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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:

  • It’s a process.
  • It may get worse before it gets better.
  • 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.

Final Thoughts

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?

More Tips on Letting Go

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

Reference

[1] Addiction Center: 12-Step Program

More by this author

Jessica Ruane

Jessica is a passionate write who shares lifestyle tips on Lifehack

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Last Updated on March 24, 2021

8 Smart Home Gadgets You Need in Your House

8 Smart Home Gadgets You Need in Your House

We’ve all done it. We’ve gone out and bought useless gadgets that we don’t really need, just because they seemed really cool at the time. Then, we are stuck with a bunch of junk, and end up tossing it or trying to sell it on Ebay.

On the other hand, there are some pretty awesome tech inventions that are actually useful. For instance, many of the latest home gadgets do some of your work for you, from adjusting the home thermostat to locking your front door. And, if used as designed, these tools should really help to make your life a lot easier—and that’s not just a claim from some infomercial trying to sell you yet another useless gadget.

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Take a look at some of the most popular “smart gadgets” on the market:

1. Smart Door Locks

A smart lock lets you lock and unlock your doors by using your smartphone, a special key fob, or biometrics. These locks are keyless, and much more difficult for intruders to break into, making your home a lot safer. You can even use a special app to let people into your home if you are not there to greet them.

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2. Smart Kitchen Tools

Wouldn’t you just love to have a pot of coffee waiting for you when you get home from work? What about a “smart pan” that tells you exactly when you need to flip that omelet? From meat thermometers to kitchen scales, you’ll find a variety of “smart” gadgets designed to make culinary geeks salivate.

3. Mini Home Speaker Play:1

If you love big sound, but hate how much space big speakers take up, and if you want a stereo system that is no bigger than your fist, check out the Play:1 mini speaker. All you have to do is plug it in, connect, and then you can stream without worrying about any interruptions or interface. You can even add onto it, and have different music playing in different rooms.

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4. Wi-Fi Security Cameras

These are the latest in home security, and they connect to the Wi-Fi in your home. You can use your mobile devices to monitor what is going on in your home at all times, no matter where you are. Options include motion sensors, two-way audio, and different recording options.

5. Nest Thermostat

This is a thermostat that lives with you. It can sense seasonal changes, temperature changes, etc., and it will adjust itself automatically. You will never have to fiddle with a thermostat dial or keypad again, because this one basically does all of the work for you. It can also help you to save as much as 12% on heating bills, and 15% on cooling bills.

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6. Smart Lighting

Control your home lighting from your remote device. This is great if you are out and want to make sure that there are some lights on. It is designed to be energy efficient, so it will pay for itself over time because you won’t have to spend so much on your monthly energy bills.

7. Google Chromecast Ultra

Whether you love movies, television shows, music, etc., you can stream it all using Google Chromecast Ultra. Stream all of the entertainment you love in up to 4K UHD and HDR, for just $69 monthly.

8. Canary

This home security system will automatically contact emergency services when they are needed. This system offers both video and audio surveillance, so there will be evidence if there are any break-ins on your property. You can also use it to check up on what’s happening at home when you are not there, including to make sure the kids are doing their homework.

Featured photo credit: Karolina via kaboompics.com

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