Freeing yourself from resentments

photo_1292_20060313Resentment is something that comes up often in counselling work. We may hold a grudge for many years and find it difficult to let go of. Resentments can distort our thinking, we may find it difficult to determine our thoughts from reality and find it difficult to see other perspectives on the situation.

Ultimately resentments can stop us from being the people we want to be. We may appear bitter or consumed with the grudge. Whether our sense of in-justice is justified or not, if we allow ourselves to give away our energy on being resentful we are buying into negativity.

One way of starting to let you is beginning to express your feelings. Chose the target or your resentment for example an over critical boss. If it is not possible (or wise) to discuss the situation with the object of your resentment write it out, talk to a supportive friend or share it in a counselling session. Keeping it to yourself will only allow the grudge to fester which is unhealthy for you.

Mindfulness practice can help lessen the intensity of resentful feelings. When this emotion is very powerful take some time alone; somewhere comfortable and close your eyes.

Imagine yourself as the peaceful stillness at the bottom of the ocean, unaffected by the storm above. Be aware of your thoughts but just label them as thoughts and pay little attention to them. Try to focus on the sensations you are feeling.

Whatever the sensation is know that it is just a sensation- you can handle it. Stay here for a while, then slowly open your eyes. Has the storm passed?

Something very important (although not necessarily easy) in letting go of resentments is forgiveness. Finding some compassion for the person you hold a grudge against’s shortcomings. Ask yourself why is this person so insecure? could their behavior be a reflection of their internal state and not personal towards you?

Tell them in your mind that you forgive them. Ultimately you’re not forgiving for them, your’re forgiving for YOU.

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