General Question

RedPowerLady's avatar

When do you let sleeping dogs lie?

Asked by RedPowerLady (12576points) March 29th, 2009

When do you personally think enough is enough and move on from a grudge? Like if someone has done you wrong how long does it take you to move on?? And do you feel guilty if the issue comes up and you find yourself talking about it later, as if you really haven’t let go of the grudge (or does that not happen to you?)?

I ask because of a situation in my life and the whole thing got me thinking, I wonder if how other people react would help me make sense of my own problem.

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28 Answers

Jeruba's avatar

Oh, dear, I do have trouble letting go of those things myself sometimes. Even when I know they are petty, they tend to stay with me. In my head I’m likely to say, “I’m willing to forgive them, but they haven’t asked me to.”

Would you want to tell us about your specific situation?

ninjacolin's avatar

Lately, a friend of mine changed my mind about forgiveness. Here’s the latest (unrefined) conclusion I’ve come to as a result. Hopefully it can help ya:

Forgiveness is an attitude you may or may not have towards a person who has slighted you. You either have forgiven them or you haven’t.

Actions such as saying “I forgive you” seem only to function on an altruistic level to help the transgressor to move on past his guilt and obligation to the victim. It’s almost a moment of submission from the Victim, who holds the balance of social power for the debt owed to her, to the Transgressor who ought to be truly seeking forgiveness.

Also, I can see how that kind of practice would affect the psyche of the victim giving them a sense of peace. I now see it as a positive thinking exercise to help rid the burden of the belief that “I’m owed and haven’t been repaid” simply by forcing the thought out; Out-weighing the negative memories caused by that negative inner tautology with positive, tangible memories. Literally dominating the consciousness with positive thought and feeling associations about the person and ushering in a period of dwelling on new good memories about your interaction with them.

YARNLADY's avatar

An important step is to honor your feelings. Resentment builds when emotions go unacknowledged. Take the time to get clear about what you’re feeling and why. Take action accordingly. If you have something that needs to be said, say it. If you have already voiced your grievance, then resolve any other feelings yourself.

Accept what is. Stop waiting for signs of remorse. Forgiving someone doesn’t exempt them from their actions. It doesn’t change the facts. If you have been legitimately wronged, then forgiving doesn’t mean you have to forget. It does mean that you acknowledge that the person is human and that we all make mistakes.

Find the positive in the situation. Maybe you learned a lesson and discovered something new about yourself. Changing your viewpoint will help you release resentment.

ninjacolin's avatar

a harsh but true way of seeing it is this.. the person who did you wrong only did so because they didn’t know what else to do… in this way, they aren’t even to blame for what happened to you.

imagine if someone was told that your purse was theirs and so they took it mistakenly. could you be upset with them for the mistake? not really. it wasn’t their fault.

there’s actually no reason to hold a grudge. it really has nothing to do with reality. you can learn from the experience about what kind of person another is, but you can’t blame them for being what they are. you can just base your decisions on the knowledge of what they are… one of these decisions ought to be to assist them (if possible) to rehabilitate.

the “no one is to blame” viewpoint is a tough one to accept.. but it’s a demonstrably accurate way of seeing the world

RedPowerLady's avatar

The truth is I am just coming to accept this fact about myself. I tend to hold grudges. Some for Very good reasons. Other for smaller reasons. But I am also very forgiving. Often times more than others. I haven’t figured out yet what makes a grudge stick for me versus when I forgive.

RedPowerLady's avatar

@Jeruba There are a few recently, perhaps that is why I am prompted to ask this question. This issue seems prevalent in my life at this point.

It’s refreshing to hear I am not the only one that sometimes has problems letting things go :) Thank you for being honest.

RedPowerLady's avatar

@ninjacolin And how to do you separate the emotion out of it? I completely understand you on a cognitive level. Yet the inner me that is tense and angry and holding the grudge could care less what my mind says.

RedPowerLady's avatar

@Yarnlady I’ve been told that before and I think you are right. I need to figure out where it is coming from and honor it. At this point I have no idea.

ninjacolin's avatar

if you really knew that they were innocent you wouldn’t be able to blame them or associate negative emotions to them about the incident.

this is evidenced by the fact that you don’t blame or hold any negative emotions against ME regarding that incident. Clearly, you really don’t believe that i am blame worthy. And clearly, you really do believe that that person is blame worthy.

RedPowerLady's avatar

@ninjacolin So I am supposed to make the person innocent somehow? And hope that this cognition fools my emotional state?? honestly curious, not asking to be funny or argumentative

ninjacolin's avatar

no.. what i’m saying is (and again, this is hard to accept!) the person already IS innocent. Even if they blame themselves. They are still TECHNICALLY.. ACTUALLY.. innocent of their actions against you.

you don’t have to make them innocent.. you have only to acknowledge it.

the OTHER (easier) way of dealing with it that I was suggesting (and yarnlady’s suggestions were good too!) was that yes, you replace the negative tautology in your head “This person has wronged me” with a positive one: “I forgive ___ and I think s/he’s awesome.” until you literally overwhelm the memory of your grudge with new memories of forgiveness.

it is similar to deceiving yourself.. except that you’ll still have access to all your memories.. you just wont care about the negative ones after a while. and you would only choose to do this because you know that the negative memories aren’t serving you well. i mean, if you’re enjoying your grudge, feel free to keep repeating it to yourself and making it real in your heart. It’s up to you. :)

YARNLADY's avatar

The brain is a marvelous thing. Using the tool ninjacolin is suggesting is similar to brainwashing yourself. You can truly come to believe what you WANT to believe, not just by accident, but by training.

RedPowerLady's avatar

@Yarnlady @ninjacolin
I’ve heard of similar techniques in the field I work in (counseling arena). I think it is very interesting so thank you for sharing that with me.

I am not sure I’m looking to actually get rid of my grudges lol. But I like hearing your take on the topic. It’s not as much about me as it is about understanding what other people do or believe.

jo_with_no_space's avatar

When waking the dog up ceases to yield satisfactory results.

ninjacolin's avatar

“I am not sure I’m looking to actually get rid of my grudges lol”

haha, i thought so!
there’s some kind of pleasure in holding a grudge against some people.
one person for sure, i can never let her get away with anything. we’ve even talked about it and I’ve told her flat out: “You know, the way I think of things you can’t even really be blamed for whatever. I ought to just let this go.” I guess if I figured that out I could share that with you.

hmm.. maybe it has something to do with the fact that the person doesn’t seem to pursue forgiveness.

janbb's avatar

I think it depends on the extent of the injury and the intent of the perp. I don’t believe all injuries are caused in innocence. I am still wary of a family member who injured me when I was a child and while I have a relationship with him, I purposely keep my guard up. He can’t hurt me the same way again but I still won’t let him get too close.

So I think not forgiving can be self-protective and perhaps only you can decide which hurts to forgive and which to coddle.

RedPowerLady's avatar

@ninjacolin Hey I’m glad you get what I mean, lol :) I think it’s pretty funny you said that to the person and they accepted it.

RedPowerLady's avatar

@janbb I think self-protection is a good reason why a lot of us hold grudges. Thanx for bringing that up. You obviously have a great reason for self-protection. I know I do use my grudges that way as well even if it is just to guard my emotions.

Blondesjon's avatar

i have a couple of grudeges that i still hold from the first grade

Kraken's avatar

I make sure they tell the truth!

RedPowerLady's avatar

@Blondesjon that makes me feel better about my own grudges :)

Blondesjon's avatar

@RedPowerLadyglad to be of service

ronski's avatar

There’s been a lot of questions about grudges on here. Interesting…

Usually I see my bigger grudges as a form of protection. Even small ones are a form of protection. Just like, you know how this one person will react in a certain situation, and you would like to avoid that. Not like it’s a big grudge, but just that you are protecting yourself from something, therefore holding a kind of grudge.

Anyway, I guess I only hold a couple of big grudges. If either of those people were ever big enough to apologize to me for how they acted, I would totally be friends with them again, but I doubt either of them ever will. Even when they try to put effort into being my friend, I just can’t, because I don’t trust them because they can’t see their own wrongs, so they will only do them again!

That’s how I see it. Another friend of mine, we had a falling out and later she apologized to me, and all was good since than. I just can’t pretend like everything is okay and forgive someone, when they haven’t even acknowledged what happened in the first place.

ninjacolin's avatar

thanks @ronski that sounds right.

hmmmmmmmmmmm…. yeah.. i suspect (not sure yet) that the grudge feeling could be described as the feeling between a moment A when you first notice a person is causing harm and a moment B when they’ve acknowledged their wrong doing and there is no more threat of their continuing to cause that harm. The grudge lasts as long as the other person still seems oblivious to the harm caused and/or to their role in causing it. Essentially, they remain a threat to re-offend.

An example would be something like a Contractor putting a big screw into the wrong place on your wall to hang a fixture. (A) You come around the corner and see that he is way off from where you wanted the fixture to go and you instantly feel a bit of panic over the needlessly punctured wall space. You correct him with a few words, (B1) he apologizes, moves over 2 feet and starts again where he was suppose to. Hours later, you come back to find that the contractor somehow (B2) filled the extra screw holes and repainted it perfectly so that you can’t even tell there was a mistake made.

You probably forgave him at moment B1.. but you likely forgive him even more at moment B2. The feelings throughout (and I’m sure they would be different intensities of the feeling between A – B1 and B1 – B2) are what I suspect to be the same feelings of a grudge.


i dunno what i think about this exactly.. but if this is anything close to realistic it would seem to have a lot to do with your perception of them being a threat to continuing offense and/or a threat to re-offend.

HungryGuy's avatar

I don’t tolerate lying. I’d smack the dog across the nose with a rolled up newspaper and tell him to tell the truth!

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