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Can You Get Over a Grudge By Being Grateful?

One of the 12 Steps–step four–is to make a personal inventory. This includes identifying resentments and grudges. Carrying grudges around is toxic for anyone and it is especially bad for recovering addicts. Holding a grudge keeps you focused on bad things–times you were slighted, times you didn’t get what you wanted, times you were afraid. These things are all in the past but you continue to carry them around with you and there is a certain person or people you blame.

In reality, a grudge only hurts you. Most of the time the person you hold the grudge against doesn’t even know you resent him, and if he did, he might not even care. If there were something you could do about it, you would have done it by now, instead of holding onto your resentment. Often, when you dig deep enough into a grudge, you discover that you bear part of the responsibility yourself. It’s common for addicts to blame other people for their problems in an effort to avoid admitting their problem.

It’s easy to say you should let go of grudges but it can be hard to do. You may have held a grudge for years. It may have become a feature of your mental landscape. Letting go of it may take some actual work. The first thing to do is identify who you are angry at and why. Then dig deeper and figure out why the person’s actions made you so angry that you decided to hold onto that anger for so long.

Fear often lies at the bottom of anger and resentment–fear you won’t have enough, fear you aren’t good enough, fear of losing people you care about, and so on. In the face of fear it’s normal to want to protect ourselves and retaliate. You want to remind yourself not to trust this person or that person. Sometimes that caution is justified, but usually it isn’t. Usually, you just end up constantly angry at someone because you’re afraid he can take something away from you.

One antidote to fear is gratitude. Instead of focusing on insecurity and what you might lose, you focus on what you have and your gratitude for having it. It may be a bit counterintuitive. If you feel especially grateful you have a particular job, it may seem like you would then be even more afraid of losing it, but that’s not how it works. For one thing, it’s difficult to feel deep gratitude and deep fear at the same time. One usually replaces the other because you either focus on what your have or you focus on the threat. The more you focus on what you have and what’s going well, the better you will feel.

In practical terms, gratitude will make you less likely to lose whatever you are grateful for. In the job example, think of how someone behaves if he is obsessively afraid of being fired. He blames others for his mistakes and he tries to take credit for other people’s successes. He undermines his rivals at every opportunity. No one wants to work with that guy, and his behavior is bad for the organization. On the other hand, someone who feels grateful has a more positive relation to his work and colleagues. He can share credit and blame because he is more focused on positive outcomes than on fear.

If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, Gardens Wellness Center can help you  detox in a comfortable environment and take advantage of a variety of complementary therapeutic approaches. Call us today at 844-828-1050 or email us at to learn more.