4 Straightforward Steps to Getting Past a Grudge, According to a Psychiatrist

Whether you're the one seeking forgiveness or the one who needs to move on, these four steps are guaranteed to help.

argumentwavebreakmedia/ShutterstockWe all know that in many cases, holding a grudge only brings bitterness and poison to our own lives—not the person who wronged us. And the one factor that often pushes a small scuffle into a long-lasting grudge? A lack of remorse. (Here’s how holding a grudge could cause serious stress on your body.)

“The most common sources of grudges are when people lie or hurt you and they don’t show remorse or take responsibility,” says Mark Goulston, a Los Angeles-based psychiatrist and author of Just Listen, who speaks globally on empathy and forgiveness.

Of course, there are also grudges brought on by deep hurt, and acts that to some might deem unforgivable. In those cases, forgiveness might be a long road. But for other, smaller grudges, Goulston has a simple four-step formula for forgiving or seeking forgiveness: the four H’s and the four R’s.

The four H’s are how grudges come about. Someone has hurt you, you hate them for hurting you, you’re hesitant to trust them because they might hurt you again, and you hold onto a grudge.

The four R’s are how you dismantle each H: remorse, restitution, rehabilitation, and a request for forgiveness.

As Goulston said, showing remorse is key for helping someone move past the hurt you caused them, “and remorse is different than regret,” he says. “Remorse means you actually feel some pain that you caused someone else pain.”

To combat the hate aspect of a grudge, the offender must offer restitution. According to Goulston, one of the easiest forms of restitution is just allowing the person to vent to you about the hurt you caused them.

Next comes rehabilitation—and similar to remorse, it must be sincere. “The person has to see that you have a new way of dealing with them,” he says. “They can’t just think you’re doing it to get them off your back.” Saying something simple, such as, “Gosh, I didn’t know my actions were causing you so much pain. I’ll be more careful moving forward,” is a great place to start.

Finally, you can request forgiveness, says Goulston. These are our 19 favorite quotes about forgiveness that will help you get started.

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