Confession from a recovering grudge-holding curmudgeon



I received an email from a client (Jim) where he mentioned the word “curmudgeon.” Not understanding the term, I asked my associate, Amy, “What’s a Curmudgeon?” She quickly replied, “You! Look it up.” So, off I went to the all-knowing Google. A curmudgeon is an irritable cantankerous old person full of stubborn ideas. Yikes! Not what I wanted to hear but as they say, the truth can hurt! If you think you might be a grudge holder, someone who finds it difficult to forgive, a person with anger and rage issues, or perhaps a curmudgeon, this narrative is for you … and me! If you are free from the above afflictions, maybe you know someone who might find this dispatch helpful.

Possibly like you, I have experienced emotional wounds from childhood that became “infected” because of my bitterness and resentment towards my offenders. Subsequently, I took my infected wounds into adulthood and regrettably became the consummate unforgiving, grudge holder. I would cling to my animosity, which repeatedly led to anger and sometimes rage. My rude and boorish behavior descended on me like an epidemic, and I would have contaminated thoughts and toxic emotions to those that upset me. Although I believe, most of the time, my position was right, it was how I was right which made me so wrong! Of course, I never wanted to be this way, who would? Nevertheless, I had a challenging time changing my conduct. My go-to laymen advice was, “Just get over it.” Nope! Never worked, as I would relive my worst moments repeatedly and instead of just getting over it, I pick at my emotional scars and refused to let the healing process take effect, which allowed infection to enter, and that, my friends, is where the trouble begins. Unfortunately, for many of us, we carry our emotional infected wounds into our adult life and regrettably our family becomes the collateral damage.

I was too stubborn to seek professional help until, not long ago, a client and friend (Alan) encouraged me to engage the services of a professional counselor. I followed his advice by securing a relationship with Christian Psychologist, Dominic Herbst.  I finally “got it” that there is nothing better than having an educated, experienced, independent person who could help me become the person that I always wanted to be. In retrospect, Dominic’s zeal was contagious, and his message and methodology were incredibly convincing. Dominic told me that I was experiencing something quite common; cancer of the soul that resulted from my unhealed wounds from my childhood. Let’s camp here momentarily to clear up possible confusion. “Soul” is a word that gets thrown around like confetti but appears to mean different things to different people. According to Dominic, the human soul is part of us that is not physical and lasts eternally. The soul is the place where we connect with one another via our intellect, emotions, and will. Moreover, our soul has our wounds, pain, and bitterness. When our wounds from the past are not cleansed (healed) they become infected. The puss-filled wound often manifests into bitterness, which repeatedly leads to afflictions such as depression, anxiety, detachment, verbal and physical abuse, frozen emotions, and rage to name a few. Cancer of our soul is akin to cancer of body. If one had cancer of the body and his or her doctor’s advice was to “Just get over it,” I think the catch phrase from Forest Gump is applicable, “Run Forrest run!” Both cancers need intervention for potential healing to occur, and that is precisely what the Restoring Relationship program empowers one to do. The approach to soul restoration starts with admitting and owning our wounds from childhood. This is the key to restoration, which is underscored by what Dominic likes to say, “Pain concealed is pain unhealed.” Therefore, we must deal with our pain head on. Don’t run from it. Don’t deny it. Don’t cover it up. Don’t medicate it.

Forgiveness to our offenders is a big part in the healing process. Although I suggest that most of us believe that expressing TRUE forgiveness is one of the most therapeutic ways to repair a broken relationship, and to promote our mental health, far too many of us find it incredibly challenging to forgive. As a recovering grudge holder, I fell prey to the false belief that by forgiving someone was letting him or her off the hook. However, when I learned to TRULY forgive, I let myself off the hook! Check out the diagram, courtesy of Dominic. Please note the downward spiral. When we are offended, we have two roads to choose, the one to healing or the one to destruction. Regrettably, all too often, I journeyed down the road to destruction. For example, when offended first I hurt (became detached), then I hate (became bitter) and then I harm others and myself (became vengeful). My unresolved anger was the problem, as my bitterness destroyed me. It was never about fixing the problem. Instead it was about fixing me! If we want to change the hearts of others, we must first start with changing ours!  While I am still work in progress and I am not where I ought to be, I am better than I was! I relinquished my titles of grudge holder and curmudgeon, since it does not fit who I have become. Allow me to close with four quotes that might allow you, as it has for me, to be a better version of yourself. 

Weak people seek revenge. Strong people forgive. Intelligent people ignore (Unknown).

Forgiveness is dialysis of the soul. It is medicine from heaven (Unknown).

To be wronged is nothing, unless you continue to remember it. Confucius.

Look in and look up! (Dominic Herbst)

Harry Pappas Jr. CFP®

Managing Director-Investments

Master of Science Degree Personal Financial Planning
Certified Estate & Trust Specialist ™

Certified Divorce Financial Analyst™
Pappas Wealth Management Group of Wells Fargo Advisors

818 North Highway A1A, Ste. 200

Ponte Vedra, Florida 32082



The use of the CDFA™ designation does not permit Wells Fargo Advisors or its Financial Advisors to provide legal advice, nor is it meant to imply that the firm or its associates are acting as experts in this field.


Wells Fargo Advisors is a trade name used by Wells Fargo Clearing Services, LLC, Member SIPC, a Registered Broker-Dealer and a non-bank affiliate of Wells Fargo & Company.


The opinions expressed in this report are those of the author(s) and are subject to change. The material has been prepared or is distributed solely for information purposes and is not a solicitation or an offer to buy any security or instrument or to participate in any trading strategy. Additional information is available upon request.


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