8 signs you’re holding a grudge even if you don’t think you are

Resentment is not something you want to have in a relationship.

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Resentment is not something you want to have in a relationship.
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iStock

  • Holding a grudge likely doesn’t make you feel any better about what transpired, but sometimes it just happens.
  • And you may be holding a grudge even if you don’t think that you are.
  • Feeling bitter, ignoring that person, getting angry about unrelated things, and thinking about them negatively are all signs you could still be holding a grudge.
  • Visit INSIDER.com for more stories.

Despite your best efforts, it’s impossible not to be hurt or disappointed by loved ones at some point in your life.

But often the most challenging aspect of getting hurt is letting go of any lingering resentment after you forgive them. Sometimes, you may find that you’re holding a grudge – even if you’re doing so unintentionally.

Knowing what sorts of things might mean that you’re holding a grudge, even if you don’t think you are, can help you figure out a way to move forward.

You lost your cool over something unrelated

When you’re holding a grudge, all sorts of things can cause you to get frustrated. Not only that, but you can find yourself taking advantage of any opportunity to let your voice be heard. And that means that sometimes you might get upset over things that really aren’t related to what you’re actually upset about.

“We may have a grudge towards someone but pretend like things are fine; until an unrelated issue sets us off,” Connie L. Habash, a licensed marriage and family therapist and interfaith minister, told INSIDER. “Putting too much cream in the coffee or fighting over the TV remote can turn into a major blow-up due to the backlog of unresolved feelings in the relationship.”

Thinking about what you’re actually upset about – or why you had that reaction to something that’s seemingly minor – can help you figure out what’s actually at the root of the issue.

You’re avoiding them

Avoidance could be a sign that you're holding a grudge.

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Avoidance could be a sign that you’re holding a grudge.
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Shutterstock

“Often, we’ll find ourselves avoiding someone that we have resentment or an unresolved issue with,” Habash said. “We find great excuses to do a task in another room from our partner, become slow to return phone calls from a friend, or feel that we’re just too busy to get together.”

If you’re upset with someone, even if you’re not fully aware that you are, you may not want to spend a ton of time with them. It’s understandable. But recognizing what’s going on and talking things through with them can help you move on.

“If you find yourself avoiding someone you have previously been close to, reflect on what happened the last time you were together, or even further into the past,” Habash said. “Consider talking about the problem so that you can feel comfortable with them again.”

You still feel bitter

Holding onto feelings of resentment is a surefire way to tell that you’re not over an issue. If you’re unable to move forward without feeling embittered or angry when you think about the incident, then you’re probably harboring a grudge.

“Moving on means choosing not to let the hurt and anger have power over you,” Kevon Owen, M.S., LPC, a clinical psychotherapist, told INSIDER. “When the resentment persists, the grudge is still going strong.”

When you think about them, your feelings are negative

If you think about that person and have a negative reaction, you probably still feel resentful.

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If you think about that person and have a negative reaction, you probably still feel resentful.
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Shutterstock

“The best way to tell if you’re holding a grudge is to use your memory,” Sal Raichbach, doctor of psychology at Ambrosia Treatment Center, told INSIDER. “Take a look at the feelings that arise immediately after you think about an old friend, a past co-worker or an ex. If your first reaction is negative, it’s likely that there is an underlying reason that you feel that way, even if you can’t recall what that reason is.”

You might not always think that you’re still upset with someone over a certain thing, but you very well could be. Thinking about what sorts of feelings a person or situation brings up can help you figure out what’s really going on.

You’re all about fairness or want to make sure that they see your side of things

If you’re mostly concerned with the other person understanding where you were coming from and ensuring that they see your side of things, that’s another potential sign that you might be holding a grudge.

“Resentment is the feeling we have been wronged by someone else and holding a grudge is the belief that we will feel better when we have shown the other person how angry we are,” Carrie Krawiec, a licensed marriage and family therapist in Troy, Michigan, told INSIDER. “If we can hurt them like they have hurt us.”

You might not think that’s what you’re doing, but it very well could be.

You feel nothing

Becoming emotionally detached is another sign that you're holding a grudge.

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Becoming emotionally detached is another sign that you’re holding a grudge.
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martin-dm / Getty

Feeling indifferent to a person is another way that you might be able to tell that you’re secretly harboring a grudge.

“Preventing yourself from feeling anything requires a lot of effort,” Owen said. “Choosing to become emotionally detached and uninterested in someone you’re trying to forgive. Why spend that much time and energy … it’s because there’s still a grudge.”

You cancel plans at the last minute

There are days that you just want to stay in rather than go anywhere – that’s true for just about everyone. But if you feel like you need to (or want to) cancel plans with someone, you might want to reflect a bit more on the reason why.

“You might plan to get together with a friend or go out with your boyfriend, but then decide to cancel at the last minute, just because you don’t feel right about it or aren’t “up to it,” Habash said. “The feeling that causes you to want to back out is likely a resentment lurking beneath the surface.”

Thinking a bit more about what’s going on can help you figure out if you’re canceling plans because you truly want to stay in or because there’s something else going on.

It’s easy for you to get irritated with them

Talking through it can help you squash feelings of bitterness.

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Talking through it can help you squash feelings of bitterness.
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Fizkes/Shutterstock

“Think about how much emotional threshold you have towards most people … even annoying ones,” Owen said. “Now compare that to how much emotional reserve you have towards someone you feel wronged you. It’s less. It’s a wound that’s barely healed. Irritability towards someone you’re working to forgive is a barrier to overcoming a grudge.”

Talking through things with the person in question or working through things with the assistance of a trained professional can help you move forward, once and for all.