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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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The BattalionMay 4, 2024

Opinion: Holding grudges can be good for you

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Religions and personal philosophies are all vastly different, ranging from the worship of God to the total rejection of God. However, for the most part, they all have one common principle: forgiveness. Most practices preach that the only true way to find peace within one’s life is to forgive.
Forgive others for intentional wrongdoings and unintentional ones, too. Where those philosophies and I part ways is that I don’t believe in limitless forgiveness — after a certain point, of course.
Now, if you step on my foot on accident in a crowded room, obviously I will not hold it against you for the rest of my life, but as my family’s resident grudge holder, I have my own forgiveness philosophy.
There is only one being who has to forgive everyone: God, Allah, the Universe or whatever higher power you believe in. And there is only one person you absolutely must forgive, no matter what. That person is yourself.
With that in mind, everyone else can be up for debate on whether or not you have to forgive them. After living in five different states and over 13 different cities, the one thing I know is that some people absolutely cannot change. And I don’t need to forgive them for it.
Of course, when I say I don’t forgive certain people, I’m not taking stock of their names before I go to bed like Arya Stark or wasting away thinking about what they’ve done. But I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that some of my more fresh betrayals resurface in my mind when trying to sleep. Those people will not be a part of my life, and they won’t have a chance to slither back in again either.
I’m a simple American girl. Therefore, I go by the most famous rule from America’s pastime: Three strikes and you’re out. If someone intentionally commits a serious infraction on three separate occasions without proof they’re working on fixing it, and after expressing how those actions hurt you, then I am sorry but, they are not going to fix it. Not anytime soon at least.
I’ve said this to many friends asking me for dating advice about their clearly manipulative partners. A manipulator can tell who is easy to walk on from a mile away. It’s their special gift. And they can tell who is going to forgive them and allow the manipulation to continue.
So, are you going to let yourself keep getting hurt under the thinly veiled excuse called forgiveness? At what point does forgiveness cause more turmoil than peace?
I’ve seen this firsthand in my own life. I’ve broken no-contact and forgiven someone who deeply hurt me. Where that got me was an extra six months of pain and knowledge of things that twisted the knife deeper. Whereas if I would’ve vowed to not forgive the absolutely horrendous things they put me through, I wouldn’t have been set back months in my healing process and probably would’ve been far happier in the long run.
I get it. In a sick twisted way they make you believe that “they’re all you have,” “you still want them in your life even after they hurt you” or “you know they love you in their weird way.” I’ve thought all of those things before, but that got me nowhere, and those people wasted so much of my time and disappointed me to a point I thought I couldn’t return from.
But here I am. I have fulfilling relationships, and I am the most at peace I’ve been in years. And I owe it all to my grudge-holding skills. Because when the sting fades from no-contact, and I’ve had time to digest their actions and how they made me feel, I know I never want those people in my life again. I know I deserve better, and so do you.
Now, for the second aspect of my philosophy, you must forgive yourself. Life is too short to be consumed with guilt. If you’re genuinely sorry, you’ll know how to make it right. No one is perfect, and everyone has made mistakes. But where I respect those fallen angels of regret is when they rectify it. And if the person you hurt won’t accept your apology, rectify it within yourself and ensure you don’t make that mistake again. That is the only true way to find peace.
Some people are misguided and others are manipulative, and it is not always easy to tell which is which. You have to do the emotional work to figure that out for yourself.
I’ve had to forgive myself for the wasted tears, time and trust I’ve given some people, but none have yet to forgive themselves enough to apologize. However, I’m not holding my breath hoping they’ll change — because my best bet is they won’t.
I don’t need to waste away trying to forgive them to keep them in my life. Instead, I focus on forgiving myself, working on my own relationships and in turn finding peace. I hope that everyone can find peace, and remember my philosophy as we go through life. Because everyone deserves to have relationships that build them up, not suck them dry.
Of course, forgive the people who are truly sorry. But ditch the ones that don’t bring you fulfillment and happiness. Who knew not forgiving could be so peaceful?
Maddie McMurrough is an agricultural communications and journalism junior and opinion writer for The Battalion.

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About the Contributor
Maddie McMurrough, Opinion Writer
Maddie McMurrough is an agricultural communications and journalism major from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Maddie has been writing for the Battalion since March 2023.
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