Saleem: Hey y’all. It’s More Than A Feeling from Ten Percent Happier. I’m Saleem Reshamwala. And today…grudges.
Ben: Holding a grudge is like drinking poison and thinking that the other person is going to get sick. Or die.
Saleem: Maybe you want to dismiss grudges, like they’re small, petty things just hanging out in the back of your mind. I feel that way sometimes. Or maybe you wear them like badges of honor that you never want to forget. Either way, we have them. And people have very different degrees of wanting to let them go. We put a call out, and we can verify the people have grudges.
Caitlin: I'm a big proponent of grudges.
Ben: Is swearing allowed on this podcast?
Uma: I feel like we hold grudges against ourselves for our entire lives. And then we project those grudges maybe onto other people. And we're like, why did you do that?
Caitlin: And I was like, can you believe this? Am I allowed to murder this person?
Renato: If someone does something mean, revenge is a good tactic.
Carrie C: There's always the actual conflict, but then there's the iceberg underneath that you can't see.
SALEEM: “The iceberg underneath.” So, maybe there’s more to our grudges than we think? Because even just remembering the story of a grudge… years later… you can still feel it, right? It still gets you kinda riled up.
Caitlin: I had bent over backwards to be accommodating and helpful. And then I found that they had used my accommodation to further disadvantage me in a quasi friendship and business negotiation.
Carrie C: Because of her feeling that she had to bear the burden of our parents on a daily basis, I think she still has a lot of resentment towards me.
Addam: The person that had been my best friend sent me a text randomly and completely cut me off.
Adam B: I thought we were best friends, but now I find out that this person has a lot of like bitter feelings towards me.
Saleem: Most of the time, I feel like I hear how I just shouldn’t have grudges… that we should all just kind of magically move on. But what happens if we allow ourselves to dwell on a grudge? What comes up? What gets these things so stuck in our heads?
Chris G: I think it's because I feel helpless.
Caitlin: Certain situations, you know, trigger us more than others.
Carrie: You can think you're past the grudge and then if you haven't dealt with a trigger or what's behind the trigger, it's gonna come right up again. (//) I think people hold the same grudge in different forms, because it’s all based on a trigger. What bothers us at the end of the day? What’s unforgivable, and why?
Saleem: If you’re new to More Than A Feeling, welcome. We just spent a few weeks really diving deep into the feeling of dread. And that's what we do here. Each week we take an emotion and look at it from as many angles as we can to help us understand ourselves a little better.
THEME MUSIC CONTINUES
Saleem: Today we’re breaking. down. grudges. The ones that we try to laugh off, the ones that break our hearts, the ones that make us feel like we’re boiling from the inside out. We’re gonna get a couple of different perspectives on dealing with those grudges. Starting with a practical and very elaborate method for happily maintaining them:
Sophie: From little things to bigger, more upsetting things, I just feel that grudge-worthy things just happen left right and center. And that’s why we need to have a good policy to follow when they do.
Saleem: Actively tending to our grudges, like little grudge gardeners … and how that might actually help us clear our heads. After the break.
SALEEM: Welcome back. We’re starting today with our reporter Yasmeen Khan, who is not into the idea that grudges are inherently bad. She’s into grudges, and into keeping them. She found some back-up for that grudge-love in a book with the underlying philosophy that grudges can be great, if they’re handled properly.
Yasmeen: Handling grudges with purpose and precision is the theme of Sophie Hannah’s book. It’s called: How To Hold a Grudge: From Resentment to Contentment, The Power of Grudges to Transform Your Life. It lays out a step by step guide for taking inventory of our grudges and really figuring out what happened. Also included – proper grudge maintenance and storage. Perfect.
Yasmeen: And just to be clear about the lens and transparent about your take, you are not a therapist, correct?
Sophie: I am not any kind of psychotherapist or psychological or psychiatric professional at all. I am just a lay person who has benefited from holding grudges for the whole of my life.
Yasmeen: Sophie spoke to me from her writing room, at home in Cambridge, England. When she says she's an experienced grudge-holder, she can list out loads of stories. There’s the one about her parked car:
Sophie: And I had to say to him very calmly, the rule is if someone's in a parked car in a parking space and you keep going back and smash into them, that is on you. [laughing]
Yasmeen: There's the grudge against her friend Fred, not his real name.
Sophie: Fred, for some bizarre reason, always has a knack of saying the very thing that will make me feel worse.
Yasmeen: And one of her biggest grudge incidents of all time, the "September 2020 Grudge."
Sophie: It's a whole long story, which I, I won't go into, but the theme of it was untrue accusation. Basically someone who was a very close friend of mine…” (fades out)
Yasmeen: Before Sophie wrote a whole book about grudges, she was basically writing about them as a bestselling author of crime fiction. This may be how people best know her work, actually. She has a series of mystery novels and she's the writer who’s continuing Agatha Christie's famed detective stories.
Yasmeen: How did being a crime writer prepare you for writing about grudges?
Sophie: What interests me about crime fiction and what draws me to it is the puzzle element. (//) All of my mystery novels have kind of unusual and very personal motives. I tend not to write books in which someone murders somebody to inherit their money, for example, because – insofar as there is a kind of rational motive for murder, that's a very straightforward one. But (//) the kind of crime I write and the kind of human puzzles that are solved in my crime novels are all to do with basically the ways in which people harm one another via interpersonal relationships. And I'm fascinated by the way in which somebody can feel very aggrieved by something that someone else has done to them, and that other person might not even be aware.
Sophie: The whole reason why I was so determined to write the book about grudges in the first place is that, um, I realized at a certain point that no such book existed. And I just thought, this is insane. How can, how can this essential part of human experience not have a book about it?
Yasmeen: As you might guess from the title, the book How To Hold a Grudge has the specific purpose of reframing grudge-holding. For Sophie, this is a practical matter.
Yasmeen: So let's just start with the basic definition. What is your definition of a grudge?
Sophie: My definition of a grudge is different from the dictionary definition. Every dictionary definition I've found and looked at, says "a feeling of resentment or bitterness.’ And you know – I completely accept that this is the way the world defines the term grudge. But for me, it is not a feeling of resentment or bitterness or any kind of feeling at all. A grudge is not a feeling.
Sophie: I'm not saying that grudges never have negative feelings associated with them cuz they, they absolutely do at first. We will feel furious or wounded or whatever, and those are the strong negative feelings. But if we process those in the right way and give ourselves permission to hold a grudge, then what we end up with is we've processed all the negative emotion. And then the grudge becomes a sort of symbolic object that reminds you of what happened and what you learned from it. And what you might need to bear in mind for the future.
Yasmeen: She’s separating the grudge event from the feelings. So there’s the incident that makes you feel a certain way – annoyed, wronged, betrayed. Then you let yourself recognize all of those feelings and what caused them: ‘Hey, something happened and it mattered!’ You work through it – we’ll get to details on how. And then what you are left with in the end, is a grudge that Sophie calls a good grudge. It’s been cleaned of all its stains and smells, and shined up as a little keepsake. That’s the symbolic object: the marker of what happened… and the work you did to think it through.
Sophie: I always imagine grudges as being like little jewels in nice boxes with ribbons around them. I do think there was something kind of precious about one's grudges because however painful those incidents were that gave you the grudges, it's a part of your life experience that only happened to you. // And so, how can I use the fact that it happened to make what comes next in my life even better?
Yasmeen: To help foster this perspective, Sophie created “The Grudge-fold Path.”
Sophie: The first step is, stopping, believing what we've all been taught, that holding grudges is bad and wrong.
Yasmeen: She’s talking about giving ourselves permission to have those negative feelings. Don’t brush them aside. But here’s how you can make sense of them, as laid out in the Grudge-fold Path:
You can have a bunch of grudges – but selectively. So keep a budget, or Grudget.
Having a grudge does not mean you continually make yourself feel bad, OR that you make your grudgee feel bad. Because, for the purposes of following the Grudge-fold Path, this is about you and your feelings, not theirs.
To help process your grudge, write down the facts of what happened during the grudge-worthy incident. Not your feelings around it, just the tick tock of events.
Go through the steps of grading your grudges. There’s a whole set of questions you ask yourself for this – like: How serious was the overall situation? And, would my feelings around the grudge change if I got a heartfelt apology?
You maintain a grudge…and stay on this grudge-fold path, not by hanging on to the negative feelings… but by identifying what you learned from what happened. It may even reaffirm your own value system, of how you need to be treated and how you treat others.
Finally, when you’ve got a grudge that no longer gives you such a ‘live charge’ of negative feelings… you can polish it up and put it in your Grudge Cabinet. Alongside your collection of other precious grudges.
Sophie: Now on one level, is this all just totally made up? Yes, of course it is totally made up. It's not a, in that sense, “real official” thing, but it can be a very real thing for us. And that is what matters.
Yasmeen: In preparation for this, I was thinking through an incident, a grudge that I have based off of an incident and trying to just lay out the facts. Right? Take the emotional stuff out of it, of how I felt about it. And just like, just to sort of, um, the mechanics of what happened, I guess. And I decided that there wasn't anything different I could have done. That it was just a mistake that somebody else made or someone's bad judgment or whatever, but the sting is still there. This, this relates to in short someone not writing back to an email that I sent, essentially. A pitch, someone who had invited story pitches, but never responded. And this was a while ago now, several years ago. I still have this sting though, of like, how could someone regard me, like, so poorly that they wouldn't respond even to say it's not gonna work.
Sophie: Yeah. So I would suggest that what that might mean is that, and this happens so often, that we think we've done all the processing. We think we've thought about it from every angle, done, whatever we can do. But we haven't really. So what my guess might be – is there, okay: this particular person behaved in this way, is it possible that on some level, even subconsciously you think this might happen in the future with different people? Like–
Yasmeen: Hm. Mm-hmm
Sophie: Because I, I just wonder whether, if you thought, okay, that happened. I think it was highly grudge worthy and I'm obviously never gonna work with that person again. So there's my protection. Cause a grudge, you know, although a grudge doesn't in any way, justify open hostility or attacking anyone, it absolutely does justify a change of behavior towards someone. I just go, okay, ‘grudge-worthy,’ I won't be working with them again, but there's no live charge. So is there any sense in which this person who behaved in that way is someone that you feel you kind of can't get away from and have to work with in future.
Yasmeen: No. But as you're talking, I think you're right that I haven't fully processed it. I think it could happen in the future, even with somebody else, because I am letting someone else sort of give me value, like kind of define something about me. Like, I've taken it personally.
Sophie: Yeah. I think this is why it's still live because on some level, and for some reason you think it might mean something about you, whereas it doesn't at all. It totally means something about them. So with more processing, if you could just go, that was bad behavior from them. And I've got a policy now I've got my grudge. So anything like that happens again? My policy is I don't, I don't work with people like that. And maybe you also haven't allowed yourself enough to process the anger in relation to this particular incident.
Yasmeen: I think you’re right.
Sophie: Because this is often what we do. We sort of go, okay, let me think about it for ten minutes. Okay. This, this, this right now, I'm over it – because we want to be over things. (//) It's like waves in the sea. Like, there'll be – the sea’ll be calm one minute. Then you'll remember something. You'll be like, oh, this huge surge of grudge comes up again. Um, and I just am always willing to do more processing. And then I just notice with interest when the waves really do stop coming up and they always do eventually.
Yasmeen: I’m imagining my feelings around that ignored email as little waves lapping at my ankles. Nothing big. But something’s active. So, noted. I’ve got more processing to do. Now – Sophie warns against agitating your grudge. Like, if you begin to identify with feelings of being wronged. Then it’s hard to move on, and you’re in danger of having a toxic grudge. But the flip side, according to Sophie, is that holding grudges, and tending to them and yourself… can actually make you a more forgiving person.
Sophie: Once we allow ourselves to take our grudges seriously, and stop trying to tell ourselves that we ought to just not mind the things that we in fact do mind, then we're being much kinder and more validating of ourselves. And the minute we treat ourselves better than we want to be equally generous to other people.
Yasmeen: I leave you with one final thought from Sophie’s philosophy on how to hold grudges… and celebrate them as important markers in your life. She also suggests a bit of balance, through what she calls “gratitude grudges.”
Yasmeen: If you're going to be someone who does mind a grudge cabinet and keep an inventory of grudges, why is it important to also keep a list of, I guess, gratitude of the deeds that people do for us?
Sophie: You wanna give equal air time to the positive as to the negative, I think. We certainly don't want to spend more of our time remembering all the bad ways in which we've been treated if we could be, you know, spending more time thinking about all the, the lovely things people have done. And I think it helps to just kind of (exhale), to remind us that as often as we're treated badly, we're gonna be treated well. As often as we feel angry because of something someone's done, we're gonna feel thrilled by something else that someone has done.So you've got to see the full picture.
Saleem: That was author Sophie Hannah, talking to our reporter Yasmeen Khan. Coming up… more grudge stories.
Saleem: Welcome back. We are diving into grudges, and the idea that we’ve got them, so we should just admit it. And we’re taking the view that there’s often more to a grudge than what it seems. There’s more going on under the surface. We asked for some of your grudge stories, and y’all came through. And I have company for this grudge listening session. I asked my friend and colleague Matthew Hepburn to listen with me.
Matthew: There is kind of a, like deliciousness in holding a grudge. Like a sword in your lap that you just sharpen, you know, aimlessly. But usually they don't really feel good. It's like (//) the sword’s in our lap, not in somebody else's lap. So every once in a while you try and adjust postures and you nick your leg.
Saleem: Matthew is a meditation teacher/mindfulness expert here at Ten Percent Happier, with some thoughts on how we can care for our grudges, while making sure we don’t let these grudges mess with our own well-being. We heard Sophie Hannah’s thoughts on that, including her definition of a grudge. So I asked Matthew how he defined grudges.
Matthew: You know, just maybe 15 minutes before we were talking I was thinking about that. How would I define a grudge? And there were three definitions that came to my mind that each feel complete. The simplest is that a grudge is non-forgiveness. That simple.
Matthew: The next that came to my mind is that a grudge is angrily wishing for a different past.
Saleem: Oof. I like the simplicity of the first one, and I like the bite of the second one.
Matthew: Mm-hmm. You know, and as I was thinking about it, the third one that I, that came to my mind is – a grudge is just a story we tell ourselves again and again. And usually that story, or telling it, fuels anger, resentment, or bitterness. And I like that one because it really points very clearly to functionally what is happening in the present moment that we're calling a grudge. If you're not retelling a story to yourself, you're not experiencing a grudge.
Saleem: It's, it's funny, anytime someone says, ‘Oh, I have a grudge against that person,’ you immediately want to hear that story.
Matthew: For sure.
Saleem: The telling of that story is always juicy and fun. And that's, you know, something we all do. Like that's in my head, I'm immediately thinking of like, “Oh yeah. If I had told myself that story once, that wouldn't be a grudge.” That'd just be something that happened. And it's the fact that I just keep looping that thing at inopportune times.
Matthew: I mean I think that ‘again and again’ part is quintessential to the definition of grudge. And it's, you know, I think if, if we recognize that part, then it, you know, gives us a little bit more of a, a feeling of co-responsibility with the original perpetrator. Like the grudge wouldn't be there if they didn't do whatever they did.
Matthew: But the grudge also wouldn't be there if we didn't keep telling the story (laughs).
Saleem: Could you listen to some (//) grudge stories with me right now?
Matthew: Yes, I'd love to.
Saleem: Let's do it. Let's play some grudge stories for you. (//) This is Adam. His story goes back to the early 90’s, when he was 11.
Adam B: For many years I've been calling the actress, Marcia Gay Harden, my mortal enemy. (//) Like the other day my, friends were talking about, some show that she's on and I was like, “Well, I'm not gonna watch that show because my mortal enemy, Marcia gay harden is on it.”
Saleem: By the way, for you and anyone else listening… if you can’t put a face to Marcia Gay Harden right away, that’s how it was for me. So I googled her and I was like, “Oh yeah! Marcia Gay Harden!” (Marcia, if you’re listening, it’s all love, you’re great.) Okay, here’s the story.
So… early 90’s… Adam’s mother was a hot-shot human rights expert, who was often interviewed about the Bosnian War which was going on at the time. Adam was super proud of his mom.
Adam B: She was invited on a couple morning shows and she brought me with her. And so like, we went to “Good Morning America'' and she got interviewed by Joan Lundon and it was really cool. (//) And then she got a call to be on “CBS This Morning.” And, I was sitting in the green room and my mom was on TV and the actress, Marcia Gay Harden came into the room. And I didn't really know who she was because I, at that point I hadn't seen like “Miller's Crossing” or any of, I mean, that was like her biggest thing at the time. And, um, I was like sitting in the thing and my mom was on the TV and what I remember in my head vividly was that she was sort of like, “Are you on the show?” And I was like, (chuckling) “No.” And she was almost like, “Why are you here?” I got this sense that she like, didn't like, want me in this room or something. And I had to be like, “That's my mom. She's on TV. She's getting interviewed right now.”
Adam B: I'm not saying Marcia Gay Harden wasn't nice, but I just remember sitting there and feeling, like, kind of slighted and like the idea being that we were somehow people who shouldn't be in that space that was reserved only for celebrities or important people. So it just, I just felt like she was saying like you're in the wrong room or something.
Saleem: So, one of the reasons why we wanted to play Adam’s story for you is because it doesn’t seem like it’s really about Marcia Gay Harden. It seems like it’s more about what was going on for him at that age.
Adam B: My belief was, at 11 years old, that like I was ugly and that people were laughing at me like everywhere I went. That was kind of a thing where like, I'd go out with my dad and two girls would be, like, laughing, and I, like, nearby, and I'd be like convinced they were laughing at me and get really upset. (//) I think the Marcia Gay Harden thing was kind of an extension of like hypersensitivity to perceived intonation that might have been in her voice, you know, that might not have been intentional in any way.
Saleem: Adam classifies this grudge as… a good story about a celebrity that people will get a kick out of. But those feelings underneath, or the memories of them at least, they’re still pretty easy to call up.
Adam B: I have these moments that really stick with me throughout a lot of my life and some of them are things that are real legitimate. Like people, really (//) you know, bullies that I've had and friends who ditched me for other friends or things like that. And some of those things get resolved. But definitely the grudge, like the cultivation of the grudge, like keeps something there for fixing.
Matthew: It's so interesting listening to Adam because I started off just cracking up.
Matthew: I think it's clear Adam knows that, like you said, it's delightful for his friends and other people to hear him call Marcia Gay Harden his mortal enemy.
Saleem: His mortal enemy!
Matthew: You know, it's, it's like it's humor in exaggeration to some degree, and yet it's not really exaggeration, right? And so it's just, it's really funny and (//) it points to, I think, something that probably many of us have experienced which is the unrequited grudge. Right? The grudge against somebody who doesn't really even know you exist. (//) That makes you feel even more like a sense of injustice. But I really felt taken on a little journey listening to Adam because over the course of him telling this story, he actually became very transparent and shared a lot of self-awareness about what was really emotionally difficult for him in his young life. Feeling ugly, like he didn't belong. (//) And, so, as I'm listening, all of a sudden it's like, oh, just feel it in my chest. Like, of course, some celebrity comes into the green room and makes you feel small and like you don't belong. And of course, that would feel like a really grave slight or like a really deep wound.
Saleem: I will say, I was just talking to a friend earlier over breakfast about how it's just constantly amazing how we don't know what's in someone else's head. Like, you know, maybe Marcia – maybe, maybe she was just concerned that there was a child in the room, and just wanted to make sure. But we don't know. We just have no idea what's in her head.
Matthew: Right. And what happened may have been just a miscommunication. And there are ways that we hold grudges like that. And there are also situations where somebody does something really egregious to you and it's fundamentally really not okay. (//) What's the same between the two instances is that we can't keep the grudge going without continuing to choose to retell the story
Saleem: Hm. We did get some grudges from people that don't even involve other people. So here's a grudge that doesn't even involve another specific human. This is a story from Chris.
Chris: I have other grudges that are personal and, like, maybe deeper, but this one's like, a very New York grudge: the subway is just horrific.
Saleem: To Chris, the subway is terrible because of constant service interruptions. So the target of his grudge is the agency responsible for the subway: the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, usually known as the MTA.
Chris G: Yes, I, I hate the MTA. I'm grateful that we have a system when it works. It's beautiful. But when it doesn't, it's horrific. (//) This past weekend, the Q train wasn't working. The F train wasn't working. The C train was running on the F line, but not far enough down to where I get it. Like it, it was like this Escher maze that I was trying to get myself through. And I wasn't the only one. People were really furious and frustrated and confused. I saw this guy, like, get on the platform and start ripping the signs off. He was so angry about the Q train not working. I went behind him and posted it up. I'm like, how is that gonna help anybody or anything? (laughs)
Chris G: The core of my grudge with the MTA is really about government. I feel like it's a failure of the government to really take care of the people. (//) It's an issue of, like, respect and a feeling of belonging. It really is off putting to people. To make individuals feel merciless, helpless like – I can't get to work. How am I gonna get to work? It makes me angry because it's a service that is so vital to New York city, especially.
Matthew: Oh man, there's something so harmless about having a grudge against, kind of a, organization, not even an individual person. And (//) this made me think about the other kind of grudges that people have that are not against individuals that did something personal to slight us. I think about sports rivalries. I mean, that's a really common type of collective grudge that we delight and revel in. And we all know it's harmless, right? For the most part, we don't really wish ill upon, you know, the rival team. But it's so fun to collectively get together and be like, “We hate you!” Right? And that actually just brought to my mind that Chris's grudge and sports rivalry grudges can be a way for people who may not have safe outlets to express anger, to really get in touch with feelings of anger.
Saleem: I love that idea of having a safe grudge that, that isn't really messing up your life too much and, you know, just lets you feel something in a way that you got some control over. I got one more for you. This one's from Rachael.
Rachael: So, I was waitressing for a while. I was good at it. I did it for forever. It was a horrible job, though.
Saleem: This story goes back to when Rachael worked at a country club while she was in college.
Rachael: They had this special room within the club that was called “The Men's Grill.” And it was kind of actually the coveted place to work because you made so many tips and (//) one man who I kind of liked actually. He was kind of like a grandpa figure or maybe just a cool uncle. I kind of had that vibe with him and we had a rapport and I would open up and share, you know, what I was going through in terms of school or looking for jobs and stuff like that. (//) So I opened up about my degree and what I was studying in, and he just started laughing and said, “You'll be teaching in a few years.” Which is not what I wanted to do and was not what I got my degree in. And I was really upset. I ended up running to the bathroom and crying. It took me forever to console myself and like, get it together. And such a small, stupid little comment. I don't think he meant to hurt me cause he really liked me. And after that he was still, you know, very nice and would try to, you know, banter with me. But I, I just refused to look him in the eye anymore. I, I did not wait on his tables anymore. I just didn't want anything to do with him really. And that was a grudge that I, I really held.
Rachael: I was just, I think, hurt that he didn't take me seriously. And that I was just this ‘silly little waitress.’
Matthew: Mm. It just makes you want to rage for Rachael being in that scenario. And, so that makes me just think for a moment about how easily we can take on someone else's grudge. You know, when we hear about someone that we care about and hear that they've been treated poorly or somebody has harmed them in some way, that we can actually develop really strong grudges for things that didn't even happen to us.
Saleem: Sounds almost like the root of some movements might be this kind of mutual communal grudge against a negative force or a negative person. Like, basically are there times when very good things happen because of grudges? It's something I'm curious about. Does that make sense?
Matthew: Absolutely. Well I think every grudge has within it the seeds of clarity that a boundary has been crossed.
Matthew: Every grudge. And so (//) continuing to tell the story in ways that cause you anger and resentment that just make your own life harder. That sucks. For you. But I certainly don't want to throw out the baby with the bath water in that the reason why a grudge starts is because clarity emerges about our boundaries. And Rachael is very clear. (//) There's a way in which she's pointing to that everyone is deserving of basic respect and regard.
Saleem: Yeah this whole conversation’s making me think of how much information is contained in a grudge. That’s the last of the grudge tape that I’m going to play for you. It was a pretty wide range in there.
Matthew: It's really unique what will turn into a grudge for different people. And so in some ways it's a celebration of our uniqueness. You know, it's like, oh, like that you caught a grudge over that is what makes you, you. You know? And so you love hearing about your friends’ grudges because it gives you a sense of who they are.
Saleem: I was curious what you thought of Sophie's, what she called the “grudge fold path” and like her system for when you have a grudge. I was curious what your reaction was when you checked that out.
Matthew: Well, there was one thing that she said, which I, I think I'm getting right, which is that you can put grudges in your kind of cabinet of advisors. (//) I wish for everybody to have a team in their inner world who's backing them up. Like, “Hey, we don't let people cross that boundary. Hey, we respect ourselves like this.” You know, that's a beautiful thing.
Saleem: Yeah, what’s the point of life experience if it doesn't help you have better experiences in the future, or, you know, or change your life in good ways?
Matthew: And, avoid experiences that could be harmful to you or to those around you. (//) So I, that, that was one of the things that really stood out to me, that I absolutely loved.
Saleem: What do you do though when there's times when you really want to let something go and you just can't seem to? (//) Cause I think there are times when people recognize that a grudge in their head is not helping them, but they just can't figure out what to do about it.
Matthew: You know, as a mindfulness meditation teacher, I can't tell you how often I'm working with folks that are like, “Hey, I really don't want to feel the feelings that I'm having right now. How do I get rid of them?” And I say, “Whew! I know what it's like to be there, and you're not going anywhere in that situation. You're gonna keep looping in that for as long as you're fighting what's actually coming up.”
And so that's a situation in which there's an opportunity to just level-set with ourselves. These are the emotions that are coming up right now. I don't wanna fight or resist them. I want to acknowledge, accept that they're here, and try and find some relationship to them that actually allows me to be there in the midst of it and not ask for the moment to be any different.
A meditator, a committed meditator, might say, you know, “That grudge doesn't really feel like it's serving an immediate sense of feeling good, feeling at ease. Feeling balanced.” (//) And we could tell, like, that last thirty minutes that I've been thinking about this did not put me in a better place to enjoy my life for the next thirty minutes. Right? And that's the moment actually, that we can come in and start to reflect and tease apart like, “Oh. Why am I so caught up in this?” And all of that, all of that comes out of a really primary condition that has to show up, and that's just caring about our inner life.
Matthew: It's so useful to have a moment to go, “How am I feeling? Oh, I don't wanna feel this way. Oh wait, actually I'm a little embarrassed that I'm holding this grudge. It feels petty. I actually, I don't wanna reveal it to other people, and I wish I could just make it go away, like… you know? And, and there's a moment where we just have to get humble and be like, I guess I am kind of petty, like, I feel a type of way about this situation! And you know, there's, there's nothing I can do but say, hey, I got this feeling and it's here. And if we can do that already, that moment of getting humble – it's like humor is so close at hand. It starts to be really possible to laugh at that. And if we can laugh about it, that actually is a real way in for people who we want to tell about the situation, to feel unthreatened by it.
Saleem: I like all that. I love ending with feeling okay about feeling a little petty at times and not, not feeling guilt about that.
Saleem: Next time on More Than A Feeling, we continue this conversation around conflict. But what happens when a grudge turns into something more.
Coco: I'd rather you have a grudge than a physical beef. You understand? So if you don't like somebody, you don't gotta like everybody. Everybody don't gotta get along. So? You know what I'm saying? And that person ain't going die cause you don't like them no more. Like, like it's okay. (//) But beef? That’s totally different. Beef is physical. (chuckling) (//) A beef is a beef. Like I really wanna hurt you.
Saleem: We hear from someone who works with conflict on the ground, when the stakes are really high. We hear her expertise, and her own surprising story of forgiveness.
More Than A Feeling is produced by Yasmeen Khan, Palace Shaw, Reva Goldberg, Kim Buikema, and Stacia Brown. Our executive producer is Jen Poyant. Fact checking for this episode by Jeanette Beebe. Scoring and mixing by Matt Boynton of Ultraviolet Audio. Connor Donahue is our manager of technical operations. Special thanks to the folks who shared their grudge stories with us for today’s show: Ben, Caitlin, Uma, Renato, Carrie, Addam M, Adam B, Chris, and Rachael. More Than A Feeling is a production of Ten Percent Happier.