Are you Burdened with Resentment?
Desiree Anderson shows that, if you foster resentments, the only person who’ll suffer is you.
A CATCHY TUNE
There was a period, a few years back, when there was no getting away from it at all. Seriously, I was convinced that if you jumped on a rocket to the Moon the first track you’d hear, as you moonwalked your way across its surface, would be ‘Let It Go’ from Disney’s Frozen.
Can you hear the song now? It’s a real earworm. You’ll be humming it all day. Sorry about that.
So, why did I bring it up this tune? Well, it strikes me that, despite the popularity of the song, letting things go is not something many of us are particularly good at. It really goes against the grain. So many of us harbour resentments, carrying these perceived slights from the past around with us each and every day. What I’ve learned is, a bundle of resentments is often a very heavy burden to deal with. It’s so important to see that carrying this load is not a good use of our energy or helpful when managing our mental health.
I was procrastinating the other day, (which, if you’ve read my blog ‘Let’s make time for procrastination’, you’ll understand is a good thing) when I noticed, within my Facebook settings, a list of people I’d blocked on that platform. Even a short glance at these profiles, excluded from my online world, triggered a rising tide of resentment within me. Practically everyone listed had, I felt, let me down at some point.
Looking back at my last sentence, I can’t help but think that it may sound overly pious. It probably is.
The reality is many of those I have blocked may not understand why I did it. Others may not even be aware that I’ve blocked them. For all I know, I may have been blocked by other people for perceived infractions that I’m totally unaware of. Looking at this list led me to have a long hard think about the resentments we carry with us and the, mainly negative, ramifications they can have in our lives.
FROM A GOOD PLACE
Our collections of resentment come from part of our brain that is focused on survival. In short, this instinct encourages us to store negative memories as warnings to avoid people or experiences that have hurt us in the past. In the abstract this seems a great idea. We deliberately distance ourselves from those whose belief systems seem incompatible with our own to avoid similarly negative experiences in the future. The problem is, we’re really quite good at fostering these resentments. We, all too easily, go beyond using them as warning signs for future interactions and find ourselves obsessed with them. This behaviour can lead to mental health issues, anxiety, stress and other related illnesses. Additionally, once our ‘world view’ becomes unbalanced towards viewing others in a negative way, we can find ourselves screening out ‘good’ people and misinterpreting the positive actions of others.
Once resentment becomes a major part of your consciousness, it can start to colour the way you view life. Here are some unreasonable conclusions that my own resentments might have led me to.
I had a boss who bullied me and made me cry, so all bosses are potential bullies.
I had a friend who was out for what she could get from me. Perhaps all my friends are motivated in this way?
I had a colleague who plagiarized my work, I must distance myself from colleagues to avoid anyone else doing the same.
As you can see, a set of well-maintained resentments could, all too easily, lead me to view the world in a limited and unhelpful way.
THE GOOD NEWS
The good news is we don’t have to be steered by the resentments of the past. It’s possible to put down the weight of the negative burden we carry. Here are some ways that will help you to let it go.
UNDERSTAND YOUR PROGRAMMING
- It’s crucial for you to begin by understanding why you have been accruing these resentments.
- It’s part of your innate programming to feel negatively towards those who you believe have wronged you or to be frustrated by perceived ‘bad breaks’. These feelings are part of your brain’s self-protection mechanism.
- Be glad that this function exists but realise that you don’t have be ruled by it.
LEARN YOUR LESSONS
- Make a list of all the things you resent and why you feel that way.
- Consider what lesson your consciousness is trying to teach you by maintaining each resentment.
- Spend some time focusing on the warnings that these resentments have given you.
- Think of something positive you’ve learned because of each resentment.
- Finally, ask yourself, in some cases, was the person you resented actually you?
REMOVE THE PERSONAL ELEMENT
- Spend some time coming up with a plan of how to deal with future resentments, as they emerge.
- Try to remember that just because others have different opinions or perspectives to you, it doesn’t necessarily follow that you’re right and they’re wrong.
- Focus on remembering that the actions of others aren’t usually personal. It’s very rare that someone will deliberately set out to derail what you’re doing. People are fighting their own battles and may often not realise the effects they’re having on you.
- Removing this personal element will help you detach yourself from the feeling of being ‘a victim’ that resentment too often cultivates.
STOP CARRYING THAT HEAVY LOAD
- There is no need to spend a lifetime carrying lessons with you that you’ve already learned. They are uncomfortable and unhelpful.
- The only thing that carrying this baggage will do is create a blockage between you and your dreams and goals.
- You only have a finite amount of energy. Apply it to a positive future, not a negative past.
IN A NUTSHELL:
Like so many unhelpful things in life, falling into resentment is all too easy, at first. Only later do we realise the negative effects upon our existence that are created by these malignant preoccupations. The key to success is to understand why these resentments happen, learn the lessons they provide, strategize for dealing with similar situations in the future and relinquish the weight of carrying them with you.
If you’d like to learn more about letting go of this form of self-sabotage, in favour of positive strategies in your work and personal life, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Don’t worry, I won’t resent it if you don’t get in touch, put I’d love to chat if you do.
Founder, Crest Coaching & HR