Live Well: The Problem With Resentments

“Resentment refers to the mental process of repetitively replaying a feeling, and the events leading up to it, that goads or angers us. We don’t replay a cool litany of facts in resentment; we re-experience and relive them in ways that affect us emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually in very destructive ways.”  Mark Sichel, Psychology Today.
The word ‘resentment’ means to recall again afresh real or imagined slights or injuries, some of which are from childhood while are more recent. Resentments are a major stumbling block for good mental health because we keep reliving the offending experience repeatedly, providing free headspace to those who have hurt us. They get up each morning, brush their teeth and comb their hair oblivious to our pain because they have moved on, while we continue to suffer. It is important to remember that just as love is a strong bond between people, so too are resentments. Resentments are heavy; they prevent us from moving on and having our best life.
There are two key ingredients to ridding ourselves of resentment and escaping the never-ending cycle of hurt and anger. The first key is forgiveness; now many people think that forgiveness means we are letting offenders off the hook, that it implies it was okay what was done to us. Nothing could be further from the truth. Forgiveness really has nothing to do with the other person; rather, it is a gift we give ourselves when we decide to stop being mental and emotional prisoners. It is understanding intellectually why it is in our best interest to let go of the past, realizing that that bell has been rung and cannot be unrung. Forgiveness is not something we will do once, but over and over again each time the memory comes to us. Some people have found it helpful putting an elastic band on their wrist and giving it a ping each time they start to think about that person or event as a reminder that hanging on to that memory is only hurting them.
The second key ingredient is gratitude. I encourage clients to keep a gratitude journal and begin writing down all the things in their lives for which they are grateful. It isn’t only about the big things in our lives, it can be as simple as having a bed to sleep in, food in the cupboard, the function of our legs, arms, eyes, and ears, that we live in a country where there are no bombs dropping on us or bullets whizzing overhead. I urge you to set yourself free of resentments so you can have the good life you deserve.