Monday, April 23, 2007

Holding a Grudge

I've never been a person to hold a permanent grudge against someone whom I believe has done me wrong. I'll get pissed off at the time, but, almost always, I'll let it go and get on with my life. Quite frequently, I'll forgive that person, though I'm much slower in allowing myself to trust that person again. But many times, the trust is never rebuilt to the same level as it was once before. I forgive them, but I remain wary and careful for a much longer period of time. Trust can be rebuilt, but like Rome, it's not built in a day.

But it's a rare thing for me to withhold forgiveness permanently. As time passes after an affront has occurred, I find I cannot maintain the level of anger and indignation without great effort. As the saying goes, time heals all wounds....and hopefully, wounds all heels.

I'm also reminded of something my father always said about grudges and forgiveness. He told me that as long as you maintain a grudge and nurse your feelings of indignation, then the other person owns you. I couldn't understand what my father meant as a child, but it's perfectly clear to me as an adult.

To maintain a grudge and to spend excessive time thinking about how badly you were treated takes a lot of energy that could be better spent on more positive matters. This in turn, creates stress in your life. Thus, in a very meaningful sense, another person's time-limited actions take up residence in your mind and control your thoughts -- in other words, the person owns you. You have given them power over your mind. And one thing that is galling about this is that the other person probably has put it out of their mind and not given it a second thought. Essentially, you are a prisoner of your grudge, while the other person is free.

To free yourself, you either forgive and rebuild the friendship or you eventually let it go and move on, if the friendship cannot be continued.


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