By Rosalind Sedacca, CDC
“The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” Gandhi
Divorce can be a major stumbling block to our happiness and personal growth. Holding grudges and resentments have proven to be harmful to your physical health and emotional wellbeing. 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.
It is not uncommon to resent the people closest to us 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 wellbeing.
When you’re caught in resentment, anger and hatred following a divorce, especially when children are involved, they get caught in the web you weave. They feel your conflict, experience your negative energy, and are helpless to do anything about it. It isn’t fair to burden innocent children with that emotional baggage. It robs them of their childhood. And not only does it affect them, it affects the quality of your relationship with them and their own sense of self-esteem. Your children deserve better than living with an angry parent.
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.
When this happens during the co-parenting relationship, the conflict is emotionally disturbing to your children and can negatively impact their behaviors in many destructive ways including: bullying, poor grades at school, aggressive behavior, depression, low self-esteem, anger and more.
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?
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 moving forward to a brighter future. I have developed an online ecourse for managing anger during and after divorce, which includes strategies for expanding your capacity for forgiveness to create more peace in your own life – and in the life of your children. It’s a gift you give to yourself so you’re free of the pain that surrounds anger and grudges.
Learn more at: //www.angerconflictprograms.com.
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Rosalind Sedacca, CDC is a Divorce & Parenting Coach and Founder of the Child-Centered Divorce Network. She’s also the 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. For Rosalind’s free ebook on Post-Divorce Parenting, her coaching services and other valuable resources on divorce and parenting issues, visit //www.childcentereddivorce.com.
© Rosalind Sedacca All rights reserved.