To nurse a grudge requires great patience, skill and time. You must be consistent in order to maintain your anger. And when you think that anger is fading, all you have to do is pop back the mental images of the actions that led to your anger and replay that video over and over again until the emotions of anger, disappointment, betrayal and deep hatred starts swelling up inside you again. That’s how to effectively nurse a grudge. But who’s got time for that, really?
A few days ago, I published a post “Advice from my Father”, it turned out to be a favorite for most readers and attracted a lot of new blog visitors, averaged the highest number of site visits, comments, retweets and shares on Facebook (Thank you). More importantly was that at least six people (strangers included) texted, pinged or called me to say that it made them change their minds on friendships they had written off years ago and so they felt moved to re-establish contact with old friends who they had been nursing a silent grudge. But not everyone shared the same sentiments….
A few friends of mine were opposed to the fact that I had even accepted the gift of a car. They said it was bribery and I should have rejected it. Others said it was an insult. They suggested that I nurse the grief and bide my time to take revenge. I wasn’t sure whether to laugh at them or cry for them. So instead I told them a story.
When I was just six years old, I attended the birthday party of a classmate. Everything was going well, I had even won the Dancing Chair competition, you know the one where kids dance around chairs and when the music stops, the kids have to all rush to get seated on a limited number of chairs. It was a classic elimination of the weakest and survival of the fittest. Yeah, I won that contest and got an extra party gift. Oh happy days!
All was well with the world, until somehow I found myself wandering to the back of the house and I encountered a local “ekuke” dog, with a collar and chain around its neck. I assumed the dog was held bound by its chain and so I did what most silly kids who were temporarily high on a sugar-rush from drinking too much soda and eating too much sweets did. I began barking like a dog. The dog obviously wasn’t impressed. It bared it’s brilliant white teeth, barked a couple of time as a warning, and then as quick as lightening, it began running towards me.
I ran for dear life as fast my small skinny legs could in the opposite direction until I got to a fenced chain-gate which was locked (Devil knows how to work against God’s children). I proceeded to climb the fence quickly like a monkey. That’s when dog leapt up and bit me on my buttocks. Ouch! It was painful. But not nearly as painful as the round of tetanus injection I had afterwards (of course I didn’t replay this story for my parents in this way, it was all the dog’s fault).
Now after I had recovered, I had 2 options. Go back to my friend’s house to seek for revenge and bite the dog back. Or forgive the untamed beast and learn the inherent lesson- always let strange sleeping dogs lie. I chose the latter option.
As Seth Godin, the legendary marketing genius, pointed out, the problem with holding a grudge is that your hands are then too full to hold onto anything else.
It might be a stupid dog or former lover or the lousy things that someone did a decade ago. None of it is going to get better as a result of revisiting the grudge.
My friend Valentine Akpoveta says, forgive the offender but don’t forget the lesson. If you forget the lesson, then you’re bound to repeat the same mistakes all over again.
Grudges are useless. They require great time and energy to nurse and the return on investment is low except of course high blood pressure, bitterness, envy and a sense of righteousness or helpless victimization. A better approach is to learn the lesson, realizing that your last mistake is your best teacher. And choose to forgive and move on, even though your ego might be a little bruised and your back-side still hurting. You have several better days ahead of you and you’re far wiser now as a result of that event. Let go of the past hurt.