When someone wrongs you, it’s tempting to hold onto that feeling of anger toward them. It’s normal to feel betrayed, hurt, and frustrated. That can lead to a lack of trust, of course. But, it can also cause you to hold a grudge — even if they’ve asked for forgiveness. 

Holding a grudge might make you feel good for a while. It can cause you to feel justified and might even make you think you’re somehow “punishing” the person you’re holding the grudge against. 

Unfortunately, the person you’re really punishing is yourself. 

Holding a grudge is more harmful than you might think. Let’s discover why and dig deeper into how to let go of those feelings. 

What Is a Grudge? 

It’s easy to assume that a grudge is nothing more than anger or frustration toward someone. But think about where those feelings stem from. 

A grudge is the recollection of a past event and the negative feelings you felt. Essentially, it’s a way of holding onto the past, so you’re constantly reminding yourself of something “bad” that happened, even if it was weeks, months, or years ago. It can instantly put you in a bad mood and cause stress even though the event itself is long gone. 

How Can a Grudge Impact Your Health? 

When you hold on to those negative feelings, it can impact your physical and mental well-being. 

Studies have shown that people who hold onto grudges for an extended period of time tend to experience greater cognitive decline. 

photo of a young adult woman smilingGrudges also create stress in the mind and body, which can lead to sleep issues, memory problems, and more extreme physical health conditions, including digestive issues and muscle aches. Excess stress can also end up triggering mental health issues like anxiety or depression. 

Perhaps most importantly, holding a grudge can have a negative impact on your overall quality of life. By constantly focusing on a negative issue from the past, you aren’t allowing yourself to enjoy the present or look toward the future. You might wake up in a bad mood that doesn’t get better throughout the day. That can affect your relationships, career, and so much more. 

How to Let Go of a Grudge

The best way to move on from a grudge is to forgive the person you’re holding it against. Of course, that’s often easier said than done. 

Even if you’re able to say you forgive someone, it’s something that has to come from the heart. Words only go so far, and if you’re still holding a grudge internally, they won’t do anything. 

Remember that forgiveness isn’t necessarily about the person you’re forgiving. It’s about letting yourself (and your mind) off the hook. When you hold on to a grudge, you continue to give it more power to take over your life. 

So, while forgiveness is a start, there are extra steps to take that can really help you let go — steps designed to reduce stress and keep you in the present. 

Things like mindfulness and deep breathing are great for focusing on the moment and letting go of negative thoughts. Close your eyes, relax your mind and body, and focus on nothing but the here and now. 

If you’re really struggling to let go of a grudge and can’t stop thinking about the situation that caused it, it’s okay to reach out for help. Anxiety therapy can help you untie the knots of negativity, working through the source and fostering helpful ways of coping. A grudge doesn’t have to control your life and make you feel miserable forever. If you’re ready to let go and move forward, consider reaching out to learn more about