Holding Grudges Holds You Back

Requested by Andrew W from Philly. Enjoy.

We have all been hurt by the words or actions of the people around us. Maybe you’ve had a boyfriend or girlfriend cheat on you. Maybe your best friend started a vicious rumor about you. Maybe a sibling treated you unfairly throughout the years or your boss passed you over for a promotion. Whatever the case, the result could be lasting feelings of anger, bitterness, resentment or vengeance.

Although these feelings are natural, holding onto them isn’t a good idea. As Malachy McCourt said, “Resentment is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die.” As the old adage implies, holding onto grudges doesn’t hurt the person on the other end. It only ends up hurting you. 

Holding grudges can affect your relationships with others. Grudges can prevent you from moving on and fully enjoying life and all the opportunities it has to offer. By holding onto feelings of anger and resentment, you may bring them into every relationship and new experience. You may be expecting others to hurt you and treat you unfairly and you will be unable to give them a fair chance. This could lead to irrational and self sabotaging behaviors such as gossiping, jealously and lacking trust. You may think this is okay because you’ll be hurting them before they hurt you. However, while you’re dwelling on the past, the person who has done you wrong is out living their life and not even worried about what they’ve done to you.

Holding grudges can also adversely affect your health. Grudges and anger boost your stress levels which can cause a variety of health issues including high blood pressure, hair loss, headache, elevated heart rates and heart disease. Studies show that those with a history of bearing grudges also suffer from pain disorders and stomach ulcers. It can also cause you to feel depressed and anxious.

If holding grudges are so bad for us, then why hold onto them? From a scientific standpoint, many researchers believe that it is an evolutionary instinct that can be traced back to primitive man. Back then, people had to rely on each other for survival and remembering those who wronged us was vital to succeeding. Others feel that forgiving those who have wronged us condones their behavior or means you are giving into it. Simply put, people who hold grudges may be instinctively doing it to survive or consciously being unforgiving so they don’t look bad.

Sydney J. Harris once said that if a small thing has the power to make you angry, does that not indicate something about your size? We all get angry and feel bitter, but can’t let these feelings control us. We have to be able to forgive, not for the person who has wronged us, but for ourselves. So if you’re angry at someone, forgive them and let it go. Your anger and resentment isn’t worth the physical, emotional, and mental damage it can cause.

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