Experts generally say holding a grudge is bad for you, but Brooke Sprowl, founder and clinical director of My LA Therapy, tells us she believes it can actually be healthy. “Sometimes people hold a grudge while they’re developing their own sense of self or value system,” she explains. “Usually in the long run, once the person is able to find clarity about their own values, they forgive the other person and can move on from the grudge with growth.” Pretty brilliant, right? Talk about dialing down the toxicity in your life.

Of course, it isn’t okay to be (or have a relationship with) a person who regularly holds grudges or consistently blames other people for interpersonal problems; that sort of bitterness never serves anyone. “Someone who can’t let things go and never forgives anyone isn’t healthy,” Sprowl clarifies. “So if you find yourself holding a grudge, make it temporary. Use the time to redefine your boundaries and get a sense of your own needs.”

Woman standing by window

5 Times Holding a Grudge is Good for You

1. When you set or stick to your boundaries. Do you feel like you’ve been taken advantage of by a friend, your partner, a coworker, or family member? You might not feel like talking with them right away, and pulling back — especially where you’re most generous — is a natural reaction. “Grudges can provide the space and time you need to reevaluate whether or not the other person is trustworthy, and whether or not boundaries can be effectively reestablished,” Sprowl says.

2. When you take time and space to process. “Grudges give you time apart from a relationship to help you find clarity. You might also come away with a better understanding of your own needs in any kind of relationship where you’re holding a grudge,” Sprowl says.

3. When you learn to see another perspective. Taking the high road often means trying to understand someone else’s perspective, opinions, actions, or behavior — a feat that can seem impossible at times. Doing this is necessary to get rid of a grudge, and is especially important if you hope to admit any mistakes you might’ve made. “Giving yourself time to take responsibility for your role,” Sprowl suggests. “Grudges can come from the resentment of not standing up or enforcing personal limits or boundaries. Time can help you see how you might have co-created a problem.”

4. When you deepen your self-love. Holding a grudge, or not backing down, can be a method to reestablish love for yourself. After all, we all aim to have enough self-respect to stand up for ourselves and the things we believe in. In a cooled-off or distant phase with a friend? Consider that your time away may help you care for yourself while developing as an individual. Once you sort it out and feel ready to forgive yourself or the other person, the relationship may be stronger than ever before.

5. When you improve your communication skills. While feeling a nagging sense of resentment or anger toward someone is never good, learning how to overcome it and develop your communication skills is a great opportunity to grow. “You’ll see how you navigate your relationship differently once you’ve put in the effort,” Sprowl promises.

How do you free yourself from holding grudges? Tell us on Twitter @BritandCo.

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