UW–Madison’s Enright says forgiveness is key to getting over a grudge

Vox magazine utilized the expertise of UW–Madison’s Robert Enright recently for an article that is headlined, “How (and why) to stop holding a grudge.”

Robert Enright

Enright, who holds the Aristotelian Professorship in Forgiveness Science with the School of Education’s Department of Educational Psychology, tells Vox that grudges exist on a spectrum. “Some grievances don’t impact your daily life, but you remember them nonetheless. These surface-level grudges are easier to relinquish, Enright says. Others take root in the soul and can grow into hatred.”

Enright believes, however, that through forgiveness “even the most profound resentments can be released.”

The article advises that to move past a grudge, it is helpful to step out of your own point of view and put the other person’s behavior in context.

It’s possible the transgressor didn’t intentionally hurt you, Enright says. For instance, “Maybe their child was sick and they forgot about a charity event you organized — something that was meaningful to you but, at the moment, not as significant to them,” the article explains.

“As you’re putting a context to it,” Enright says, “you’ll begin to see maybe this wasn’t such a big deal and I can move past, I can move on.”

The strongest antidote against grudge-holding, Enright says, is forgiveness, which often requires emotional work and “digging into the psyche of the person that hurt you.” He says to consider: “What kind of wounds does this person have to have wounded you?”

“Then, Enright says, consider your shared humanity: You and the person who wronged you are both unique human beings with meaningful lives.”

While this process may take time and patience, “That,” Enright says, “is when you actually begin to conquer the grudge that could conquer you.”

To learn more, check out the full article at vox.com.

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