Letting go of grudges

All of us at one time or another have felt resentment in a relationship – it happens. When there’s good communication in the relationship, those resentments get resolved. In some relationships though, resentment keeps coming back like a pattern. If that’s so, it’s possible you might have a grudge cycle going on.

The grudge cycle looks like this:

the grudge cycle

Not only is the grudge cycle bad for your relationship, it’s bad for your physical health and your self esteem, too!

Stress induced health problems become more frequent. Such as headaches, body aches, poor sleep, poor appetite, stress eating, low immunity, digestive problems, skin problems, respiratory problems, heart problems, fatigue, lethargy, poor concentration, etc.

Negative emotions like feeling inadequate, afraid of rejection, shame, guilt, jealousy, pride and unforgiveness can come up – intensely. These painful feelings are indeed hard to face.

In addition, behaviors like perceiving slights where none was intended, evading the real issue, resisting the truth and avoiding owning your part might be present. They make it hard to let grudges go. And all these emotions and behaviors can lower your self esteem.

Break the grudge cycle

If any of this sounds familiar to you, now is a good time to start breaking the cycle.

breaking the grudge cycle

Step 1: Question yourself

Begin by asking yourself these questions:

1. Is this who I really want to be?
2. Is this the relationship I want to have with this person?

Holding on to a grudge is more than just a long term resentment. It’s like an identity. So it’s important to ask yourself if you’re willing to do what it takes to make a change.

Step 2: Get more clarity

1. What exactly am I upset about?
2. What do I really want here?

To make change happen, you do need to know what you’re working with. So, think about the above and try to nail the facts down. The point is to separate your wants from your negative thoughts and feelings. Those will be addressed in the next step.

Step 3: Practice responsible communication

1. Deal with your negative emotions

The grudge cycle continues because unresolved negative thoughts and emotions keep getting in the way of honest, considerate and continuous communication. Take this opportunity to learn how to deal with those thoughts and feelings. To do that, you may need to do a lot of inner work. If that sounds daunting, be assured, this is going to boost your relationship and communication skills and your self esteem in the long run. Think of it as investing in your future self!

2. Move past disagreement or disconnect

The other person will have his/her own needs, wants, preferences and perspectives, too. So you might not see eye to eye all the time. Accept that this is normal. What you want to practice is getting past the disconnect, not be stopped by it.

3. Be open to compromise

A strong relationship should allow you to voice your needs and wants and have them met. Yet, sometimes you’ll have to compromise on what you want, due to circumstances. As the other person will do for you. If negative thoughts and feelings get in the way of reciprocating, work on those while maintaining communication throughout this bump. That will help preserve and strengthen your relationship.

4. Choose your battles wisely

While you’re working hard on letting go of a grudge, some people might not be in the space to reciprocate. Because they’re dealing with issues of their own, or too set in their ways. Learn to let some battles go. If boundaries are necessary, focus your energies into drawing them. If it’s becoming clear that person isn’t as invested in the relationship as you are, maybe it’s time to invest in other relationships instead.

5. Be kind to yourself, too

Do you feel bad that you’ve been holding onto a grudge for so long, communicating poorly up until now? Be gentle on yourself! Try not to dwell on the past and beat yourself up for it. The good part about this is that you’re doing your best to break the grudge cycle now. Focus on that.

Final thoughts

Holding on to grudges might seem justified in the short term. But over time, they cause a lot of harm to you, never mind the other person. If you’re realizing that you need to break a grudge cycle, now is the best time to do it. It’s a personal journey that does require the courage to be vulnerable – that’s the honest truth. But if you’ve read this far with any interest, you can do it!

I hope this will help you let go of your grudges and create happier, more satisfying relationships with others and yourself! If you have any questions, comments, or need support in any way, I would be more than happy to assist you – please feel free to reach out to me from below.