Thursday, April 23, 2009


I had a conversation with someone recently which made me think of the relevance of this piece I wrote a while back. I hope you enjoy it.

Holding a grudge – How to give yourself an ulcer
By: Chalene Johnson

I have two friends who haven’t spoke in years. They used to be close friends. In fact, all three of us once shared a special bond. I’m still friends with both but their “split” and insistence on maintaining their mutual grudge changed my relationship with both. I feel awkward when one's name is mentioned in the company of the other. I purposely avoid any topic that might have those two worlds' collide. I'm a pretty reasonable person. I, honestly, can see both their points. I done trying to help one see the other's side of things. I've given up trying to mend their ship. It’s their cross to bar. (That's a lie. Their mutually shared grudge has become EVERYONE'S cross to bare.

Holding a grudge is about the surest way to develop an ulcer.
You may think your grudge is the private property of your personal opinion. You assume that because you have chosen to “write off”, “villainize” or simply “pity” this person that no one else is effected. They are. In fact, everyone close to you is effected in one way or another. Not by choice, your anger, resentment, hurt and frustration has become the burden of everyone around you. Your friend’s grudge, whether you agree with it or not, forces you to keep a healthy distance from the recipient of his anger. That’s what a grudge is, it’s anger. It’s anger, pain and hurt you’ve chosen to hold on to in the interest of preserving something. We hold onto anger, hurt, and resentment because they serve a purpose. Sometimes it is our need to be “right”, or to keep an unattainable dream alive. Sometimes we hold a grudge so that we can avoid looking at ourselves, or our part. It's a big price to pay.

Holding a grudge is like carrying a small vile of non-lethal, but potent poison that corrupts and sickens you and the people closest to you. The virus is released with the mere mention of the “other person’s name”. Ill prepared to reach a resolve, your family and friends try desperately to avoid encountering this person or situations of similarity. The mere mention of their name forms a pit in your stomach. You shift uncomfortably thinking of it. Your face changes expression. You work to change the subject. "Move on. New topic. I hate this person," are the words in your head. It's uncomfortable. It makes your heart beat faster.

Sit with this feeling. Sit with it for more than a moment. Let's analyze what it is you’re really feeling… it’s not disdain for that person, it's self disdain. Oddly enough it’s that the target of your grudge often makes you feel bad about yourself. Maybe it’s that they have an ill opinion of you, or they have brought to the surface qualities in yourself with which you struggle. You're probably a good person. Most of us are good people. There's something about this person that makes you feel less, unworthy, found out. For whatever reason, this person stirs up old dust, rips open unhealed wounds. My theory is (and I did take Psychology 101 in College and I watch Dr. Phil almost everyday, so that pretty much makes me an expert) that the onset of ALL of this stems from childhood experiences.

Grudges destroy families. They cause children to be raised with the pain of an otherwise avoidable divorce. Grudges sour friendships and destroy positive energy. Grudges suck the life from you and consume nearly every thought. When you relate to someone with a deep rooted, well publicized grudge, you carefully chose your words and never fully let your guard down. Grudge holders in the workplace make the office staff tension filled. Consciously or unconsciously, you ask those around you to share your grudge in order to prove their admiration for you. Yet no matter how many people love and support you, it takes only the presumed "wrong" of one person to send you spinning into attack mode. While you may not ask it, you expect that your husband, your friend, your sister and your coworkers will share you disdain for the individual who has done them no wrong or whom they have chosen to forgive or forget.

In business your grudge could cost another their job. I understand you didn’t ask for it. You didn’t hope for it, but by holding a grudge, you reap vengeance. The irony of a grudge is that the deepest cutting vengeance you deliver is to yourself. It’s an acid brewing in your belly. It's a wall of plexiglas that allows you to believe your close with others, but prevents you from truly, intimately connecting with even the people who love you unconditionally. It’s time to let go.

What does it mean to let go of a grudge? It means peace of mind. Letting go of a grudge means learning to enjoy life, perhaps for the first time. It doesn’t mean you’ve forgiven, reached an agreement or mended your fence. It might mean simply that you’ve come to accept what happen, accept their existence, believe in your own value and move on.

Jim Henson was in the middle of negotiating a life time deal with Disney when he died suddenly of a heart attack at the age of 53. The deal fell apart. His son Brian Henson was strapped with the responsibility of putting the deal back together. He recalled living under the dark cloud of a grudge he held for Disney. What pulled him into a healthier state of mind was recalling a childhood memory of his father, "I remember when I was 8 or 9, someone stole my father's camera and wallet from the trunk of his car [in a New York garage]. He just said, 'I guess they need it more than I do.' He closed the trunk; we drove home. He never mentioned it again. Someone else would have been angry for days. But it didn't cause my dad to stumble for a second."

What is a grudge? I suppose there are as many definitions as there are people. In my mind, holding a grudge means holding anger toward someone even after they have apologized, attempted to apologize or established that they have no intention of apologizing…ever. Holding a grudge is being angry with someone for something that happened years ago, the details of which have become fuzz, or which other would have long forgotten. Holding a grudge means harboring resentment for trivial or non-earth shattering matters that have more to do with your delicate ego than your sensibility.

Letting go of a grudge doesn’t mean you condone bad behavior or are actively seeking to rekindle a deep level of friendship. As Frederich Buechner states in Wishful Thinking, at its core, “forgiveness is an act of radical self-interest.” The expensive price of your many grudges is eroded happiness, potential joy never known.

Let go of your grudge and enjoy life again. To let go of a grudge is to forgive someone even when they have not asked for your forgiveness. It means acting in kindness or simply being polite even when you believe the other person is not worthy of it. Letting go of a grudge does not mean that you have to forget. In fact you should remember, so that you set your expectations more reasonably of this person. Remember, but move on.

I do believe you are either a grudge holder or you're not. To those who do and desperately want to stop, those who can admit the damage it causes, those who feel controlled by what other people think of them, those who feel the gnawing in their stomach but can't seem to change...there is work to be done but it starts with feeling better about yourself. Scrap the therapy phobias. You might feel the weight of the World lift from your shoulders with a just little time spent with a qualified therapist or counselor.

Holding your grudge only hurts you. It hurts daily and becomes a breeding ground for villainizing, paranoid, victim centered thinking. If not for you, let go of your grudge for the people around you. It’s no longer who was right or who “started it” or who has taken responsibility, now it’s who is intelligent enough to end it.

Enjoy your life more fully. Learn to forgive those who trespass against you.


Anonymous said...

What an incredible piece. I have been holding a grudge against an old boss that laid me off after 6 mo. all due to low profit margins. Mind you I hated that job and wished forever I would get laid off -- then it happend and I felt like I wanted the last word --the guy was a fruit cake and very very bitter over everything and everyone -- he kinda had 2 sides to him -- nice to your face, but then stab you in the back every chance he had. Just not the kind of person I wanted in my life. It was a blessing that it happend. This happened over 8 months ago and you know I still think about it and get instantly angry. I even sometimes dream about telling the guy off. I am in a job with a wonderful boss that respects me and I love where I am now -- but for some reason I just can't let go of the other.

Reading your piece helped me to realize I can carry on and not look back. I think I will read your piece whenever I start thinking about that horrible place and then I can move on. Thank you Chalene for opening my eyes!


AZTLGRL said...

Jim Henson died of Pneumonia...I am a HUGE Henson fan but same
Great blog. I think a lot of people will be helped tremendously by this.

Northern Orchid said...

Fabulous blog. Very well said. You got the point accross without being preachy.

I would probably consider myself a grudge holder and it is something that I am working very actively to change.

I have shared this blog with some of my friends, and I will read it again whenever I feel those negative feelings rearing their ugly head.

TuxBaby said...

Super blog entry!! I wholeheartedly agree. Forgiving someone and letting it all go isn't to let the other person off free. It's to let YOURSELF go free.

I've stopped holding a grudge against my ex, and some friends and family just don't get it... but I'm free of him and I'm no longer twisted up inside just knowing that I will be around him during the kid exchanges. It's no big deal anymore, and HE'S no big deal to me anymore. And I'm a big deal to myself. lol ;-)

Very wise words, Chalene- thank you for the reminder! I love how you live so fully.


irish_robbie said...

I had a big grudge against "The WB" for cancelling BUFFY the VAMPIRE SLAYER. Since letting it go, I sleep better at night! Thanks Chalene :)

stephanie said...

ccirishrobbie-dude you crack me up. glad you let go of your "WB" grudge...that must have been difficult.

chalene - yeah girl awesome blog today. I totally agree - grudges don't get you anywhere. I have no grudges - not even my ex. Holding on to it means you are holding on to them - they still have a piece of let it go - move on & be happy.

awesome blog!

steph aka stufawen

Anonymous said...

Excellent entry! I agree 100%. What makes us angry controls us, and I don't like giving people that kind of power over me. Especially people I don't want in my life anyway.
Robbie-lol so glad you have moved on. Healing is important man.


laura52 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
laura52 said...


Your children have a very wise Mother. Your fans have a very wise teacher.

Learning to not let people destroy your positive energy is a lesson in life. You have clearly reached many with your words of wisdom.

May you be brave enough to email this blog to your two friends and stop them from being your energy vampires. No one has the right to put anyone in the middle, especially for YEARS.

In the words of Dr. Phil, "You can't change what you don't acknowledge". ;-)


AZTLGRL said...

Chalene thanks for stopping by my blog..Don't be umm momentarily jealous of that OTHER program..Look at it this way, they gave me gastritis and YOU didn't! TA DAAAAAAAAAAAAA! and yours is WAYYYYYYYY more fun...And you are wayyyyyyyy cooler....And you dress nicer...umm yeah

irish_robbie said...

Oh yeah, Chalene thanks for stopping by my blog too! Oh wait... ;)

Anonymous said...

Hi there!

What an awesome word of encouragement. I know, as I am sure a lot of people do, first hand what holding a grudge can do to you, as I have been a grudgeholder myself. It is an awful experience, and often times the person you are holding the grudge against, that person that you can't seem to forgive, they go on living their lives, usually unaware of the grudge you are holding. So the only thing you do is end up hurting yourself. Someone once told me that forgiveness is releasing that person, letting go of that grudge, if you will. It doesn't mean that you have to be friends with them anymore, but what it does mean, is that when you let go of that grudge than YOU are free. You are no longer "chained" to that person, by the grudge you hold. Anyways, off my soapbox now :)

By the way, I just love Turbo Jam...It is awesome!


Anonymous said...

Great topic! We need to let go of grudges. Which is also forgiving. I would highly recommend a movie out right now, "End of the Spear." It not only is on the subject of forgiveness but on reconcilling.

The following is a little about the movie, from

"Mincayani (Louie Leonardo) is born into the most violent society ever documented by anthropologists, the Waodani in the eastern rainforest of Ecuador. As he grows he learns what every Waodani understands, he must spear and live or be speared and die. Mincayani's world changes when he and his family kill five missionaries, Nate Saint (Chad Allen), Jim Elliot (Sean McGowan), Ed McCully (Stephen Caudill), Pete Fleming (Matt Lutz) and Roger Youderian (Patrick Zeller). This incident propels Mincayani's family group down an extraordinary path that culminates in them not only departing from violence, but also caring for the enemy tribe they had once violently raided."

Tahki Mori Tahki Mori said...

OMG I went dancing last night for the first time since starting Turbo a couplea weeks ago and o-h m-a-n I felt like I was in my own music video. It was so hot. I never expected turbo would pay off so much on the dancefloor!

miz chalene i hope you would be happy to know that I will try to find a way to continue turbo-ing when I go to Mongolia. don't be surprised if you get orders from there in a couple months


Anonymous said...

Holding a grudge is cowardice. Forgiveness is strength.

Lisa (Dixie belle)

Anonymous said...


Thanks for the grudge post - there's somthin' for everyone there. Have your friends read this yet? I hope so.

BTW Just got your Cardio Remix, and Booty Sculpt, etc. LOVE them. Way faster, now when I go back to the first DVD's - they seem so slow!!!

When are the others coming out? Very soon I hope - you've got me hooked totally and I need, need, need, more, more, more!!!!

Thanks you awesome woman - and btw, the profiles at the end are, as usual, tear (as in cry) provoking (in a very heartfelt good way).

AZTLGRL said...

How to give yourself an ulcer.....
Check Chalene's blog every 5 minutes to see if any QVC updates are posted....

Anonymous said...

I really loved it. Im still not sure if i can let go but i try. This is what happened. I was living with my sis-n-law while i was trying to go to school. My hubby lived in a different state. I got pregnant with twins and was planning to move back. My husband came to visit me and we spent some time with his family. Then we went to visit my family (out of town) because he never really got to meet them since with ranaway to get married. I was going to stay while he went back but the roads were closed because of the ice. Long story short, his sister called and cused me out because my hubby was with me and not with them, i didnt say anything. So i didnt want to talk to her anylonger. Then 3 months later she called my hubby and told him she wanted money for a car that she gave him. While i got angry & tried to forget it but went into premature labor (28 weeks). My kids are fine, it was horrible for me though. Anyways i went over there and showed his side the kids, all she did was talk stuff about me. I didnt say anything, i couldn't disrespect her, i was taught differently. My husband just came back from overseas and they blame me, for him not seeing them. He doesnt go because i will not go with him. We live across country and i don't feel like making a special trip to get told off.
Is it wrong for me to be like this? I'm not trying to play the victim, but i don't want to be around people that talk bad about me and then think its okay. I feel so horrible that he hasn't seen them.

caligirl031284 said...

Hi I'm a new user on your site its great and the workouts look great I just wanted to see if there is anyway you can help me?? I have tried purchasing your dvd turbo jam pacakages and none of the orders go through.... there is nothing wrong with the credit cards they have a high amount of money i can spend I don't know if theres something wrong with your site.... because Ive already tried buying them with diffrent cards.... i would do it over the phone but Im not sure if you offer the extra things over the phone does anyone else on here have trouble with the site?? if anyone has any suggestions or answers let me know just in case chalene is busy to get back to me thanx!!!

Christina Thomas said...

I am a grudge holder. I am holding a grudge with a girl that I thought could be a friend and in the end has just made me feel like this bad person, bad wife, and a bad mother. I have tried time and time again to be a friend to this girl but she obviously does not want the friend ship I have to give. I know that this girl just hates me because I have everything she wants - my hubs, a family like mine, the friendship and the relationships I have, a job like mine. I believe that her jealousy of me is why she continues to hate me even after all I have done for her. Now I just hold a grudge. I want her apology and I will never receive it. Instead she chooses to be immature and post indirect comments on her "space" about me and my husband.

I just want to let everything that she does to hurt me go but it is hard to let go of that grudge. It's painful to me because I can't even be somewhere with my hubs because she will be there.

Your post has let me know that I can be the bigger person and "forgive" her since I know she will never let it go herself.

BeachBody Coach: VirtueFit said...

Quite awesome. I hope it touches those who need it most. May they set themselves free. Thank you, Chalene. Peace of Christ be with your Spirit.

Anonymous said...

Loved this. Thanks, :)

Anonymous said...

Wow, my whole life to this point has been holding grudges (from childhood) especially when life gets difficult. It seems I always look to the reasons why I "am the way I am and handle certain situations the way I do" and "blame" it on my childhood more often than not which is a waist of time. It is absolutely necessary I have come to realize to let it go. I find a closer daily walk with my God keeps me focused on the tasks at hand (giving to others with grace and humbleness so it comes back to you 10 fold...;o)

What a fabulous piece...THANKS!

Jo said...

This is so true! Preach it sistah! I have learned to let stuff go that I had been holding onto for a while and once I let go, it was like a weight lifted.

Off topic: I am ordering Chalene Extreme tomorrow. I can't wait to start it. :-)

Anonymous said...

Hi Chalene,

You are absolutely correct about what happens when holding a grudge. It definitely changes relationships even when that particular person holding the grudge thinks otherwise.


sleepyjoey said...

Excellent Chalene! Even the busiest woman in the world still has time to write and reflect!

Charlene said...

Chalene, I don't know if you read this, but I really wanted to let you know how much I love your Turbo Jam workouts. I've been battling a weight problem for what seems like forever, and thanks to you, I really do enjoy and look forward to exercising! You are my inspiration, and I thank you so much for having the energy to make exercise fun for us!

Keep doing what you're doing, you are changing the lives of so many people out there, and we're all so thankful for you!


Jodi said...

I love your blog Chalene!
I work very hard to not be a grudge holder but unfortunately i DO have an ulcer (its name is albert lol)-- more from stress and worry... the next way to give yourself an ulcer!
My DH and i have started your Turbo jam DVD's and we LOVE them! I just started doing the 20min. workout and man... workout!!!
I have 2 blogs (one for my weight loss and one for my family's journey after my sons TBI last summer!)please stop by!

Dusty Rhoads said...

LMBO about the "psych 101" comment. :-) Reminded me of Sinbad in the movie "Jingle All the Way".

A friend of mine who teaches a Marriage and Family Relations class during Sunday school always says "Holding a grudge is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die".