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Let That Ish Go! All Things Resentments

Resentment is like setting yourself on fire and waiting for other people to die of smoke inhalation. -DIANE CAMERON

Sometimes it is really hard to let go of the past. We tend to hold onto things using them as some sort of armor against others, usually as a way to avoid getting hurt again. We carry it around with us thinking it’s helping but it’s really hurting us.

Merriam Webster dictionary defines resentment as “a feeling of indignant displeasure or persistent ill will at something regarded as a wrong, insult, or injury”. Resentment is a feeling. And as I say very often, your feelings are valid. So you could be thinking right now that it is okay to have resentments and I would say yes and no. The feeling is a normal reaction or response but when you hold onto it…when you hold those feelings so tightly that it impacts your ability to function in various areas of your life... that my dear, is when it becomes a problem.

Many people seem to be carrying their anger and resentment wherever they go like an overstuffed suitcase. It is baggage that weighs them down and demands considerable attention and energy. -DAN MAGER

I truly couldn’t say it any better than the quote above. Resentments have the potential to weigh you down if not dealt with. If you don’t talk about it, try to unpack it in order to find some sort of resolve, it will hold you hostage, keep you stuck, and ultimately hinder your ability to be happy or have any sort of peace.

Some signs you may be holding onto resentment include:

  • Recurring feelings of emotions, such as anger and rage, when thinking about a specific interaction or experience

  • Inability to stop thinking about the event that triggered those strong emotions

  • Tense or strained relationships

  • Feelings of regret

  • Fear or avoidance of conflict

  • Feeling invisible, inadequate, or less-than

Resentment and all of the thoughts and feelings associated can be persistent and lifelong OR those feelings can dissipate when the other party finds a way to make amends for their actions. Forgiveness is an integral part of this process. I know! Often times forgiveness is really hard to do. It feels wrong to forgive when you experience negative feelings due to a distressing event. But doesn’t holding onto to it all hurt just as much if not more? Couldn't holding onto alllll of those emotions change you?

Anger, resentment and jealousy doesn't change the heart of others -- it only changes yours. -SHANNON L. ALDER

Well yeah it does! Resentments can increase feelings of anger and rage both experienced and expressed. A person in this situation might even seek revenge or bear grudges which in my opinion probably ages a person real quick! Imagine how holding on can trap you in a loop of resentment, bitterness, hopelessness, emptiness, or enragement…must do WONDERS to your emotional, physical, and even spiritual health.

Well it surely can increase anxiety, aggressive behaviors, depression, emotional dysregulation, mood disorders, self-harm, and suicidal ideation. Also, it can negatively impact your heart health, digestive, reproductive, and immune systems…just to name a few things.

So, what can you do about them? How does one let go of resentment in order to be happier and healthier? Here are a few things you can do:

Join a support group or meet with a mental health professional

Acknowledge, Recognize, & Release: 1) Write your emotions down on a piece of paper or say them aloud to yourself or someone you trust. 2) Work to better understand how the emotions you are experiencing has impacted you. Ask yourself, “Is holding onto these emotions and behaving in this manner helping me or hurting me?”. Often times holding onto resentment and anger and feeling and behaving as such probably worked for you. But like many things, that ship has sailed in another direction and the destination is looking pretty darn bleak. 3) If you notice they are no longer helping you, try thinking of a healthier more productive and safe way to behavior. Release the past ways of thinking, feeling, and behaving and see what you can do instead.

Choose forgiveness: In doing so you regain power and control over your life. Write them a letter  (you don’t have to give it to them). Meditation or pray about it. Whatever works for you as long as you forgive. Check out this worksheet to better understand what forgiveness is and what it is not.

The moral of the story is don’t hold onto resentments. They hurt you in more ways than it will hurt the person that hurt you. It will also hurt innocent bystanders which could make you feel even worse. Let’s choose to feel good this year. You truly deserve it!

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