IMG_0129 (1)How many of you walk around holding onto resentments? How many months or years have you been carrying that extra baggage?  Do you realize that those resentments are only hurting you? How many of you have heard the quote that “resentment is like drinking poison and hoping the other person dies”?

Resentments are an accumulation of unmet expectations. Our expectations of other people and of specific outcomes of life events, set us up for great disappointment and pain.  We suffer needlessly because we fail to accept “what is”. We begin to resent them and that builds up. Holding onto resentment is very unhealthy. It also makes it very difficult to have healthy relationships with people when resentments linger.

Resentment leads to anger. Resentment is unresolved anger, which is the real issue. Anger is an emotional response to situations in which we feel threatened, treated unfairly or violated. Many of us think that other people or circumstances “make” us angry. We incorrectly believe that external factors cause our feelings, which is not true. Instead, “we” determine our feelings and how we are going to respond to them. Our beliefs are responsible for how we feel. If we believe that someone should treat us a certain way and they don’t, then they have disappointed us; not met our expectations, and we begin to resent them.

Resentment keeps us stuck at that point of pain. We learn to attach to the pain and become comfortable living in it. Blaming others enables us to hold onto resentment and to avoid having to change ourselves. It lets us operate from a morally superior position, in which we do not accept responsibility for our part (role). Instead of holding ourselves accountable, it enables a victim attitude and approach to life.

Reclaim your power… Don’t be the victim
What would happen if you let go of resentments? Why are you afraid to let go of them? Most of the time the answer lies in not feeling validated for your pain. You may believe  that If the other person would recognize what they’ve done to hurt you, you’d feel better, or you would feel more satisfied if you could hurt them back and make them suffer the way you’ve suffered. Can you imagine the freedom that you would feel not obsessing about the things you resent and not waiting for the other person to recognize their role or need them to apologize? Imagine the freedom of letting it all go and moving forward in life free of the emotional baggage.

Choose to Let Go
It is a conscious choice to decide to let go; it requires intention.  Letting go of the anger and the resentments that fester is extremely liberating, not to mention very good for your health. Emotions live inside of us, stored in every cell of the body until we let them go. They cause damage and lead to disease.

We must also let go of expectations and stop setting ourselves up for disappointment every time someone or life lets us down. Letting go of outcome is a huge life lesson! Learning to remain open to whatever comes your way is much more satisfying and liberating. Imagine all the energy and time you would save if you stopped trying to manipulate and control outcome.

Acceptance
Permitting the process and learning the lessons and gaining the insights along the way is only possible when you remain open to receive them, instead of obsessing on the disappointment of unmet expectations. If you can learn to accept that “things happen the way are supposed to” you can then let go of disappointment. You can accept that the lessons are to teach you and help you grow. Look for the messages and insights.

Often, times this concept makes many people angry because they feel hurt and very afraid. Fear of what will happen next or feeling out of control, creates anger and resentment and the cycle continues. This is a choice. Choose to let go, accept, learn, and grow! Acceptance is key to a happy life!

Important note: Acceptance doesn’t mean that you accept the person’s unacceptable, inappropriate, harmful behavior. It does not mean that you are condoning their behavior. It means you are letting go of resenting it and moving on. That also requires setting boundaries that protect you from further harm.

Need to Forgive
Forgiveness is very misunderstood, which is why so many people say they “will never forgive” a certain person for what they did, or they say a certain action is “unforgivable”. FYI: Forgiveness does not have anything to do with the other person recognizing they’ve done something wrong or saying they are sorry. It is the final step in your
personal healing process. After you’ve let go of the anger and the resentment, you learn to forgive. It’s where you find peace and happiness.

Resentment is the opposite of forgiveness; they cannot co-exist. If you think you have forgiven and still find yourself feeling resentful, then you are not done. You have more work to do; dig deeper and find what is still lingering.

Concluding note: I have heard many people criticize the victims they see on talk shows (Oprah, for example), stating they have forgiven their rapist or the murderer of their daughter, and say it’s ridiculous and impossible. It is extremely challenging and there are many emotions to process to get to that point, but it is not impossible, and in fact is the only way for them to heal and move on. It takes tremendous courage to let go and forgive. Forgiveness does not exonerate the perpetrator, forgiveness liberates the victim!

“Forgiving doesn’t make you weak; it sets you free.”
Nelson Mandela quote: “As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison”

Originally published in issue 375, January 9 to 15, 2016 PV Mirror City Paper.

Written by: Giselle Belanger, RN, LCSW  (psychotherapist) Available for appointments in person, by phone, or by skype webcam. Contact info: NEW! ggbelangerpv@gmail.com , Mex cell: (322) 138-9552 or US cell: (312) 914-5203