When It's Okay to Hold a Grudge

The other day in one of my classes, we talked about grudges. Everyone has them, holds them, or held on to them at some point during their existence. We talked about things and people that cause them, scenarios and issues that we hold on to, and why. Some of us shared what caused us to hold these grudges. Some grudges last only hours or days, and some last years. Some are still lasting. My thing is, we talked about the underlying issues of a grudge, and how people believe they can be unhealthy. And to that, I have to disagree entirely. I’m calling bs on the whole thing.

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I know this goes against popular belief, and what we are taught growing up in school, but just hear me out. Throughout our discussion, we reiterated the belief that letting go of grudges and forgiving someone means we have to give up our self-righteousness, our being-a-victim, and desire for revenge. What made me have the need to rant about this so much was the fact that somebody thinking a piece of paper with some words on it defines my choices and decision and feelings in life. I may be stubborn, that is unarguable, but again, I disagree and stand by it.   

Yeah, sometimes grudges can be petty and, in hindsight, unnecessary. But it doesn’t disregard the ones that are very logical. I strongly believe some people don’t deserve forgiveness.

Towards the end of class, as a group, we did a meditation exercise. First, close your eyes and picture yourself in an empty and dark auditorium, sitting alone in the front row. Curtains open, and in the spotlight, the person you're holding a grudge against is standing there. Say anything and everything you want to, to this person. Do not hold back. Then the curtain closes, and when it reopens, that same person is now a child. You’re seeing this person as an adolescent, and we’re told to change the way we think about these person’s actions, and what has created them and led them to who they are today. To understand and forgive. Have sympathy for them. Afterwards, when we discussed the exercise in totality, many people around me seemed to be enlightened by this whole concept. They seemed to have a different outlook on their grudge they’ve held on to, and more specifically, less infuriated and more understanding with the person on the other side of the curtain.

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You know who didn’t feel differently? Me.

I disagree with the objection that grudges show weakness and are always destructive. I believe it is okay to have a grudge. No, you cannot let it internally break you down, but I think it’s okay to find a happy place for yourself to reach, even if the grudge is still held onto. It makes me angry when I hear grudges are held by individuals who want to feel like a victim.

It’s not something I’ve shared with anyone really, but from personal experience, I am not on speaking terms with a family member of mine. I’ve held a grudge with them for almost a decade now. But it is a grudge that I have come to terms with, and I’ve moved past. In the beginning, not getting closure, and being hurt did bother me. Why doesn’t this person want me in their life? Have I done something? But I grew. I learned things. About this individual and about myself. About my life. How I want genuinely, good-hearted people that stick around. And ones who don’t, I let go. Does this person deserve sympathy for their actions that they were well aware of? No. Will I ever speak to this individual again? No. Am I okay with that? Yes.

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So I consider this scenario a healthy grudge in my life. I’ve reached a point of understanding and acceptance. Grudges that you can accept and come out stronger from do not show weakness, but show logic and understanding and maturity, I believe. I don’t think anyone should be forced to let go of something they aren’t ready to, or move on in a way they don’t want to.

Just because you hold a grudge, does not automatically mean you are holding onto hatred and bitterness. It doesn’t mean you are wishing someone ill will. It means you have chose to cut someone out for a reason, you are aware of why and their actions, and you have accepted it. The negative connotation around grudges shouldn’t exist or be misunderstood, but instead, having a grudge should be known as something that is okay to have. It’s not a bad thing. It’s okay.