Letting go of (or at least learning to live with) resentment

Screen Shot 2017-10-12 at 8.53.57 PMI think, actually I know, one of my worst qualities is my ability to hold onto resentment and the toll it takes on me physically and emotionally.  I have very strong feelings on how I think people SHOULD behave and when they don’t live up to my expectations instead of being upset or sad or even disappointed, I get mad!

“When you are angry at someone, you are unhappy with how they acted. You believe they should have acted some other way. The should have acted is what you’re holding onto. If you didn’t have the should so firmly attached in your mind, you wouldn’t be angry.  So the answer is letting go of the should.” Leo Babauta, zenhabits.net

“There is no good way or bad way. And the sooner we let go of expectations about how things are supposed to go (should go), the happier we get to be.” “The Divorce Party” by Laura Dave.  Perhaps my mother is right, she once told me “I have really high expectations of myself and so I think everyone else should behave the same & the sooner I let that go the better”.

For me feeling mad is much easier than feeling sad or even disapointed.  If I am sad I have a tendency to become paralyzed, wanting to crawl into bed and not come out.  But if I decide to be mad, I can move on and in my mind persevere, and in some circumstances even “kick ass”, I’m the same way if someone questions why I want to do something or go somewhere … it only makes me want to do it more.  The problem with mad is I feel it in my heart, literally my chest tightens up, my heart races, sometimes I feel like I can’t catch my breath.  They say resentment resides in the heart chakra … “Physical imbalances in this chakra might include a cardiac or respiratory issue or a feeling of pain and heaviness in the heart.  Emotions connected with the heart chakra include love, hate, anger, bitterness, resentment, grief, forgiveness, compassion, loneliness, self-centeredness, generosity, gratitude, commitment, trust, loyalty and the ability to follow one’s heart.” … chakra.info

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“The color associated with the heart chakra is Green. Green symbolizes harmony, creativity, health, abundance and nature. It is the combining of yellow (soul) and blue (spirit). Green, nature’s color, offers new energy and revitalizes tired nerves.” … crystal-cure.com

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I just got back from a yoga retreat and the first day of the retreat there was a praying mantis “praying” right next to my door, she was there every night until the last night, when she decided to take up residence in our room.  I told my roommate I was so thrilled because they are my favorite insect! She was green my favorite color, like the color of my dad’s eyes and the heart chakra, coincidently or not?!💚.  This is not a new love of mine, my husband bought me a glass praying mantis 10 years ago, it was definitely not in our budget at the time, I fell in love with it and he said it was too expensive, but he went back and bought it and gave it to me for my birthday.  My friend looked up the “spirit meaning” of the praying mantis, lets just say her being there had significant meaning to me, “An appearance from the mantis is a message to be still, go within, meditate, get quite and reach a place of calm.” “The mantis comes to us when we need peace, quiet and calm in our lives. Usually the mantis makes an appearance when we’ve flooded our lives with so much business, activity, or chaos that we can no longer hear the still small voice within us.”

we felt like she deserved a name because she greeted us every morning & every evening, we named her Shanti, Peace in Sanskrit 

Resentment: or the strong and painful bitterness you feel when someone does something wrong to you, it doesn’t have actual physical weight, but it feels very heavy and can last a long time. Forgiveness is one way to get rid of resentment.  Sometimes resentment lasts for years. It can be strong and hard to pull out, like an old, gnarled tree root. While resentment over being wronged can come from just one act against you, it also can get stronger over time, it also comes from misunderstandings, like feeling resentment over a dirty look you thought was directed at you but really wasn’t.  It’s usually best to root out resentment early. … vocabulary.com

Or in my case … a text that was missing a particular emoji that would have helped me determine if you were just “short on time” vs. “being short”, why not throw in a … 😉or 😍or 😴???  It only takes a second!

“The human emotion of resentment is one of the most futile and destructive emotions, more a reflection of inner needs than outer circumstance. Many people spend more time dwelling on the wrongs supposedly done to them than on the wrongs they have done to others.” … psychologytoday.com

Trust me I’m sure people resent me for certain things … I know I’m not innocent or perfect by any stretch of the imagination (even my imagination;)).

“It’s Futile. It’s Destructive. It’s Blinding. But this universal emotion does have its rewards. It assures us of our own impotence — (inability to take action)” By Theodore Dalrymple

“Considering the importance of resentment in our lives, and the damage it does, it receives scant attention from psychiatrists and psychologists. Resentment is a great rationalizer: it presents us with selected versions of our own past (how things should have played out), so that we do not recognize our own mistakes and avoid the necessity to make painful choices.” Theodore Dalrymple, brainyquote.com

Psychologist James J. Messina recommends five steps to facing and resolving resentful feelings. (1) Identify the source of the resentful feelings and what it is the person did to evoke these feelings, (2) develop a new way of looking at past, present and future life, including how resentment has affected life and how letting go of resentment can improve the future, (3) write a letter to the source of the resentment, listing offenses and explaining the circumstances, then forgive and let go of the offenses (but do not send the letter), (4) visualize a future without the negative impact of resentment, and (5) if resentful feelings still linger, return to Step 1 and begin again.

People have told me to write it down, crumple up the piece of paper, throw it in a fire & let it go … 📝+ 🔥=🙏… hmmmm???

“Resentment is considered to be synonymous with anger, spite, and other similar emotions; however, while it may incorporate elements of these emotions, resentment is distinct from these emotions in several ways. Aside from sharing similar facial expressions, resentment and anger differ primarily in the way they are externally expressed. Anger results in aggressive behavior, used to avert or deal with a threat, while resentment occurs once the injury has been dealt and is not expressed as aggressively or as openly.  Resentment and spite also differ primarily in the way they are expressed. Resentment is unique in that it is almost exclusively internalized, where it can do further emotional and psychological damage but does not strongly impact the person resented. By contrast, spite is exclusively externalized, involving vindictive actions against a (perceived or actual) source of wrong.” … Wikipedia

“Resentments embody a basic choice to refuse to forgive, an unwillingness to let bygones be bygones and bury the hatchet. We review and rehash our painful past, even as we profess to want to let go of it. We do so because we believe the illusion that by belaboring our resentment, we will somehow achieve the justice we believe we are due. We cling to a futile need to be “right,” which overrides the capacity to heal and be at peace with ourselves. We hang on to perceived offences because we don’t know any other way of coming to grips with painful feelings of hurt, rejection, and abandonment. We need to learn to let go of resentment, because living with it can only bring us chronic punishment and pain, and prevent us from building up other relationships based on love, nurture, and support. Letting go of a resentment is not a gift to the person you resent. It is, rather, a gift to yourself.”  Mark Sichel, LCSW

“Forgiveness is not something we do for other people, we do it for ourselves — to get well and move on  likelovequotes.com

“Forgive when you can, and practice willful and deliberate forgetfulness when you cannot, keeping in mind that these acts are gifts to yourself rather than capitulation to the people you resent.”  Mark Sichel, LCSW

My dear friend has been acting as my voluntary editor, commented on the above … “I love the bit about practicing forgiveness, and when you can’t do that, WILLFUL FORGETFULNESS. That works for me! So may times other people’s behavior is inexplicable/confusing/mysterious, so it’s better to “forget” the perceived hurt. I call it “not putting any more energy into it.”  It actually works! For me anyway ;)” 💚 thank you!

“When you let go of resentment toward someone, you are not necessarily condoning or agreeing with what they have done but you instead are allowing yourself to be free and liberated from the heaviness of carrying it around. Remember that you are not letting them off the hook but simply allowing yourself to release the strain so you can put your energy into something that is good for your mind, body and soul.” mindbodygreen.com

“Happiness: When we are frustrated with someone, disappointed with ourselves, unhappy with our situation, angry at something in the past … what is standing in the way of our happiness? We could blame the other person, or ourselves, or our situation, or the thing in the past … but actually, the thing preventing our happiness is being stuck on an ideal or expectation (the should). We could let go of how we want others to be, how we want our lives to be, how we want ourselves to be … and find contentment in the way things are. This is hard for people to accept — because they aren’t good at letting go yet.  The answer is to loosen the tight grip on the way you think things should be. And let the should blow away in the wind. Because in reality, we have no control over the should of reality. We can’t make other people act the way we’d like them to, because they’re not puppets. We can’t even make ourselves act the way we want, much of the time.  We don’t control the should, and so letting go of our tight grasp of them, loosening up and learning to accept the uncontrollable nature of life, leads to many benefits …” Leo Babauta, Zen Habits

“Forgiveness is mercy in action the same way that compassion is wisdom in action” Stephen Levine

“To understand everything is to forgive everything ” Buddha

“What we achieve inwardly effects how we behave outwardly”   Plutarch

“When you find peace within yourself you can become the kind of person that can live in peace with others” Peace Pilgrim

“If you are depressed you are living in the past, if you are anxious you are living in the future, if you are living in the present you are at peace”  Lao Tzu

And finally (this poem has presented itself to me four different times in the last few weeks) …

The Guest House
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty it of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.
Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond — Rumi

Until I’m capable of  “letting go”  the “The Guest House” is what I will practice for now …

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“the mantis comes to us when we need peace, quiet and calm in our lives.”

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2 thoughts on “Letting go of (or at least learning to live with) resentment

  1. This piece on resentment really resonated with me. I waste so much time wondering why some one said a certain thing to me or didn’t do something they said they would or didn’t seem to want me to succeed. But I tell myself it’s not about me. It’s about the expectation I had in the first place of that person. Nice post. Xoxo

    Like

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