How to Hold a Grudge Like The Hatfields and McCoys


How to Hold a Grudge Like The Hatfields and McCoys
When do you forgive a grudge and move on?

I recently traveled to Cuba on a People to People tour. I learned a lot about USA/Cuban relationships or lack thereof. Part of what I learned was how the USA has been holding a grudge against the Cuban people since 1959, 55 years! That’s a long time to hold a grudge and it got me wondering why. I’m reminded of the stories of the Hatfields and McCoys; families holding multi-generational grudges against one other.

When Castro won the revolution in 1959, he kicked all the Capitalists out of the country, closed the Casinos and nationalized all of the hotels and other property. This rightfully pissed off the American Capitalists who lost their profitable businesses without being compensated and felt cheated and betrayed.


The USA government responded by imposing the embargo on Cuba: no travel, no trade and no money can flow between the two countries. Except for a few minor modifications, like People to People, the embargo still stands today. 55 years later Cuba has moved on. They’ve formed business and strategic partnerships with Europe, China, Japan, India, Mexico, Venezuela and others. The USA remains stuck in the grudge.

Cuba is a beautiful country with wonderful people and I highly recommend visiting there if you can. During my time there, I was able to talk to various Cubans and learn what this grudge-match looks like from Cuban side; less than 100 miles from Key West. The Cuban people I talked to seemed genuinely baffled by the USA’s ongoing grudge. I learned that the Cuban government has extended an olive branch to the USA government several times, including to help stop South American drug smugglers from getting to the USA. These offers of cooperation are rejected each time.

This got me thinking about grudges, why we start them and why we hold them. Fear and anger are the emotions propelling a grudge. We start a grudge when we think we’ve been wronged or threatened. In 1959, the US government felt that its citizens had been wronged by Castro and also felt threatened. After all it was in the middle of the cold war.

Holding a Grudge verses Angry, Hurt and Sad

I’ve been betrayed several times in my life by someone I love and trust and initially reacted in anger. It’s during this angry period that grudges get started. If I can’t move from anger to sadness by recognizing that the person who betrayed me is struggling with something and not managing it well, then I start to hold a grudge. During the anger period, I want to get even, to hurt that person like they hurt me and let them know what it feels like!

Funny, but at the same time I also want to convince them they are wrong and get them to take me back while still being mad at them at the same time. If I can get them to do what I want then I don’t have to be mad at them anymore.

If they don’t change their mind, then my anger has to transition to sadness and then forgiveness and moving on without that person in my life. If it doesn’t, then the grudge-match is on.

Why Hold a Grudge?

This article was originally published at Larry Cappel Your Denver Counseling . Reprinted with permission.
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