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Letting Go of Resentments

Perhaps one of the most destructive emotions among the thousands of emotions we are capable of feeling is resentment. I have been known to say frequently, “Holding onto resentment is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” From the moment I first heard that pithy little statement, I laid claim to it as my own.

Resentments, whether valid or not, cause us to ruminate relentlessly on the injustice, inequity, or betrayal we believe we have been subjected to.  Whether it was a mean or hurtful gesture, or the belief that someone didn’t do what they should have, our reaction manifests like a cancer within. The object of our resentment takes hold in our head—rent free I may add. If you are anything like me, prone to emotional eating, resentment creates the perfect storm for compulsive or unhealthy eating.

In the end, holding onto resentments is a choice. Refusing to forgive or making no effort to let go, are choices that keep resentments alive. Often, our self-righteous anger takes precedence over our desire for peace and serenity. Our need to be right becomes a stronghold. This stronghold negatively impacts us mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually.

Perhaps you would like to let go of the resentment but don’t know how. Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Acknowledge that you are using the resentment to recreate drama and ask yourself what the payoff is for you in recreating that drama.
  2. Acknowledge that you cannot control others and outcomes and you cannot control those who have rejected you.
  3. Recognize that your resentments give you only illusions of strength. Highlight and validate your real strength and power. Acknowledge that there is strength and power in forgiveness.
  4. Acknowledge your part in allowing the abuse or manipulation to occur and then forgive yourself for that. Make a decision to not let it occur again and create boundaries to ensure your protection.
  5. Forgive when you can, and practice willful and deliberate forgetfulness when you can’t, keeping in mind that these acts are gifts to yourself rather than surrendering to those whom you resent.
  6. Identify if you are confusing present day resentments with unresolved resentments from the past.
  7. Journal about your resentment, first identifying in detail the action or inaction on another’s part that caused it, then list all the emotions experienced. Lastly, acknowledging your part in the cause or continuation of the resentment. Feel free to burn, bury, or attach your journal excerpt to a balloon as a symbol of your willingness to let the resentment go.
  8. Ask yourself what will happen if you decide to let the resentment go or if you decide to forgive the offender.
  9. If you have a spiritual connection, ask your higher power to release you from the bondage of the resentment and to guide you on a path toward letting go.
  10. Decide that you are worth the freedom from destruction caused by harbored resentments and vow to take your serenity back.
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