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Letting Go of Resentment

“Holding on to resentment is like eating poison and expecting the other person to die”. John Harradine.

Resentment itself is poison, and it doesn’t poison anyone but the holder of that resentment. It drains and angers you and has no impact on the person or things its directed towards. I feel it towards.

“Those who are free of resentful thoughts surely find peace.” Buddha

Life is short. One way of looking at things is that time spent in resentment about things that happened or didn’t happen is time wasted. Someone once said to me that you can’t be both resentful and grateful at the same time. Practicing gratitude has a far more positive ripple effect on your life and so, these days, I choose gratitude over resentment – for my own wellbeing.

Accomplishments fueled by resentment and anger seldom contribute to serenity and fulfillment. And more often than not, an act of resentment done in anger / for revenge / or to prove a point is rarely as satisfying as the imagining of it was and leads to corresponding shame or further frustration or anger (depending on how it’s received or what the outcome was). This is a cycle of anger and pain which cannot bring fulfillment or peace.

This month we wanted to focus on personal well-bring and inner-serenity. At South Pacific Private we teach this by using the Serenity Prayer as inspiration. In addition, we’ve also written a short list of things you can do to break away from the poison that resentment can bring into your life.

1.    Stop ruminating over the person / situation

Try to find a way to let it go. Spend dedicated time reflecting upon it and decide what a healthy outcome is for you. Consider if your chosen healthy outcome has resentment at its core and if it does, notice it, and then re-consider. Once you’ve dedicated this time, it’s time to let it go. You’ve given it headspace and attention and you’ve determine what must be done (maybe nothing) and now it’s time to free it. You don’t need to spend any further time letting thoughts of it overpower you or re-living a situation over and over or imagining conversations about it in your head. It’s done.

2.    Try to send the situation light and love.

You’re probably thinking, “what?” This is no doubt the absolute opposite of what you want to do and there’s no judgement here. However, if you are currently sending hate, anger or frustration towards a person / situation then you personally are consumed with these emotions which are not supportive to your Recovery or your own well-being. Go back to the earlier statement, you cannot be in both resentment and gratitude at the same time. If you can find a reason to be grateful that supersedes the resentment, focus on that instead.

Importantly, you must also be kind to your self as well as the situation.

3. Be open to different outcomes.

Reducing resentment takes practice and mindfulness. Think about what happened, and understand that healing from a resentment is a process. A process that may take some time to heal from. And that’s ok. There’s no rush and you control the speed at which this happens and how it happens. You may wish to address the resentment with the person 1-2-1 or you may wish to talk it through with a therapist who has no attachment to the situation and person in order to resolve it. You may wish to journal about it in order to create space for yourself from it and to be able to view it objectively. Whatever you choose to do, so long as it’s a healthy choice for you, is OK.

In summary, we are not suggesting that you ignore your resentments or try to ‘put them in a box’ never to be addressed. Quite the opposite. We are suggesting that those resentments are causing you, the holder of them, emotional and spiritual imbalance. Those resentments should be addressed in a healthy way and it may require a great deal of willingness and an open-mind on your part in order to heal from them, but you can heal from them and you can let them go once you’ve worked on them. If you can recognise your resentments and have the awareness to acknowledge them for what they are, then you also have the ability to begin to change your experience of them and the internal expectations that they place upon you.

Finally, if you are having trouble forgiving and moving on from resentments, you may need to seek the assistance of a mental health professional. Holding on to anger and grudges can affect your mental, physical, and emotional health. Please call South Pacific Private on 1800 063 332 if you are struggling with mental health concerns or addictions.