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7 Reasons Why You Should Let Go Of Resentments

7 Reasons Why You Should Let Go Of Resentments

“When you forgive, you in no way change the past — but you sure do change the future.” — Bernard Meltzer

If we are honest, don’t we all carry a grudge towards someone or something? A heavy heart, lost loved one, or a belief that we have been treated unfairly?

I know I do. But I rarely stop to think how these resentments are affecting me.

Resentments are like weeds in our gardens, they multiply, take over and ultimately suffocate all the flowers. Sometimes they can be a big, blow-the-lid-off-the-container kind of resentment, and other times they are a small, sweep-them-under-the-rug kind of feeling. But the problem is that even if we sweep them under the rug, like Captain Jack Sparrow, on a rainy day they pop up, ready to strike. Surprise! And no one likes unpleasant surprises, right?

So, let’s take a look at why we need to get rid of these pesky weeds!

1.  Resentments turn into anger

Anger is an ugly, clenched-fists, red-faced place, where no one wants to go. During the stage of retaliation, much like the Hulk, as much as you try to resist the urge to slam your opponent floor to ceiling, anger can make you feel like you’re at the mercy of an unpredictable and unstoppable, powerful emotion.

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You might catch yourself saying, “I wasn’t in my right mind,” and this is a dangerous place for any of us to be.

The truth is, anger is not caused by outer circumstances, people or things. Anger is a state of mind, and therefore only you can make yourself angry. You have the power to control your state of mind.

2.  It’s bad for the body

Resentments can cause the following:

  • Headaches and chronic pain
  • Insomnia and a higher tendency for alcohol and drug abuse
  • High blood pressure, heart attacks and stroke
  • Skin problems

3.  It’s bad for the mind

The effects aren’t just limited to the physical: letting go of old grudges reduces levels of depression and anxiety.

Our minds are like a busy freeway. The non-stop chattering, bouncing, judging, thinking, worrying about the future and reliving the past are exhausting.

When you’re holding on to resentments, your mind is agitated; it is centered around the ego, reconfirming that you were treated unfairly.

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In this agitated state it is impossible for you to enjoy your life. Over-thinking manifests into a whole heap of problems. It can create unhealthy habits and leave us powerless against the devastating effects of poor mental health.

Forgiveness will bring you peace of mind.

4.  Resentments ruin relationships

Resentments left unattended can lead to bottled emotions and unhealthy outbursts.

You may hurt your loved ones with physical and/or verbal abuse and isolate yourself from friends and family. It can lead to venting at innocent parties such as your children, spouse or pet. This can lead to low self-esteem and manipulation in our relationships.

Remember, no one is perfect. We’re going to hurt other people and other people are going to hurt us: intentionally and unintentionally. Do you want to become a bitter, resentful, unpleasant person? Letting go of resentments will renew your relationships, you will become a breath of fresh air.

5.  Resentments subdue your instincts

We are all born with instincts to help us survive; animals know when to run from predators, baby kittens know how to nuzzle into their mothers, and we know when something just feels ‘off’.

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The problem with resentments is all the unhealthy thinking, replaying and blaming. These states of mind subdue the otherwise beeping red alarm that tells us when something is wrong. Instead of tuning into our natural feelings, we are too busy thinking. We think, and then we think, and then we think some more.

We are always thinking! Stop all the chatter and let’s tune in to our inner compass, it won’t lead you astray. Start following the flow of life that you were meant to.

6.  Resentments develop ignorance

Resentment arises from ignorance and from an unjustifiable sense of entitlement.

  • I have been treated unfairly.
  • I can’t believe he would say that to me. 
  • My husband never pays any attention to me.
  • Why would she get the promotion over me, I am a much better candidate.
  • It is unfair that my loved one was taken from me too soon.

And on and on.

If you check, any resentment is always in precious defense of the self.

Ignorance makes it impossible for us to see things clearly as they are. Ignorance is tuning out. Oftentimes, we are unaware that we are unaware. We project our assumptions, beliefs, hopes and fears and fuse them with reality. But it’s not reality, it is simply the way we have viewed a situation through our lens, and our lens can be discolored.

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With a mindfulness practice we can become more and more open to what is and we can accept what has happened without so much blame and victimizing. All this blame actually catapults us into more suffering.

7.  Forgiveness will enhance your life

When we skip from thought to thought in a foggy haze, these moments can end up filling up most of our lives.

The recognition that you can choose emotional well-being even when things don’t turn out the way you want, will change you, in spirit, mind and body. Dwelling on past injustices has no effect on the present other than causing you and your loved ones pain. Being angry will not bring back a lost loved one or mend your broken heart.

This may be difficult but you can still wish someone happiness, even if they hurt you.

Forgiveness can change your life. It doesn’t mean you have forgotten the past. It doesn’t mean you have to keep someone in your life. It just means that you have decided to move on and that you are ready to be happy.

Quick forgiveness tips:

  • Explore your emotions.
  • Seek professional help.
  • Develop empathy.
  • Forgiving is not forgetting.
  • Think about your family.
  • Rely on facts.
  • Write down three good things that came from the negative situation.
  • Acceptance, acceptance, acceptance. Let it go.
  • Live in the moment.
  • Take up a meditation practice.

Peaceful mind, peaceful life. Life doesn’t always turn out the way we want — it can be really tough. Sometimes we will be caught in violent storms, and these resentments will make us seasick. Accept the storm and you will find a life boat amidst even the strongest waves.

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Tina Williamson

Writer and creator of Mindfulmazing

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Last Updated on September 18, 2020

13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

For the original article by Celestine: 13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

“We all have problems. The way we solve them is what makes us different.” ~Unknown

“It’s not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it.” – Hans Selye

Have you ever experienced moments when things just don’t go your way? For example, losing your keys, accidentally spilling your drink, waking up late, missing your buses/trains, forgetting to bring your things, and so on?

You’re not alone. All of us, myself included, experience times when things don’t go as we expect.

Here is my guide on how to deal with daily setbacks.

1. Take a step back and evaluate

When something bad happens, take a step back and evaluate the situation. Some questions to ask yourself:

  1. What is the problem?
  2. Are you the only person facing this problem in the world today?
  3. How does this problem look like at an individual level? A national level? On a global scale?
  4. What’s the worst possible thing that can happen to you as a result of this?
  5. How is it going to impact your life in the next 1 year? 5 years? 10 years?

Doing this exercise is not to undermine the problem or disclaiming responsibility, but to consider different perspectives, so you can adopt the best approach for it. Most problems we encounter daily may seem like huge issues when they crop up, but most, if not all, don’t have much impact in our life beyond that day.

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2. Vent if you have to, but don’t linger on the problem

If you feel very frustrated and need to let off some steam, go ahead and do that. Talk to a friend, complain, crib about it, or scream at the top of your lungs if it makes you happy.

At the same time, don’t get caught up with venting. While venting may temporarily relieve yourself, it’s not going to solve the problem ultimately. You don’t want to be an energy vampire.

Vent if there’s a need to, but do it for 15 to 20 minutes. Then move on.

3. Realize there are others out there facing this too

Even though the situation may be frustrating, you’re not alone. Remember there are almost 7 billion people in the world today, and chances are that other people have faced the same thing before too. Knowing it’s not just you helps you to get out of a self-victimizing mindset.

4. Process your thoughts/emotions

Process your thoughts/emotions with any of the four methods:

  1. Journal. Write your unhappiness in a private diary or in your blog. It doesn’t have to be formal at all – it can be a brain dump on rough paper or new word document. Delete after you are done.
  2. Audio taping. Record yourself as you talk out what’s on your mind. Tools include tape recorder, your PC (Audacity is a freeware for recording/editing audio) and your mobile (most mobiles today have audio recording functions). You can even use your voice mail for this. Just talking helps you to gain awareness of your emotions. After recording, play back and listen to what you said. You might find it quite revealing.
  3. Meditation. At its simplest form, meditation is just sitting/lying still and observing your reality as it is – including your thoughts and emotions. Some think that it involves some complex mambo-jumbo, but it doesn’t.
  4. Talking to someone. Talking about it with someone helps you work through the issue. It also gets you an alternate viewpoint and consider it from a different angle.

5. Acknowledge your thoughts

Don’t resist your thoughts, but acknowledge them. This includes both positive and negative thoughts.

By acknowledging, I mean recognizing these thoughts exist. So if say, you have a thought that says, “Wow, I’m so stupid!”, acknowledge that. If you have a thought that says, “I can’t believe this is happening to me again”, acknowledge that as well.

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Know that acknowledging the thoughts doesn’t mean you agree with them. It’s simply recognizing the existence of said thoughts so that you can stop resisting yourself and focus on the situation on hand.

6. Give yourself a break

If you’re very stressed out by the situation, and the problem is not time sensitive, then give yourself a break. Take a walk, listen to some music, watch a movie, or get some sleep. When you’re done, you should feel a lot more revitalized to deal with the situation.

7. Uncover what you’re really upset about

A lot of times, the anger we feel isn’t about the world. You may start off feeling angry at someone or something, but at the depth of it, it’s anger toward yourself.

Uncover the root of your anger. I have written a five part anger management series on how to permanently overcome anger.

After that, ask yourself: How can you improve the situation? Go to Step #9, where you define your actionable steps. Our anger comes from not having control on the situation. Sitting there and feeling infuriated is not going to change the situation. The more action we take, the more we will regain control over the situation, the better we will feel.

8. See this as an obstacle to be overcome

As Helen Keller once said,

“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experiences of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired and success achieved.”

Whatever you’re facing right now, see it as an obstacle to be overcome. In every worthy endeavor, there’ll always be countless obstacles that emerge along the way. These obstacles are what separate the people who make it, and those who don’t. If you’re able to push through and overcome them, you’ll emerge a stronger person than before. It’ll be harder for anything to get you down in the future.

9. Analyze the situation – Focus on actionable steps

In every setback, there are going to be things that can’t be reversed since they have already occurred. You want to focus on things that can still be changed (salvageable) vs. things that have already happened and can’t be changed. The only time the situation changes is when you take steps to improve it. Rather than cry over spilt milk, work through your situation:

  1. What’s the situation?
  2. What’s stressing you about this situation?
  3. What are the next steps that’ll help you resolve them?
  4. Take action on your next steps!

After you have identified your next steps, act on them. The key here is to focus on the actionable steps, not the inactionable steps. It’s about regaining control over the situation through direct action.

10. Identify how it occurred (so it won’t occur again next time)

A lot of times we react to our problems. The problem occurs, and we try to make the best out of what has happened within the context. While developing a healthy coping mechanism is important (which is what the other helping points are on), it’s also equally important, if not more, to understand how the problem arose. This way, you can work on preventing it from taking place next time, vs. dealing reactively with it.

Most of us probably think the problem is outside of our control, but reality is most of the times it’s fully preventable. It’s just a matter of how much responsibility you take over the problem.

For example, for someone who can’t get a cab for work in the morning, he/she may see the problem as a lack of cabs in the country, or bad luck. However, if you trace to the root of the problem, it’s probably more to do with (a) Having unrealistic expectations of the length of time to get a cab. He/she should budget more time for waiting for a cab next time. (b) Oversleeping, because he/she was too tired from working late the previous day. He/she should allocate enough time for rest next time. He/she should also pick up better time management skills, so as to finish work in lesser time.

11. Realize the situation can be a lot worse

No matter how bad the situation is, it can always be much worse. A plus point vs. negative point analysis will help you realize that.

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12. Do your best, but don’t kill yourself over it

No matter how bad your situation may seem, do your best, but don’t kill yourself over it. Life is too beautiful to worry so much over daily issues. Take a step back (#1), give yourself a break if you need to (#6), and do what you can within your means (#9). Everything else will unfold accordingly. Worrying too much about the outcome isn’t going to change things or make your life any better.

13. Pick out the learning points from the encounter

There’s something to learn from every encounter. What have you learned from this situation? What lessons have you taken away?

After you identify your learning points, think about how you’re going to apply them moving forward. With this, you’ve clearly gained something from this encounter. You’ve walked away a stronger, wiser, better person, with more life lessons to draw from in the future.

Get the manifesto version of this article: [Manifesto] What To Do When Things Don’t Go Your Way

Featured photo credit: Alice Donovan Rouse via unsplash.com

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