Sunday, March 15, 2009

Can You Get That? I'm Too Busy Holding This Grudge.

Any guesses for what this week's topic is?

First, I have to say 'thanks' for all your help. I kept reminding myself of it all week, and finally on Friday I was able to just shake it all off and have a happy day. Not a very productive one, though. But, I experienced joy so the day definitely wasn't wasted.

Anyway, back to The Grudge.

I used to be pretty laid back. I had a really hard time holding onto negative feelings because it just felt so yucky. But then when the flip switched and so many other things changed in my life, I also became a really good grudge-holder. I don't know if I became immune to feeling the yuckiness of it, or what.

Holding grudges is a bad things for a number of reasons, but for the purpose of this blog, we'll stick to it's effect on joy. I cannot think of any circumstances where you can hold a grudge and feel joy at the exact same moment. None. Because the truth is, even though the yuck feeling of it doesn't bother me as much (unfortunately), it's still there.

The good news is, I've gotten a lot better at letting go of grudges since becoming a mom. Just a couple days before Little M was born, I was out with Sweet P. We checked out some books from the library and then headed to the produce store. While we were driving, she started talking about painting. I thought that was odd, but she was only two and two-year olds tend to be a bit random. Well, long story short--when we got to the store, I discovered that she had been painting with the milk in her sippy cup all over a library book!! It was ruined and I was furious (remember I was days away from giving birth and don't judge me too harshly). I made her cry pretty hard and then we headed into the store. I ignored her the whole shopping trip. Finally, when we were standing in the check out line, she reached her arms out as wide as she could and said, "I sowwy, Mommy. Hug?" I'm ashamed to say that I was tempted not to return that gesture. Thankfully, a kinder Spirit reminded me of who she really is and that she is learning everything from me. I forgave her and that hug was one of the best things I've ever experienced.

But I've still got work today. I spent a lot of last week carrying a grudge against HH. The grudge much more related to my stress than to anything HH actually did. But, like I often tell him, I never claimed to be a rational being.

Then I had an encounter later in the week that totally changed my perspective. The thing that had seemed so huge and difficult to forgive was suddenly practically non-existent. Honestly, I married an amazing man. There really isn't much to gripe over--I have to look really hard. Or I (evidently) blow things out of proportion.

Anyway, the point is--drop the grudge. It's so not worth it's weight. It's like they say, it's you that gets hurt the most. It takes years off your life and sucks the joy right out of you. What is the point? The thing that never ceases to amaze me is how easy it is to forgive when I let myself.

One time HH and I had been pretty crabby with each other all day. Do you ever have days like that? I like to think we're normal. We just irritated each other. It was a Saturday, so by the end of the day I was mad at him simply for taking away this one rare day of relaxation (not that it was really all his fault, I just let myself think that way). I said something to him about how he didn't want to do anything fun and he responded, quite defensively, "I do want to have fun!"

I just burst out laughing. What a ridiculous position to have to defend! Maybe it's not that funny to you, but it was hysterical to me then. And it's still funny when I think back on it. And then he started laughing too and suddenly everything was good between us again. And it stayed that way. Here we'd wasted the whole day being grumpy with each other and a little laughter was all it took to make it go away. We didn't have to talk it out, make accusations, or make sure our positions were known and understood. All we had to do was let go.

So do it. Is there something you're holding onto? In the book Happy for No Reason, Marci leads you through an exercise in letting go. Basically, you think of some grudge you're holding onto. Look at it objectively and decide if it's something you really need to hold onto (hint: you don't). Holding a grudge does nothing positive for you. Nothing. Why do we hold grudges?! Eventually, you have to get to a point where you can let go. And you can. Somethings are harder than others. But it's amazing how great you'll feel when it's gone.

This is another one of those lessons I have to keep re-learning though. I really don't want to teach my children to hold grudges, so thankfully, I have a lot of motivation to change. But even without that, in my quest for joy, I know I've got to get better at instantly letting go. Remember how I said that I didn't have a happy day until Friday? Well, I let go of my grudge against HH Thursday night. Coincidence? I doubt it.

The thing is, the Savior already atoned for all the actions of others that hurt me and for my hurt feelings. So, kind of like I was talking about last week, I can just give the burden over to Him. Not that He will carry the grudge for me; He just eliminates the reason for the grudge to exist.

What helps you to get over grudges? What about when it's against someone who isn't sorry or repentant in the least? How do you still get over your hurt or upset feelings? Does anyone have good advice for skipping the grudge altogether? Because that would really be ideal.

I just remembered that I was going to post something about "luck" in honor of my Irish heritage this St. Patty's week. Oops. I'm not re-posting. Sorry. Just remember that holding a grudge is highly unlucky. If you want to experience the luck of the Irish (along with joy) this week, you must let go of any and all grudges you're carrying--and don't pick up any new ones! (That was mainly for me.)


Nikki said...

That's a great reminder, Cheryl. Grudges really do take the happiness out of life. I am not a pro at this (nor am I claiming to be with this statement), but when I feel that I am being too harsh or angry, it helps to remind myself that this life is way too short to hold those harbored feelings. An eternal perspective really reminds me that it is more important to live with love towards others. I don't always do that, but ideally I would want to get better at thinking that way.

Kristen said...

Thanks for that post. I have been having a hard time with this lately. I am sure that my husband will thank you for this post. We truly are happier when we are carrying around grudges and I think we can be happier with our children and them with us.

Linda said...

I think it's called "carrying" a grudge because it's a heavy burden we needlessly place on ourselves, and it does nothing to help us or anyone else.

When I first read your blog a few days ago, I kind of patted myself on the back, thinking I wasn't one to carry grudges. Then I remembered an experience in high school where I carried a grudge for about 6 months! 6 MONTHS!!! and it was against a very good friend. I wanted to let go ahead of it for a long time but I took a while to apologize to my friend. Thankfully, she was very forgiving and we rebuilt our relationship. I learned a lot from that experience.

Thanks for sharing your experience when you burst out laughing and that changed the whole atmosphere - another great lesson to remember.

The Atonement has a lot of power to help us bypass the grudges we are tempted to carry when we exercise our agency and choose to go forgive others and ourselves.

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