Letting it go in four steps

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Inevitably, frustrations occur in life. They can vary from mild to infuriating, and they always leave a mark. Memories of these slights – real or merely perceived – taint your normal composure and contentment. The holding of a grudge usually stems from a need to blame someone for something that has happened. The inability to forgive someone is a result of the fear that grows from the resultant mistrust – the fear of being blindsided, let down or otherwise hurt. The betrayal, whether real or not, is a learning experience, but one that most people take too much to heart.

Letting go of a grudge is a cathartic and healthy experience, but many people find it difficult to do so. There are a few methods that can work if a person is trying to move on in earnest.

The first step is to know the whole story

If friends or acquaintances are acting impolite or distant, it may be for reasons that they are unwilling or unable to share. If a female friend, for example, suffered a miscarriage but was too distraught to tell her story, she might try letting out her anger and sadness in other ways that might seem rude or hurtful to others around her. A grudge held against her for her behavior would, in this case, be unfair at best and would likely seem quite petty, objectively.

The second step is to be objective

Think to yourself whether you even have the right to hold a grudge against that individual. If a person can be truly honest with themselves, many grudges are the result of a misunderstanding or a small problem that was magnified by the gravity of external stress, such as difficulty at work, a failing relationship, or poor health. When considering the facts of the original problem, avoid using generalizations like, “He always does this,” or “You never listen,” and instead try to focus on specific incidents of the occurrences. The frequency of these events will likely have been greatly exaggerated, and it can help to get rid of the grudge when all the facts are accounted for.

The third step

A third step in the process is to talk to the person against whom you are holding the grudge. It’s going to be an uncomfortable proposition, but there’s the distinct possibility that he/she doesn’t know why friends don’t call anymore and haven’t thought about it themselves.

You should explain the problem to the other person, but try to refrain from using accusatory language (“You did this,” etc.), as it will usually lead to the other person becoming defensive, and will probably only result in more problems. Phrase one’s concerns in a way that pertains to only the affected person, such as “I was really offended when you said that.” This will help you work through the problems out loud, not only for them but for the one offended, as well.  In addition, the other person can see things from a different perspective.

Finally, the last step in letting go is just that – let it go

If the grudge is a valid one, and the other party refuses to make good on it, then they are not someone with whom you should be concerned. The energy and time spent dwelling on past injuries are hurting only the one holding the grudge. It’s even possible that they don’t think about it anymore. And while that may be infuriating, since a grudge can be a centerpiece of someone’s existence, it’s not healthy, it doesn’t help; holding onto that anger can only hurt. If possible, one must cut ties with the person. Keep things professional and courteous otherwise. But move on, and focus on the life at hand; things will be better that way.

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