This is one of those articles that points out something obvious, that most people know, but that most people disregard. What is that obvious point?

Holding grudges does nobody any good, especially the grudge holder.

And yet, I’ll confess for all of us: Most of us hold grudges. Some more than others, but let’s face it, it’s pretty darn universal.

What I mean by grudges

Before delving further, I need to define what I mean by grudges. It’s harboring ill will toward someone who we feel has wronged us.

But I’m going to widen the net here by including those who haven’t necessarily wronged us, but who we just don’t like for some reason. For example, one of the moms at your kid’s school who you’ve spoken to only once, but who rubs you the wrong way. So every time you see her you say to yourself, “Ugh. What a Botox-infested phony.” And you don’t even know her!

So for the purposes of this article, let’s say that a grudge is harboring bad feelings about somebody.

Let’s go to the example bank to illustrate:

– “My wife/husband left me for another man/woman. I will hate them for eternity.”

– “Bobby blew off going to my wedding. A great friend for decades and he says he ‘can’t get away.’ That’s it. I’m done with him.”

– “My boss fired me, supposedly because my results didn’t measure up. Wrong. He fired me because he didn’t like me. He better hope we never meet in a dark alley.”

The point of this article is that holding these bad feelings harms us and does us no good.

What’s the harm?

How does it harm us? That’s obvious. Negative feelings about people are like toxins to our psyche. They pollute our insides. I’m not even going to expound on this because I think all of you get that.

The real question is: Why do we do this? Why do we hurt ourselves by doing something we don’t have to do. That we can control.

Why we hold grudges

The answer? Because we don’t think about it. It’s just something people do. We don’t like some people, for various reasons, and we hold on to those feelings. It’s a mindless habit.

That’s why this article can be valuable. It’s pointing out something you’re doing that is 1. hurting you; 2. you don’t have to do; and 3. you’re not aware you’re doing.

If I’m you, I’m asking:

“Fine. Holding grudges is bad for us. What are we supposed to do? Ignore what some jerk has to done to us? Ignore what an obviously bad person X is?”

No, you don’t do those things. You don’t ignore it and, more important, you don’t lie to yourself by saying something like, “My boss is a great guy. I actually like him. He just made a mistake firing me.” If you don’t feel that way, don’t lie to yourself. Suppression is more damaging to us than anger.

What we should do

Okay. Then what do we do? The first thing we do is understand the dynamic, which is that we’re holding toxins inside us of our own volition.

Then we go to, “I don’t like holding bad stuff inside me. What can I do about it?”

The answer is: We can let it go. I know that sounds hugely simplistic but hear me out.

Let’s take the toughest example of all: the wronged spouse. That person has a choice. They can double down and say,

“I don’t care how much it hurts me. I will never let go of the fact that X is an awful, weak person who deserves to suffer in the worst way!”

Or…They can say,

“Yes, X is awful and weak and what he/she did hurt me to my core. But harboring this hatred is only hurting me. A lot. So I’m going to work on letting go of those feelings…for my sake.”

It takes work and intention

Yes, it takes work. And strength. Somebody cheated on you, left you and, worst of all, hurt your kids in the process.

But poison is poison. Hatred is hatred. And if we can eliminate it from our insides, we should.

There’s another issue I’m sure many of you are wondering about. Forgiveness. What about that?

What about forgiveness?

That’s a complicated subject. For this, I would steal a page from Eckhart Tolle and his teaching on dealing with difficult/flawed people, on which I wrote a separate article (link here).

Eckhart teaches that we are all at our own level of consciousness. The key is accepting that fact.

In the case of the wayward spouse, they are clearly not far along on the consciousness spectrum. That doesn’t mean we have to feel sorry for them or even that it is our responsibility to nudge them along.

What it does mean is that we can understand them. Doing so makes it easier for us to let go of our negative feelings for them.

Best if we can forgive

Does that mean we forgive them? It’s probably best for us if we can. But at the very least, we need to say something like,

That’s who they are. That’s where they are. Best for me that I don’t have to deal with that anymore. I’m moving on. And that means letting go of my ill will.”

I’ll close by asking you to ask yourselves this question: Is anything good coming from my harboring bad feelings for person X? I can’t think of a single instance where holding on to a grudge or bad feelings produces anything of value.

It’s all cost, no benefit. That being the case, there’s only one thing to do: Let go.

The takeaway

In fact, if this resonates with you, here is my takeaway suggestion. Try to think of at least three people in your life who you have a grudge against or just plain don’t like. Then set the intention of letting go of those feelings.

Think of it as throwing baggage off your airplane. Your plane will fly lighter, faster, better.

Let it go.