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Can You Let Go of Grudges After Divorce?

by: Rosalind Sedacca, CCT

Divorce can be a major stumbling block to our happiness and personal growth. Holding grudges and resentments have been proven to be harmful to your physical health and emotional well-being – not to mention the psychological effects on your children. Forgiveness is a productive way to move forward, detach from the past and let go of lingering hurts so you can experience a healthier, more promising future – and protect your children from toxic parenting.

It is not uncommon to resent your ex or other people closest to you because they have often done us some harm such as violating our trust through a lie, betrayal, deceit or abuse. However, resentment comes at a big cost to you.

When you can’t let go of hurt and anger, it builds into a resentment or grudge. That feeling can take hold of you growing to envelope your whole life and all of your thoughts. Resentments make it difficult to enjoy your present life. They define who you are and how you act. Grudges are like mental poison that doesn’t hurt anyone else, but you. When you hold on to a grudge, it makes you bitter, which depletes you of your strength and reduces your overall well-being.

Resentment also colors your parenting and models for your children behavior that is often irresponsible, immature and self-defeating. Is that what you want them to learn?

 “The weak can never forgive.  Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” Gandhi

Here are some common behaviors that indicate you may be holding on to a grudge.

Passive-aggressive behavior: While often very subtle, this behavior is focused on getting back at the person you are angry at through indirect means. Holding back necessary information, tense silences, or saying there’s nothing wrong when obviously you are really angry are typical indicators of passive aggressive manipulation.

Sarcastic remarks: These remarks indicate there is still strong emotion behind what you’re thinking, even though you may be saying you’re “just kidding.

Short, abrupt comments: Comments of this nature suggest your intolerance and annoyance. They usually are delivered with a certain intonation in your voice.

Below are some questions to ask yourself for insights about your own behavior:

  • Do you still want to get back at your spouse?
  • To what extent will you do things to annoy him/her?
  • Do you generally tend to hold on to grudges/resentments? For how long?
  • Can you let them go? Can you find some benefits for freeing yourself from anger and resentment?

If you are besieged with intrusive thoughts and feelings about your former spouse, telling you how right you are and how wrong they are, you are likely to be developing a grudge. These one-sided dialogues with yourself make it harder to work on developing a more forgiving attitude and ultimately letting go.

It is helpful to truly understand what forgiveness is and how it can be of value to YOU in determining whether this is a strategy to embrace in your life. Keep in mind that we forgive for us, not for the other person. Forgiveness is a gift we give ourselves. Don’t you deserve that gift?

Rosalind Sedacca, CCT is a Divorce and Parenting Coach and author of How Do I Tell the Kids about the Divorce? A Create-a-Storybook Guide to Preparing Your Children -- with Love! Acclaimed by divorce professionals, the book provides fill-in-the-blank templates that guide parents in creating a family storybook with personal photographs as an ideal way to break the news. Rosalind is a contributing expert at HopeAfterDivorce.org and FamilyShare.com. For her free ebook on Post-Divorce Parenting: Success Strategies for Getting It Right!,her free ezine, articles, coaching services and other valuable resources visit http://www.childcentereddivorce.com © Rosalind Sedacca. All rights reserved. 

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