Who hasn’t been hurt by someone else’s acts or words? They can leave long-term feelings of resentment, bitterness, and vengeance. It’s in our best interest to get over them but the question is, can we?

Resolving conflicts with others is vastly preferable to allowing them to fester. Let’s begin with retaliation. We react with pranks, by being rude to requests for assistance, or by deliberately gossiping about someone behind their backs if we’re holding a grudge. There’s a strong reason for this: retribution can help people regain a sense of fairness and personal authority. Unfortunately, it carries certain apparent risks, including the potential of the quarrel intensifying. However, there may be a way to get some positive benefits without jeopardizing your future. Using “symbolic retaliation”, according to Lindie Liang of Wilfrid Laurier University in Canada, could help us get over our grudges. Try drafting an irate or insulting email to the person involved without sending it to vent your anger and quench your sense of injustice. But of course, an imaginable act of revenge cannot outweigh a true gesture of forgiveness. It’s far better at restoring self-humanity than deeds of revenge, as explained by Karina Schumann, director of the Conflict Resolution Lab at the University of Pittsburgh. This psychological change seemed to bring a host of emotional benefits, including more positive feelings about themselves and the offending event itself.

“Forgiveness makes us feel more moral – that we’ve acted in this elevated way – and that restores our sense of humanness,” Schumann says. If you feel mistreated by people, remember to be a little more inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt.