Every one of us harbors grievances, large and small, that we feel are fully justified. Whenever we are treated unfairly by a friend, colleague, or lover it creates resentment, and we want that person to realize the error of their ways and apologize so we can feel whole again. These feelings are understandable and hard to help, but what if the vindication we are expecting never comes, and we are left to stew in our own anger?
I have a 40 minute walking commute to and from my job in the city. I’d mostly use that time alone to daydream and think about my life, but sometimes my thoughts would turn darker, and inevitably I’d start to focus on certain people who had wronged me in some way. As much as I wanted to stay positive, I couldn’t help being irritated by these grudges I felt. In my mind, all the grievances I had were obvious and clear cut, and I expected (demanded!) to be fully vindicated one day.
Then it dawned on me that this was all pointless, delusional thinking. For starters, I was replaying a negative tape in my head day after day, which wasn’t doing my mood or outlook any favors. Secondly, the odds that these people I held secret grievances against were going to one day have an epiphany, see the error of their ways, and apologize was basically zero. The most likely scenario is that they weren’t even aware that they had done anything that had upset me. All this ill-feeling was created in my own head. I was never going to get the vindication I was seeking, and it was foolish to keep feeding this self-inflicted negativity.
Even if you’re convinced the grievances you’re harboring are legitimate, you have to accept the fact that your day of vindication will probably never come. In fact, you should just assume it won’t. What’s amazing is once you make that switch it your mind, your grudges start to melt away, and you won’t have to waste any more time on corrosive emotions that do damage to yourself, and your relationships. Making this switch is essential if the person you are holding a grudge against is someone you want to be part of your life. Otherwise, the secret resentment you’re holding on to will slowly erode the relationship; with them completely unaware that they’ve done something to upset you, and you awaiting an apology that will never arrive.
There’s another argument to be made about speaking your mind whenever you feel you’ve been wronged, to at least make the other person aware that you’re bothered by something they’ve done. This can and does work, but it’s best saved for when it’s something significant, or if you’re having trouble letting go of your anger. You don’t want to be the kind of person who is overly sensitive and complains about every perceived offense. You may ultimately get the apology you’re after, but at the cost of pushing that person away.
So don’t waste any more time brooding over petty grievances. If you want healthier relationships and a more positive mindset, stop waiting for vindication and move on with your life.