Holding on to resentments is one of the most corrosive things you can do for your mental health.
When I hold on to resentments I’m doing so for a purpose. The irrational thought is,”So and so has wronged me, and if I let go of this resentment then I let him/her off the hook.”
By holding on to these resentment I am “punishing” that person for wronging me. But who is it really hurting? Sure you can deny someone of your attention and friendship, but by “giving someone free rent in your head” YOU are the one that is really getting screwed.
I’ve held a resentment for years over a one-time event. That means that for years I carried anger and discomfort around with me any time I thought of this person. Not a very efficient way of dealing with emotions.
Through AA years ago I learned the absolute most effective way for dealing with resentments. Try this out:
- Write down the name of the person, institution or idea.
- Write down objectively what they did to harm you.
- Write down what it affected – pride, self-esteem, finances, intimate relationships, friendships, etc.
- Write down your part in the situation. This is the most important part. Sometimes my part is as simple as NOT saying something that I could have said to get what I wanted. It could be something subtle or something blatant. If you really feel like you had no part in it, keep thinking.
By stating and owning YOUR part in the situation, many times it will allow you to have even the slightest bit of compassion for the person. If you’d have acted differently then maybe they would have to.
When we live with the belief that we are responsible for creating our own reality, we can live happy and free of resentment.