The Mail on Sunday - You - - EDITOR’SLETTER - @ jo_elvin @ jo_elvin ed­i­


There’s a well-known say­ing: ‘Hold­ing a grudge is like drink­ing poi­son and ex­pect­ing the other per­son to get sick.’ On an in­tel­lec­tual level I can see this is wise and cor­rect. Emo­tion­ally, though, in the real world, it’s a whole other story, isn’t it?

It’s gen­er­ally ac­cepted as an unattrac­tive qual­ity, but I will ad­mit, I have been known to hold a grudge or…50. How long can I carry it? Well, you can’t grow up in a chaotic, noisy house as one of four sib­lings and not re­mem­ber some humdinger rows and their fall­out. My brother and I still can’t talk about the time he found my Easter egg stash at the back of my wardrobe and I was pun­ished for be­ing an­gry with him. I was fu­ri­ous about his wil­ful, unchecked in­va­sion of my pri­vacy and yet it still gets framed as though I was just an­gry about some choco­late – to this day I can still feel my tem­per rise when I think about it! (Yes, I am 48.)

That might be a ridicu­lous ex­am­ple, but my grudges tend to run the gamut, from a low-level hum that I can sit with and never let get in the way of my af­fec­tion for some­one (say, the close friend, or so I thought, who didn’t in­vite me to her wed­ding cer­e­mony, just the free-for-all re­cep­tion) to deep-rooted anger (such as I feel for the for­mer col­league who ghosted me af­ter a 20-year work­ing re­la­tion­ship). Peo­ple tell you to just get over it. We tend to be ad­mon­ished as silly chil­dren for har­bour­ing pent-up anger, so we feel ashamed when we can’t just ‘rise above it’. And this only makes the pain and hu­mil­i­a­tion worse.

So I was em­bold­ened by So­phie Han­nah’s piece on the sub­ject, on page 30, which ar­gues that it’s ac­tu­ally use­ful and healthy to hold grudges. Don’t be ashamed of still be­ing an­gry about that thing that hap­pened ten years ago. Ac­cept that you will al­ways be an­gry about it – and that the anger is part of the com­pli­cated splen­dour that makes you uniquely you. Prob­a­bly health­ier still, of course, is to re­lease the resid­ual anger by con­fronting those who have wronged you and clear­ing the air. Al­though I will ad­mit I’m not grown-up enough to do that ei­ther.

En­joy the is­sue.

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