Resentment is a powerful and destructive emotion, it creeps up and gets stronger, it preys on our well-being and if left unchecked will eat us alive! It is powerful because it comprises of a number of emotions; anger, disappointment, sadness, fear & disgust. It is brought about when we focus on the wrongs done to us and our perception of injustice.
It is also interesting to note that whilst it is very painful and potentially life threatening to hold on to resentment, it also has a big part to play in our righteousness. Something happens to us and we are hurt and wounded. It is at this point resentment creeps up and says “you are right to feel this way, of course you feel like this, you are the good one and they are the bad” and out of this conversation you take action. You seek revenge, gossip, an do what you can to lessen your feelings of anger and hurt. It is a destructive cycle and the only one who suffers is you, you are the victim and you are ‘being’ the victim.
“Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.” – Nelson Mandela
The cost of holding on to resentment
When you hold onto resentment you hold onto all the emotions associated with it, it drains you and you have less ability to have compassion for others, you are irritable and withdrawn. You often find yourself unable to share with loved ones because they ‘would never understand’. You are simply not fun to be around.
It erodes trust, you become more wary and less self-expressed. It can be very stressful and it is this stress that has an impact on our vitality, our sex drive, our health, etc. It causes depression, you can end up alienating friends and loved ones. You are likely to attract others who are typically feeling the same way about their lives, thereby creating a fully toxic environment for yourself.
There are physical costs as well; chronic bitterness, anger and resentment cause the body’s system to produce toxic chemicals. This compromises the immune system and it could potentially bring on strokes, heart disease and even cancer.
Are you holding on to resentment?
Here are 4 simple steps to take to let go of your resentment:
These are done by yourself, although you can do them with a trusted friend or an experienced life coach.
1) Confess the full extent of your resentment: become fully aware of it describe it, what are your thoughts, what have you said and done. Do not blame the other, rant, or allow yourself to get angry again. This is not about justifying yourself.
2) Share the payoff: what have you been getting out of it? Being right (they are wrong), self-righteousness, doing it your way, false sense of power that feeds resentment, self-justification. Keep watching out for blaming and justification, they creep in as resentment likes to stay around and find ways to take hold again, and again.
3) Ask for, and offer forgiveness: when you have full explored and acknowledged, it is time to ask for forgiveness for holding on to resentment for so long and for what has happened. If you find it hard to let go of resentment and ask for forgiveness then go back to step two. Offer forgiveness, this is not condoning, it just means you are refusing to hold on to your ill-will.
4) Choose a new intention: if the process has been done fully you will have a desire to clear the decks and make a new start, step into freedom.
It is important to bear in mind that whilst the above process appears simple and straight forward, it is not. Therefore working with an experienced life coach is essential.
When working with resentment I am often reminded of the films I have seen where people become possessed by demons. This might sound extreme, but resentment is like mold; it grows inside, I call it a ‘stealth emotion’, so it is important to keep noticing it, keep working on it until you don’t notice it anymore. As a coach it is powerful work, as the client only you will know when you have fully let go. Only then will you feel truly free.
For further support with resentment, get in touch and begin your coaching journey with me. You will be hand held throughout the entire process with powerful tools that will help you let go of your resentment.
Graham Kean, MA (Psych), MMC (IAC)