Nursing the Sour Milk of Rancor

“Men are too lazy to hold grudges,” laughed a DJ on the radio. He was discussing the much reported rapprochement between former heavyweight champion boxers Evander Holyfield and Mike Tyson. After the 1997 Ear Incident, where Tyson infamously bit off a chunk of Holyfield’s auditory organ, it would be understandable that there were, uh, bad feelings between the two competitors. Fast forward 17 years, and now Tyson has the “privilege and high honor” of introducing Holyfield when he is inducted into the Nevada Boxing Hall of Fame in a few weeks. So, are these two individuals now “hail fellow well met” or is it all just a publicity stunt?

 

By my guess, it’s more the latter than the former, but the answer is irrelevant for purposes of this post, which is about holding grudges.

 

Grudges make for an interesting re-booting topic because we all have experience with them—on the giving and receiving ends. But, the thing about grudges is that no good ever comes of ‘em. In fact, being bitter demands far more of a commitment from us than simply forgetting about what happened and moving on. When you consider the long term energy requirements involved, grudge holding is on the opposite end of the bell curve from granting forgiveness. Long term ill will extracts a lot from us—our looks, our cheerfulness, our opportunities—have you ever been around a person who’s been furious for thirty years? Oooh, brother, it shows.

 

The way I see it, grudges are a lot like storage units. By the time you get around to unloading the space filled with stuff you simply couldn’t bear to part with, the storage fees, alone, have cost more than any of the items inside were worth. And, once you get a good look at this load, you wished you hadn’t gone to the trouble. Any of this ring a bell?

 

I have close, personal, multi-generational experience with Master Grudge Holders. While I expect that some of your relatives are competitive, my group will give ‘em a run for their money. But just because I have seen how destructive grudges are doesn’t mean it’s been any easier for me to give up mine. And, by the way, resentment is simply a synonym for grudge, so don’t try to wriggle your way out of this post by telling yourself you only feel resentment towards X occasionally, but never a grudge, because I’m here to tell you that the hot pot simmers either way. In fact, this toxic response can lay dormant for months or years on end, perhaps even gelling into an ice cold chunk buried somewhere deep within your bowels. Yet, the result is the same, it’s a condition that is regularly fed by our conscience or sub-conscience. We do this to ourselves; we feed the fires.

 

What has made overcoming certain grudges so hard for me is the fact that the underlying injury was real with lasting effects. On more than one occasion, a person important to me came after me with a ferocity that took my breath away, forever changing what I thought existed between us. So, my initial pain was understandable—when someone cuts us we bleed. And even if that cut results in lasting damage, by holding onto our injury, by summoning memories of the bad act, we are repeatedly tearing away the scab. Any subsequent infection is brought on by us, by our own willful actions. How’s that for a sobering thought?

 

How we arrive at that point of forgiveness, where we release our tenacious grasp on our hurt, differs from one person to another. But, as re-booters, we know this is a vital component to moving forward with our lives. And the benefits of letting go extend far beyond ourselves. I can say with some authority that standing on the sidelines of one who nurses their rage or cold disdain or dreams of revenge extracts significant tolls on innocent bystanders. Do you want your children to watch you seethe? What does that do to them? Forever?

 

Like anything else worth doing, forgiveness takes practice. The more you do it, the easier it gets. So, whether Tyson and Holyfield are true friends again or are acting with other motivations, they are moving on. As dedicated re-booters, we are well served by their example.

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