Letting Go of Resentments
Resenting someone or something else is not good for your mental or even physical health. Studies have shown that people who hang on to resentments suffer a high degree of stress that can lead to heart disease or stroke. When we harbor a resentment, especially against another person we trap ourselves in the past and will never be able to really move forward. The only thing to do with resentments is to let them go. Here’s how you can do it.
The problem with resentments is that long after the person who hurt you has forgotten all about their words or actions, you still remember and feel the pain inside. Part of you actually starts shutting down and you may become protective and less able to be a kind and loving person yourself. When you hold a resentment or grudge it’s not the other person who pays a price, it’s you.
Some people try and deal with resentments by trying to forget about it. That’s one strategy but it will only work if you are truly able to let it go. Most of us however just put in storage and come back to time and time again, only to feel that hurt over and over again. If we do not properly deal with a resentment it may start showing up as anger, even towards those who have never done anything to us. We may even feel that it was all our fault and this can produce shame, remorse and guilt. All negative emotions that can start affecting our own personality and character.
We do need to examine our actions that lead up to the resentment we feel. We may have played a minor role in how things worked out. If that is the case we need to acknowledge that behavior and forgive ourselves. But we just can’t sweep those words or actions under the rug, if we are to be free of the resentments we hold we have to commit to changing those parts of us that we don’t like and move on.
Then we have to deal with why the actions of another person have made us feel so badly. In some cases they may have acted without an apparent cause or reason. Those are the hardest resentments to deal with. They may even be nasty or hurtful people who lash out at others when they are feeling uncomfortable or disturbed. Try and figure out why they might have behaved in the way they did towards you. It may help you to understand why they acted so negatively towards you. If nothing else it will help you to decompress and understand your own feelings about them.
If you find their actions or behavior to be abusive or mean and this continues you have every right to limit your contact with this person. It may be difficult if it is a family member or co-worker but you do control your own personal time, especially as it relates to social activity. This may help but until you are finally able to let go of the resentment it will keep on hurting you.
Eventually you will have to find a way to let go of the resentment, not because you condone the behavior of the other person, but because it is hurting you. The only way to do this effectively is through forgiveness. You don’t have to say anything to the other person but you do have to reach inside of yourself and get to that forgiving place. You may never forget what the other person has done, but unless you forgive their actions you will continue to resent them. Give yourself the gift of forgiveness for it is a gift to you and not the other person. Then you can truly let go of the resentment and get on with the rest of your life.
Mike Martin is a writer and the author of Change the Things You Can: Dealing with Difficult People.
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