Resentment is a mental process in which an offending situation is played in one’s mind over and over again. The offense is remembered, maybe even obsessed over, and the feelings that occurred as a result of the situation are recalled as though the offense happened yesterday. With resentment, events are re-experienced again and again, and this causes repeated mental, emotional, physiological and spiritual trauma.Resentment blocks self love. Sadly, this is a trauma that is inflicted upon oneself.What Causes the Unhappiness that Underlies Resentment? Someone’s hurtful or thoughtless behavior can leave a lasting impact that leads to resentment, especially if the hurt is never processed.
Some examples of situations that can cause resentment are:
- When someone’s behavior is hurtful or cruel (like “backstabbing” behavior, unflattering comments, breaking a confidence or commitment)
- When someone doesn’t live up to an expectation or doesn’t care for a person the way they should have (neglectful parents, for example)
- When people disappoint in significant ways (like forgetting a birthday or anniversary)
Choose to Let Go
Holding on to resentment is a choice that’s related to the need to be right. People often cling to need to be right because there doesn’t seem to be any other way to deal with painful feelings like rejection or abandonment. This need to be right gets in the way of one’s ability to feel peace and contentment; if allowed to continue, it can even become an obsession.
10 Tips to Help in Releasing Resentment
To feel content in one’s life and practice self love, it’s important to let go of resentful feelings. This can be done with a therapist if the feelings are entrenched or extremely painful; a treatment called EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) can be used to process and let go of the resentment. Following are 10 steps one can take to let go of resentments:
- Approach resentment like the addictive state of mind that it is. Deal with it like it’s a problem, and work on finding solutions to the problem.
- Realize that resentment is often used to re-create family drama and maintain a connection with those dramas so that maybe they can produce a healthier result. Sadly, the past is the past, and it cannot be changed. Most people realize this consciously, but their subconscious holds on to the hope of somehow changing the past.
- Take a look at how the resentment might come from confusing people in one’s present life with people in one’s past. A boss might remind a person of one’s parent, for example.
- Acknowledge that no one has control over anyone but themselves. All the resentment in the world won’t change anyone’s behavior; the only one hurt is the individual holding the resentment.
- Recognize that resentment only gives the illusion of strength. Instead, people should highlight and validate their real strength and power.
- Learn to identify what it is that triggers the resentment. That way, when it happens, one can choose to consciously not allow the resentment to be triggered. Journaling about it, or talking with a therapist, often helps with this process.
- Practice cognitive behavioral techniques to stop indulging in resentment. In other words, decide to consciously stop thinking about the resentments.
- Acknowledge one’s part in allowing the hurtful behavior to continue, and make the decision not to let it happen again.
- Consciously decide to be at peace with one’s family of origin. Take the good, and leave the rest.
- Forgive when it’s possible. Remember, forgiveness does not let anyone off the hook for past wrongs; it is a gift people give to themselves. It is a practice of self love.
Holding on to resentments keeps people stuck in unhappiness and trauma. Making a choice to let resentments go is like dropping a heavy rock that’s been carried for months, years or even decades. It’s a mindful action that leads to greater happiness and emotional freedom.