How to Let Go Of Grudges And Bitterness - and Forgive Others

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It’s common to hold a grudge and live with it. The pain and suffering which come with harbouring resentment can consume us and deplete our energy.

Not only can it lock us in the past, but it can also wreak havoc on our mental and physical health.

So, it’s a good idea to let it go.

What are Grudges and How are They Formed?

What does Holding a Grudge Mean?

Grudges are negative emotions that are a result of perceived mistreatment by others. 

Sometimes, they can form when you are irritated by someone and don’t let them know about it.

Other times, grudges can be created because someone broke your trust, made you feel inadequate, small, inferior, unworthy or rejected you.

The feelings of anger, resentment, pain, sadness, and a sense of injustice often define the grudge. You feel like a victim — someone who has been ‘wronged’ — and now want justice and an apology for the pain you have endured. You want them to regret their behaviour. The thoughts of the person who hurt and ‘wronged’ you; you avoid them. You want to protect yourself from getting burned again.

Some personalities are more prone to holding a grudge. People can hold a grudge for weeks, months, and even years.

Related: How to Stop Ruminating

You Can’t Control Others

The problem with holding grudges and bitterness is that apart from it making you feel miserable, you don’t gain anything out of it.

We don’t have any control over the “wrong-doer”.

Can you make them apologise to you? Not unless they want to.

You can’t make them change their behaviour. 

It’s tough, if not impossible, to make them realise what they did to you was wrong. 

You can’t make them feel the pain you have gone through and how much impact it has had on your life. Even if you put in the effort to reconcile with them, you can’t make them see this.

We are powerless when it comes to controlling others. The one person you can control is You.

Waiting for that apology, plotting revenge, feelings of envy and competition, is just a waste of your time and energy.

Read How to Let Go of the Need to Control

Why You Need to Let Go of Grudge and Forgive

Benefits of Forgiveness

Grudges are an indication that we are not ok with someone’s particular behaviour. It’s not wrong to hold them, per se, for the time being. They tell you about your needs and how you want to be treated by others.

However, if you let these temporary feelings of indignation fester, it wouldn’t be long before they start to swallow you.

The negative emotions can become a source of constant stress. Your inability to achieve the desired action from the “wrong-doer” can cause more frustration and anxiety.

Physiologically speaking, constant stress can spike the levels of the cortisol hormone. From gaining weight, raising your blood pressure to damaging your cardiovascular health, stress can drastically impact your health.

Holding on to a grudge doesn’t let you move on, and makes you a prisoner of the past. Intrusive thoughts can sap out the pleasure of life. 

Deciding to let go of a grudge and embracing forgiveness is not for the one who wronged you; it’s for your health and peace.

Related: Can’t Sleep? Tips to Sleep Better

How to Let Go of Grudges and Bitterness

Forgiving someone who was (or still is) mean, rude, unjust to you is difficult. But for the sake of our health and well-being, we need to learn how to reduce (if not remove altogether) these feelings of pain and anger. 

Here is a step by step method which could help you let go of a grudge against someone.

Step 1: Acknowledge Your Feelings Without Judgment

When you notice you have been hurt, take a step back from the source of pain, and find a safer place and a person to express your thoughts and feelings. 

If you don’t want to involve a second person, penning down the feelings is your safest bet. Write in a journal without hindering the natural flow of your thoughts. 

Write about what happened, what caused the hurt, how you felt, and what do you want next. Please don’t act on it. Just express yourself and let it all out.

Permit yourself to hold the grudge for a few days or months and see how it makes you feel.

Step 2: Explore Your Options

If they are willing to talk, it’s a good idea to let them know that they have caused you pain. It’s up to them to realise their mistake and apologise, though. 

If they don’t want to be contacted or have a discussion, it’s better not to chase them and expect a change in their behaviour.

If what they have done is unlawful, explore your legal options and pursue it, accordingly.

Step 3: Realise the Need to Let Go of the Grudge

Before you could let go of a grudge, forgive and move on, you need to be ready to do it first. Realise the good it would bring if you let go of the associated negative feelings. Wouldn’t it be liberating to have ridden from the heaviness of grudges? It sure would. Think of all the mental health benefits and the peace, letting go of the feelings of resentment, would bring.

Step 4: Switch on Your Human Button

Hold the ‘wrong-doer’ accountable for what they have done to you. Acknowledge the fact that what they did was wrong and their actions have harmed you. 

While you make them responsible for your hurt, also remind yourself that they are human beings, just like you. They have their flaws and weaknesses, as you have yours. None of us is perfect. 

Sit with yourself and try to explore a different perspective towards your offender. 

To learn that point of view, get into their shoes and reflect on the reasons that would have led them to act the way they did. 

Take clues from their history; assess them as humans with imperfections, weaknesses, triggers, and insecurities. 

You would soon realise that they are a part of the same humanity as you are. The doors of empathy will open up. You might not justify their actions, but you would find something shifting. 

Now, think of the times you were mean, unjust, or rude to someone; the time someone forgave you.

Step 5: Make Yourself a Hero, Not a Victim

Change the narrative; declare yourself a hero and not a victim.

Read: How to Change Victim Mentality

Step 6: Finally, Let the Grudge Go

Create an intention to forgive that person and let go of the grudge against them. 

Tell yourself you are doing it because you no longer want to cling to the anger, pain and heaviness it has brought in your life. 

By letting it go, you want to focus entirely on your well-being; commit to loving and taking care of yourself. You want to concentrate on the goodness in your life.

You don’t have to like them, become friends with them or make things as they were earlier.

While you still hold them responsible for what they did, you understand the fallacy of human beings, and yet, you are choosing to forgive them.

Related: How to Let Go of Guilt and Regret


Holding grudges can steal away our peace of mind and physical health. Learning to let go of a grudge, hence, is imperative for our well-being. We can forgive the person even if we don’t receive the apology we seek from them. It is possible to lead a happy life without the weight of anger and resentment which grudges and bitterness bring.

Watch this video.

Letting Go of Grudges

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1 Comment

  1. Ethereal

    Excellent post!
    Relationships are not easy. Letting go of Grudges is even more difficult. But perhaps it’s the only way to get your sanity back.

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