Turning Resentments into Acceptance
Do you find yourself obsessing over what happened when you have a resentment? Is it impossible for you to let it go?
If that's true you're in the right place.
Holding onto a resentment is like taking poison and expecting the other person to die, a popular saying in 12 step programs. Harsh but true right?
Here you'll find what it takes to let it go, and why in some cases, you'd rather hold on to it.
What causes resentment?
- When you expect someone to be different than who they are.
- When you feels wronged or offended.
- When you don't admit your true feelings.
When you feel resentful, notice the frustration in your body. Do you have a knot in your stomach or feel tense in your body? Resentment gets stored in the body and causes stress related illnesses if ignored.
Why do we hold on? Because it's easier to hold onto them because the anger feels justified - and that feels good. It's called secondary gain. That means there's a payoff for keeping the resentment going despite how it much hurts.
- Resentment is like anger - it gives us energy and a sense of purpose.
- It gives you a compelling story.
- Telling the story over and over again gives you attention and support.
- It continues the cycle of being a victim so you don't have to do anything different.
By repeating the story, the resentment continues and nothing gets resolved. It starts to change your attitude about relationships. Have you noticed that ...
- Resentment causes you to pull away and not trust others?
- You start to assume others will hurt you?
- You worry that if you let go of it you will have to forgive?
- Think why bother since you don't want a relationship anyway?
Learning how to handle resentments can free up negative energy. It can bring closure to old wounds and create forgiveness.
A study by Carsten Wrosch, an associate professor at Concordia University, shows that people who are angry have higher blood pressure, increased heart rate and are at a higher risk for heart disease. That's a lot of stress on your body!
So if you're willing do something different...
Writing to heal
- Write down the resentment in detail. It's a safe way to express emotions without censoring yourself.
- Second, write how this resentment impacts you. Does it impact self-esteem, emotional or financial security, pride, relationships, career?
- Here is the key, look at how your attitudes, words, gestures, even your silence sends a message.
- Next, include what you'd like to say to them if you could. This does not have to be sent. This is to create closure for your benefit only.
How to communicate your resentment effectively
If you need to communicate here's a simple format.
- Name the behavior that's upsetting you.
- Communicate your feelings or opinion.
- Stick with one concern so you avoid launching an attack!
- Acknowledge your part to lessen defensiveness.
When you share feelings and opinions, it comes across less defensively. It's a neutral way to communicate and avoid blame.
Using "I message" encourages the listener to respond rather than feel accused. An I message is simply stating how you feel. That creates the chance of a better outcome.
"I feel angry when you don't answer my texts for hours. I'd appreciate it if you could respond to them."
Try it with a resentment you've been struggling with and let me know how it goes!
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