In A Better You, Wellbeing

Learning to Let Go of Resentment

What is Resentment:

The definition of resentment according to Merriam-Webster is: a feeling of anger or displeasure about someone or something unfair. regarded as a wrong, injury, or insult.

“As smoking is to the lungs, so is resentment to the soul; even one puff is bad for you.” -Elizabeth Gilbert

What Can Cause Resentment:

Resentment is defined as the mental process of replaying a feeling that goads or angers us repeatedly, along with the events leading up to that feeling or event.

Replaying these resentful feelings over and over can lead to emotional distress and possibly the destruction of relationships.

Although the most common instances of resentment usually occur in romantic relationships, there are a variety of situations that can cause one person to resent someone else. Family disagreements and arguments between friends are also common causes of resentment.

Resentment is also a highly personal emotional reaction. What causes your spouse resentment may not bother you at all. Resentment can be caused by very minor situations that come with fleeting feelings or they can be serious issues that have to be addressed. Some examples of situations that can cause resentment are:

  • Being financially dependent on your significant other
  • Being responsible for all of the household and/or child rearing duties
  • Being passed over for a promotion at work
  • Being excluded by co-workers or friends

“Without forgiveness life is governed by… an endless cycle of resentment and retaliation.” – Roberto Assagioli

How Can Resentment Manifest Itself:

  • Harboring feelings of anger and jealousy
  • Believing what someone did was unnecessarily cruel, inconsiderate or hurtful
  • Feeling that people didn’t respond to our needs the way they should have
  • Believing that someone hasn’t done enough for you

Resentment can appear when you least anticipate it, and although the cause for a blow up might seem trivial, the odds are that there have been many instances of little moments that are contributing to the explosion of emotions. Usually a long history of hurt, disappointment, and unhappiness are what lead to resentment.

“Time doesn’t heal all wounds, only distance can lessen the sting of them.” – Shannon L. Alder

Can Being Resentful affect my health:

Feelings of intense anxiety, anger, and hostility that accompany resentment can in fact be harmful to your overall health. The stress of these feelings on you emotionally and physically can not only affect your mood and behavior, it can also disrupt your sleep schedule. Stress can also cause your body to release increased levels of adrenaline and cortisol, which raises the blood pressure and speeds up the heart rate. In an emergency situation this physiological reaction it helpful, but as a regular response caused by stress it can significantly raise your risk of heart disease.

Why Should I Let My Resentment Go:

“Pride and resentment are not indigenous to the human heart; and perhaps it is due to the gardener’s innate love of the exotic that we take such pains to make them thrive”.” -Hope Mirrlees, Lud-in-the-Mist

Finding a way to forgive people you resent can be especially difficult, but in the long run, letting go of resentment and anger toward others will enable you to live a healthier and happier life.

Dr. Drew stated during an episode of Loveline: “Resentments are like swallowing poison and expecting the other people to die.”

Lifehack.org compiled a handy lists of do’s and don’t for when you are facing resentful feelings:

Resentment Don’ts:

  • Ignore them
  • Fight through them
  • “Lock them in a closet”
  • Pretend you don’t feel them
  • Try and forget them

Resentment Do’s:

  • Face them
  • Feel them
  • Deal with them
  • Heal from them
  • Finding a way to forgive

“When you hold resentment toward another, you are bound to that person or condition by an emotional link that is stronger than steel. Forgiveness is the only way to dissolve that link and get free.” – Katherine Ponder

Overcoming Resentment:

For every minute you are angry you lose sixty seconds of happiness – author unknown

Below are ten tips provided by Psychologytoday.com that will assist in letting go of resentment:

Ten Steps to Letting Go of Resentment

1. Approach resentment as the addictive state of mind it is.
2. Realize that you are using resentment to replicate old dramas and acknowledge that you cannot change the past.
3. Examine how your resentment may come from mentally confusing people in your present life with people in your past.
4. Acknowledge that you cannot control those who have rejected you.
5. Recognize that your resentment gives you only illusions of strength. Instead, highlight and validate your real strength and power.
6. Learn to identify signals that provoke resentment. Apply the acronym HALT, widely used in 12 Step Programs: Hungry, Angry, Lonely, and Tired.
7. Practice cognitive behavioral techniques to stop indulging in resentment. Put a thought between your feelings of resentment and indulging in ruminating about them.
8. Acknowledge your part in allowing the abuse to occur, forgive yourself for that and make a decision to not let it occur again.
9. Declare an amnesty with the person you resent and with yourself.
10. Forgive when you can, and practice willful and deliberate forgetfulness when you cannot, keeping in mind that these acts are gifts to yourself rather than capitulation to the people you resent.

“Forgiveness is me giving up my right to hurt you for hurting me.” – Anonymous

Marriage and Resentment:

“Never go to bed angry. Stay up and fight.” – Phyllis Diller

“A happy marriage is the union of two good forgivers.” – Robert Quillen

According to Psychologytoday.com there are some common characteristics of chronic resentments that occur:

  • High emotional reactivity – a negative feeling in one triggers chaos or shut down in the other
  • External regulation of emotions – unpleasant emotions are regulated by attempts to control or devalue the other
  • Power struggles – try to “win” or exert power rather than reconcile and connect
  • Criticism, stonewalling, defensiveness, contempt
  • Walking on eggshells – both parties feel this, but typically one will internalize, second-guess, and reangle the self in vain attempts to avoid the other’s resentment or abuse
  • Narrow and rigid emotional range – the parties seesaw between resentment and depression, with little emotional experience in between.

“The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” – Mahatma Gandhi

Feelings of resentment can fester and lead to larger problems if they aren’t addressed. Finding faults in your partner or arguing with them over little silly things can also be a form of resentment. Terry Gaspard’s piece on Huffingtonpost.com recommends the following eight ways to help keep resentment from ending your marriage:

  • Acknowledge your feelings and use small steps to build confidence in being open and honest with your partner
  • Be honest and communicate about issues that affect your marriage
  • Take responsibility for your role in marital conflicts and arguments
  • Apologize to your spouse when appropriate, this will show them that you believe their concerns are valid as well as promoting forgiveness
  • Practice forgiveness
  • Show empathy. Letting your spouse know that you understand their point of view is tremendously helpful in conflicts
  • Express your concerns, feelings and desires in a respectful way – don’t bury your feelings or hide them from your spouse, this will undoubtedly result in resentments
  • Make a commitment to practice endurance and patience – with proper attention disagreements and resentments can be repaired

He who angers you conquers you – Elizabeth Kenny

Anger is one letter short of danger. – Author Unknown

Adressing resentments you are experiencing in any relationship, whether it is: romantic, family ties, work related or friendships, is paramount to cultivating and maintaining healthy interpersonal relationships. Remember to be open and honest in your interactions, letting resentful feelings linger can lead to the complete destruction of friendships and romances.

“To forgive is the highest, most beautiful form of love. In return, you will receive untold peace and happiness.” – Robert Muller

Summon up the courage to talk through your resentments. Once you have discovered the cause of your issues, you can finally begin to talk them through and address all of the underlying factors contributing to your negative feelings. After you and your spouse have identified the roots of your issues you can begin to talk through them and begin discussing how you can go about repairing what is broken.

“Forgiving does not erase the bitter past. A healed memory is not a deleted memory. Instead, forgiving what we cannot forget creates a new way to remember. We change the memory of our past into a hope for our future.” – Louis B. Smedes

Another key factor in overcoming resentment in a marriage is re-evaluating your expectations. Look at your attitude from all perspectives, are you resenting traits or qualities that are an unrealisitic expectation to start with? Not every man is a Prince Charming and not every woman is a supermodel and if you are expecting those traits out of your partner you will almost always be disappointed. If you take a step back and look at your relationship and identify the positive traits in your partner and think about if your expectations are reasonable, you may be able to eliminate some major sources of resentment.

Silent expectations can lead to disappointment and ultimately resentment – unknown

Surrounding you and your partner with healthy people who share healthy relationships can also be extremely helpful. Learning by example is an effective way to implement new tactics in your relationship that can reignite sparks and take the sting out of resentment.

Maintaining your own personal health and wellness is also key to maintaining a healthy relationship and removing resentments. You can not be a good partner to your spouse or significant other if you are run down, exhausted, and grumpy. Take care of yourself, you spirits will be lifted and you’ll be better equipped to handle whatever situation is thrown your way.

“Once a woman has forgiven her man, she must not reheat his sins for breakfast.” – Marlene Dietrich

Resentment can only affect your life as much as you allow it to. Take control of your feelings and emotions and use your rational mind to determine how you can overcome being resentful.

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