed at the time and not liking her very much for her attitude, but frankly, that's a pretty small thing to still be able to recite in detail with emotion tied to it after all these years. It does seem (as your therapist is implying) like a waste of your time and emotional energy to concern yourself with her now.  She might not even remember the incident even though her personality is no better.  If she hooks you with righteous attitudes even when wrong, and with sighs, eye rolls and stuff, I'm thinking it's more likely that you're just in the habit of being hooked by people who do that kind of schtick, possibly because someone near to you when you were little did the same kind of thing and that person, it was important to you to please or placate.   Well, guess what, this woman is unimportant.  Shrug it off, she might have a problem but it's her problem, not yours, and she is really not worth a second thought.  Your time, focused on your life, is more valuable than walking around letting her attitudes call the shots.  Don't give your power away.

Avatar universal
by brice1967, May 21, 2017
Annie, I understand what you are saying about being able to 'recite in detail".  I was partially raised by a perfectionist and every job I have had since high school has required me to be able to explain things in complete detail.  There has always been a thick line between what matters and what doesn't matter to me.  I've done a lot of work to be able to try to discern which is which and I typically don't give time or power to things that don't appear to matter much.  With this one person, I can't seem to shake it and I don't know why.

This is not controlling my life.  I don't spend much time thinking about it.  Having to work with this person puts me in contact with her on a regular basis.  It's not uncomfortable for me.  I am able to do my job exceeding expectations from the business owner/operator.  In fact, nobody else knows there is an issue except for me and as I stated, its not that big of a deal.

134578 tn?1517087675
by AnnieBrooke, May 21, 2017
I was saying don't give your power away to her by letting her bug you when you are with her, not that I thought it sounded like it was controlling your life.  The more interesting question is why someone so obviously unpleasant and defensive is able to snag you with eye rolls and muttered remarks.  Why can someone so unimportant to your life cause you to hold a grudge for a long time?  I'm sorry you have to work with her, but it's probably (if you are in a analysis mode with a good therapist and want to delve into things) a bit useful, since you can learn to desensitize when you are with her. Learning not to give a crap about the opinions of righteous people with problems of their own, is a good thing.

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by 10356, May 21, 2017
Hi Brice my name is lesa I have been reading I was wondering if it has stuck with you because it bought in question your ability to support your family. I know my husband would have taken personal offensive to this and thought about it this way.. Just a thought but it is always harder to let go when it touches a personal fear..

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by 10356, May 21, 2017
also by her turning her back on you it left you with no recourse but to swallow her opinion. With a Controlling Mom I'm sure having no control in that instant left you feeling very off balance...

Avatar universal
by brice1967, May 22, 2017
Annie... this person is now a boss of mine, so to speak as well as a friends wife.  To me, relatively unimportant because all I have to do is do my job which I am more than qualified and then I don't have to deal with her.  It's no big deal but thanks for your kind words.

Lesa, what you suggested may have something to do with it.  Maybe it was the insinuation that I wasn't able to financially handle things that got me.  What I kind of laugh about now, and part of what troubles me now is, she and her husband recruited me for the position I have with them.

She may have totally forgotten about the incident all of those years ago.  She fought a battle of her own back in those days and just maybe she was projecting some of her issues on me.  

I've looked at this situation a lot lately and know I have given it too much time.  I'm okay with this....

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by 10356, May 22, 2017
I'm really glad you are ok with this Brice. Letting go is the healthiest thing you can do. She obviously has a Respect for you and your Talents our she never would have recruited you.. This speaks more then the distance past, lesa

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by dominosarah, May 22, 2017
I learn so much from these journals so thank you Brice and everyone!

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