Sarah Sheard's Thoughts and Theories

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Grudges


A Facebook friend posted this photo.

I agree, it's true!

BUT...sometimes it's not so easy to let go of a grudge. Why is that?

I made "grudges" one of my topics of cogitation for last year. I even asked that we discuss it at a monthly church discussion group.

I eventually realized a few things.
- Grudges are "held" or "carried". The very words imply effort is required to maintain one.
- I was afraid giving up a grudge would make me unsafe; in other words, I believed that holding the grudge was keeping me safe.
- I did not know how to release a grudge.

I did a lot of journaling, including writing down everyone I have vowed to have nothing to do with from here on in, and everyone who I thought held a grudge against me. Then I wrote down for each, what the circumstances were that precipitated the grudge (if I knew).

What my grudges had in common was, when the grudge happened:
a) Almost always, I did not feel safe.
b) Often, I wanted something, and couldn't get it, because I was too timid to be clear, and the other person did not read my mind.
c) Almost always, I did not feel heard. I didn't know how to persist in being heard.
d) Often I felt disrespected...laughed at, written off, not considered worth listening to.
e) I felt I had no option but to write them off. From my family I learned one did NOT speak up in a way that might incite conflict. This meant my only option was to withdraw and never go there again.
f) I was usually angry at MYSELF too, maybe even more than I was angry at the other person. How could I have let myself be that stupid, to be taken advantage of? or even, how could I have blamed that person for that, why can't I just act like an adult?

Clearly I couldn't just drop a grudge, I had to also forgive the people I had the grudges against. Of course, given f), I also had to learn to forgive myself. Forgiving myself also helped in the cases of people having grudges against me...first I had to face the facts, then understand the situation as it happened, then go humbly to the other person and raise the issue courteously.

I also had to learn (and am still learning) how to ask persistently and politely for what I need. Sometimes you can ask until you're blue in the face and you still won't get it, but it's better to ask than not.

In the past, if someone didn't want to comply, they could shut me down by pretending not to hear. Now I try to ensure that they DO hear, and get them to confirm they hear, so if they then don't do it, it's deliberate. No more of the "Well you should have SAID something" or "I didn't know you were SERIOUS." They will now know I'm serious.

Also, I have to live with the fact that my asking for what I need sometimes makes others uncomfortable. Sometimes they even get awfully obnoxious about it. My feeling is, better they are sometimes uncomfortable than it's always me taking the hit. I won't die if they are uncomfortable. I probably am not even really unsafe.


If you have grudges and would like to stop having people live rent free in your head, consider:
a) Listing the people you have grudges against, and trying to recall how they came about
b) Identifying who you are angry at, and why
c) Forgive yourself and them (there are methods online available with a search)
d) Humbly approach the others and confess what you have just done.

I'm good with a-c. I really need to work on d. It's the safety thing, I think.

3 Comments:

  • This is really wonderful, Sarah. I didn't even know you were a blogger! How did I miss that?

    I really appreciate all the work you put into letting go of grudges and forgiving. I find the hardest thing is forgiving myself.

    (We may have the same family of origin.)

    By Blogger Barb, at 4:16 AM  

  • @Barb, I've only done one a year or so for the past couple years so I've kept it really low-key... no problem!

    By Blogger SarahSheard, at 7:05 AM  

  • A friend pointed out that if someone does him wrong, he resolves not to put himself in the same situation again. This, I learned, is different from holding a grudge. What keeps you safe is the knowledge and lack of trust that you now have in them. Lack of trust is not the same as a grudge.
    The difference is, with a lack of trust you don't need to be angry. Anger takes maintenance.

    By Blogger SarahSheard, at 7:11 AM  

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