CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Do you have one of those situations in your family where there's a "freeze-out"? And everyone is tiptoeing around it?
Or maybe you're involved in an office conflict or with a group of friends who are bickering.
It happens all too often. With today's extended families, spread out across the country, sometimes it's even hard to remember how or when it started. It's just there -- at every corner, with every communication and, seemingly, taking on a life of its own.
Talk about awkward! Weddings. Graduations. Occasions that ought to be full of happiness and joy. Not to mention emotion-laden gatherings such as a funeral.
A grudge is defined as a deep-seated feeling of resentment. We may feel we're "getting back" by holding a grudge. In reality, though, it hurts us more than the other person.
You may have heard the saying that holding resentment is like drinking poison and expecting someone else to get sick. Or, as comedian Buddy Hackett put it, "I never carry a grudge. You know why? While you're carrying a grudge, they're out dancing."
If you're carrying a grudge, you're storing negative energy over a wrong committed. And the wrong can be either real or perceived. That's the tricky part.
This lasting feeling starts to weigh upon your consciousness, infecting your other thoughts and feeling, spoiling them as a rotten apple contaminates others in the barrel, explains author Sasha Tarkovsky.
A grudge actually takes shape in your mind, then your body, invoking the fight-or-flight response to stress. If you feel the grudge is sufficient enough to justify retaliation, then you have a stressor that is taking its toll on you.
Over time, that negative energy can drain you of your creativity, impact your health and start to color your worldview. The ultimate outcome is a feeling of powerlessness, as described on a sign I recall: "Holding a grudge is like letting someone live rent-free in your head."
So, how can we deal with this vicious cycle? The Dalai Lama offers some sage advice. He says to simply "drop the thought" to drop the suffering out of your life.