Have you ever been offended or disappointed by someone? Did the offense change your view about him/her? Did you tell them you were offended? Are you finding yourself “snapping” or arguing with a spouse or partner who has done you wrong or let you down? Do you find yourself ignoring or avoiding certain people who are or were a part of your life? Have you had daydreams for harm to come to those who harmed or offended you? Do you find yourself wishing you could go back in time to change what you’re feeling now? You are not alone. We have seen many times in counseling a number of clients who recognize tension, anger, or stress with certain people, especially a friend, family member, partner, or spouse who has offended them to one degree or another and will hold onto the offense as a grudge. They may or may not see it as a problem in the beginning, but may later realize that the grudge starts to cause turmoil and pain within themselves as well as in their relationships.
Here are four signs to recognize you may have a grudge and that it may be harming you
- It affects how I interact with the one I hold the grudge against.
Many times this first sign is so subtle that you may not even recognize it’s there. You may experience anger, frustration, stress, maybe some sadness, anxiety, or a sense of confusion when talking with him/her. You may find yourself blaming him/her for how you feel about what he/she did. You assume the worse or at least are suspicious of this person being a jerk or wishing bad on you. You may find yourself ignoring him or avoiding direct eye contact with her. Your attitude toward this person is uncomfortably different and others may even notice this change. You may even find yourself “getting back” or wanting to “get back” at him for what he did. Many times trust may have been broken, bad words exchanged, your feelings ignored, promises broken, and certainly many other mental or emotional hurts you have experienced. There may be someone else who reminds you of the person you hold a grudge against which effects how you relate to this someone.
- It affects my current relationships
You may find yourself on edge, getting disappointed in others or over demanding (with higher unexpected expectations), putting up walls around yourself to avoid getting hurt again, use a lot of sarcasm in your conversations, or maybe have a flippant attitude. Others may wonder if they did something wrong to offend you though they probably didn’t…yet. You may even blame others for how you feel or for mistakes you made or become argumentative with them.
- I cycle the offense in my head over and over again
This is where the offense, the offender or offenders are taking up a lot of time in your thoughts. You may find yourself running the event or conversation through your mind trying to make sense why someone who you thought liked or loved you do or say such a thing to you. You may try to convince yourself you are to blame for the other person’s wrong toward you wondering what you did to deserve such an offense. You may even feel disappointment over the whole thing not getting what you had hoped or expected. Maybe, out of the blue, the grudge pops into your head and you have a hard time shaking it off.
- It affects my mental/emotional health and well being
You may not realize it, but the mind and body interact in such a way that the body can tell us when something is troubling us. You may experience physical symptoms of stress in your body. Sometimes headaches, joint pain, upset stomach, sleeplessness, change in appetite, fatigue, irritability, muscle tension, changes in blood pressure, to name a few. We must be careful not to minimize the signs and symptoms of our body and have them examined by a healthcare professional. However, over time, holding a grudge may often show up in our body.
After reading through these signs, you may feel a sense of helplessness or feel stuck. This is where we may be able to help you overcome the grudge…regaining a sense of well-being and relief. We have worked with many clients who have held onto pain for years learn how to and let go of the pain, the offense, the disappointment in their lives.
Things you might say about getting help
This is really no big deal
You may find yourself trying to make light of, ignore, or minimize the whole grudge thing. “It happened so long ago. Why do I need to talk to a counselor about this anyway? “I’m not that crazy!” These are things we find that people may say to cover up the shame, fear or even guilt they experience inside which triggers much of their emotional or mental pain.
Will it take a long time to work out?
Many times, within a few short sessions, many clients have found such great relief of just getting out the pain, disappointment and learn to forgive the offender. They find relief, peace, rest, and happiness when they have let go…and for many who have turned it over to God.
With our years of experience addressing clients’ past hurts and struggles, we look to see how we can help you. Feel free to read more about Pathways, the counselors, or email us (firstname.lastname@example.org) or call Pathways at 520-292-9750 or any of the counselors by email or phone.