Letting go of resentment

Resentment is defined as a feeling of prolonged anger or displeasure at some act, remark, and/or person (including oneself), regarded as causing injury or insult. Resentment is like holding a grudge for a very long time; it is a mental process that only hurts the person holding onto negative feelings about events and others. With resentment, we relive the experience that caused us pain over and over again, and allow it to consume us.

Holding onto resentment is a choice— a choice to not forgive or let bygones be bygones, usually because we do not know how to let go of the pain.

The unhappiness that underlies resentment is sometimes caused by the feeling that people did not, and should have, done something for us. It can also stem from the feeling that people have not done enough for us, or have inflicted mean, hurtful, and thoughtless acts on us.

People take steps to let go of their resentment in a number of ways. Here are 10 steps that we recommend you try:

  1. Recognize there is a resentment that you are holding onto. Mindfulness and self-awareness are essential in recognizing you have resentment.
  2. Realize that you are holding onto resentment to recreate drama, and to maintain that connection with the drama. Sometimes the way we communicate with loved ones is a learned behaviour.
  3. Explore how resentment may come from confusing people in your present life with the people in your past. When old wounds are not healed we tend to fall into a routine and repeat experiences.
  4. Realize that you cannot control anyone’s actions or reactions but your own. Learning to set and maintain boundaries is an import part of recovery.
  5. Learn to identify the signs that cause resentment (like jealousy). It is important to acknowledge and process these emotions.
  6. Recognize that your resentment only gives you the illusion of strength. Strength comes from facing the truth.
  7. Practice cognitive behavioural techniques to stop obsessing about resentment, and put a thought between your feelings of resentment.
  8. Acknowledge your part in the actions that may have caused the resentment; forgive yourself and make a decision to not let it happen again.
  9. Find peace with yourself and with others.
  10. Forgive when you can, and practice forgetfulness when you cannot.

Learning to forgive is an essential part of the recovery process. Without forgiveness, recovery is nearly impossible. Forgiveness is not something we do for other people, it is something we do for ourselves to be able to move forward.

Article written by Linda Carpenter, Counsellor at Aurora Recovery Centre, and originally appeared on aurorarecoverycentre.com