Let’s take a look at why you can’t let go of that stupid grudge, and why it holds you back. But first, definitions and quotations. Then in the main segment, we’ll talk about taking the mental weight of grudges and revenge off your shoulders, and we’ll finish off with a Disgruntled Nugget – a little piece of wisdom you can take with you, or not, I don’t care. Also thx to Audionautix and Partners In Rhyme for the music and sound effects.Support the show
In keeping with the topic, but on a slightly different note, I want to reach out to everyone about respect. We’re all living through a really troubling and difficult time, and none of us is immune to the isolation, loneliness and anxiety that comes as part of what we’re experiencing. Having said that, please, please, please can we all just be civil, friendly and respectful of each other. Being a jerk, shouting at people, and trying to make your noise louder than the other noise around you in not the way to live in a civil society. So if you’re in a retail location, public place, or other gathering, be respectful of health guidelines, safety guidelines and, most importantly, your fellow citizens. Really, assholes is so 2016, let’s move past that and rise above. Assholery and douchebaggery have no place in 2022. That is all.
So today, we’re going talk about the weight of carrying a grudge, and why you shouldn’t. We all know how it starts, and it ends different ways, but there’s a price to pay. To start, grudge is a noun meaning “a persistent feeling of ill will or resentment resulting from a past insult or injury.” Sadly, this sometimes leads to revenge, which means “the action of inflicting hurt or harm on someone for an injury or wrong suffered at their hands.” Let’s take a look at some quotations that will give us some fuel for this discussion.
First, we have Viktor Emil Frankl who was an Austrian neurologist, psychiatrist, philosopher, author, and Holocaust survivor. Frankl published 39 books including the autobiographical Man’s Search for Meaning, a best-selling book based on his experiences in various nazi concentration camps. He is famously quoted as saying, “I do not forget any good deed done to me, and I do not carry a grudge for a bad one.” Considering his war experiences, that is quite the statement. And you get pissed off when someone takes a parking spot you wanted.
Next, we have Charlotte Brontë, a 19th century English novelist and poet and the eldest of the three Brontë sisters who survived into adulthood, and was the last to die of all her siblings. She became pregnant shortly after her marriage in June 1854, but died on March 31, 1855 at age 38 due to complications from the pregnancy. Her quotation states, “Life appears to me too short to be spent in nursing animosity or registering wrongs.” This proved to be both apropos and prophetic.
Finally, we have the ever-quotable Confucius, a Chinese philosopher, poet and politician of the Spring and Autumn period and who was traditionally considered the paragon of Chinese sages. His philosophical teachings, called Confucianism, emphasized personal and governmental morality, correctness of social relationships, justice, kindness, and sincerity. He said, “To be wronged is nothing, unless you continue to remember it.” And that is the perfect jumping off point that we all need right now, more than 2,000 years later, so let’s get started.
Okay, so why do you keep a grudge and wish for revenge. There are a lot of reasons, and some of those reasons make us entirely human. Who among us has not been hurt by someone we love, or had the trust we placed in someone else betrayed. The first reaction is always hurt, and that’s the start of it. But the problem with a grudge is that you’ve taken that hurt that should be as transitory as the disgust you feel when you bite into a moldy kumquat, and dissipate immediately, perhaps with some swearing and a chaser of scotch. But when you hold a grudge and dwell on that anger, it often increases aggression over extended periods of time, even toward people who have nothing to do with the original act. This according to a study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology titled Chewing on It Can Chew You Up: Effects of Rumination on Triggered Displaced Aggression written by Bushman et.al. So when you don’t let go, you pay and everyone else pays too. But there are deeper costs, so open your wallet.
A 2007 study co-authored by Michael McCullough, a professor of psychology at the University of Miami, found that people who ruminate about bad past experiences produce higher levels of cortisol than usual. “Too much of this stress hormone in the brain can result in anxiety, depression, trouble sleeping, memory and concentration problems, and even weight gain” says McCullough. Even worse, a paper titled “Bearing grudges and physical health: Relationship to smoking, cardiovascular health and ulcers” published in the journal Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology says, “Holding a grudge over long periods of time has been linked to greater risk of heart disease, chronic pain, and stomach ulcers.” So not only to you pay the mental price, but you get the added, no-cost upgrade to first-class physical discomfort, sleeplessness and death. Who gets revenge now?
But you can still be happy and successful if you hold a grudge, right? Nope. Hard no on that. The longer you hold a grudge, and the more you rehearse what happened, what you did, what you think you should of done, and what you want to do, the more you adopt what is known as victim mentality. According to and article titled “How to Deal with Victim Mentality” by Karl Perera, “Victim mentality is the mindset that causes someone to believe that their success and happiness depends on things outside and beyond their control.” Sadly, the deeper you go into this mode, the lower your self-esteem, the less likely you are to see success in challenges, and the more likely you are to withdraw from activities that make you happy and validate your existence. It’s a downward spiral, like hoping to self-medicate yourself out of depression, and we all know how shitty that works ... well I do, anyway, but I digress. So what can be done? Well, I have some thoughts, as usual.
So, you’ve been hurt – really hurt – and all you can think about is what happened. Despite knowing it’s not serving you in any real way, you hold that grudge tightly as if it’s a lock of hair from your first cat. But mental health isn’t about logic, or your weird obsession with your dead cats, it’s about seeing what is wrong, acknowledging it, and working towards a resolution. So that’s step one, acknowledge that the hurt you’re feeling is actually a grudge, and you feel real animosity towards a person, place, item, the world – whatever. Figure who, understand what happened, and really be honest with yourself about your role in the events that lead to this grudge, and why it’s important to you. You MUST know what it is before you move towards resolution, and this is the difficult first step. But take it. Really, it’s literally the first step. Take it now.
Next, switch places with the object of your ire. This is not as simple as you think, because it requires you to have empathy, and, depending on the hurt you received, maybe even a great deal of it. And you really have to be honest with yourself here in trying to understand what happened from the other perspective. Think about what that other person would do if the roles were reversed. Think about the reasons why you would have done exactly the same thing in their shoes, work boots, slippers, or whatever. You may want to not believe you would behave as they did, but the truth is that it’s likely you already have at some point in your life. Again, you have to be honest with yourself or you’ll get nowhere at the speed of sound.
Another aspect to crushing grudges is forgiveness. This may be the most difficult part of letting go, but there is 3.7 jagzillion metric tons of research done on how forgiveness is the key to all happiness. Remember the quotation earlier from Viktor Frankl who had no ill feelings even towards those who imprisoned him in nazi death camps. So, just know that it can be done. But here’s the hard part. Forgiveness isn’t for the other person, and it works even if they don’t know you’ve done it. Do it anyway. Do it even if you know nothing about the other person will change. Do it knowing that it will not undo what happened. Do it as your own personal mental exercise, but you have to really do it and feel like you’ve done it so you can move on. If it leads to reconciliation, or positive change in someone else, or a better understanding of the dynamics, those are just bonuses. All you have to know is that you’ve reconciled the grudge to yourself, and then start to realize you can do better, more productive things with the time and energy you were shoving into the gaping maw of that stupid grudge monster.
Finally, think about the positive takeaways from your experience. You will always remember the events, but try to think about what you learned from them, how that knowledge will improve your critical thinking skills going forward, and how this can actually make you abetter person. It’s been shown that you can be happier, more productive and more creative when you’re free of thoughts of grudges and revenge. You may even be in a position to use the process that worked for you to help others achieve a new level of acceptance of things that happened to them. Be happy that you can make choices, like hanging out in a hot tub in Silver Springs in an ill-fitting bathing suit just to be in the moment, Wendy. That’s how you make your life a more positive place to live, and the alternative is, you know, much crappier.
Okay, so that’s it for this episode. As always, I’ll leave you with a Disgruntled nugget in a second, but first I want to thank you for listening. Remember to subscribe to this podcast, I’m on all the major platforms, and please visit www.disgruntledlifecoach.ca for all my podcasts – yes, w-w-w still not resolved. Please also follow me on twitter @lifedisgruntled, there’s a link on my website – DM me if you want some stickers, I’m not even kidding right now. Also, if you like what you’ve heard today, tell your friends. If you think this is ridiculous, still, tell your friends, I mean how hard is that?
An old proverb states: "For every minute you are angry, you lose sixty seconds of happiness." To get more specific, and ancient Korean proverb says, "If you kick a stone in anger, you'll hurt your own foot." Confucius started it all when he said "When anger rises, think of the consequences." So we all need to understand the consequences of anger because when we kick stones we lose a minute of happiness in our foot, or something, I don't know, whatever... An old proverb states: "For every minute you are angry, you lose sixty seconds of happiness." To get more specific, and ancient Korean proverb says, "If you kick a stone in anger, you'll hurt your own foot." Confucius started it all when he said "When anger rises, think of the consequences." So we all need to understand the consequences of anger because when we kick stones we lose a minute of happiness in our foot, or something, I don't know, whatever...
Again, thanks for listening, and thanks also to Audionautix and Partners in Rhyme for music and sound FX, thanks again to Neatnik for visuals, and thanks for your patience - see you in two weeks, or not, whatever...