Holding a grudge seems to be the American way. Someone does something to me and if I “let them off the hook” then I am a push-over, or a patsy. It’s important for me to stand up for myself and let that person know I am not going to take it anymore!
For a long time this was my own philosophy. I didn’t like someone getting the better of me so if they did, I wanted to be sure I did something in return. I didn’t like to be blindsided or taken advantage of, and wouldn’t allow anyone to get one over on me! Based on my own history of many years ago, I do understand the desire to set the record straight, or try and make things equal and fair.
The more I learn about people, though, and the more I objectively observe how many of us engage in negative behaviors for positive reasons, the more I feel compelled to just “let it go” when someone does something to me. I don’t mean that I let everything go and don’t address it, particularly if it concerns abused animals or my children, but I don’t hold a grudge and plot and scheme as to how I can get even!
Oftentimes the grudge-holding behavior we see with other people, and with ourselves, is stemming from the fact that we don’t really know a better way to behave. Some people don’t tell the truth because they are so afraid of what will happen if they do. Are they “liars”? Yes. Are they awful people doing awful things? In many cases, no. Some people can’t face conflict, so they talk behind someone’s back instead of confronting. Are they “gossips”? Yes. Are they awful people doing awful things? In many cases, no. And we could go on and on observing behavior like this. The behavior itself is negative and sometimes very hurtful to another person, but the driver behind the behavior may be something entirely different. In fact in many, many cases the perpetrator doesn’t even mean to be hurtful – it’s the translation of the behavior that makes it so.
But we often feel as though others are doing something “to” us. We see their behavior as a direct hit to our needs and desires. It’s as if they have singled us out and are targeting us. Sometimes this is absolutely the case, so let me be clear that I don’t believe that everyone has positive intent. If you are in an abusive relationship, or have a person stealing from your business, you need to separate from them. Don’t try and look underneath! Just protect yourself.
It’s in the day-to-day interactions with people that we need to focus on and let go of our difficult reactions. We waste a tremendous amount of energy trying to even the score, or get back at someone. In many cases, even when someone has left our lives for one reason or another, we are still holding a grudge and plotting our revenge!
Take the opportunity this week to identify someone who has committed a minor infraction against you. Choose to let go of any animosity toward that person. Choose to focus on the “why” behind what they do and how they do it. Look deeper. It’s healthier for you and conserves your energy to focus on things that really matter.