Understanding and dealing with resentments
Resentments are like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die. – AA Fellowship.
What are resentments?
A resentment is a grudge you hold onto after being hurt by someone.
It occurs when a person has an ongoing anger or hatred towards another person because of an injustice. Be it real or imagined.
The person holding onto the resentment may feel victimized, but their anger, fear or shame doesn’t allow them to discuss the resulting emotions. They allow the grudge to fester and be expressed in a form of anger or hatred. These people build an alarming desire for revenge.
Before we go on, it’s important to understand that anger is a healthy emotion. Contrary to what a lot of people may think, anger is completely normal and should never be suppressed. How we express that anger determines whether it’s healthy or not.
Anger is an emotional response to an injustice. Holding onto that anger is unhealthy and that is when a resentment starts to form.
In a nutshell, resentments result from inadequate expression of emotions after a painful experience.
Resentment is a fear based emotion that eats away at our happiness. Resentment, anger and fear are all connected.
Resentments waste away time that could have been spent with love and joy.
Holding onto resentments only seem to have a negative impact, why then do we insist on holding onto resentments?
Holding onto a resentment serves as a way of punishing yourself or the other person. We punish the other person for hurting us and we punish ourselves for allowing to be hurt.
The effects of resentments
The effects of holding onto a resentment can be crippling. Holding onto a resentment can significantly damage your ability to interact with the world.
By holding onto a resentment, you are only hurting yourself. We may think that we harming the other person, while some of it may be true, the real person we hurt is ourselves.
Ultimately, by holding onto resentments, it adds more stress and anxiety in our life. Stress and anxiety that is not necessary.
For those in recovery are trying to recovery from an addictive substance or behavior, dealing with resentments is vital to your recovery. Until you deal with the hurt of the past, it will keep haunting you, until you eventually reach that point of turning to your substance of choice again, in an attempt to escape.
The key to dealing with resentments is forgiveness. This will be discussed in the next sub-heading. When someone is unable to forgive, mental problems begin to arise.
The person holding onto the resentment also develops a skewed perception of life. Unresolved resentments can lead someone to start feeling like a victim in every situation. Once someone reaches this point, finding any positive outcomes be causes increasingly difficult.
Finally, feelings of anger and rage can lend a false sense of power. The person enraged or clinging onto a resentment starts falsely believing that they hold power over the other person.
Remember, when holding onto resentments, the only person you hurt is yourself.
How to deal with resentments
Resentment wastes away time and happiness. Time that could have been spent with love and joy.
When you realize that happiness is an inside job, you are less likely to look for happiness elsewhere. This is one of the core keys to dealing with resentments.
Dealing with a resentment is not easy. It becomes even harder to deal with if you hold onto many resentments, because at this stage, you may have developed that skewed perception of reality and feel that you cannot trust anyone.
There’s a reason why you have held onto the anger and pain caused by the resentment and that is because it felt that you were truly hurt or harmed.
While resolving resentment is not easy, there are a few things that can be done to assist in dealing with your resentments.
At the end of this article, you will find a step by step guide adapted from Alcoholics Anonymous. It is a free and highly effective method for dealing with un-dealt with anger and resentments.
Below are a few things to consider below attempting to deal with these resentments:
Understand that by choosing to deal with your resentments, you’re embarking on a long and painful journey. Remember that these resentments did not build up over night, so it is therefore unfair of you to think that you can rid yourself of these resentments in a short period of time.
This could be a painful journey, but the destination is completely worth it.
That being said, it’s important to note that it unveiling the hurt of your past will get worse before it gets better.
One of the most important tools that you need to develop is the art of forgiveness. Developing an ability to forgive is important as well as acknowledging the feelings underneath the resentment and facing them one at a time.
When you let go of resentment, you are not condoning their actions, instead you are doing it to allow yourself to be free from the heaviness of carrying it around.
Be sure to check out my post on forgiveness for more information on forgiveness and how to forgive: CLICK HERE.
Forgiveness is hard, but it becomes easier when you have developed a high self confidence. This brings us to the next point:
In life, we will always face judgement and criticism. Even if we are complete hermits, somebody will have something negative to say about us.
We decide how we are going to handle the criticism. If someone tells me that I am the size of a Hippo and I allow it affect me personally; this could often serve as an indication that I am not comfortable with my weight.
By dealing with resentments, it allows us to assess areas in our life where we fall short and are not comfortable with.
It also gives us an opportunity to focus on ourselves, rather than the mistakes of others.
Give without expectations
We often do things for people, but don’t actually realize that we are doing it with unspoken expectations. When people do not live up to our expectations, we then develop resentments towards them. In every situation, check your motives and expectations.
Ask yourself; “what’s in it for me?”
Harness the power of gratitude.
With gratitude, we realize that in life, we cannot always have things our way and that’s okay. We focus on what we have, rather on what we don’t.
Gratitude is crucial for reaching a state of inner peace.
Stay open to different outcomes
Know that just by choosing to work through your resentments, this does not mean that you will always have a positive outcome or have things your way.
When dealing with your resentments, you would often find favorable outcomes, but there will be times when the results are not what you have hoped for.
Dealing with our resentments is not meant to be a way for us to attain results we want, but rather for us to lift the burden that comes with it and free ourselves.
What NOT to do.
Before we go on to dealing with our resentments, let’s briefly cover a few NOT TO DO:
1) Do NOT ignore your resentments
2) Do NOT pretend they don’t exist – The fake it until you make it approach is not effective when it comes to dealing with resentments
3) Do NOT fight through them – trying to believe that resentments do not have a negative impact on your life can do more harm than good. Un-dealt with resentments will eventually suffice.
4) Do NOT try and forget them.
Guide to dealing with resentments:
Steps to follow to effectively deal with resentments:
This is a tried and tested method adopted from Alcoholics Anonymous and has proven highly effective. This method can be used by anyone!
1) Make a list of all people that you have resentments towards.
Remember that nothing is to small. It’s important to list each and every person, concept or institution that you feel has harmed you.
Avoid only trying to focus on the bigger resentments. It’s essential that you deal with all resentments to truly free yourself.
2) Write down what they did to you
The next step is to write down why you resent this person. This is the part where things may get worse before they get better. This part of the exercise requires you to dig deeper and as a result, you may feel exposed. Your emotions will be raw. This is generally the case if you do not know how to deal with these emotions, during this phase, you will prove to yourself that you can sit through difficult emotions and come out okay.
3) Write down each aspect of your life that this resentment affects.
Self confidence, trust issues etc. The point is to become aware of how these resentments affect your ability to trust, to feel safe, secure and loved.
4) Write down how you contributed towards this resentment.
This step is crucial. We don’t often realize how we contributed towards our own resentments. By completing this step, we can help let go of a lot of our resentments by analyzing the role we played.
Did we have unrealistic expectations?
Does this person know that we are holding resentments towards them?
Did we contribute in any way to what actually happened?
Do we know the full story before declaring our hatred towards this person?
5) Speak to someone about this resentment.
The purpose of this writing assignment is to experience freedom by letting go of secrets, fears and lies which we have been holding onto. By speaking to someone, we gain an outsiders perspective. Often we are so engrossed in our anger that there are certain aspects that are easily missed and an outsider can help us identify these areas that need work.
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Have you ever felt crippled by resentments and how have you managed to overcome it?