why I fire a grudges

I often hire grudges.

Grudges are protective.

If I feel betrayed by someone, a grudge protects me by simplifying their relationship with them.

For example, “I should never trust Midas.”

So simple.

I may have been burned by Midas’ lust for gold in the past.

My grudge reduces the likelihood of being burned again.

However, if Midas is no longer in my life, I’m putting energy into a protective shield that is no longer necessary.

This energy could be put into more fruitful things than defending against a threat that is not likely to arrive in the near future.

Why keep grudges around?

It can be a cozy feeling to be surrounded by grudges.

I know a grudge can give me a cozy feeling of self-righteousness.

Also, tightly holding to the identity can act like blinders.

Why let grudges go?

In any conflict, there is always something that I could have done better to make things go smoother.

The blinders that come with self-righteousness can stop me from getting better at the delicate art of human connection.

So, grudges are good, but sometimes outlive their usefulness.

Now what?


Here are 3 ways I learned to give a grudge a performance evaluation it won’t forget.

1. Question the Shield

When I feel I am holding onto a grudge, I write down the reason for holding the grudge.

It’s important for me to not just stay at the surface reason, but get at the fear behind the anger or resentment.

What is this grudge protecting me from?

What am I afraid will happen again?

2. Is it likely?

After identifying the fear, I can question the likelihood of it happening again.

If the person is no longer in my life, the likelihood of the feared circumstance materialising is almost impossible.

In which case, I can decide to let go of the grudge.

If the grudge felt significant, I may want to mark the letting go with a ceremony.

My favourite is to write down all my thoughts about the relationship and set fire to the paper.

Ash to ash, dust to dust.

3. The arms-length play

I may have higher priorities that gives the target of my grudge a necessary place in my life.

For example, maybe Midas and I work together at an investment bank (also, maybe hiring decisions at this place need to be reviewed?)

However, if I write down the reason they are in my life, I am specifying the conditions under which holding the grudge is appropriate.

For example, “I need to work with Midas so I can get paid. Thus, I will trust Midas only with the bare minimum.”

And, conversely, the conditions under which I can release that person and their associated grudge from my life.

I may set myself a reminder to review these reasons every year (my favourite annual review date is my birthday), and, if these conditions have been met, celebrate the occasion with the fire ceremony above.

I call it the Ceremony of the Grudge Firing.


How about you?

How do you like to deal with grudges?

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