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How To Be A Responsible Grudge-Holder

It’s inevitable that you’re going to feel negative emotions every once in a while, but it’s important to deal with these feelings in a healthy way. Sophie Hannah, author of HOW TO HOLD A GRUDGE, shares her insight on how to be a responsible grudge-holder.

That’s why anyone who is serious about embarking upon the Grudge-fold Path needs to understand that every grudge-holder is also a grudgee. It’s just about possible, I suppose, that you are the subject of not one single grudge in someone else’s grudge cabinet, but it’s highly unlikely, unless you were only born a week ago.

We’re more likely to be responsible grudge-holders if we think regularly about how it makes us feel to be grudgees. In what circumstances might we yearn to have the grudges about us canceled out? Is there any positive action we can or should take to try to address any of those true stories in which we are the grudgee?

Here are the steps we need to take:

  1. Accept that other people are as entitled and as likely to hold grudges about us as we are to hold grudges about them.
  2. Try, wherever possible, to behave in ways that do not cause other people anger or pain that they will create a grudge about. This does not apply to their unreasonable anger caused by our entirely reasonable behavior, or to the pain they cause to themselves and wrongly attribute to us. For example: You need to stop walking up to strangers and saying, “Yours is the most appalling complexion I’ve seen in years. Why don’t you stay inside, or put a bag over your head before going out?” You do not need to stop playing tennis with Annabel on a Friday afternoon if it makes Yvonne sad because she doesn’t like Annabel and thinks you should only ever play tennis with her.
  3. If, for some reason, you realize you have behaved badly to someone, do what you can to put it right: apologize, buy them a nice scarf or a cocktail, reassure them that you care about them and hate the idea that you’ve hurt them.
  4. Accept that once you’ve apologized and corrected your bad behavior, you have done all you can do. If they want to hold a grudge, that’s up to them—and that’s fine.
  5. Accept that it’s perfectly okay, and nothing for you to worry about, if, even after your apology or behavior correction, that person’s grudge about you still exists. You cannot control what other people think or how they feel, and you shouldn’t try to.
  6. Accept that three, or twenty, or two hundred people having grudges about you doesn’t make you a bad person. It says precisely nothing about you. If I announced that I was going to vote for a particular political party at the next election, the many thousands of supporters of the other party might then have a grudge about me. That’s okay: being a person doing her stuff in the world is going to cause people to cast you in a leading role in some of their grudges. It’s unavoidable. Do not sit at home doing and saying nothing in the hope of annoying and upsetting no one. People will still have grudges about you—“That stupid sap who hides in her house all day, she’s so depressing to live next door to. I have a grudge about her for not moving somewhere else where I don’t need to look at her scared, miserable face.”—so you might as well enjoy yourself and do your thing in the world to the fullest (responsible) extent.

Find out more about forgiveness and grudges in HOW TO HOLD A GRUDGE by Sophie Hannah!


Tips on Life & Love: A New Way To Look At Forgiveness


Excerpted from How To Hold A Grudge by Sophie Hannah Copyright © 2019 by the author. Used by permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.

Photo by Evan Kirby on Unsplash.


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