Get Over Resentment

Carrying resentment is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to suffer: you only poison yourself. While you may feel completely justified in your feelings and the person may have truly hurt you deeply, resentment is best when let go. If you’re ready to release the chains resentment has on you, know that there are many ways to work through these painful emotions.


Resolving Inner Pain

  1. Understand Your Emotions. Be honest with yourself in confronting the emotions surrounding the situation. Ask yourself whether this resentment is associated with any other past hurt, not related to the person or situation. Acknowledge your anger or feelings of indignation, but don’t get stuck in them.[1]
    • Anger can sometimes feel like a remedy for feeling powerless: it makes you feel more powerful.[2] Keep in mind, however, that the feeling will go away. Give less of your attention to anger and focus on healing your wounded emotions.
    • Write in a journal and focus on your emotions regarding the situation. Don’t write about the anger, instead focus your attention on the hurt. Write about your feelings, and if anything like this has happened before. It may be that you hold onto previous hurt and it is being expressed (and magnified) in the present situation.
  2. Practice radical acceptance. Radical acceptance means accepting life on life’s terms; it means allowing and not resisting the things you cannot change. While pain may not be optional, suffering is.[3] By saying “this isn’t fair,” or, “I don’t deserve this,” you deny the reality of your situation, and try to keep the truth from being a truth for you in that moment.
    • Radical acceptance means turning your resistant thoughts into accepting thoughts. “This is my life right now. I don’t like it and I don’t think it’s okay, but it is my reality and I cannot change what is out of my control.”[4]
    • Practice radical acceptance with smaller things, and it will help you radically accept larger, more painful situations. You can practice radical acceptance while in traffic, waiting in line at the grocery store, after a spill on the carpet, and during extra long waits at the doctor or dentist.
  3. Meditate. Engaging a meditation practice is overwhelmingly good for you. Meditation can increase positive emotions, decrease stress, help with feelings of compassion, and help you regulate your emotions.[5] Meditation can help you work through feelings of anger and resentment by replacing them with compassion and empathy. The more you practice meditation, the more benefits your receive.
    • The loving-kindness meditation helps practice compassion and empathy. Sit comfortably, close your eyes and start by choosing a phrase to say to yourself, such as, ”I wish to send unconditional love to myself” and do so. Then, say this mantra to someone you feel neutral about (such as a salesperson or man next to you in a line). Then, say the mantra to the person you hold resentment toward. Finally, say the statement to all beings (“I wish to send unconditional love to all beings”).[6] Now, reflect on how you feel. Do you still feel the tightness toward that person?
  4. Practice empathy. It can be difficult to take the other person’s perspective when you are fuming mad. However, sharing empathy with the person that hurt you can shed light on the situation and lessen your pain. The more empathy you experience, the less of a role resentment has in your life.
    • Remember that you make mistakes and still want to be accepted. Remember that all humans want acceptance, even though we all have our challenges.
    • Try to see the situation from the other person’s eyes. What was going on with that person? Is he experiencing difficult things in life that may have caused him to explode? Understand that each person has personal struggles that must be dealt with, and that sometimes those struggles leak out in other relationships.
  5. Love yourself unconditionally. No one person can make you feel loved and accepted at all times except yourself. Remind yourself that you are valuable and lovable.[7] Chances are, if you have high standards for other people, you have high standards to yourself. Are you exceptionally hard on yourself when you make a mistake? Take a step back and remember to love and appreciate yourself at all times.
    • If you struggle to love yourself, begin practicing a mantra of “I am able to love and be loved fully.” Practice saying this mantra and it will begin to influence the way you see yourself.[8]

Working Through Resentment

  1. Avoid revenge. While revenge may cross your mind and you may even begin to plot your plan, don’t go through with it. Revenge may be a way that people seek justice, yet the quest for justice may result in more injustice if the cycle of revenge continues. When you want revenge on someone, acknowledge your feelings as a way to cope with a loss of trust.[9]
    • Don’t act on your impulses; wait until you are calm and in control of your body and emotions. It is likely that feelings of revenge will pass once you get out of the mindset.[10]
    • If you choose to talk to the person you resent, watch your words. Don’t say anything you may regret in a moment of passion or to get revenge. It’s ultimately not worth it.
  2. Have realistic expectations of others. Remember that no one person can meet all of your needs.[11] If you believe that having a partner or a friend or being part of a family means that you will have all your needs met, think again. Having high expectations sets you up for failure.
    • Resentment can occur when expectations aren’t communicated clearly. A discussion on expectations and desires can help clarify current problems and avoid future problems.
    • Have clear expectations with the people in your life. Compromise with the people in your life on what standards and expectations you each have for the relationship.
  3. Use “I” statements in discussions. When discussing your resentment with someone, don’t be quick to place all of the blame onto him. Instead, own your own feelings and experience.[12] You cannot tell someone what his motivation was, or why he did something, because you simply cannot make that judgment call for someone else. Instead, focus on yourself, your hurt, and your experience.
    • Instead of saying “You ruined the relationship and I’ll never forgive you!” try saying “I feel very hurt by what you did and it’s hard for me to move past this.”
  4. Allow people to make mistakes. Sometimes it’s hard to admit that you yourself are flawed, have blind spots, and don’t always respond to situations in the most constructive way. This a reality for every person on planet Earth. Just as you want people to forgive your mistakes, extend the same courtesy to the people in your life. Remember that the person that hurt you is flawed, and sometimes functions from a place of limiting beliefs or skewed perception.[13]
    • Accepting that people make mistakes doesn’t mean excusing their behavior. It means you allow yourself to see the context surrounding the person and the experience to help you understand better.
  5. Surround yourself with positive people. Allow the people in your life to be positive people who support you and allow you to make your own decisions. These are people who allow you to make mistakes and still support you.[14] Have friends that are honest with you, that will give you a fresh perspective when you are stuck, or that will tell you when you are over-reacting.
    • Good friends will accept you regardless of the mistakes you make, and being a good friend means accepting others even when they make mistakes.
  6. Forgive. You may feel betrayed or absolutely justified in your resentment toward someone, making forgiveness nearly impossible. However, forgiveness doesn’t mean pretending the situation didn’t happen or that you have to excuse the person’s behavior. Forgiveness means you let go of the pain the person caused you.[15]
    • Ask yourself what the person or situation triggered that deeply hurt you. Did you experience feeling abandoned, traumatized, or re-experience unpleasant memories from the past? It’s likely the person uncovered a deeper hurt inside you.[16]
    • You don’t even have to verbally forgive someone. You can forgive someone who is no longer in your life or who has passed on.
    • One way to practice forgiveness is by writing the situation and then writing about why you are choosing to forgive. Have a small (safe) fire and burn the paper.

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