What is the meaning of ‘holding grudges’? (+7 Signs of grudges)

This info-rich article will be explaining the actual meaning of ‘holding grudges’. In addition to this, we will be listing the various signs that you are holding a grudge against someone and a few ways through which you can finally let go of a grudge.

What is the meaning of ‘holding grudges’?

The meaning of ‘holding grudges’ is a feeling of anger that someone feels towards another who has treated them badly in the past. Due to the grudge, the person may outwardly show their dislike or may even take action against the other.

Apart from the fact that someone has genuinely hurt you, you may be holding on to a grudge for a variety of reasons. Some reasons why you might be holding on to a grudge are:

  • Because the hurt has been too great or deep and it is hard for you to let it go
  • Because you might feel that you are morally superior to the other person
  • Because you have different expectations from the relationship for the future
  • Because you feel the need for constant validation because of the hurt

Signs that you are holding a grudge

Sometimes holding a grudge may not be so openly obvious since grudges can be pretty low-lying at times. A few signs that you are holding a grudge against someone have been shared in the list below.

You avoid the person

If you are holding a grudge against someone, you will often keep avoiding the person in social situations. Even if you live with that person, you might try to stay out of their way and may actively seek out escape routes when they are near you.

You make plans and cancel them

In case of a subconscious grudge, you might make plans with the person, but may end up canceling them at the very last minute. At first you might not realize it, but later you might feel that you don’t want to meet the person and may cancel the plan.

You keep getting angry for other reasons

In case the grudge has not been resolved or discussed amicably with the person, you may find that you keep getting angry for other reasons. This may be your subconscious way of redirecting the anger toward some other issues.

You tell others that you don’t like the person

If you find yourself telling others openly that you don’t like a certain person, it can be because you have a grudge against them for some reason or the other. This is even if you don’t fully realize that you indeed are holding a grudge.

You have tried your best to make them see your POV

In many cases, the other person may not realize that they have harmed you or hurt you in the past. And therefore, you may constantly try to make the other person see your point of view through arguments and discussions.

You find that they genuinely irk you

Even if you don’t argue with the other person or get angry with them, you might feel that they genuinely irk you or irritate you. Their very presence alone may leave you feeling increasingly frustrated.

You might not feel anything toward them

In certain cases, you might not feel anything toward them. You might simply deny their feelings and might not be able to sympathize or empathize with them. This feeling of apathy can also be a tell-tale sign that you are holding a grudge toward someone.

How can holding grudges affect you mentally?

Holding a grudge or grudges may seem pretty harmless but can actually cause a lot of pain from a mental perspective. Some of the mental health effects of holding grudges are:

  • When you hold a grudge against a person for a long time, it can make you feel socially isolated. This is especially if you have a long pattern of forming and holding grudges against others, since grudges can basically cut off friends.
  • Research has shown that holding grudges against others can also lead to cognitive impairment. When compared to those who forgave others, resentful people showed faster cognitive decline.
  • Holding grudges against multiple people in your life can also increase stress levels and also anxiety levels. This can in turn lead to mental health issues such as depression and anxiety and even psychotic illnesses.
  • Optimism is a necessary factor for survival, but holding grudges against people can make you more pessimistic in nature. Pessimism is another known factor which can cause an increase in stress levels and anxiety levels.

How to let go of a grudge?

If you are someone who has the habit of holding on to grudges for a long period of time, this can affect your mental and physical health mentally. If you have decided to let go but don’t know how to do so, you can use the tips which have been discussed in this section.

Use mindfulness to improve self-awareness

Through mindfulness activities you will be able to move on from your grudge. Mindfulness brings you to the present instead of focusing on the past. Through the improvement of your self-awareness, you will understand the actual reasons why you are holding on to the grudge.

When you understand the reasons why you are actually holding on to the grudge in the first place, it becomes a whole lot easier for you to let go of it. You will also learn about your thought processes and cognitive reasoning behind your grudge.

Talk to a therapist

If you are finding it hard to become aware of your thoughts and your cognitive processes, you can try talking to a therapist. In therapy sessions, you will be able to navigate through your emotional trauma and also learn capable coping strategies for this.

There are many forms of therapy which are recommended for this, but often Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is the way to go. In CBT, you will learn to control your thought processes and change your maladaptive thinking.

Keep a journal of your thoughts

Another coping strategy that you can use to get over a grudge and let it go is to keep a journal of your thoughts. Journaling means recording your thoughts and feelings regularly and this can help you understand trigger factors and the deeper reasons why you hold on to grudges.

Try another perspective

You can also try changing your perspective to gain a better understanding of the reason why you are holding on to the grudge. For instance, you can think of the hurt from the perspective of the person who caused it. Sometimes, thinking in another POV can help you overcome the grudge.

This does not necessarily mean that you are overlooking their hurtful behavior, but that you are able to empathize with the factors that might have led to it. By looking at another POV, you will improve your understanding and also your self-awareness.

Grow out of the grudge

You can also use the hurtful experience which caused the grudge as a stepping stone to greater learning. Many people have used their grudges and resentments from the past to go on to use this energy to create great things.

You can find hundreds of examples of great achievers who have created their successes, fueled by a grudge or resentment. In using the energy from your grudge for creativity, you will be able to put the hurt behind you and also use it as an advantage instead of a con.


This info-rich article has explained the actual meaning of ‘holding grudges’. In addition to this, we have listed the various signs that you are holding a grudge against someone and a few ways through which you can finally let go of a grudge.

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