Letting Go of Resentments

May 27, 2020 | Friends and Home Life, Healthy Living

A Simple Process to Move on From Past Hurts

Are you feeling stuck emotionally?  Does it seem like the same patterns keep repeating themselves in your life?  Are your relationships with others stagnant?  Do you find yourself holding onto past hurts and injustices?  If so, it’s time to take a look at these resentments, find out how they are controlling you, and find a way to work through them.

Resentments are one of the top offenders that allow for anger, depression, self-pity, and addiction to take root in your body.  Feeling unloved, rejected, or embarrassed can cause many people to hide themselves from others, and to avoid certain events or activities.  Often times, upon real reflection, we find that the underlying cause of resentments is fear.  Carrying resentments around with us prevents us from experiencing joy, and it keeps us stuck in negative thinking.

While there are occasions when an injustice was done to us for no reason or fault of our own, if we are honest, we can look at most resentments and begin to see our part in them.  This allows us to own our part in situations, understand a situation from a different perspective, and to acknowledge the underlying fears we had which led to the resentment in the first place.  When we are able to do this, we can learn to handle future situations with confidence and grace.

If you find yourself unable to let go of resentments, here are some steps you can take to examine each resentment fully and let it go.

  • Clearly define the resentment. For example: I was angry with my spouse because he didn’t offer to help clean up after the family dinner.
  • Try to find one or two things that show how your behavior or thoughts impacted your resentment. Did you directly ask for help cleaning up?  When he does help, do you criticize the way he does things, or go back later and put them the way you would have if you had done it yourself?
  • List some ways you may have participated equally in the resentment. Did you stop being friendly as a result?  Did you silently or verbally blame him for not helping?  Were you a little louder with the cupboard doors than usual because you were upset?
  • Once you have thought through these steps, think carefully about what fears may have been behind your resentment. Were you afraid he didn’t care enough about you to help?  Did his behavior remind you of another situation in your life?  Were you fearful that he took you for granted and will always do so?
  • Being able to see the part you played in a resentment is liberating. It allows you to let go of anger and hurt and to forgive others and yourself.  Once you begin to understand how fears and insecurities allow resentment to take up space in your mind, you will be able to use this insight to positively handle future situations.

Being able to forgive and move on is one of the most healing journeys we can take.  When we hold onto resentments over time, we are allowing other people to control us, even without their knowledge.  There’s a saying that explains this further: “Resentment is like drinking poison, and waiting for the other person to die.”  It is giving other people control over how you think and feel, and it can impact both your emotional and physical health.

Forgiveness does not mean you agree that the actions or words that hurt you are okay.  It is a process that allows you to fully examine situations, acknowledge the hurt, see your part, and let it go so that you can move on and have peace.  Forgiveness is ultimately for yourself, so you can live your life without carrying around negative thoughts and resentments.  When you are free of resentments, you are open to allowing love, peace, and positive thinking into your life.  And that, if you think about it, is true joy.

Next time we will focus on upcoming graduations and share a letter written by a mother to her son, a recent high school graduate.