Are you holding onto resentment that you just can’t shake?
Sometimes it’s on the surface; other times it’s buried deep. But you can always feel it, gnawing away at you.
Resentment can stem from something another person said or did. Or from a life situation that’s outside your control. But whatever the source, the resulting sense of unease can fester for months or even years.
And however hard you try to ignore or just let go of resentment, it stubbornly imprisons you in its grip, triggering all sorts of uncomfortable emotions at unexpected times.
• Someone has hurt you, intentionally or otherwise.
• Your own dreams have been put on hold while you raise kids, take care of aging parents, or support a partner.
• You’re diagnosed with a serious medical condition, uprooting life as you know it.
Resentment is like a chain on your ankle keeping you shackled to a state of discontent, holding you back from inner peace and happiness.
It permeates your being and acts as a negative filter coloring every aspect of your experience.
But guess what?
You’ve Got More Control Than You Think
In fact, you can start to chip away at that chain today.
True, you can’t change the fact that a hurtful situation occurred, but, with practice, you can dissolve resentment’s power over you.
If you ask yourself the following seven empowering questions, you’ll be well on your way to breaking free.
Begin the process by asking yourself…
1. “What does resentment feel like in my body?”
Have you ever noticed a tightness in your stomach or a tendency to clench your jaw when you feel resentment? Or maybe just a heaviness of spirit?
Negative emotions manifest physically, often before we even realize we’re upset about something.
Identifying the emotion as soon as you feel its physical trigger is the first step to creating some separation between the emotion (in this case, resentment) and your “self.”
When you feel resentment in your body–in the pit of your stomach, for example–take a few conscious breaths and just sit with the sensation. Simply say to yourself, “That’s resentment,” without judging or resisting it. Visualize the emotion as a separate entity that can float away if you allow it to.
2. “Is this really a ‘problem’ or just a ‘situation’?”
One of my favorite Eckhart Tolle quotes is, “There are no problems, only situations.”
Removing the “problem” label makes a resentment-inducing situation more manageable. It’s the first step to accepting the reality of what “is,” rather than how things “should” be.
So if you catch yourself thinking, “This is a problem,” or, “This is a crisis,” switch those nouns with “situation” and notice how much more empowered you feel.
3. “How important is this, really?”
What makes a situation “important”? Each of us would answer differently. Something life threatening? Life changing? Time consuming? All or none of the above?
More often than not, when I ask myself directly, “How important is this resentment-inducing situation in the greater scheme of things, at this point in time?” I can’t come up with much of an answer.
Put under the spotlight, we discover that resentment is fueled less by a situation’s “importance” and more by the indignity of being “wronged” in some way.
4. “Is this inner voice really ‘me’ or just my ego talking?”
Not every voice in our heads deserves our attention. The ego inside us (which is not our true “self”) always wants us to be “right.” Its favorite way of doing so is to make everyone else “wrong,” the foundation for resentment.
Stillness, whether during meditation or simply a few mindful moments of quiet, slows the chatter in our heads. In that quieter state of mind, pinpointing sources of thought patterns is much easier.
Are negative thoughts feeding your sense of righteousness? That’s your ego talking.
As soon as we shine a light on the ego, it no longer has power over us. As soon as I laugh at my ego, it high-tails it for the hills.
5. “Am I focused on the future or the past, instead of the present moment?”
If you’re like most people, you spend the bulk of your life thinking about the past or the future. You’re “here,” but you want to be “there.” Since the present moment is the only place you can take action, the past and future shouldn’t be ruling the roost.