Time to let go of that grudge? It might be good for your health!

Dr Gary
By Dr GaryCA Latest Reply 2013-03-28 19:34:27 -0500
Started 2013-03-21 22:29:21 -0500

Last week, a client talked to me about how a friend had done something to hurt him. As he talked, I couldn’t help but notice how his whole demeanor changed. He slumped forward, frowning like he was in pain, his energy drained. I was reminded of how our emotions can make us sick.

And so I said to him: “I know you were hurt by what your friend did. But how is it helping you to carry this grudge around with you? From where I’m sitting, I don’t see the benefit.”

Anybody in your life that you haven’t forgiven?

Let’s take a look at what carrying around that grudge can do to you. For one, holding grudges can lead to stress. Think of all that negativity churning around inside of you as you remind yourself, over and over, of what that other person did. If you have a grudge against someone close to you, most likely this is having an impact on your relationship as well. Being unable to forgive someone can also lead to depression. And if your mental energy is being directed to keeping that grudge alive, then most likely your ability to concentrate, and be at your best, is being affected.

Do you really want to walk around with all of this negativity?

Here’s a link to an article in Living with Diabetes with some ideas on how to become more forgiving.


Any stories to share?

52 replies

GabbyPA 2013-03-27 18:36:24 -0500 Report

Negativity is toxic. I can't see it any other way. I have a dear friend whom I care for very much that had just caved in to being toxic all the time. I had spent a lot of time trying to help him overcome it, but to no avail. I had to choose to continue our friendship of toxic values or to walk away for my own health.

It was a horrible two months while I tried to sort it out. A hand of forgiveness was offered as well as the council of friends, but it was refused. The stress of all of that was incredible. As hard as it was, the tie had to be severed. Sometimes you cannot fix what doesn't see itself as broken.

The weight lifted at the parting, even though I cried for two days over it. The relief of not having that toxic cloud over me is liberating. Sometimes you don't see how far down you are until you look up to see the exit instead of down to see the dark.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2013-03-28 11:25:02 -0500 Report

Hey Gabby,

So good to be in touch with you, as always. Thank you for sharing this experience, and your wisdom. You bring up a very important point here. Carrying all that negativity not only affects your own health, and the relationship with the person you have the grudge against, but it can affect all of your relationships. It is so hard to be around someone who is so caught up in their own anger and bitterness that they spew it out in all directions. At some point, we all have to set limits with people who choose to live their lives that way, to protect our own health. It's tragic, right?


jayabee52 2013-03-28 19:34:27 -0500 Report

one of my wise Therapists said at one point, when I was bottling up my feelings of anger: "Feelings Leak".

And upon reflection I had to admit he was right! And it often leaks on innocent bystanders, those who have nothing to do with the situation.

T'Leesa 2013-03-27 02:05:40 -0500 Report

How timely a post/article! Thank you very much. I was just talking to a pastor/friend of mine about this very thing tonight. I have been having a hard time forgiving my brother for something he did when we were children. It is true - unresolved issues and anger takes it toll on us. I've had my share of health issues through the years. I'm sure my feelings didn't help my health. I must admit that my brother didn't feel remorse at all, nor was he going to hurt just because I can't stand to be around him. When I found out some bad news about him, I truly felt nothing. This is such a bad place to be - and I didn't feel good about myself. I realize now that forgiveness is necessary in part for us to thrive and grow in life. Our very well-being depends on it.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2013-03-28 11:13:24 -0500 Report

Hey T'Leesa,

Great to hear from you. And you said this so well! I really appreciate that you shared this. These childhood memories of unkind or abusive behavior can haunt us, and be so hard to let go of. But as you experienced, letting go is good for our own health. It can take time, and being persistent about working on ourselves, but getting free is worth it.

Thank you, my friend!


Miss_Teal 2013-03-25 07:50:09 -0500 Report

A few years ago I was given this by a family member in regards to my brother and I told him I forgave him to his face and I was doing it for me. This is by Andy Andrews… It's more for you then the person you forgive.

I will greet this day with a forgiving spirit. For too long every ounce of forgiveness I own was locked away, hidden from view. Waiting for me to bestow its precious presence upon some worthy person. Alas, I found most people to be singularly unworthy of my valuable forgiveness, and since they never asked for any I kept it all for myself. Now the forgiveness that I hoarded has sprouted inside my heart like a crippled seed yielding bitter fruit. No more. At this moment my life has taken on new hope and assurance. Of all the worlds population I am one of the few possessors of the secret to dissipating anger and resentment. I now understand that forgiveness only has value when it is given away. By the simple act of granting forgiveness I release the demons of the past about which I can do nothing and I create in myself a new heart, a new beginning. I will greet this day with a forgiving spirit.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2013-03-25 23:01:19 -0500 Report

Hi Miss Teal,

Wow, this is excellent. Thanks a lot for sharing it! It really describes so well the benefit of forgiveness.


tinkerbell54 2013-03-26 09:16:45 -0500 Report

grudges on hurt us in the end & not the person we were mad at. beside it will hurt ur diabetes 2 . its not worth to hold grudge. beside in the BIBLE we should forgive one another sometimes 70 times 70 that's how many times the BIBLE say we such forgive a person. Tinkerbell54

tinkerbell54 2013-03-26 10:43:41 -0500 Report

dr.gary I think u got it wrong the more we hold a grudge the more it hurts us. & it affects ur diabetes as well. Tinkerbell54

jayabee52 2013-03-26 10:49:08 -0500 Report

I believe you misunderstood Dr Gary, Tink. I believe his original post intended for us to examine ourselves and to forgive those who have wronged us rather than holding a grudge.

Lisa.29 2013-03-23 21:46:51 -0500 Report

I always have a hard time not holding grudges … I can hold a grudge for years & I know it's not good

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2013-03-25 22:59:45 -0500 Report

Hi Lisa, I think it is human nature to hold grudges. Forgiving is a process, one step at a time. I know it's not easy. But it's worth the effort. Thanks for checking in. Gary

Tony5657 2013-03-23 06:53:07 -0500 Report

Wow! To Dr. Gary and others who have added your input. You are helping blow off the very tight fitting lid of my life's "unforgiven" garbage can! I've had problems all of my life with forgiving those who "wronged" me but recently, through prayer & meditation in God's Word, The Bible, I've learned this is destructive and keeps ME in bondage. It also keeps God from forgiving me, which isn't good.

Matthew 6:9-15 New International Version (NIV) Words of Jesus - especially verses 14 & 15:
9 “This, then, is how you should pray: “‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.
14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.
15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins."
Also Mark 11:25 (NIV) Words of Jesus -
25 "And when you stand praying if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in Heaven may forgive you your sins"

I studied for years in college & graduate schools seeking "life's truth", the real meaning & purpose of my life on this planet. I studied philosophy, psychology, sociology, comparative religions, anthropology & archaeology and finally settled on Christianity. To me, true Christianity as portrayed in the Bible is the only "way" that actually works and makes sense and my following its truths has opened up an entire new, positive and more free way of thinking & living for me. This thing of forgiving has freed me of a ton of garbage. Now I can move on and work on other problems I have, which are many.

Tony5657 in New Braunfels, TX better than I used to be, but I still have a long way to go.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2013-03-23 16:16:29 -0500 Report

Hey Tony,

Thanks so much for sharing your wisdom here, as well as reminding us of the words of forgiveness in the Lord's Prayer. The Bible certainly has a lot to teach us about forgiveness, encapsulated right in those words!

Having a strong faith, a peace that passes all understanding, provides a strong foundation for living life to the fullest. And not carrying around all of those resentments.

I really appreciate this, my friend!


Nana_anna 2013-03-22 21:30:04 -0500 Report

I love this article, and wished that the people that have hurt me, my family especially. Would wake up to them holding grudges on me. Not only does it affect the person holding the grudge. It effects the grudgee…My mom just recently shunned me from her life. Nothing new though, I am used to it. This time hurt though. But I hold no grudges. I just ask God to give her grace and forgiveness in her heart towards me. We have never had a really good relationship, in all of my growing up. Nothing I did was right. I was held back by her in allot of things. Mainly she told me that I would never amount to anything, God didn't love me, so on and so forth. I was young then But now as an adult I often think, why? What did I do wrong for her to not love me,? Why the hatred attitude towards me. I just wrote her a letter asking that, no response of chorse. I cannot let her get to me either When someone pulls you down like that, its not worth it! I don't care who it is! You think, well, 'she's my mother??'…doesn't matter. When someone constantly drags you down, its time to let go. Don't hold on to that negative. Please. It is harder to deal with her, if I let it get to me phyiscally and emotionally. I want to move on and feel good about what I have done. Things that I have achieved in my life. I am a strong person, I don't hold grudges. By the way the Bible says that is a sin. I hope this helps someone. It will affect your diabetes to. Stress does, either way.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2013-03-23 16:11:08 -0500 Report

Hey Nana_anna,

Thanks so much for sharing your experiences here. Holding a grudge can hurt the grudge holder as much as the person they are holding it against, if not more. You can lose so much valuable time in a relationship, and you will never have that time given back to you. It's a tragedy.

I was sad to read about you and your mom. It reminds me that troubled people have chldren, and don't know how to be caring and supportive parents. Children aren't old enough to understand that their parents are troubled, and blame themselves for the way their parents treat them. Another tragedy.

It sounds like you have been able to gain some perspective on your past, and he way you were treated, and to move on with your life. That's great. We can't change other people, but we can take care of ourselves.

Nice to hear from you!


Nana_anna 2013-03-24 13:56:37 -0500 Report

Thank you Dr. Gary, I am working on staying positive in my life. When it comes to mom, I love her, but she tends to drag me down allot. I have to stay focused and turn away from her sometimes. She is opioininated, but that doesn't give her permission to acuse me of wrong doing, and other things, she doesn't like. That is why I am not around her, because she will constantly do that. I am not sure if she realises that she does this. I can't keep being emotionally burned by her. I am an adult, she has to know her boundries now. I can't confide in her because she gossips, and twists my words. She becomes angry and disappointed if I do one thing wrong, or things she doesn't like. I don't live my life for her. I am 49 years old. Not 9 or 10 or 18 years old. She needs to stop or learn to not be controling and hard. I know people can change if they make up there minds to. I won't do this anymore with her. Its sad, but, for my health, I have to. Continuing on a positive path, and going to experience enjoying life in a good way!

Nick1962 2013-03-22 15:47:36 -0500 Report

This is kind of an important topic for me. As I get to know people, like many, I try to get a handle on their personalities so I can treat them the way they would like. Some see that as being somewhat of a “car salesman” or an act, but I do it because I care about people, their feelings and needs. I like to be able to be the kind of person that will provide a needed hug (or word of kindness, encouragement, or even brutal honesty if necessary) without having to be asked for it. It also helps me quickly recognize if a relationship is worth having, because let’s face it, we can’t like everybody.

I don’t (or try not to) hold grudges, because in the end I figure we’re all gonna get what we deserve and deserve what we get (I’m sure someone wise said that, I just don’t know who). Sure I might get steamed, and stew on something (at times way more than I should), and even get depressed or ill about it.
Once the fog lifts though, I have to ask myself a few things: Did the person who I perceived as wronging me even know they did, or was I just fuming about it myself – did I manufacture the hurt? Was I hurt because of what someone did, or was I hurt because I myself should have seen it coming? Was I waiting for an excuse – was I secretly just looking for things to get mad about so I could end a relationship/did I overdramatize the situation?

Fact is, sure, I’ve done all those things, and I’m old enough to have learned that about myself. It’s also pretty much what we humans do. I’ve been hurt and have caused my fair share – sometimes knowingly, sometimes not – but the only way I’ve found to avoid or remedy it is to openly discuss it before it festers (in either party) to a grudge. Sometimes the relationship gets better/stronger, other times we part ways, but at least we know where we stand and don’t have to deal with the baggage a grudge can become.

GabbyPA 2013-03-27 18:40:10 -0500 Report

Excellent! This is so true. You cannot please everyone, but as long as you don't loose who you are in your efforts to meet the needs of people around you, you can do wonders. Getting the splinter out before it becomes infected is so important. Great points.

Nick1962 2013-03-28 11:12:12 -0500 Report

I have a job that kind of forces me to have “relationships” with people for a year or two. I don’t like to play the car salesman role because it’s pretty transparent. There have been one or two times I’ve had to say “look, I get the feeling the two of us aren’t going to get along, so let’s just get the job done”. I think I learned more about my own tolerance those few times and it did prevent what might have been some very explosive situations. The one time I did that in my personal life (a friend of my ex’s), we actually turned into fairly good friends. Not enough to hang out, but mutually respectful of each other.
Some times you can head off a potential future grudge.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2013-03-23 15:49:04 -0500 Report


What a great post. Thanks a lot for sharing your wisdom here. There is a lot to be said for taking that step back at what's realy going on. Is there a gap between perceptions and the reality of the situation? Are we reacting to this person in the here and now, or is the situation stirring up feelings from the past? And yes, is this a long awaited for excuse to get mad?

I remind myself that everybody has problems, everybody suffers in some way, and none of us is always on our best behavior. And I agree, talking it out, in the here and now, before it fester, can go a long way toward grudge prevention.

Thanks again, my friend!


Just Joyce
Just Joyce 2013-03-22 12:37:00 -0500 Report

To all the people along the way who hurt me, lied to me, betrayed me, and broke my heart…You forced me to see the change I needed in my life and gave me the determination, motivation and a belief that I needed to change. You gave me more than you could ever take from me so, Thank You… I posted this on my Facebook page last night.

Life is to short to hold a grudge. Either forgive the person and try to mend fences or let it go. At the end of the day the person holding the grudge is the one suffering. The person who hurt you has moved on with their lives.

Everyone has had someone hurt them at one time in our lives. It doesn't matter if it was a friend, spouse, parent or complete stranger somewhere along the way you either had a spat, a divorce, a break up or a betrayal. If you don't let it go and move on with your life, you put yourself in an emotional rut. As Joan Rivers is fond of saying, Grow Up. Forgiveness is a form of growing up. Turn the other cheek and let Karma handle it.

A grudge is a very heavy burden to carry. It causes stress, the inability to move forward and it can destroy you in the end. To hold a grudge means you are using energy that could be used for other things. Once you let go of the hurt you will feel much better in all aspects of your life.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2013-03-22 13:32:09 -0500 Report

Hey Joyce,

This is so beautifully written. Thank you for sharing it with us. I have had people in my life who taught me so much by being kind, positive role models, who have me encouragement and helpful feedback. I have had people in my life who taught me so much by cutting me off at the knees. The second group affected me as you described, by making me more determined and motivated.

And Joan Rivers also knows what she's talking about here.

Live gives us enough challenges as it is. Why not let go of the burdens that we can let go of.

Thanks again, my friend!


Just Joyce
Just Joyce 2013-03-22 13:56:45 -0500 Report

Friedrich Nietzsche said it best "What doesn't kill me makes me stronger". If you hurt me I learn from it. People spend way too much time on what hurts them than what makes them happy. The negatives are easier to recall than the positives. If you allow what people do to you hurt you, you really have to do what Joan Rivers says and grow up. Children pout when parents say no to them but they recover because they are far more resilient than adults. If as an adult you pout because you are hurt or you wallow in self pity because someone broke up with you, left you or stabbed you in the back you really have to grow up.

If you learn from every injustice that has happened to you, you are far stronger than the person who hurt you. I smile at people who dislike me because it makes them wonder why I am so happy or what I am going to do to them. It drives them crazy. I do not lose sleep over what people do to me, I lose sleep over what I am going to do next. Somewhere, at some point in your life someone is going to hurt you. Sometimes people do and say things to you just to see your reaction. If you learn not to react to it, you are the stronger of the two because the person soon learns they cannot hurt you. Never ever hold a grudge against someone because you are only giving the person power and control over your emotions. I never give away my control over myself.

Set apart
Set apart 2013-03-22 05:44:45 -0500 Report

I agree with Graylin Bee, there are times when you will forgiven but it doesn't mean that you have to allow certain individuals back into your life. I've learned that the hard way, so now I just distance myself from certain individuals who may be toxic to my health!

Graylin Bee
Graylin Bee 2013-03-22 01:30:51 -0500 Report

A former friend was very toxic, that I could handle. I tried to be a positive influence. When she tried to kill me, that was a different matter. She willfully endangered my life through reckless behavior behind the steering wheel of her car while I was a passenger. She refused my repeated requests to be allowed out of the moving, locked vehicle. Spent over 60 minutes in that nightmare situation. I have forgiven her, as best as I can. But I have no desire to continue with the abusive situation.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2013-03-22 10:35:23 -0500 Report

Hi Graylin Bee! Wow, what an incredible story. You make a very good point here. We can choose to move on and not hold a grudge, but we also have to set limits with troubled, abusive people. We have to take the best possible care of ourselves. Gary

jayabee52 2013-03-22 01:10:47 -0500 Report

Life is too short to stay mad, hold grudges, be unhappy or live with regrets. Treasure the moments you were blessed with while you can.

Just Joyce
Just Joyce 2013-03-22 13:01:35 -0500 Report

I agree with you 100% James. Holding a grudge, being unhappy and living with regrets is the same as always needing people to feel sorry for you. It makes you miserable. For the person in constant need of sympathy, they are miserable when they don't get it. I prefer to live my life while I am able to do so and let bygones be bygones.

diabetic diva 1975
diabetic diva 1975 2013-03-21 23:52:47 -0500 Report

Thanks for posting this Gary. I for one needed to hear this as I'm learning to move forward after being hurt to my very core by someone I thought was my best friend. It's been a slow process but I'm getting there.

GrammieMags 2013-03-23 08:57:52 -0500 Report

Hi Diva, sounds like you are going through a mourning cycle. If you are not familiar with the process of mourning, look it up.

And this, too, shall pass.

Just Joyce
Just Joyce 2013-03-22 12:59:16 -0500 Report

Diva the person who hurt you has more than likely moved on with their life while you are holding the grudge. Sometimes we let what people do to us cause a void that we don't think we will ever fill. Hopefully, you will take the heartache and dump it in the trashcan of your life and move forward. Why suffer for it if the other person is happy.

Lentyl 2013-03-21 22:41:57 -0500 Report

The only person who is suffering is the one holding the grudge, right? I knew someone years ago who was angry with a department store because they had not done the best job in installing new windows. This man decided that there was no way that he would ever go to that store again so that he would be "punishing" the store. It took a while but I was finally able to convince him that the store didn't know anything about it and the only one suffering was him. He eventually shopped in that store because he did what you talk about - forgiveness. Not only did he forgive the store but he also learned how to forgive himself.

Just Joyce
Just Joyce 2013-03-22 12:42:00 -0500 Report

Lentyl, I will not shop in a store that provided bad service and I discussed it with the manager who did nothing to correct the problem. On the other hand not shopping in a store because you received bad service and not saying anything is totally meaningless. They don't know the service they provided you was under par if you said nothing. People get mad over things and hold grudges that they can easily resolve if they speak up.

Lentyl 2013-03-22 13:42:10 -0500 Report

Nor would I shop in a store that didn't offer something to correct a problem. In the case that I mentioned the chap didn't talk to anyone in the store so they weren't aware. He took that attitude that he'd never darken the doors of that store again. It is unfortunate that he also carried that kind of attitude to many places and people. He was never a happy man and died very unhappy. In fact late in life he ran across a problem of his own making. He left the problem to others to deal with and said that he wished that he was dead. Three months later he was.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2013-03-22 10:29:30 -0500 Report

Hi Lentyl! Thanks a lot for sharing this with us. What an incredible example of the value of holding a grudge that is not hurting anyone but yourself. You did this guy a big favor. That's what friends do -- help us to see how we are hurting ourselves. Gary

Lentyl 2013-03-22 11:49:23 -0500 Report

Thanks Gary.

Gwen214 2013-03-23 08:11:08 -0500 Report

I see my mom suffering from grudges for many years, and it builds every time she does not release it. She says she has forgiven, but she brings up past situations, even as far back as her childhood. I can see the hate build up, and I'm afraid she may have a stroke one day. Even recent minor events she blows up. We ( my siblings and me) have tried to talk to her about it, but she insist that she has forgiven those have hurt her. She is a Christian, and prays everyday. I seriously think she doesn't realize what she's doing, or know the true meaning of forgiveness. I feel like the only thing we can do is pray for her.

Just Joyce
Just Joyce 2013-03-25 12:26:27 -0500 Report

Gwen I think she realizes what she is doing. She thrives on the feeling of anger. She may never have learned how to let go or she may not want to let go. She very well could be using it as substance for her emotions.

I have a friend who has been holding a grudge against her oldest son's ex girlfriend for 15 years. It is so bad she cannot see her grandson until he is old enough to decide if he want to see her. She holds a grudge against her father because of his will. None of his children can touch their inheritance until they are 62. If they contest it, their portion automatically is divided among those who didn't. Her father has been dead for at least 20 years. She holds a grudge against a woman she works with for reasons I can't comprehend.

Since I suffer from Brain To Mouth disorder (I say what I think) she is often angry with me. She goes to church regularly and always invites me to attend with her. She got mad with me when I told her a Christian doesn't have to tell you they are a Christian because you find that out by their actions/behavior and a good Christian wouldn't hold the grudges, the hatred and the anger she clings to. I told her I can't attend church with a hypocrite.

People are going to be people regardless if the person is a parent, a friend, spouse or a sibling and nothing you can do will change them. Your mom will only change if she is willing to change. She is the one being miserable because of her grudges. You can choose to allow her to make you miserable or not. You can love her because she is your mom but one day she will see what all of her grudges has done to her well being. Good luck and keep praying.

Lentyl 2013-03-23 09:45:17 -0500 Report

It is so difficult for people to "Let go and let God." God always answers prayer, as you know. God Bless you as you and your siblings continue to pray for your mother.

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