“Do you hold a grudge?” On a dull evening, as we discussed our pasts, I remember asking a classmate. He replied, “The only problem with the question is that you seem to think I have only one!”.
Here are three stories for you. All real ones.
Story One: Pennies For Your Thought
Andreas Flaten, a workshop employee in Georgia, USA and his employer had a disagreement. As things slipped further, Andreas walked away from his job and the employer did not pay his dues. Andrea then reached out to the US Department of Labour who started contacting the employer. All par for course?
Now comes the jaw drop story. One evening someone left a heap of coins soaked in Motor oil on the drive way. 91,500 pennies adding upto $915 dollars that the company owed the employee! . The employer is quoted, “It doesn’t matter – he got paid, that’s all that matters.
Do you hold a grudge?
Story Two: A Thin Grudge
In Lebanon, architects Salah and Fawzi Italni built a thin house in 1954 on all of 120-square-meter piece of land. A house so thin that the liveable wall ranges in depth from four meters at its widest, to sixty centimeters at its slimmest! 60 Centimeters! Now, why would anyone construct such a thin building?
The story goes that two brothers couldn’t settle their grudge over a property dispute. One brother who inherited a thin strip of land built the building to block a spectacular view of the sea that the other’s property allowed! Incredible! Isn’t it?
Story Three: A Grudge Against God
Last week, In Delhi’s Paschim Vihar a homeless man threw stones and vandalised a temple. He was soon held and questioned by the cops. Here’s a line from the statement made by the cops. “As he had no source of livelihood and no place to live, he had a grudge against god for giving him the life of a homeless person and vandalised the temple.”
Now, do you hold a grudge? How do that match up with these?
Why do you hold a grudge?
People hold a grudge for many reasons. Coming to think of it, the appropriate phrase is ‘nurse a grudge’. As though it is some wound to be tended to with great care and held tight.
Perhaps, it indeed is a wound.
Grudges happen when we feel wronged and when ‘unfair’ is inflicted on us. We seek to right the wrong by nursing the memory of the event or the person for a long time, implicitly hoping that such nursing will ‘right’ the wrong! Nursing grudges comes with problems aplenty. The sheer negative energy wears us down over time. It affects our overall well being and we lead lopsided lives.
Plus, nursing grudges keeps the wound festering. It is difficult to arise above and move towards the future. The holder of the grudge stays tethered to the past and possibilities for the better stay in the background.
Do you hold a grudge? How heavy is it? Here is a test you may want to take this quiz that helps you figure if your grudge is hefty or otherwise. (Based on the book by Sophie Hannah called ‘How to hold a grudge”, I found this super interesting). .
So what can you do?
Whatever your grudge cabinet looks like, there are things that you can do to get better. To remember that we have agency with grudges helps us move along. To nurse the grudge is not the only option available! Thank God. There are two broad possibilities that I want to share with you. .
1. Forgiveness. Forgive and move on. What that’s as simple as it may sound, it is far from easy. People struggle with it. Dr.Fred Luskin, Director of the Stanford Forgiveness Projects offers a methodology for forgiving. A methodology that has been validated through research. Pointers from the research include
- Forgiveness is for you, not the offender.
- It’s best to do it now.
- Forgiving doesn’t mean reconciliation with the person. It means you are trying to find your own peace and move on.
It helped me rethink my grudges and helped me refocus. Truth be told, not all of my grudges are gone. No, not yet. But I am at work on them. The next time you ask me, “do you hold a grudge?”, I will have better stories to tell.
2. Journaling. Personally, I find journaling to have a great value in listening to my grudges. Jouranling helps the grudge disembark from the thought ship to pen and paper! I try and get my emotions and feelings on to the same piece of paper. Reading it all, helps me observe how exactly I felt and what I should do next. Just seeing the grudge out in the open gives me so much more possibilities to deal with it. I wonder if that resonates with you.
From my journal
“Some wounds run too deep for quick healing. Most others can be worked on. To stay light and easy helps turn the gaze on the future and possibilities. The next time, a grudge ensconces itself with comfort, in the whorls of the brain, act on it. Dislodge it. Move.” Those are some notes to myself that I thought I must share with you. I hope it helped you wonder about the original question: Do you hold a grudge? Still?
The OWL Despatch
This is edition 80 of The OWL Despatch! It’s a labour of love with a short essay and five links for readers. It goes out every other Tuesday. As always, here are five pieces that I read over the last two weeks that could kick start some thinking in you
- “The pandemic exposes human nature: 10 evolutionary insights”. Fascinating insights that threads many aspects. Stay patient with it and have a conversation about this. You will thank me for this.
- Delivering life-saving vaccines required solving complicated logistical problems on a global scale. Here’s how United Airlines did it.
- Morgan Housel writes “Why competitive advantages die”
- How innovation can thrive in the age of virtual work. A story from Atlassian
- ‘Believing you’re a winner’ gives men a testosterone boost and promiscuous disposition