In the psychological sense holding a grudge means you continue to care deeply about that person. Obviously your sentiments towards them are highly negative, but you are still highly involved in the situation emotionally and psychologically.
On an episode of ‘Frasier’ Niles says something along the lines of “A wise man once said that hate is not the opposite of love, disinterest is.” Neuroscience bears this idea out as well in that the same neuropathways light up when thinking about someone we love as light up when thinking about someone we hate.
Our point here is that if you are holding a grudge against someone you may have convinced yourself that you don’t care about them at all, that they’re not worth any more of your time and energy. But your own behavior betrays you, your grudge signifies that they haven’t left your psychic space at all, that there are still millions of unseen bonds connecting the two of you together. We don’t usually think much about, or get particularly emotionally invested in, people we really don’t care about. The grudge means you still care, and it means there’s some wrong that needs to be righted.
A grudge signifies unresolved conflict, not just in the tangible relationship itself but in the private world of your psyche. A grudge is an open Gestalt that must be closed before you can enter into the world and relationships with your full psychological and emotional attention rather than allowing much of that psychological and emotional attention to be siphoned off into a conflicted past relationship that is still very much alive and well in your present.
One way or another you need to address your grudge in order to put an end to your psychic conflict. It might not seem like the grudge is adversely affecting your life but it is, it negatively colors your experience in ways big and small. We can’t hold onto a bunch of unresolved emotional and psychological conflict and be really happy, it’s impossible. Happiness is the result of being fully present and relatively free of conflicted thoughts and emotions. We make the choice to interact with some desired object with all of our being, and the result of this connection is happiness. A longstanding grudge gets in the way of your ability to interact with anything or anyone with all of your being since you carry your psychic conflict into each new encounter.
We always encourage moving towards compassion, forgiveness, and hopefully reconciliation, but if that’s impossible for whatever reason the point remains that working through your conflict, saying goodbye, and moving on is required. Some sort of resolution is necessary, a period must be put at the end of the run-on sentence. You may have heard it said that holding a grudge is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to get sick. You are the one carrying around the psychological and emotional pain that your grudge entails and if you want to improve your mental health and improve your chances for a happy life and happy, healthy relationships you’ve got to decide that now is the time to address and overcome the grudge, now is the time to start moving towards resolution.