As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that I hold on to grudges. Not for little things. I can overlook little mistakes, hiccups, oversights, etc. It’s the big stuff that I have trouble letting go. And funny enough, in my personal life, I don’t seem to have a big problem with this. As I’ve analyzed it, I think it’s because when I have a problem with somebody in my personal life, usually I’m close enough to them to be able to work through it, or I have the ability to speak my mind. It’s more in my professional life that I struggle, and I bet this is pretty common for most of us.
As a teacher, it’s hard for me to forgive when I feel like somebody isn’t doing what’s best for kids. It’s hard for me to forgive when things are mandated that are ridiculous to be putting in place in a world full of 5-year olds (MY world!). Or it’s hard when I feel like somebody is choosing not to do their job and others have to pick up the slack for them on a regular basis. Big things in the overall picture of education. It’s a well-oiled machine and if one part is not working correctly, it throws everything off! Typically, I try to confront the problem or find creative solutions to make it better. However, sometimes the person isn’t receptive to even hearing about the problem. Or they’re so far above me in the chain of command, it doesn’t matter if a little peon like myself is upset with them. I STRUGGLE with this. It makes me mad. Like so mad, my blood pressure raises and my cheeks turn bright red. So mad I cry. Then I get mad that I’m crying, and I cry harder. So mad that I hold on to it for a long long time.
I know this isn’t good. It’s not good for myself. It’s not good for the person that I’m upset with (if it’s a situation where they would even care). It’s hard for me to have a positive attitude about anything that person says or does in the future, even if it really is a good idea. I had some professional development training a couple of years ago about forgiveness. I’ve been trying really hard to try to apply it to my life. Holding a grudge isn’t worth it. You have to forgive. You don’t have to like what they did. You don’t have to be okay with it. You can definitely keep looking for ways to make it better. But you have to forgive. Don’t get me wrong: you can have your moment to be upset. It’s not good to hold it all in. But once you have your moment, you have to move past it. The only person you’re hurting when you hang on to it is yourself. YOU are the one carrying the baggage, not the other person. Chances are the other party doesn’t know or doesn’t care that you’re upset. If you can’t or won’t address it with them, you have to let it go.
So now comes the part where I have to be real with you: I’ve been holding a grudge against a person for close to four years. It’s not been good for me. It’s not been good for my health. It hasn’t changed the situation. That person doesn’t even know or care that I’m upset. They don’t care about my opinion or thoughts on the issue. So why have I held a grudge for so long? Because they hurt me and have stood in the way of myself and my beliefs in what is right. However, holding the grudge and holding on to the past hasn’t done a darn thing except make me bitter and grumpy this whole time. A few months ago, I made a commitment to myself and decided I was ready to let it go and do what I could do to move on. It’s been a slow process and it hasn’t been easy, but it feels good to finally move past it. This quote says it all:
When you forgive, you in no way change the past – but you sure do change the future.Bernard meltzer
If you’ve been upset with somebody, take a second to really analyze the situation. Are you making things better by holding on to the grudge? If not, I encourage you to forgive them, even if they don’t even know it. Move on. You don’t have to forget, you don’t have to pretend it didn’t happen. You’ll remember and it will probably change the way to handle things in the future. But for your own sake, don’t carry around the baggage. Chalk it up to an experience that helped shape you and look to the future.