There are some mixed up people in the world, and it’s an inevitability that one of them will eventually cross your path.
Holding grudges is ultimately a toxic habit. There’s a quote about this I like: “Holding a grudge is like drinking a poison and expecting the other person to get sick.”
When someone holds a grudge, it isn’t good for them. But it’s also of no consequence to you, especially if they’re holding a grudge for the wrong reason.
Some people will hold a grudge against you for something that they did.
They’ll hold a grudge against you for the way you reacted to their wrong-doing, whether you blew up at them or let it slide. If you blew up, they might hold a grudge for your aggression. If you let it go, they may hold a grudge against you for not feeding the fire they wanted to start.
This kind of grudge is fairly complicated to deal with, but there are a couple things you can do and keep in mind to rectify the situation, or at least move past it.
Ask them what you need to do to make it better.
There is a very real chance that what you did in response to their bad behavior was justified or wasn’t even wrong in the first place, but it’s still good to be proactive. When someone is holding a grudge and holding onto their anger at you, they want the ball to be in your court. They want you to rectify the situation.
So hit the ball back. Ask them what it is that you need to do in order to make the situation better. It’ll give you the opportunity to fix anything you might have done wrong, but it will also force them to look inward and consider if maybe they’re being a little bit ridiculous. If they fail to have that moment of clarity, then you’ve probably learned something important about them and need to make some choices about their status in your life.
Realize they might need to hold onto the grudge.
If someone hurt you and is holding onto a grudge for it, before you decide you hate them forever and hold a grudge of your own, consider for a moment whether or not they might need that. What was their past like? What is their present today like? Do they need to be defensive? Do they have a reason to feel like they must have been wronged?
People who are in the grips of a narcissist, an abuser, or who’ve had a terrible past do sometimes put up large walls around themselves, and grudges can help reinforce those walls. It doesn’t make it right, but when looking to rectify a situation, it can help to have a little bit of perspective.
I’d never say you must apologize in a situation like this. I’ve long said that “I’m sorry” are the two most powerful words you have at your disposal. You should only utter them if you mean it or if you’re certain that it will allow for better discourse moving forward.
An apology may be all they need to hear to move on.
At the end of the day, your best course of action is to let their grudge go. But if the grudge follows you, haunts you, and changes the way you’re treated, it may be worthwhile to revisit any of the above points in order to rectify the situation, especially if you can’t escape that person.
It’s no fun dealing with a grudge, especially when you’ve done nothing wrong, but these things happen and it’s good to be equipped with the skills needed to deal with it.