Let it Go: The Toxic Nature of Grudge-Holding
I’m a grudge-holder by nature. And as ashamed as I am to admit that fact, I’ve found it’s been a hard piece of my personality to crack. Most recently, I’ve been struggling with resentment towards a former close friend of mine. After having met his now-wife, he subsequently cut me off, due to the fact that having any “gal pals” made her uncomfortable.
At first I was devastated, but that sadness gradually turned into a deep-seeded resentment. For nearly two years, I stewed over how I felt “wronged” and how quickly he was to throw our 10-year friendship in the trash. It consumed a big part of my energy, yet the only result it yielded was misery.
Grudges Drag You Down
The problem with grudges is that they don’t really serve a purpose. They don’t make us feel better, heal our hurt or affect the other person at all. In fact, at the end of the day, all we end up with is the all-consuming toxicity a grudge holds over us.
In recovery, this can have a negative impact in many ways. For starters, it can lead to stinking thinking, cause difficulty in developing emotional sobriety and result in a great deal of bitterness about life in general. It can also hamper personal growth and even lead to a relapse.
Letting It Go
The path to freedom from a grudge is all about forgiveness…not towards the other person, but towards ourselves. The answer lies in learning to love and honor ourselves.
To let go of a grudge, we need to move the focus off of the one who “wronged” us and place it on our own hearts. In refocusing our attention, we can find the soothing kindness and compassion that the grudge itself desires, but we’re also able to take responsibility for caring about our own suffering. Our recovery efforts will ultimately be strengthened by releasing that long-held anger.
Not too long ago, I followed this advice and chose to practice forgiveness. I wrote my former friend a long email about how I had felt over the last two years and told him I’d reached the point where I wanted to bury the hatchet. And even though it didn’t repair our friendship, I took it as an opportunity to recognize the wisdom, self-love and personal growth I’d achieved through this experience.
After all, we can’t control other people’s actions, but we can control how we respond to it. Today, I choose to live in the present, free from the resentment that kept me chained to the past.
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