Posts Tagged ‘Scribner’

Service of Grudges—Helpful, Joyful or Best Forgotten?

Thursday, January 10th, 2019

Photo: livescience.com

A friend fed her hatred of an ex spouse with such vigor it ruined much of the rest of her life. I learned from watching her and thankfully avoided the same pitfall, one so easy to drop into.

Jenny Allen’s Wall Street Journal book review of Sophie Hannah’s “How to Hold a Grudge,” [Scribner], caught my eye and interest. It’s a book about how to handle anger, Allen writes.

Photo: verywellfamily.com

Hannah comes up with 20 grudge types and Allen covers a few. She illustrates one, “Unreasonable Imposition Grudge,” by one friend putting another friend in charge of third friend who is an emotional mess while she’s out of the country. These two don’t know each other.

The “Ingratitude Grudge” is next. Two friends live in a house the parents of one have bought for them. When the friend whose parents did not buy the house take the girls out for a meal, the second set of parents never treat the other girl whom we assume lives rent free. Allen goes on to describe the “Assuming the Worst Grudge,” and the “Ill-Judged Joke Grudge.”

 “I recognized all of these, alas,” wrote Allen. “As I read through them, I found myself going over my own grudges. Then something happened, something Ms. Hannah promises her readers: The grudges started bothering me less. Some were just too ancient, or petty, or based on my too-harsh interpretation of someone’s behavior.” She described a minor grudge she tossed off but noted she didn’t feel better about a deeper one—a friend blabbed she was getting a divorce when she asked him not to. It taught her one lesson: Nobody can keep a secret. [Most of us know that, don’t we?]

“That’s a painful lesson,” Allen wrote. “It also points to the less-than-honest thing about this book: Ms. Hannah assures her readers that examining their grudges will bring not only insight but a kind of joy. Now that her own grudges have been properly ‘processed,’ she tells us, none of them involve ‘a shred of anger or unhappiness.’ I don’t believe it. An incident involving her brother and his crazy-sounding then-wife—he bullies Ms. Hannah, who’s barely moved into her new house, into rooting through all her unpacked boxes to find and hang a picture his wife painted so that the wife won’t get upset—‘permanently affected the degree to which I feel I can trust and rely on him.’ There’s no joy in knowing something like this.”

While Allen says that Hannah’s “resentment stories,” were fun to read because “they remind us of ourselves,” I’m not so sure they’d put me in a good mood. While I like helping others—and myself—out of emotional pickles, reviewing 260 pages of a strangers’ grudges, some of which remind me of things I’d rather forget, is too much sloshing in misery for me. One more time my mother’s saying works for me: “Bury the bone–just remember where you buried it.”

Do you find it beneficial to chew over old wounds and grudges for years or do you prefer to tuck them away and move on so as to clean the slate for a better day? Some grudges creep up and seep into memory though I prefer to recall happy ones and think I’m better off doing so. Acknowledging grudges is fine but nurturing them isn’t helpful or joyful—do you agree?

Photo: treehugger.com

 

 

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