How to Stop Holding Grudges

Holding a grudge is the act of hanging on to intense anger or dislike for others based on a real or perceived wrongdoing. A consumer might resent a company for its unfair practices or defective products, boycotting it and retaliating by badmouthing the company to others. Spouses may hold grudges against one another, leading to contempt and erosion of trust. Certain religious philosophies emphasize the importance of forgiveness in unfair life situations, whereas other individual or group belief systems are more retaliation-oriented. Scientific literature suggests that holding grudges can negatively affect cardiovascular and psychological health. The act of forgiveness leads to greater psychological and physiological well-being, lowering diastolic and systolic blood pressure, and delivering numerous health benefits. The following are guidelines for letting go of grudges.


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    Acknowledge the hurt, pain or dissatisfaction. Letting go of grudges is not about denying that a problem exists or repressing the underlying emotions. Name the emotions you are feeling.
    • Write in a journal. Express your feelings in a journal by writing down the details of the incident and the aspects of the event that led to your anger or hurt.
    • Share your feelings with a trusted friend. Talking with an empathetic person, whether a close friend or a counselor, will help you gain greater peace and perspective.
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    Speak to the offender. If appropriate, speak to the person or company who has mistreated you. In some situations this may not be possible, for example, if the person is deceased or purposely unavailable.
    • Explain your feelings about the offensive act or incident. For example, speaking to a restaurant manager about being overcharged or mistreated may lead to receiving an apology or an improvement in how future customers are treated.
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    Release expectations of people and processes. Human beings and organizations are imperfect. Letting go of attachments to how things should be or how others should behave will lower your stress level. It also allows you to focus on pursuing other avenues for getting what you want, such as exploring healthier relationships and service providers.
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    Remove yourself from unjust situations. If possible, refrain from interacting with people or organizations that are perpetually unfair or unjust.
    • Distinguish between the bearable and unjust. For example, practice tolerance with a spouse who forgets to take out the trash. Consider leaving a spouse who is physically and emotionally abusive. In all cases, the act of forgiving, and not necessarily condoning, other people's wrongdoings will benefit your own well-being.
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    Focus on forgiving the person or organization. Regardless of whether they have apologized or met your needs, make a conscious decision to forgive and to stop holding grudges.
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    Choose peaceful and productive thoughts. Each time your anger returns or negative thoughts persist, acknowledge that you are angry or hurt, but consciously shift your attention to something constructive.
    • Give more energy to the trustworthy. Spend more time with the people in your life who are trustworthy, caring and worthy of your attention.
    • Focus on the positive qualities of the offender. For example, when in a relationship with someone who has betrayed your trust, reduce the emotional charge of the grudge by shifting your attention to the person's praiseworthy qualities.
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    Hold a letting go ceremony. One way to move on in life is to let go in a tangible way. Write down your feelings, your resentment, the name or names of the person(s) troubling you and take that piece of paper as tangible proof that you are going to move on. You can do a lot with that piece of paper – burn it, throw it away, toss it into the wind, place it on a paper boat and send it down a river, bury it, and so forth – anything that makes you take a physical step to change things and move away from what happened to bring on the grudge.
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    Practice daily gratitude. Start looking for the good in your days and stop seeking the bad. Every single day start looking for one thing to be grateful for. Build it up until you can instantly find five things every day to be grateful for. Use your gratitude to clobber your grudges.

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Categories: Psychology Studies