Letting Go Is Hard To Do

"All things are double, one against another." Ralph Waldo Emerson


We sometimes struggle to accept we do not have a monopoly on the truth. The moment we begin to dismiss the difference between our perception of a situation and that of another person is when we stop listening.


Undoubtedly we can cite examples where we have observed the gradual decline of relationships between family, friends, and colleagues resulting from someone holding a grudge. For example, people hold grudges for many reasons, some are considered trivial, and others are considered outright egregious.


The resentment sometimes becomes entrenched because the perceived offender mistakenly takes on the role of judge and jury on how the offended person should feel about the antecedent to the grudge. At this moment, intentionally or unintentionally ignoring the offended person has a right to their feelings.


Examples of statements that are likely to exacerbate the grudge:

  • “You are so sensitive.”

  • “You take things too personally.”

  • “It is/was just a joke.”

  • “Stop being so emotional.”

  • “Don’t be ridiculous.”

  • “What about when you said ….”

  • “Stop playing a victim.”

The statements on the surface may seem harmless. Still, the comments dismiss the other person’s feelings when trying to resolve a grievance. In these situations, we may prioritize discussing our intent or defending our actions instead of trying to understand the other person’s perspective.


Now and then, we have experiences with others we consider unforgivable. When we have these experiences, “forgiving and forgetting” is the last thing on our minds because the perceived slight or injustice is considered unforgivable. These grudges can last for days to years without any effort to resolve the issues that resulted in the grievance.


The person holding the grudge may become guarded, hostile, indifferent, and lack interest in resolving the conflict with the offending party. Any attempts to resolve the dispute should focus on the facts and not divert to irrelevant details that do not adequately address the issues.


It is not uncommon for the person holding the grudge to use avoidant communication, harbor retaliation thoughts, or think of ways to get even with the offending party. Be mindful of your reaction to these behaviors. The other person might not be ready to engage when emotions are still raw.


The longer the grudge last, the letting go is harder to do because accompanying the appraisal of the incident are negative thoughts, feelings, and emotions. For example, mentally, the person holding the grudge rehearses the incident that led to the grievance. The rehearsal further reinforces the negative assessment of the incident and the people involved in the incident.


Indeed, for the perceived offender, it is vital to establish intent and set the record straight. Still, the best you can do once you become aware of the offense is to take responsibility for your action in the dispute. That said, the difference in perception about the incident does not indicate the other person is unreasonable. The other person will respond on their own time. Reconciliation is a process, not a destination.


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