The Grudge. (Stoic Boot Camp exercise)

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02/01/2022 To Forgive or Not to Forgive: That is the Question

That’s why your challenge today is to eliminate a grudge. To let go of the resentment you are holding onto towards a person who made a mistake that cost you, who wronged you, who falsely accused you.

This one is a challenge for me. Not because there are so many people who have wronged me or whom I have a grudge against. In reality, it is the opposite. I have a really hard time holding a grudge.

It just isn’t my nature. (Currently)

And it has not been in my nature for quite a while. Part of the problem is that I have a tendency to put myself in the other person’s shoes. I am quick to forgive and I am also quick to take blame for things I might have done better. (Or things I might have avoided doing at all.) I analyse my behavior rather than others.

That does not mean I am perfect by any means. Particularly at the moment. But if one is to be honest with one’s self and others about thier faults, one has to be equally honest about their strengths. And my lack of grudge holding is certainly one in the win column.

Still, we can do the challenge right?

Sure. I forgive a person who I asked to accompany me to my wife’s funeral and whom I bent over backwards (To the point of parody) to accommodate and who still acted like a spoiled whack job. You had a very hard life. You didn’t really know anyone. That Airbnb I rented was out of a slasher film. ‘

Maybe it is a good thing I don’t hold grudges because I am not great at the forgiveness thing after all. But in reality, though I was hurt at the time, today I hold no grudge nor malice.

So when did we stop holding grudges?

Actually, that is a good question. I want to say around 2004 is when I started the practice of just letting things go. But then I recall being a partner in a business a few years later and, yikes, there were some serious grudges going on around there. (This is where my taking ownership comes in handy because I was very responsible for much of the disaster that befell me.)

The reality is I have gotten into the practice of taking responsibility and, much more importantly, of forgiving myself. I find if you learn to forgive yourself; it is much easier to forgive other people.

Okay, Buddha, you can stop patting yourself on the back. Everyone is in favor of forgiveness.

You would think so. But while checking my spelling on the Shakespeare quote above, I fell down a rabbit hole of shall we say the pro-anger crowd. To quote Beverly Engel, author of twenty books and columnist in Psychology Today.

Many people believe that forgiveness is necessary if we are to put the past behind us and move on. Twelve-step programs teach the philosophy that we should forgive others because they, like us, were doing the best they could at the time. Many religions teach that forgiveness is the only fair and compassionate thing to do, since we have all sinned and we have all hurt others. Many psychotherapists also believe that forgiveness is necessary in order to heal. But as wise as spiritual leaders and therapists are concerning the importance of forgiveness, sometimes forgiveness is not possible. Unfortunately, we have not been given permission to choose not to forgive. It is my belief that forgiveness is not necessary for healing, and in some cases, may not be the healthiest thing to do. This is especially true when forgiving is tantamount to giving permission to hurt you again.

Sometimes we need to hold on to the very thing that prevents us from forgiving in order to cope and survive–anger. Anger can be a powerful motivator, especially for those who have been victimized. Anger can help us rise above the victimization and to fight our way back from the most devastating of traumas.

Yikes…

She may want to check out Ryan Holiday’s class on anger. So basically, to hell with twelve-step programs, major religions, philosophers and psychotherapists. Hold on to that anger. It will help you rise above victimization.

My take is you will always be a victim as long as you hold onto the anger. Staying angry has an audience of one. Holding a grudge has only one victim. Let it go. If not for the other person, then for yourself. The only person your anger hurts is you.

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