Reframing Stories


The New York Times story by Jolie Kerr – ‘How to Hold Healthy Grudges‘ (2 January 2019) – grabbed my attention last week.

Initially because the story came to my attention because of one person I follow retweeted it with a comment saying he considered the advice was duff because holding a grudge is never a good thing to do.

On the face of it, that’s a perfectly fair point to make: grudge-holding isn’t especially healthy – it just fuels negative thinking; perpetual negative thinking doesn’t especially move things forward.

Read the content not the headline

But, the Tweeter’s comment in itself showed that he was probably responding to the headline not the actual content of the story.

Reading the story in full (it really doesn’t take that long) reveals an opportunity for contextualisation.

We need data to bring about change

Grudges are useful data.

Our reaction to someone else’s action is a reflection of our own values and beliefs: when someone has done or said something that conflicts with those values and/or beliefs we’re going to get pissed off.

How we use that data is the subject of Jolie Kerr’s article. And it’s not bad advice at all.

Kerr invites grudge-holders to challenge the commonly-held definition (and its negative connotations) of ‘grudge’, and engage more actively in changing our relationship with the content of the grudge. There are some useful practical exercises as well to bring about a change in thinking.

Analyze the grudge; assess its usefulness

This is essentially reframing a thought, feeling or belief. a useful and well-used tool in the coaching process. A powerful thing.

It’s also quite challenging – it’s about creating a new habit in our thinking. The effort required does pay off.

Read ‘How to Hold Healthy Grudges‘ on the New York Times website.