Resentment is a feeling of anger or displeasure that someone has done something wrong to you unfairly. It is an emotional state that we feel resulting from a slight or indignity that we feel that someone has directed towards us. It is often an intense anger that settles into a burning ember that we simply cannot let die out. You may still feel an old insult that nobody even remembers but the words or actions are still very real to you. It is that feeling of being cheated because someone else got the something or someone that we wanted. This can apply to property, love, attention, praise, recognition, or just plain old luck. Resentment turns anger into a rigid, tough, or stiff clay that we mold around ourselves forming a thick outer shell around ourselves. It stops us from experiencing joy, destroys our inner peace and often restricts the relationships that we have with others.
Most of us struggle to let go of our resentments, like weeds in a garden they take hold with deep seeded roots and often will not simply die out on their own. Like weeds in a garden, resentments grow quickly and easily even if we try so desperately to ignore them. Left alone the resentments that we hold onto and will often crowd out our other feelings, destroying our serenity, ruining our relationships, and making us bitter and feeling alone and isolated. Resentments grow in stages, and they get bigger and stronger with time. Resentments grow from an original insult or injury where we feel intense anger which turns into resentment then to hatred and eventually the desire for revenge. Some of the injuries are more serious than others, but what may seem trivial to one person may be very serious to another.
Think for a moment about your own life...
Are there resentments that you struggle with or hold on to that you just CANNOT let go?
Were you passed over for a job or promotion at work?
Is there someone that you have grown to hate?
Are you suffering from physical illness that has changed your life?
Did your partner decide to have an affair or leave you for another?
Did you lose money from investment advice of a friend?
Were you not included in a family gathering or party with friends?
Did your parents pay more attention to a sibling over you?
Did you grow up with a dysfunctional family where alcohol, drugs, sex meant more than you??
The list is endless when it comes to resentments and they are very individualized for only you can define the resentments in your life. As we start the new year for 2022, let one of your goals be to let go of the resentments that have come to define who you are and your life.
We do this through Forgiveness and in some instances making amends for our actions. Here are some things to consider before deciding whether we want to forgive:
Forgiving is a personal choice and must be made freely to have value.
Forgiving is something we do for ourselves, not for the person we forgive.
Forgiving takes place over time and is a gradual process.
Forgiving means changing our attitudes and our actions.
Forgiving allows us to live in the present instead of focusing on the past.
Forgiving may or may not lead us toward reconciliation with others.
Forgiving means that we not only forgive others but ourselves as well.
You can start the process of forgiveness by making a list of the resentments in your life. Then, write down three things you gain by hanging on to your anger over the resentment. Now, write down your losses. For example, how does your resentment negatively affect your life today? Decide whether you want to hang on to the resentment or let it go. Sometimes people get stuck at this point because they cannot think about what their life will be like without the resentment, or they have so many unresolved feelings that they find it difficult to let go. Here is a list of things that you can do to help with the process of forgiveness:
Make a list of people you need to forgive and do not forget to include yourself.
Write down the reasons you need to forgive these people and how forgiving them will help you. How are your hatreds or seething anger over a situation hurting you? What has happened to you as a result of your resentments?
List the angry thoughts that you have in your head and that you hold on to in your memories.
List the things that you have done or are doing in the name of hate. Things like gossiping, avoiding them, endless texting, putting sugar in someone’s gas tank, not attending family functions etc
Promise yourself that you will stop your hating thoughts and actions. Perhaps you cannot stop them all at once or tackle all the things that you have placed on your list. Instead, focus on one or two resentments at a time that way you will not feel overwhelmed and are more likely to be successful in accomplishing your goals.
Write down two or three positive things about the person that you need to forgive and recognize that they are just as human as you are.
Remember that you will not expect or demand anything from the people you are going to forgive. You need to forgive without playing any games. Keep telling yourself, “Forgiving is for me, not them.” Be patient with yourself. You have carried this anger and hatred for a long time and letting it go will take patience and practice.
Ask for help if you are having a tough time processing all the feelings associated with the resentments in your life. Seek out the help of friends, counselors, or the clergy as you walk through the journey towards forgiveness. Remember hatred only destroys you it does nothing to the other person.
The process of healing means that you often must forgive the actions of others even if you did nothing to deserve the actions that were done to you. Read that again!
Sometimes the actions that affect your life are not even personal at all. They are just events in our lives that deeply hurt us, and we carry these hurts for days, weeks, months, and sometimes years in our lives. Think about how those hurts have changed who you are and your actions towards others. Set a goal for yourself to stop letting those resentments, hurts, and actions define your life. Take charge of the life you want to have and that may mean starting with Forgiveness.
Could you relate to this blog? Want to continue with the journey of releasing resentment and welcoming forgiveness? Here are a few of our favorite items related to resentment, forgiveness, and inner peace:
Please note that if you make a purchase through these links we may receive a small profit at no extra cost to you, but from Amazon.
Article prepared by: Judy P. King, LCSW, BCD
Contact Sunflower Counseling, PLLC by calling 901-232-1956 to arrange an appointment with a therapist. You can also complete a contact inquiry through our website as well. Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, most sessions are primarily available through telehealth.