Could Holding a Grudge be Healthy for you?

A grudge is rarely associated with anything positive. On the contrary, as my friend Anna (her name is not Anna) put it – we are conditioned to believe by society that it is something bad for you. Sayings like “Let it go” and “Forgiveness is key to happiness” are modern day mantras to living a healthy and peaceful life. Each religion preaches about forgiveness, to my knowledge there is no teaching that says “Hold thy grudge”. Yet – could it be that we have it all wrong? Is there a way that a grudge could be beneficial for you?

I came across this when I was trying to let go of a grudge on my end. Someone close to me had said I wasn’t much of a cook and I was insulted. Please note that I am well aware of the fact of how petty it sounds. Yet, aren’t most grudges of the petty kind? I got hooked on the fact that anytime I met this person at dinners, I kept remembering that person mentioning my culinary skills. Why did they say that, it wasn’t even true and that person hadn’t even tried most of my cooking – why did they have to be so blunt about somehting that wasn’t even true? Yet the real question hit me – why did it bother me so much? I could not enjoy this person’s presence, especially at dinner parties.

So I did some research. Turns out, grudges have quite a survival component to them. For one, they teach you something about a person you should look out for. They give you an introduction to a trait of a person and you tag it so you can remember it for the future. For example, in my case it taught me that in the future this person is more likely to say blunt comments and I might not want to have this person too involved in my life if I do not want to hear opinions served striaght up on the rocks (I will for one, never ask this person about my weight). In other cases, it teaches you for example not to trust someone with a secret, or not to lend them money. Grudges have a learning component to them, they are a sort of alarm system that is ready to protect you from a negative experience again.

Another thing I learned about grudges, is that often it also tells us a lot about ourselves. It is a trigger that highlights something about a situation was not agreeable, our own feelings were hurt or upset and not adressed. That is why they linger around. Its so to say an unresolved issue that is waiting there to be adressed or fixed. It is not only an early warning system to how others might treat you, but also a warning system to tell you something is not ideal inside.

If grudges have such a large learning component to it, why are there so many teachings that refer to staying away from them? Back to my friend not called Anna, she notes that often, you spend a lot of mental energy on a grudge, which can manifest itself phsycially too. Holding in negative emotions such as anger or hurt does you more harm than good. Anna adds, if having grudges have a survival component to them, then shouldn’t letting go of them too?

Perhaps we should not dismiss grudges so suddenly. Perhaps we should awkwnoledge them and wonder why they are lingering, what are they teaching us before we decide that the anger shouldn’t follow us around. Funny enough, I went to my cooking grudge and asked him what he thought of grudges. And he left me with a very wise statement: “I guess its best to forgive, but not forget. Keep it in the back of your mind but don’t carry it around with you more than that”. I guess I’ll listen to him on that. In the meantime, I stepped up my cooking game and he has since retracted his statement. I’ve learned, the best way to get rid of a grudge is to have it awkwnoledged by the person that caused it. We don’t all get that satisfaction though. If you find a way to forgive but not forget, you get the most out of your grudge.

The Forbidden Word: No

Amy Winehouse was probably the last person I ever heard say “No, No, No” when they asked her to go to rehab. Think about it for a while – how often do you hear the word “No”? And ask yourself – how often do you consider saying “no”?

We usually use vague statements, such as “I’m sorry I’m busy” or “I’m not sure I can make it” or “Another time”. We feel its being polite to other people, the harshness of the word “no” is like a door being slammed into someone’s face. It leads to the other person feeling hurt or disappointed, even angry at times. Not only do we often avoid saying no, but in a lot of situations we also fear to say it in the most vague way. We don’t want to let people down and we want to fulfill their expectations towards us. We avoid discomfort with other people and often agree to do things we don’t even want to do. There is such a pressure from society to agree. A disagreeable person is not someone who is liked or included, rather avoided by others. Would you ask someone to hang out knowing they will always say “no”? It’s a form of rejection. No one like being rejected.

So we either are as polite as possible, try to say no without saying no and feel guilty. Or we end up agreeing just to be agreeable and not enjoying ourselves. In both cases, it doesn’t seem to be the ideal situation. Why do we value our own feelings and time less than others people’s feelings and society expectations? Is saying no really that bad compared to us being unhappy? Could it be, we don’t know how to stick up for ourselves in order just to be polite?

This is something I have been exploring lately. Often I get asked after work if I want to grab a drink. I usually say yes just because I know its not only expected of me, but I worry that the team will not feel like I am a part of it. I will be excluding myself and I fear negative consequences – that I won’t be asked to join anymore. Yet lately I wonder – is that really that bad? Can spending time doing something I don’t want to do way outweigh perhaps not being invited to drinks anymore? Thinking about my life as a whole, it doesn’t make sense to me why I would put the possibility of being excluded before me doing something that could fulfill me. It seems rather stupid to be honest.

So, in my latest experiment every time someone asks me to do something,  I have asked myself “Would I rather be reading a good book than doing this”. I enjoy to read so that sentence works well for me, if you have other passions such as your family, a TV show or perhaps running, its best you adjust that sentence to yourself. I have found that with people I feel close to or interested in, I always would rather spend time with them. Otherwise, I am more interested in my book. It has helped me actually understand how  feel about people, something I didn’t spend much time thinking about before. Its funny how when you try to fix one thing about your life other areas get fixed too.

We tend not to prioritize ourselves and our needs out of fear of hurting or disappointing others. Yet we also tend to forget how short life is and how easily it can be difficult and beautiful at the  same time. If you consider that you have lets say 70 years on this earth, wouldn’t you like to look back and think you spent that time wisely, doing what makes you happy.

When you chose to simply be.

Do you ever find it hard just to sit, and do nothing? If you don’t – you are a rare breed of human that barley exists today. Because most people struggle with doing nothing. Just sitting. No phones, no books, no screens. I sure do. Especially in the last few years with iphones – those hours I remember being bored when I was younger – I don’t have those anymore. The feeling of boredom is a distant memory, its even become an emotion I would have a hard time describing.

I do not blame technology though. I chose to scroll my phone through apps I’ve even already read through, to the point that I try to refresh them and nothing new shows up. It’s my tendency to want to be distracted.

Why is that? So many of us have a hard time to just be. Ask yourself the question – what are you when you are not doing?

I read this quote the other day that I found very insightful. It went: “You are worthy even when you are not productive”. I wonder how many people need to hear that. Because I don’t feel that way and I am certain there are a lot of people in my life that have the same issue. I see them always filling their lives with things to do. On the one hand, I think it’s important to fill your life with things that give you energy and make you feel like you are living the best life.

On the other hand, I believe its important to fill your life with moments that give you time to breathe and check in with yourself. If you are always doing, you don’t have the time to step back and reflect on your life – you might not be able adjust your life to be better.

I believe it’s all about balance. Everything in life is about balancing. When you are home too much you want to work, when you work too much you want to be home. When you have a balance, you are happy in both places. Unbalance is what makes us unhappy.

Then there is the fact that many people don’t like to spend time alone with themselves. Silence makes you aware of your thoughts and feelings that want to be heard while you are trying to silence them with distraction. This is not ideal. There are a lot of things in life we don’t want to be confronted with. Life in all its beauty, can be hard to navigate. There is nothing easy about living. Our tendency to want to make it easier, be it through any means of distraction, is justified. Yet if you want to live your best life you will have to be confronted with all aspects of living. You may find in those moments of peace that you are happy. And if you are not, don’t you think you should know? Would you want to spend time with someone who wasn’t really enjoying your company? I think not. Don’t spend your life with yourself not being your own best friend.

Does Anyone Belong Here?

I was at a show the other day where a member of the audience asked the author Neil Gaiman “How do you deal with not belonging here?”. To which he answered (much more eloquently and elaborately): None of us do.


I did wonder for a bit what he meant and how I felt about it. I have often felt like I didn’t below somewhere and it was isolating. It was either I didn’t understand the sense of humor or I didn’t feel I could keep up with the topics. To be honest – I often felt I was not even interested in the topics. Other times I felt like an imposter. I was at events or in meetings with people more successful than me and I would wonder what I was doing there feeling out of space due to my lack of experience, gender and age. There are many situations we can feel out of place, if you start thinking about it, I am sure you can think of one or two in a matter of minutes.


That is the thing. We all tend to feel out of place. We all are pretending to know what is going on and that we belong. No one actually belongs to any one or any thing. We just tell ourselves that. And some people are better and convincing themselves than others. That is the core of it – we all feel weird at one point or another. And its ok. If we all don’t feel like we belong, then that is perhaps what makes us all belong in the first place. Does that make sense? If we are all misfits, then we all fit together, no?


I remember learning during my meditation training that the biggest misconception in human kind is that we all feel like we are alone. We all feel isolated and that we are going through something no one else is going through. And if you think about it, its crazy. Could it really be that you are experiencing something 7 billion people living with you on earth never have? Why are we all so scared of sharing how we really feel? Why is it so hard to be vulnerable? Its like people don’t want to admit to you or anyone else that they don’t feel like they belong. Somehow society is built to believe that admitting you unconfort makes you weak. Yet instead what it does, is it awakens the same feeling in others. And a lot of people try to avoid their feelings. If you talk about your feelings, then you are confronting someone else with them too. Perhaps they are not ready to be confronted with uncomforted and hence, they let this out on you.


People have a way of harming one another. If intentional or not. Just know though, that we are all just trying to get by. Whatever you are feeling, someone else is feeling that too and is perhaps looking at you to see how you deal with it.


The only way to deal with feelings is to address them. To embrace them as if they were their own human (ever seen the movie “Inside Out”?) and to live life knowing you are never truly the alone.

Oh To Love Thyself

Elton John may have said “Sorry seems to be the hardest word” but to be honest I think there are harder words. To say and to mean “I truly love myself” is much, much harder.

And for a lot of people that say it, I don’t think they really mean it (same as Elton John’s Sorry). Because – it’s really, really hard. And the reason I know its hard for everyone is because I know few people who actually love themselves. I actually know the contrary, people that cry when you mention that they should love themselves. Or people that shake it off and just laugh. Just think about it, reading this, can you sit there and say you love yourself, dispute all your flaws – or better said, because of all your flaws? And in a way that you don’t have to prove your worth and your self-acceptance to anyone else.

Why is that? Why aren’t we born with the feeling that we are worthy of loving ourselves?

When we are young we have a hard time understanding that the things we do wrong has nothing to do with us specifically. We tend to internalize what we did wrong. For example when we are told off for misbehaving, we feel we are bad. And we lock that in and keep that there for a long time. And in life, people leave us, people hurt is, people let their insecurities out on you and treat you unfairly and it all seems to feed into that fact that it has something to do with you. I don’t know if there is anyway out of it – I do not specialize on growing up. All I can say is for years, when you are older you have the maturity to be reflective and to understand that most things that happen to you – had nothing to do with you. People treat you based on their lives history and their issues – not based on yours. And that’s really hard to understand. But just think about how often you do that too.

Reflection is something that comes with age and time (that’s the best thing about aging!). Once you do get to that point to recognize that you are not bad inside and there is nothing wrong with you, you can start working on why you should be loved. That’s pretty simple – because everyone does. Literally everyone deserves to be loved. Take a moment and let that sink in.

Judging Without Justice

There is a reason why sentences like “No one can judge me but God” exist. Because the opposite is the case – everyone is judging everyone. It almost seems like human nature; Magazines are filled with it, office gossip in the coffee room is fueled by it and family sure seems to be great proponents of it. I don’t think any one needs to be reminded to judge people. I have never heard anyone say: “Hey – don’t forget to judge her”. On the contrary we always have to remind people not to judge one another, for example our own friends.

How did that come about? Is that just a part of the human DNA? Were we cave people gossiping around the fire about how people behaved?

Perhaps we were. One thing is for sure – people have been in packs for a while. And we currently are in a very large pack called a society. Society is built with rules for each other to coexist. It can be simple things on what we consider polite to more complex things, like entire relationships with people. We are not born with these rules engraved in us. No one is born taught not to burp in a meeting, or to say thank you or even just hello and good bye.  For example learning and knowing that talking to your boss should not be like a conversation you have with your mother.

There are so many rules its hard to remember them all. We are all struggling to keep up with the rules that when someone else slips up, it is a nice reminder that others have a hard time sticking to them too. This makes us happy, its almost a relief that we are not alone in this battle to keep up to society’s expectations or perhaps signs of other people slipping up even us the brief belief that we are doing better than others. So we gossip about them, we find some happiness and comfort that we are not alone in our struggles around the many society rules.

We get caught up in judging others, that we tend to forget that we are slipping up on a continuous basis ourselves and we are no better than the people we gossip about. Gossiping or judging, its just finding joy in people’s misfortune. Will it help you feel better? Perhaps for a minute. But generally, negativity does not breed positivity. You might for example be reminded that other people are also talking about you the same way you are talking about others. Your judging energy can be spent better instead on doing something that makes you feel better about yourself. The more you focus on making yourself happy and limit your dependence on external factors to make you happy, the more sustainable your happiness will be. And the less you will care about how others are doing, the less you will judge them and yourself.

Catching Your Own Feelings

You know those days when you wake up with a certain feeling and you don’t know why. You slept well, you have a easy day ahead of you but something just feels off. Or the other way around, you wake up great but by 10am although nothing has happened, your mood has shifted and something just feels off. All your happiness is gone as if something had actually happened to you but it didn’t. You try finding out why you feel this way or looking back to understand what happened to cause this mood and you can’t figure it out.

If you are super zen and mad in touch with your feelings – please give me a call. It seems to be a talent that very, very few people have. Most of us are just swamped with every day lives, work, family, friends, chores. Always understanding how you feel while you are doing the ironing and preparing yourself for a meeting tomorrow while your spouse is asking what you want for dinner – that sounds like a talent that needs to be cultivated for many years. Like a ninja spy or kung fu master.

Unless you are one of those, you struggle like me to keep the balance between life, expectations, feelings and thoughts. I don’t know how you are expected to know at all second of the day how you feel. So the best way to approach it, or so I have found is just to accept how you feel. And accept that you don’t know why.

“I feel a little down now”. or “I’m just off today”.

Practice saying it. Admitting it. Know that it is ok, completely ok to say those words to yourself. You don’t have to say it to others, you don’t even have to say it out loud to yourself. Society has a lot of pressure to smile and everything to be ok making it harder for ourselves even to admit to ourselves our true feelings if they are anything but positive.

What you will find is, the feeling will lessen as soon as you admit it. It will lose its grip on you. From there, you can give yourself some love – treat yourself to things you love or that make you feel good to remind yourself that you can at times feel different. Its ok to not understand how you feel, trust that its there because it needs to be felt and fill your day with kindness to yourself.

Why You Forget The Most Important Thing – Yourself

In a society,  in a family, there is little room for an individual. It goes against the basic sense of what a society is, a group of people deciding to come together. Focusing on yourself is not encouraged, rather looking out for others – if a mother,  you must nurture the family. If you are a father, you must provide for others. If you are a daughter or son, you must be devoted to your elders. Everyone has a role of looking after the other person. That is how a society works, a pack so to say. We look out for other people, we take care of each other. In a world where we wouldn’t have that, we would feel isolated. I am not saying it is bad, although there are many aspects about it I could get into and argue why it is not healthy. Today I want to focus on the aspect – why is it so hard to make yourself as important as other people?

Next to it being frowned upon as mentioned above, it is often seen as selfish. Selfish is never meant in a positive sense. Yet putting yourself first, and focusing on your needs and being selfish, couldn’t be more further away from each other. Selfish is defined as: lacking consideration for others; concerned chiefly with one’s own personal profit or pleasure. Putting yourself first and knowing your own importance doesn’t mean lacking consideration for others, it just means considering your needs as well as other people’s needs and putting as much importance on them. It doesn’t mean putting your own profit or pleasure above others, but just making sure you are not suffering while everyone else is taken care of.

There is a lot of balancing to get that right. After many years of neglecting yourself, some people tend to lean to the selfish side. They put their pleasure ahead of others. That is not something I am ok with. Take care of yourself, yet always be considerate to the people around you – how things might impact them. If for example you need time on your own, explain it to the people around you that it has nothing to do with them. Don’t just leave, don’t shove them away – taking care of yourself does not have to include hurting others. I guess finding that balance is so hard for many of us, that’s why people call it selfish. We are also not used to hearing it – people saying: This is what I need. It’s just not something we have established as a society – that fine mix of individualism and society is something that I think many, many people are trying to figure out.

There are so few people that do it well. There are very few examples of people that are able to balances their needs and others well without hurting anyone (I guess that’s why influencers on instagram are so popular). When there is a person who is good at balancing it, we tend to be jealous of them. There is a lot of hate for people who look out for themselves and are still able to balance expectations of others. Just getting used to the idea to putting your needs in the spotlight first is hard enough for us to grasp and learn and then to do it without hurting others – and not alienating yourself from society, now that is almost a rare talent like speaking 10 languages. Rather than being jealous of that, try to learn from watching this person, learn how they go about putting a great importance of themselves and others. Then give it a go for yourself. It might take you some time, but perhaps you will make it your rare talent.


Solitude is Bliss

Space around me where my soul can breathe
I’ve got body that my mind can leave
Nothing else matters, I don’t care what I miss
Company’s okay, solitude is bliss

There’s a party in my head
And no one is invited

Tame Impala – Solitude is Bliss

What a great song. If you haven’t heard it yet, please listen to it. It embodies the joy of being alone, the freedom of being by yourself and the beauty of your own company.

Being alone should be bliss. Yet I feel, so many people don’t know how to enjoy their own company. I see so many people around me try to avoid themselves by filling their time with drinking and doing something that is instagram worthy. We all want to escape sometimes yet life is about balance, and you should feel like you are spending just as much time on yourself as you need to spend the time with others. Few people do. Many fear they will feel lonely if they do.

Being lonely is something different than being alone. Alone is the absence of other people, lonely is not feeling connected to other people or yourself. Lonely is something we will all feel once in a while and the emotional state is something we all want to avoid. Yet being alone, that should be a tolerable.

So why is it so hard for so many people to be alone? When we are alone, its harder to be distracted. We tend to hear thoughts we may not want to hear, we tend to feel things we have been avoiding for a long time. Who wants to admit to themselves that they are actually worried about something illogical or who wants to admit to themselves how they truly feel about themselves?

If you can avoid anything unpleasant – why wouldn’t you? Its totally logical to try to live a life full of enjoyment. The problem with that is – no life is spared of pain. Avoiding it, will only make the pain worse and you might find the pain getting bigger and bigger. To the point were it will take over those moments when you feel you are distracted – when you are out with friends or watching a movie. You carry your life with you at all times. Your life includes those painful moments of hurt, shame and fear. If you don’t embrace them and deal with them, they will stick around with you forever.

And they don’t deserve that. Those moments don’t deserve to follow you around in your life. You deserve better and you owe it to yourself to find moments with yourself full of happiness.

The first baby step is to just ask yourself how you really feel when you are on your own. Be honest. Check in and see how you are doing. And ask yourself why you perhaps feel like you feel. That’s already a huge step. You wouldn’t want your friends to lie to you so why should you lie to yourself. You deserve great friends – including the one you can be to yourself.

If You Fake It, You Won’t Make IT

Only once moving to NY did I hear the saying “Fake it till you make it”. It did not resonate with me. Rather yet, it confused me. And since then I keep getting it as advise and I can’t seem to agree with it.

The thing that bothers me most is the word “fake”. Usually I don’t tend to associate many positive feelings with fake. Especially not when it comes to people and their personalities. Hiding who you truly are is a weakness. It means you can’t accept yourself and love yourself for who you are. That much self-hate is not only self-destructive, but can often be projected or let out on to other people. If you don’t feel good inside, it’s hard to do good towards the outside.


Additionally, a person acting fact is extremely unpredictable. If a person is pretending to be someone else, they can change who they want to be every day. That just sounds exhausting to me to be honest. You never know what kind of person you will be confronted with.


I guess that’s why “fake it till you make it” doesn’t make sense to me. Why would you pretend you are ok with something when you are not? I understand the idea is for example if you are not confident, pretend to be. Yet that sounds like such a disconnect between how you feel and how you show yourself to be. That is very unhealthy. Its ok to be scared, its ok to be nervous and its ok to feel insecure or worried. Accepting it is the opposite of faking it. Accepting it for yourself means that you can deal with it. Dealing with your emotions will help you in the long run. It will help you in other situations where you are nervous again. You will be able to recognize the feeling and handle it. Growth only comes by accepting it, and still facing your struggles with it. Take steps that will help you improve in the long run. Faking it till you are making it, is just putting a band aid on a broken windshield. It’s going to do a really poor job.


Also, another reason why you should not fake it to make it is that people will notice you are faking it. As easy as it is for you to spot people when they are acting fake, that easily they notice when you are. And it’s not something people admire. Actually, on the contrary it makes people uncomfortable.


Accept your emotions. You deserve better than a fake version of yourself.

- Welcome to the life of one anxious mama -

Thought Catalog

Thought Catalog is a digital youth culture magazine dedicated to your stories and ideas.