How can I stop being so resentful?
Penny Bell Says...
When we look at the twelve steps in recovery there is a common theme – that of taking responsibility for ourselves, rather than blaming others. The fourth step gives us a way to deal with our anger and resentments – it directs us to take a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves. We can do this whilst blaming others but it will dilute the process and actually end up a waste of time, as then we are only going through the motions of taking responsibility whilst in actual fact avoiding it.
If we are to do step four honestly and sincerely then we must stop blaming others and see that focusing on others only works to deflect from looking at ourselves. Whilst I’m turning over in my mind all the hurts and pain inflicted by others that have caused me grief, I am walking away from the fourth step and into somewhere to numb that pain – relapse!And what purpose does resentment serve? Malachy McCourt’s famous quote comes to mind - "Resentment is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die." It does nothing to change my situation or circumstances, and everything to pollute my own sense of well-being.
Instead, I could choose to forgive. I may think that these other people don’t deserve my forgiveness, and that forgiving them will just give them licence to hurt me again. But we need to differentiate forgiveness from pardoning, condoning, excusing, forgetting or denying the offence. We actually don’t forgive for the sake of another, we do it for our own sake, and we don’t actually ever have to tell the other person that we have forgiven them.
Think about it this way – when we hold a person in our resentment, how much of ourselves are we owning, and how much is the offender owning? We are being controlled emotionally and psychologically, and eventually behaviourally, by that other person. Where is our power then? We are seeing ourselves purely as victims, without power - we are giving away our power to the ones who have caused the offence. Forgiveness, or shedding the self-as-victim belief and asserting personal power, is the remedy to your dilemma.
Forgiveness involves putting away blame, and cancelling the debt the person owes us. This is a process which you may need to do a little of every day. It’s a good idea to keep a journal so you can keep track of the things that cause resentment and your forgiveness work that you have applied to that event, person or group. As these resentful thoughts arise, note them, make a choice to release the person from your expectations and determine to put away blame. The more you do this the easier it becomes!
The alternative is to nurse the hurt and blame and see yourself as deserving of doing this. Nothing could be more self-defeating! You will find this only leads down one path – that of consolidating your resentment. So work on your forgiving, and your resentment will take care of itself.
Page last updated Jul 22, 2013