“Never underestimate the power of forgiveness” — Michael Corleone
What happens to you when you hold a grudge?
Personally, I can’t hold a grudge against someone without it causing me to take on a snappy, short-fused kind of attitude towards them, especially when that grudge hasn’t been communicated.
It’s not the same as disliking someone. We don’t all have to like one another, but it’s far easier for me to be around and even interact with someone I dislike and feel fine about it. The same is never true when harboring a grudge.
I recognise it in others too, especially when I was younger. Being observed through the bitter lens of a grudge as I do something that person might otherwise appreciate, and everything is marked by that resentment.
“Look at him, picking up rubbish around the skatepark. What a dick — he’s only doing that to get the credit for it!”
But the grudge itself is a disarming force to those who carry it. Not only do you risk snapping on the person you’re bitter towards and taking a ridiculous position in order to be against them, but you risk becoming a version of yourself that you not only dislike, but is also permanently marked by that other person.
One of life’s cruel ironies is that, through unspoken grudges and the resulting bitterness and judgment that is caused by them, people often become what they hate. And even when they don’t, they still run the very real risk becoming “the bad guy” in the story of their lives because of their own resentment.
Some can hold silent grudges for so long and that become so far-removed from the origin that the behaviours and attitudes that manifest because of them seem to come out of nowhere. At that point, they become creators of problems, not someone who has a problem like they were in the beginning.
I once heard Dr. Gabor Maté talking about forgiveness, and how it’s those that we least want to forgive that we need to forgive first and foremost. I can’t remember the details of the discussion and haven’t been able to find it since, but it stuck with me because I couldn’t understand it.
At the time, in my head, forgiveness was pretty much the equivalent of making up with someone, letting them get away with something, becoming friends with them again after a fall-out, something like that. Why would I want to do that?