03/25/2014 10:09 am ET Updated May 25, 2014

Can You Let Go Of Grudges After Divorce?

Leanne Surfleet - via Getty Images

"The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong." -- Gandhi

Divorce can be a major stumbling block to our happiness and personal growth. Holding grudges and resentments have been proven to be harmful to your physical health and emotional well-being. Forgiveness is a productive way to move forward, detach from the past and let go of lingering hurts so you can experience a healthier, more promising future.

It is not uncommon to resent the people closest to us because they have often done us some harm such as violating our trust through a lie, betrayal, deceit or abuse. However, resentment comes at a big cost to you.

When you can't let go of hurt and anger, it builds into a resentment or grudge. That feeling can take hold of you, growing to envelope your whole life and all of your thoughts. Resentments make it difficult to enjoy your present life. They define who you are and how you act. Grudges are like mental poison that doesn't hurt anyone else but you. When you hold on to a grudge, it makes you bitter, which depletes you of your strength and reduces your overall well-being.

Here are some common behaviors that indicate you may be holding on to a grudge:

Passive-aggressive behavior: While often very subtle, this behavior is focused on getting back at the person you are angry at through indirect means. Holding back necessary information, tense silences, or saying there's nothing wrong when obviously you are really angry are typical indicators of passive aggressive manipulation.

Sarcastic remarks: These remarks indicate there is still strong emotion behind what you're thinking, even though you may be saying you're "just kidding."

Short, abrupt comments: Comments of this nature suggest your intolerance and annoyance. They usually are delivered with a certain intonation in your voice.

Below are some questions to ask yourself for insights about your own behavior:

1. Do you still want to get back at your spouse?
2. To what extent will you do things to annoy him/her?
3. Do you generally tend to hold on to grudges/resentments? For how long?
4. Can you let them go?

If you are besieged with intrusive thoughts and feelings about your former spouse, telling you how right you are and how wrong they are, you are likely to be developing a grudge. These one-sided dialogues with yourself make it harder to work on developing a more forgiving attitude and ultimately letting go.

It is helpful to truly understand what forgiveness is and how it can be of value to YOU in determining whether this is a strategy to embrace in your life.

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