Resentments are the one shred of “control” we hold onto when we feel someone: 1. Has wronged us 2. Has gotten something we felt we deserved more 3. Doesn’t act the way we want them to.
It’s our secret little revenge that we bask in when we aren’t willing to forgive. I struggle with this a lot. Thinking the world owes me something. Thinking that since my life had so many horrific episodes that I deserve all the things that I want. And that is not the case at all. Life has a special way of reminding me on a daily basis that what I want is not reasonable, or even necessarily right. I am grateful for being reminded because that makes me humble instead of arrogant. I’ve held tightly to a lot of my resentments towards friends who have hurt me or family members with whom I no longer speak. Anger and resentment make us feel powerful instead of weak, in control when we have none. Ridding yourself of resentments will improve your life because when you think ill of someone or have jealous thoughts about them you are the one who’s hurt. Which is pretty counterproductive if you ask me. Typing “resentment” in the Google search bar provided somewhat convoluted and contradicting concepts. Here is a simplified guide for you to use to free yourself from the grip of resentment and actually enjoy your relationships and your life. I’ve applied the three A’s of recovery; Awareness, acceptance and action.
BECOME AWARE of your resentments by Making a list of those you for whom you harbor resentments and why. Writing down your feelings produces a therapeutic affect that allows you to think clearly and make better judgement calls. Is there someone on that list that has no idea how you are feeling? Is there someone you can forgive? (Remember forgiveness is always a gift to yourself and has nothing to do with the person you are forgiving). Mull on that list and acknowledge that these resentments don’t equal power. The real power lies in your ability to practice fair and healthy confrontations as well as forgiveness.
Stop labeling your feelings as a “good feeling” and “bad feeling” and “inappropriate feeling” and then continue to compartmentalize them into neat little categories. Feelings are just feelings. They aren’t actually truths. They hold no more power than you allow them to have. Accept that you have had these feelings towards people. Be kind to yourself knowing that no one is perfect, and there is usually a long and messy road leading back to the reason you’re feel the way you do. Have some compassion towards yourself, and others, too. When you accept these resentments as feelings you can let go of, you have inherently relinquished their control over you. Then you can begin to experience what life is like not having a single malicious thought towards anyone.
Now is the time to reframe your thinking. This may seem difficult or a waste of your time, but studies show time and time again that if you begin by consciously reframing the way your brain thinks, like a muscle it will eventually do it on its own. For example, instead of immediately thinking “Oh of course she got that promotion even though I work twice as hard.” Think to yourself, “I’m disappointed, but this just means that something even more special is coming my way.” It will be hard at first and you’ll feel fake doing it but eventually you will find yourself thinking positively all the time, and that is the best gift you can give yourself. Another action you can do is meditation. Meditating allows your mind to accept everything exactly how it is and reminds us how little control we have on this life. When we realize that, nothing seems that overwhelming because we didn’t cause the wrongdoings and we certainly can’t control them so we might as well be happy and accept the world the way it is.
Life is way too short and too big to spend energy on resentments. Would it be super cheesy if I said that every single day is a gift? Well I said it and I meant it and it’s true. Take a deep breath. Let it out slowly. Go live a marvelous life, already!
Reach Out Recovery Exclusive By: The Intern
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