How To Get Over Resentnment
These acts are gifts to yourself rather than capitulation to the people you resent.
Today I felt very resentful. I found out about something that I didn’t wanted to know about and that made me remember moments where I felt vulnerable and alone. In one of my writings I talk about a friend who made me go through difficult times. She always has her way with everything without putting a single effort. I am frustrated that she is successful because as a person I feel that she does not deserve it but why feel this? Why should I get worn out thinking about people like her when it’s not worth it and why would a person like her have the power over the way I feel. That’s not life. I remind you we are better than the other people we usually compare ourselves to every day. Quoting my hero “If for one minute you think you’re better than a sixteen year old girl in a Green Day t-shirt, you are sorely mistaken.” So today I’m going to write about resenment and how to get over that horrible feeling.
Resentment refers to the mental process of repetitively replaying a feeling, and the events leading up to anger. We don’t replay a cool litany of facts in resentment; we re-experience and relive them in ways that affect us emotionally, physiologically, and spiritually in very destructive ways. The inability to overcome resentment probably constitutes the single most devastating impediment to repairing a disintegrating intimate connection, family rift, or severed friendships.
Although resentments may be provoked by recent, specific angry conflicts between two people, they usually encapsulate an enmity that goes much further back. Your parent, child, sibling or partner may accuse you of a recent snub or slight but the venom is more than likely fueled by years of other imagined or real episodes of disrespect or disregard. The strong reaction of resentment almost never appears to be warranted by what sets it off. It’s always the product of a long history of backed-up unhappiness. What causes the unhappiness that underlies resentment?
- What we feel people did to us that was unnecessarily mean, hurtful, and thoughtless.
- What people in our lives did not do for us that we feel they should have done.
- When we feel the people in our lives have not done enough for us.
Resentments embody a basic choice to refuse to forgive, an unwillingness to let bygones be bygones and bury the hatchet. We review and rehash our painful past, even as we profess to want to let go of it. We do so because we believe the illusion that by belaboring our resentment, we will somehow achieve the justice we believe we are due. We cling to a futile need to be “right,” which overrides the capacity to heal and be at peace with ourselves. We hang on to perceived offences because we don’t know any other way of coming to grips with painful feelings of hurt, rejection, and abandonment. We need to learn to let go of resentment, because living with it can only bring us chronic punishment and pain, and prevent us from building up other relationships based on love, nurture, and support. Letting go of a resentment is not a gift to the person you resent. It is, rather, a gift to yourself.
Letting go of your resentments, whether it leads to healing the rift, or to wholeness and peace within yourself, or both, is integral to not letting your past interfere with your present.
“Living with resentment is like taking poison and expecting the other guy to get sick.” This makes vivid one of the most crippling aspects of resentment — one you may be experiencing right now. If you’re thinking about ways to get even and prove to another person that you’re right and they’re wrong, you need to remember that the person who is the focus of your animosity may be feeling just fine and perhaps not at all troubled by any of the interactions that are renting space in your brain. Ultimately, resentment hurts you far more than the person toward whom you bear a grudge.
Fortunately, there are ways to get out of resentment’s crippling grip. There are alternative, life affirming, and healthy responses that will help you achieve freedom from obsessing about past injustices. There are choices you may not realize are available to you. How can you learn to get out from under these toxic feelings? Take the following suggestions to heart and you’ll be on your way.
10 Steps to Letting Go of Resentment
- Approach resentment as the addictive state of mind it is.
- Realize that you are using resentment to replicate old dramas and acknowledge that you cannot change the past.
- Examine how your resentment may come from mentally confusing people in your present life with people from your past.
- Acknowledge that you cannot control those who have rejected you.
- Recognize that your resentment gives you only illusions of strength. Instead, highlight and validate your real strength and power.
- Learn to identify signals that provoke resentment.
- Practice cognitive behavioral techniques to stop indulging in resentment. Put a thought between your feelings of resentment and indulging in ruminating about them.
- Acknowledge your part in allowing the abuse to occur, forgive yourself for that, and make a decision to not let it occur again.
- Declare an amnesty with the person you resent and with yourself.
- Forgive when you can, and practice willful and deliberate forgetfulness when you cannot, keeping in mind that these acts are gifts to yourself rather than capitulation to the people you resent.