Grudges

07/07/2016

People aren’t always nice.  Even when they don’t have malicious intent, they can hurt us just by being inconsiderate, like when they’re not there for you when you seek their support, or when they dismiss your opinions and don’t take you seriously.  Sometimes people live in their own bubbles.  Perhaps everyone lives in a bubble, and only the size of the bubble varies from person to person.  Whenever someone is stuck in a bubble, someone else’s feelings are bound to be hurt.  When you’ve known people for a longer time and you begin to get a clearer image of who they are, the nature of that bubble often emerges.

In my view, when feelings do get hurt, there are three types of responses.  One of them involves acting on the hurt feelings, and the other two occur internally.  In my opinion, the first, vengeance, demonstrates the lowest level of maturity and is typical of those who are least in touch with their conscience.  The other two are different mental reactions regarding the one who inflicted the damage: forgiveness and holding grudges.

Keeping negative memories of the past actions of others is normally called holding grudges.  The term “grudge” implies so much negativity, and society generally advises against such sentiment.  But if we put aside the past, won’t we repeat the patterns of thought or action that set us up for pain in the first place?  Don’t we have to remember the past to escape that cycle and move forward?  Doesn’t that require us to actively recall the past damages others have inflicted on us?

In contrast, forgiveness generally has a positive connotation.  But in the process of loosening our emotional dependence on those who have hurt us, of moving forward with your perception of someone, it seems any inclination to forgive would only be only an obstruction of progress.  In this case, does holding grudges help?  Without the grudges, without an attitude of skepticism, wouldn’t we set ourselves up to fall in the trap of emotional dependence once again?

On the other hand, maybe grudges aren’t necessary to have a better understanding of your relationship with someone.  Maybe moving forward involves context and realism, whereas grudges involve personal dislike or ill will.  Having a more realistic image of someone isn’t necessarily being judgmental; it’s just being analytical.  If people break your trust or prove a lack of concern for your wellbeing, you don’t necessarily have to resent or think less of them; you just have to be careful about what you tell them, or overcome your dependence on their support.  Understanding that and acting accordingly in the future definitely involves something, whether or not you call it a grudge.  Maybe moving forward and responding appropriately to the hurt feelings is, in a way, forgiveness.  After all, forgiveness doesn’t have to mean forgetting in the same way holding grudges has to mean remembering.

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