It may be the hardest thing you ever do. And it also may be the best thing you ever do. Letting go of resentment can be liberating and allow you to go on with your life.
Resentment can eat away at you like acid. It can drip, drip, drip like Chinese water torture. It can invade your thoughts and take over your mind. In short, resentment, and its close cousin, anger, can become all consuming. It’s not good for your health—mental or physical.
So what can you do? How can you stop playing that loop over and over while driving your blood pressure into the stratosphere? It’s not easy.
First, you have to recognize that you are, indeed, harboring resentment against someone. Is your mother controlling? Is your girlfriend hypercritical? Does your co-worker undermine you every chance he gets?
If your narcissistic father never paid attention to you and left you feeling unloved, for example, it can be difficult to come to terms with. That kind of realization takes some soul searching. But once you dig up the deep secrets you’ve been holding onto, you can address the resentment you feel. You can think about why you resent your father and how it has affected your life. Then you are ready to take the important steps to release this destructive feeling from its grip on you.
- Establish that your intention is to end your resentment. If you want to feel better and have more positive energy, make up your mind to let go of your anger and resentment. Even though your father was off playing golf with his cronies instead of going to the plays you starred in, even though he never hugged you in his life, even though he virtually ignored you, resolve to let it go.
- Give up your addiction to self-righteousness. Yes, you are right to be angry with him. Yes, he is a self-centered jerk. But you cannot control people who reject and hurt you. You can only control yourself. And being angry with your father feeds your ego. You know he is wrong and you are right. Which is why you can harbor your resentment for such a long time. It’s comforting, even addictive, to feel self-righteous. But you need to stop indulging in this feeling before you can move on.
- Forgive when you can manage it. True forgiveness can take a long time—maybe even a lifetime—to achieve. And even then, sometimes it’s tough. So don’t expect to develop this capacity overnight. But you can begin by putting yourself in your father’s shoes. What fears or insecurities is he suffering from? Is he afraid of intimacy? Was he raised to be emotionally unavailable? Try to find the reason behind his behavior, and in the process, unleash your compassion for him. Maybe he’s just doing the best he can, even though his best isn’t good enough. Try to accept his limitations. Then ask yourself to forgive him. You may have to ask yourself many times before you can achieve forgiveness. Or you might never get there. But it’s worth a try.
Remember that letting go of anger and resentment is a process. You may take two steps forward and one step back. You may begin to feel forgiveness and then feel angry all over again. But keep on trying. Eventually your need to be resentful will recede and you will begin to feel more positive energy.
Nancy Travers is an Orange County Counseling professional. If you need safe, effective counseling services, please get in touch. You can reach her here: https://www.nancyscounselingcorner.com/contact-us.