Release your resentments and take back your life!What is the difference between anger and resentment? Anger is a temporary initial reaction toward an event. Anger may quickly pass, linger for some time or fester into a resentment. Resentment is the long held disappointment of an unmet expectation of how another person or event should have treated us or gone our way. In short, anger is our reaction to the present and resentment is our reaction to the past.
Resentment comes from a place of blame, the need to be right, a lack of acceptance and is sprouted from a belief we are the victim. Many times in my life I was resentful at some person or event but upon deep soul searching realized I was really mad at me. I didn’t have the courage to find my own voice. I allowed something unacceptable to continue. I didn’t feel I had enough worth or power to speak my own truth. The taproot of my resentment always stemmed from a lack of acceptance. I did not want to accept “it was the way it was”. I wanted to WISH, HOPE or FANTASIZE of how it should be easier or better for ME. My resentments were also about control. I thought for sure if I could “SHOW THEM THE ERROR OF THEIR WAYS” then my resentment would be healed. If only “THEY WOULD UNDERSTAND” or if only “LIFE WOULD GO MY WAY”.
All of my resentments, and in my 20’s I had many, were centered around ME, how I was treated poorly, how life was unfair to me and a belief ‘you would feel this way to, if you had my life’.
So when I am resentful, on some level I still believe I am a victim. My child almost died of West Nile Virus. While in a coma I had a choice in what state I wanted to stay. Do I focus on how the universe has cursed me? Do I believe life has wronged us? Do I think that ‘bad things’ only happen to me or my family? If I am honest when I have these thoughts they are a reaction TO MY PAST.
Such dark and negative thoughts are not the quick reaction of anger. Anger can be a healthy emotion. It is certainly human and NO HUMAN I have ever met has been totally free of it. The joyful ones make an effort to find fewer things to be angry over and they move past anger into understanding more quickly. I was certainly angry about my daughters condition. I was shocked, scared, tired, angry, disappointed and afraid; of course all of those emotions were understandable.
Resentment is entirely different. Resentment is about ME, not about my daughter. It’s about my Stories of how Life has Treated me in the PAST and NOW I’m reacting to the old tapes.
I am very mindful when I notice the negative emotion of resentment crop up. It means that I have more healing to do. When I start playing a story over and over in my head, I’m once again in dangerous self-centered and self-absorbed territory. Those negative feedback loops make little room for joy, a heart of service, peace, solutions, love and connectivity.
The solution to resentments is simple but like everything else takes dedicated focus to heal them. Ask questions. What about this disturbs me? I must have a story, rooted in the past, and that is keeping me stuck. If I have a resentment about poor children that are abused and “how wrong” that is and it causes me to suffer then it’s not really about the poor children. Maybe it’s about my own guilt. Maybe it’s my own disgust in humanity in general. Maybe it’s about my own powerlessness because I don’t think I can make a difference and the lack of control dredges up old feelings. If I apply logic and sanity and ask a simple question “How does my resentment help those poor children?” then it’s easy to see the flaw in my resentment. It’s easy to see my resentment does not help them but it clearly limits me.
We pay a price and get a reward out of every reaction. So what’s the price?
“Our fatigue is often caused not by work, but by worry, frustration and resentment.” – Dale Carnegie
Resentments alienate others from us; who wants a volcanic eruption around them? They overshadow our power and ability to enjoy peace of life. Lastly, they let the object or person of our resentment continue to dominate our thoughts. If I was ‘wronged’ how does living in my resentment right that wrong? How does it help me move on with my life? Does it bring justice? Does the other person suffer as a result of my resentment?
And the payoff is? I get to feel justified in my reactions which are probably retaliatory. I get to do nothing and use my resentment as an excuse. I get to sound pious and self righteous. I get to make them WRONG. Of course I get to focus on my KA KA; the favorite past time of ALL resentments.
“The final proof of greatness lies in being able to endure criticism without resentment.” Elbert Hubbard.
Find your voice. Tap into your power. See the beauty in your life. Feel the anger, the sadness and taste the tears of disappointment as they run down your cheek. Then set yourself free by letting go of that resentment over what was and instead focus on what can be.