“Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.”
– Nelson Mandela
What is a resentment and how does it get activated?
When a person acts towards us in a way that hurts us, our mind often creates a story that attaches thoughts and meanings about the actors behavior that ends in more negativity and hurt feelings. We attach meaning to the action of the other person when in reality we have no idea why they did what they did; “Our partner continually fails to talk to us about what they are feeling, leaving us in the dark about what is happening with them. The story we often tell ourselves is, “if they loved me they would talk to me” or “ they don’t talk to me because they don’t trust me.” Because you believe the meaning you are attaching to your partners behavior, without so much as checking it out, you begin to have a resentment that grows in size over time in the form of fear, anger, anxiety, abandonment betrayal or even panic. When someone’s behavior hurts us, we tend to see it from the perspective of the victim. To let go of resentment and grow from letting go requires us to see the experience as a perfect opportunity for growth. We must be open to letting go of finger pointing blame.
Giving yourself the opportunity to have your story and your feeling:
It is always important to allow yourself to first accept your hurt feelings! Feelings are not right or wrong, they just are. So go ahead and hit a pillow or yell in the privacy of your car or another safe place. It is important to not “stuff” feelings down but rather “own them” . Keeping things bottled up can eventually cause the resentment to get worse and beyond that can eventually make you sick…..literally!
Fact finding and separating out what about the story is true and what part is your interpretation ( your belief about what happened).
Once you have gotten out of your body and mind at least the bulk of the anger, fear, hopelessness etc., it is a good idea then to find out what the “real story ( if you need to seek help from by scheduling with Judith or another professional it is well worth the effort to do that) ” This can take some courage on your part but in the long run mustering up the courage to talk will be far less painful. So yes, schedule a time to talk . Sit down with the person you have a resentment toward and using I statements, let them know how you were impacted by their behavior: When you don’t share whats going on with you, I feel left out and I begin thinking you don’t love me. Is this why you don’t share with me? If the person is not interested or not available, sit with all the possible reasons they may have behaved in a way that hurt you. In our scenario above, the quiet partner who does not share, may simply be to afraid to share. This person may be like a turtle who needs to be left alone in order to share; It may be best to refrain from harping on the fact that they don’t share and wait …opening the door for them to feel safe.
Once you have Re framed the Story:
Finding out the truth to the others behavior allows you to move into a more compassionate place. You can now understand where their behavior came from and you are now able to see that it had very little at all to do with you. This then allows you to look at your previous reaction. The fear, anger, abandonment etc perhaps ending in your yelling, crying, leaving etc. So now you see the lesson evolving….In the scenario above, the lesson was for you to realize that when your partner does not share, you go to fear and think it means he does not love you. Perhaps the lesson is about learning that you are lovable and loved, whether or NOT your partner shares with you. Or the lesson may be that your fearful or angry reactions may contribute to the silence.
Nothing happens by mistake.
Do you believe this? I do as do many spiritual practices. So if you are able to get to a place where you question the lessons before you spend months or years in resentment, you will be a much happier person.