We all have our anger, hurt feelings and moments when we don’t feel seen or heard. When these things hang for too long or we begin listing everything that is aggravating us at any given moment, resentment takes hold.
There are times when I can feel old resentments bubble up. It could be as small as not getting a call back from a friend or a bigger moment of feeling taken advantage of. Some resentments hang long past the end of a relationship.
Many spiritual and religious teachings point to resentment as a block to spiritual alignment. I used to think doing the work to release resentment wasn’t worth the time or focus.
Instead, I would simply distract myself, moving on to other topics or avoiding a particular person. After all, why would I want to waste any more time on them? Why should I have to do all the work?
Whether you are resentful of a situation or a particular human, there is only one way through, and it is without a doubt in your own best interest to do the work necessary to release it. Here’s why:
Resentment can suck our energy. It can take us out of the moment completely. It’s a killjoy, pure and simple. It doesn’t help us find a solution nor does it make us feel better or in control. When we’re feeling resentful, we bring suffering upon ourselves and sometimes trigger behavior that doesn’t serve us or anyone we love. A big example for me? Resentment is definitely one of my biggest triggers when it comes to overeating.
Resentment can cause us to feel belittled, powerless, separate, lonely and miserable. This energy expands and attracts more of the same.
Releasing resentment has been challenging at times. I can overthink or grind about little stuff. What helps me move out of it more quickly now, is the realization that it just doesn’t feel good. It serves no purpose. I can be right or I can be happy. I want to choose happy more of the time.
Releasing Resentment in 3 Steps
Step 1: Gently witness the thoughts.
With as little judgment as possible, simply notice the thoughts that are flowing in that moment. You can begin the practice by bringing in a lingering resentment. Are you annoyed someone left the cap off the toothpaste again? Was it something you just read on social media? Or a remark someone made in a meeting? No matter how big or small, lean into it, and write down what comes through, accepting the thoughts without judgment.
Step 2: make a list of the positive aspects of whatever triggered the resentment.
Write a list of the things you can appreciate about the person or the situation. If you’re too angry to think of any, list the positive things you might learn from that situation or person. What might this trigger be teaching you? If the trigger was something someone said, recognize that happy people don’t treat others poorly. Find compassion for whatever that person might be experiencing that caused them to say or do something disrespectful. Come up with at least one positive thought for each resentment, even if it is very simple.
Step 3: Notice how the shift feels in your body.
Go through what you’ve written and see whether you notice a change as you begin thinking about the positive. You might notice a sense of relief or a gentle release. Imagine seeing yourself as whole and separate from the situation. Keep reaching for the thoughts that raise your energy to a more peaceful, compassionate place. Stand proud in your commitment to releasing resentment.
We All Want To Be Seen and Heard.
Resentment is borne out of lack. It occurs when we feel unappreciated or disrespected. Let’s take the example of the capless toothpaste:
Someone leaves the cap off, and it becomes a story that they aren’t being sensitive to you. If you do the steps, you’ll discover the trigger comes from feeling disrespected or ignored. Of course you want to feel considered. We all do! Chances are, when that person forgot to cap the toothpaste, you were the farthest thing from their mind. When you drill down, you’ll begin to reveal the truth about it, which is probably they were distracted or feeling overwhelmed. Whatever the reason, the incident brings clarity. It may even shed some light on what else may be brewing in your relationship with that person.
When we strive to see these situations as opportunities for growth, we begin shifting into a new story about what is occurring. We can then reinforce what is true, that we are whole and loved no matter what the actions of others might suggest. I like to think of it as an invisible force field. When we raise our own energy, and come from a place of compassion, even with the most annoying human or situation, we begin to diminish the effect those external issues have on us. Seeing people or situations as teachers empowers us to do the necessary work. This is also how we learn to set better boundaries, communicate more effectively, become solution-oriented, and clarify our goals.