How To Let Go Of Resentment
Resentment at times can feel all consuming- it can jeopardize our relationships with others and often does quite a bit of damage to the relationship we have with ourselves. When defining resentment, I think of it as this indignation of sorts, this feeling of having been violated by an injustice of any kind, leaving us with some version of anger or pain.
What I notice most in my sessions is that the common experience with resentment is this overall quest for fairness. That often we use resentment as a means of protecting ourselves from future pain.
Holding a grudge may give the illusion of punishing the other person and making things “fair” or just. Essentially, this distorted thinking is: “if I hold this grudge not only does the person who hurt me know never to do so again, but everyone else can receive that message and I can better protect myself”. The thing about resentment though, is that it becomes the poison we drink in hopes of hurting someone else. It keeps us stuck in emotional pain.
It is important not to minimize the pain of being threatened, of feeling unsafe or being violated of whatever event that happened and however we feel about it. This isn't about ignoring the actual emotional fallout, it's to speak to a very beautiful point of holding space for both. This means allowing ourselves to be hurt and to experience the anger that does come initially when we're hurt. It is really important to allow yourself to feel this anger but then being able to shift into assuming responsibility for what feelings are now yours.
Here’s an example of how resentment can play out:
Let’s say I overstep my own limits/boundaries and find myself falling into “people pleasing” behavior… to the point of complete exhaustion. In this example, one may be prone to developing the resentment of “it must be nice” to not have to do XYZ, that is being handled by the people pleaser.
In this example, it is important to become empowered in taking ownership for one's role in missed boundaries or missed communication and emphasizing those in the future so that future needs can be better met.
This perspective can be empowering in creating space for positive change. Whether that be doing less of the things that no longer serve you, removing yourself from people or places that inflict pain and reflecting on ways to better protect yourself.
In the documentary called “Stutz” on Netflix, a renowned therapist named Phil Stutz talks about this concept of active love. He encouraged the visualization of loving energy, encouraging listeners to imagine absorbing themselves into it completely, then taking that concentrated love and emitting it onto another person and/or negative experience you hold resentment for. In doing this, Phil Stutz proposes the question: “do you want to be right or do you want to create something new?” Allowing yourself permission to forgive and to love others helps you to release, accept and create space for positive change and connection.
If you’d like to learn more about how counseling can help you learn how to effectively release resentments, I would be happy to speak with you about how I can help.
Give me a call for your complimentary consultation at 954-391-5305.