The topic of grudges has been on my mind lately because I recently had a friend admit that she was upset about something that I DIDN’T say (or didn’t say enough) to her last year. This came out in relation to something she was upset about recently, and it became apparent that she has been holding a grudge about last year and exhibiting passive aggressive behavior towards me in the meantime. And then when she finally did express her frustration, she didn’t hesitate to include some insults and other very hurtful things. I would have preferred that she said something a year ago instead, rather than let it affect how she has treated me since then.
Ironically, she is generally pretty quick to tell other people if there is something they have done or said that bothers her. That’s the other extreme, where we don’t hesitate to point out every little thing. But that can be difficult NOT to do with the people who continue to repeat the same patterns of behavior that irritate us or hurt our feelings. It’s hard to resist the urge when it happens so frequently. I can relate to both of the situations, as I too have people in my life who are repeat offenders with plenty of negative behaviors, but I have also hesitated to tell her things that she has done in the past that I didn’t like. I was willing to overlook the negatives with her because the positives outweighed them.
I understand that it’s difficult to tell people we care about that they have hurt our feelings or disappointed us somehow, especially if we don’t think they are going to react very well. Or perhaps it’s a matter of not wanting to upset the fruit basket, so to speak. Unfortunately, when we don’t speak up, things fester, and little things become bigger than they should. And when we finally have the courage to say something, it often doesn’t come out in the most constructive way. Once my buttons were pushed, it wasn’t difficult to let her know about the negatives I was no longer willing to overlook, just as she was not hesitant to say hurtful things to me.
Neither complaining frequently nor choosing to not say something at all are necessarily the best way to go about dealing with frustration or hurt feelings. Listening to someone complain all the time gets very old and can be mentally draining at times. Yet, holding onto negative feelings for a long time can be just as toxic. Both can tip the scale so that it seems like there are more negatives than positives in whatever type of relationship. Somewhere in the middle is probably the best approach where we pick our battles, so to speak, and find a way to constructively point out the things that bother us the most and try to let go of the less significant things. Otherwise, we run the risk of having to decide if we are willing to let go of the friendship or relationship that has become toxic instead.
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