Posts tagged ‘resentment’

June 7, 2012

Renouncing Resentment

Resentment: a feeling of indignant displeasure or persistent ill will at something regarded as a wrong, insult, or injury.

Personally, I have found little or no personal value benefit to the feeling of resentment. I have found that resentment is just longstanding anger that people cling to and feel justified in keeping this feeling of anger due to a perceived wrongdoing.

Imagine the last time you felt resentful towards a person or a course of action. Did you enjoy this feeling, or did you feel a great sense of dis-ease? Did your resentment lead to any positive actions? Did resentment lead to an argument?  Or does your resentment just simmer or boil inside of you?

Resentment is a feeling that is entirely related to how we chose to think and feel about a situation. There is no universal “cause and effect” since resentment is a chosen response.  For example, if someone tells you a joke and you choose to take offense or insult, you are choosing a resentful response. You could just as easily let it go. You are the one defining what “offensive” is. Even if the other person is stating the comment with the intent to offend, it is our choice to take offence.

Resentment can come out of our imagined intentions of others. We may interpret others actions as having the motive to make us feel bad. The majority of the time, other people act the way they are going to act without thinking about us. We are not the central character in their story, but since we are the central character in our own story we can view other people’s motivations as relating to our own.

Resentments can arise due to what we choose to believe about specific situations. I have the tendency to get resentful when interrupted frequently during a conversation. In my mind, I have constructed the belief that I have the right to complete a thought. When I am interrupted, I experience a feeling of “injustice” and I may start to feel “ill will” to the interjecting conversational partner. I know that I need to release this feeling of resentment. I know that the majority of the time there is no animosity from the person interrupting me and the other person is just engaging in his/her own conversational style. Even if the other person is intentionally being rude or argumentative, I can choose to avoid feelings of indignant displeasure.

Sometimes, resentment can arise based on how we define our own roles and the roles of others around us. At home, I occasionally feel resentful when my children make multiple demands regarding what I need to do for them. During these moments, I do not feel that it is fair that my children’s needs should come before my own needs. However, when I analyze this situation, I realize that my children are being developmentally appropriate by considering only their own needs. I also acknowledge that I have the choice of placing my needs, wants and desires before the needs (and requests for toys, games, fun stuff and money) from my children. Since I have composed an internal story that I am a “loving parent” that truly cares for my children, I strive to do everything possible to make sure that feel cared for. When I realize that I am the author of my own story and that I am in total control of the situation at hand, there is no reason for me to feel resentful.

 

“Anger, resentment and jealousy doesn’t change the heart of others– it only changes yours.”

Shannon L. Alder, 300 Questions to Ask Your Parents Before It’s Too Late

 

Strategies to Renounce Resentment

Forgiveness.

Forgiveness is just the act of letting it go. We can forgive the person that we feel has done us wrong and we can forgive ourselves for holding onto unproductive resentment.

A few years back, I harbored a lot of resentment towards a specific individual. I will call this person “Ire” to protect the “guilty”. I kept a long list of grievances against “Ire” that I “knew” were justified. After being miserable for a while, I realized that there was no action that I could take that would make the other person apologize or to make them offer restitution for their actions. The only thing that I had the power to do was to forgive them, and let go of all of my resentment. I still interact with this person in question. Without my emotional baggage, we can interact on a professional level. I have not forgotten the events, but I have forgiven the person for their actions.

Meditation

Meditation can be an effective strategy to let go of the internal dialogue justifying our resentments. By practicing meditation where we the focus is becoming unattached to our thoughts, it becomes easier to let go of thoughts and stories that we keep rattling around in our brains to justify our anger. Sometimes specific meditative practices are helpful as well. When I decided to forgive “Ire” for the multitudes of resentments, I found a specific Buddhist meditation helpful. For this meditation, you start your focus on the people that you love dearly. Then you reflect, “I wish ____ to be free from suffering, and the root of suffering”. After starting with the ones you love the most dearly, you repeat this intention to you close friends, then you repeat it for acquaintances, then finally you wish the people who for whom you harbor anger to be free from suffering, and the root of suffering.

Denounce your victimhood

One of the causes of our resentment is the perception that we are “victims”. In viewing ourselves as victims of the words and actions of other, we give away our personal power. Remember that you are the protagonist in your own story and that you have the power to choose how to respond to all life events.

Write your own story

Journal or write down how you want to feel in a given situation. If you are resentful about a situation where you have no control, record how you can change your emotional response or what lesson you have learned from the situation. It may also be helpful to re-write the life scenario where you are free from resentment. Imagine what it would feel like to let go of that resentment.

Affirmations

There are many affirmations already written about choosing forgiveness and letting go of resentment and anger. I have found that the podcast “My Thought Coach” by Stin has good audio affirmations on this topic. It is also very easy to write your own affirmations and review them every day. For example “I forgive all for every perceived hurt or injustice in my past. I choose to let go of anger and resentment and to learn for every life experience”.

Letters Never Sent

As symbolic exercise to release yourself from causes of resentment, you could write letters to the person that you feel has done you wrong. In these letters, the goal is to get your feelings about the situation on paper with the intent of letting these feelings go. Once you have finished with the letter, you can burn them ceremoniously or shred them into tiny pieces while thinking “I am done with this!”

 

Related Articles

How to Overcome Resentment

 

February 27, 2012

Forgiveness, it is within our Control

Many people view forgiveness as something that is important for another person to do for us. Many times we may hear ourselves and others request, “please forgive me” or state, “I can’t believe she will not forgive me”. The forgiveness of others is definitely not something that we can control. Although the forgiveness of others can help heal an aspect of a relationship, we can only control our own ability to forgive.

Forgiveness is an important habit /attribute for our own sense of wellbeing. Forgiveness allows us to “clear the slate” and let go of resentment and frustration. Forgiveness allows us to stop “holing on” to a perceived insult or injury.  Some people I know have stated that they are resistant to forgiving someone since they feel the act of forgiveness will encourage the other to continue engaging in wrongdoing. But forgiveness is for our own selves. It allows us to move on from a challenging situation. It allows us to dump the negative data set that we have been collecting and to change our emotional filter of continuing to gather data to reinforce our feelings of anger, resentment and contempt. Forgiveness is not forgetfulness. If someone has harmed us repeatedly in the past, we can forgive that person and let go of our emotional baggage while making the conscious decision of not letting that person hurt us again in the same way.

For example, there is one person that has been a part of my social circle for a long time. Many years ago, that person repeatedly spread gossip and rumors about me. Then, that person started rumors about other people that were close to me. Needless to say, this situation caused me a lot of anger, frustration and resentment. When I finally decided to forgive this person, my life got better. Now, when I run into this person, I no longer have a visceral emotional response. I am able to be cordial and no one in the room feels any tension. I do not actively seek out that person for validation or socialization nor have I forgotten this person’s tendency to spread rumors. What is important is that I have healed and I have moved on.

Resentment is a feeling that can cripple a relationship. Once we have started to resent someone, we typically hold onto the justification for that resentment. Forgiveness is the panacea for moving past our past resentments. Once we have forgiven that person, we can relive ourselves from the emotional baggage from that situation. This can help us objectively evaluate the situation or the relationship to determine if it continues to be beneficial to our personal interest.

Forgiveness can be valuable in situations where we know that we are the person that has made a mistake. If we know that we have made a mistake and that we are willing to do everything possible to move towards healing, forgiving ourselves can help us move forward. In this case, we can only hope that the other person can forgive us.