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Last Updated on July 3, 2019

How to Let Go of Resentment and Anger

How to Let Go of Resentment and Anger

Ask yourself honestly, “When was the last time I truly felt overwhelmed with happiness, freedom, and gratitude?”

If you can’t remember, then you may be holding on to resentments.

When it comes to dealing with other people, many of us find ourselves helplessly oscillating between anger and fear. We constantly try to find quick fixes to soothe moments of blind rage and alleviate anxious thoughts. However, these “solutions” are usually nothing more than temporary fixes, which allow us to white knuckle it through one more day. Meanwhile, the root of the problem continues to fester and get worse until we can’t even bear to look at it anymore.

But what if you found out that there is a permanent, lasting way to feel less angry and fearful and finally regain control of your emotions?

It’s called letting go of resentment.

Here’s how it works: resentment, anger, and fear are all connected. We become trapped in a self-obsessed cycle of being afraid of the future, angry in the present, and filled with resentment over our past. The antidote to fear is faith, the remedy for anger is love, and the solution to resentment is acceptance.

If you’re part of a 12-step program,[1] this may sound familiar, but it can be applied to anyone’s life.

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But first, let’s try to understand what resentment is.

What is Resentment?

The best description of resentment I have ever heard came from listening to Dr. Drew from Loveline:

“Resentments are like swallowing poison and expecting the other people to die.”

He was not the first person to say this, but it’s still an incredibly effective way to understand resentment.

In psychology, resentment is when a person has ongoing upset feelings towards another person or place because of a real or imagined injustice.

One of the reasons resentments are so hard to get rid of is because there is so much bad advice floating around out there on how to deal with them. Exasperated friends may tell you to “Just get over it already.” Therapists might tell us to “let it go.” Other people may say “forget about it” or the even more unhelpful, “the past is the past.”

Excuse me, what does any of that generic advice even mean?

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I can tell you for sure that you shouldn’t do the following with resentments:

  • Ignore them
  • Fight through them
  • “Lock them in a closet”
  • Pretend you don’t feel them
  • Try and forget them

Instead, you should do these things:

  • Face them
  • Feel them
  • Deal with them
  • Heal from them

“Fake it till you make it” doesn’t work when it comes to deep-seated feelings we have about certain people or situations. But dealing with them is certainly easier said than done.

How to Accept What Happened in the Past

Before you begin to overcome resentments, you should know the following things:

  1. It’s a process.
  2. It may get worse before it gets better.
  3. It requires a great deal of willingness and an open mind.

Resentments are negative feelings that you may have been carrying around for years. During this time, they may have done significant damage to your ability to interact with the world.

I know it sounds dramatic, but these are often big, deep-seated issues. Don’t expect to be able to say a chant and—poof! They’re gone. You should know that you are embarking on a long and probably painful journey, but the destination is completely worth it.

4 Steps to Let Go of Resentment

Okay, here it goes the 4 steps to let go of resentment:

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Step 1: Make a list of all the people you have resentments towards

If you do this honestly, then the list should be pretty long.

Include ANYTHING that gives you an automatic negative feeling. You can also include places and institutions (a school you attended, an airport you had a bad experience in) nothing is too trivial or too small.

Step 2: Next to the person’s name, write what they did to cause you to resent them

Again, nothing is too small. If you resent your boss, it may be because that person gives you unreasonable deadlines, or could simply be because you don’t like their hair.

The reason for the resentment doesn’t have to “make sense”—it just has to be honest. This is where it will get hard, and you will feel worse than you did before starting. Try to have faith that the end result will be worth it—because it will be!

Step 3: Now you write what part of your life each resentment affects

If you resent an old teacher who made you feel inferior, you might say that it affects your self-esteem or confidence.

The point is to become acutely aware of the specific ways that the resentment is impacting your identity, and your ability to feel safe, secure, and loved.

Step 4: Next to the reason, or cause for resentment, you are going to write down your part

This is how YOU have contributed to the problem.

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Back to our boss example, at this point you’ve established that you resent your boss, that you resent your boss because of unreasonable deadlines. Your part in this problem could be that you never spoke up and asked for less work.

This is where honesty and willingness come in. You must be honest about your part, and willing to admit it. Otherwise, you may get stuck.

The Bottom Line

Now, read from left to right. You should be able to develop a clear picture of who you resent, why you resent them, the negative ways that it affects your life, and the part you played in all of it.

Understanding your resentments by breaking them down will hopefully start the process of evolving from a person who constantly lives in a generalized cycle of resentment, fear, and anger, and help you transition into someone who can identify the source of their feelings and target specific areas they want to work on.

The purpose of this writing assignment is to experience freedom by letting go of secrets, fears, and lies which we have been holding onto, and getting these issues out of our heads, and onto paper.

What is done with the paper afterwards is up to you. Some people choose to share it with a trusted friend, others burn it as a symbolic gesture of surrendering those feelings.

This is a tried and true method adapted from the 12-step program model, which literally ANYONE can do. Unlike expensive therapy, this will cost you nothing, other than the price of a pen and paper. What do you have to lose?

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Featured photo credit: Artem Beliaikin @belart84 via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Addiction Center: 12-Step Program

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Jessica Ruane

Jessica is a passionate write who shares lifestyle tips on Lifehack

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Last Updated on December 9, 2019

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

Everyone experiences mental stress at one time or another. Maybe you’re starting a new career, job, or business, or you feel incredibly overwhelmed between work, parenting, and your love life (or a lack of it). It could even be that you simply feel that you have way too much to do and not enough time to do it,  plus, on top of everything, nothing seems to be going the way it should!

Yup, we all experience mental stress from time-to-time, and that’s okay as long as you have the tools, techniques and knowledge that allow you to fully relieve it once it comes.

Here are 5 tips for relieving mental stress when it comes so you can function at your best while feeling good (and doing well) in work, love, or life:

1. Get Rationally Optimistic

Mental stress starts with your perception of your experiences. For instance, most people get stressed out when they perceive their reality as “being wrong” in some way. Essentially, they have a set idea of how things “should be” at any given moment, and when reality ends up being different (not even necessarily bad), they get stressed.

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This process is simply a result of perception and can be easily “fixed” by recognizing that although life might not always be going as YOU think it should, it’s still going as it should—for your own benefit.

In fact, once you fully recognize that everything in your life ultimately happens for your own growth, progress, and development—so you can achieve your goals and dreams—your perception works in your favor. You soon process and respond to your experience of life differently, for your advantage. That’s the essence of becoming “rationally optimistic.”

The result: no more mental stress.

2. Unplug

Just like you might need to unplug your computer when it starts acting all crazy, you should also “unplug” your mind.

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How on earth do you unplug your mind? Simple: just meditate.

It isn’t nearly difficult or complicated as some people think, so, if you don’t already meditate, give it a try. Whether you meditate for 5 minutes, 30 minutes, or 2 hours, this is a surefire way to reduce mental stress.

Meditation has been scientifically proven to relax your body (resulting in less mental stress), while also reducing anxiety and high blood pressure.

3. Easy on the Caffeine

Yes, we know, we know—everyone loves a nice java buzz, and that’s okay, but there’s a fine line between a small caffeine pick-me-up and a racing heart and mind that throws you into a frenzy of mental stress.

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Try giving up caffeine for a while and see how you feel. And, if that’s completely out of the question for you, at least try to minimize it. You might find that lots of your mental stress mysteriously “disappears” as your caffeine intake goes down.

4. Attack Mental Stress Via the Back Door

That’s right: your body and mind are part of the whole being, and are constantly influencing and affecting each other. If you’re experiencing a lot of mental stress, try to reduce it by calming your body down—a calm body equals a calmer mind.

How do you calm your body down and reduce physical stress? A  great way to reduce physical stress (thereby reducing mental stress) is to take natural supplements that are proven to reduce stress and anxiety while lifting your mood. Three good ones to look into are kava-kava, St John’s wort, and rhodiola rosea:

  • Kava-kava is a natural plant known to have mild sedative properties, and you should be able to find it at your natural health food store or vitamin store. It’s available in capsules or liquid extract form.
  • St John’s wort is a natural flower used to treat depression. Again, it’s found at your local health store in capsules or liquid. Because it uplifts mood (enabling you to see the brighter side of all experiences) it helps relieve mental stress as well.
  • Rhodiola rosea is a natural plant shown to reduce stress and uplift mood, and Russian athletes have been using it forever. Like the other two supplements mentioned, rhodiola rosea can be found at your natural health store in capsule or liquid form.

While these supplements are all natural and can be very helpful for most people, always check with your health care provider first as they can cause side-effects depending on your current health situation etc.

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5. Good Old-Fashioned Exercise

This tip has been around forever because it works. Nothing relieves mental stress like running, kickboxing—you name it. Anything super-physical will wipe out most of your mental stresses once the exercise endorphins (happy chemicals) are released into your brain.

The result: mental stress will be gone!

So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or just plain stressed, try using some of the above tips. You can even print this out or save it to refer to regularly.

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