Jason’s Articles

The original writings of Jason B. Fischer, MA, LPC (all rights reserved)

Letting Go When Holding a Grudge

When we resent someone for something they did or said, we are holding onto something in the past, something we do not like, something we have not forgiven. Holding onto this thing is hurting us, just like holding onto a cactus. No matter how justified we may feel to be holding onto this perceived offense, doing so is causing us pain and solving nothing. So what if we are justified? It’s like proudly declaring, “I have a right to clench this cactus!”

Okay, sure, but that doesn’t change the fact that you are harming yourself in the process. You can feel as justified as you want, but those needles are still sinking deeper and deeper into your palms. Don’t you deserve better? Don’t you deserve to not suffer? Don’t you deserve to forgive?

We are allowed to forgive for our own sake; we are allowed (and encouraged) to do the things that will alleviate our own pain and suffering. This is not only our right, but our responsibility. After all, it is our job to foster our own joyfulness. As such, we can choose to do those things which will help us feel better, like forgiving others (and ourselves).

When we hold a grudge, we may think that this is because of what someone else has done, that they deserve it, deserve our resentment, our scorn. I don’t see it this way. Since our holding a grudge harms us (it simply feels rotten), then doing so is less about our relationship to the person we feel wronged by and more about our relationship to our self. In fact, whenever I see someone holding a grudge, I see someone whose internal friendship has room for improvement. How do I know? Because they are not extending themselves the compassion of letting go, the self-kindness that comes from forgiveness.

So, the next time you feel resentful toward someone, imagine yourself holding a cactus. Notice the unnecessary pain that you are causing yourself and then give yourself permission to loosen your grasp. Like yourself enough to relinquish this burden. Like yourself enough to choose joyfulness instead. The issue at hand is not what you think about another person or their past actions, but how you think about yourself.  Besides, the very most important relationship you are in right now is with yourself. When you forgive, this is the relationship that benefits most. When you drop the cactus, your internal friendship blossoms and, from this, the joy that you deserve arises. Ah, much better…




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