Learning From Resentment


imageI have been fighting a cold for several days.One thing that illness does  is force you to slow down in spite of pressing responsibilities.I feel as though I am a car that is not running on all it’s cylinders.Rest is essential and yet I feel restless.

I have been struggling with what would seem to be a toxic emotion, resentment.It bubbles underneath the surface, seething and stewing.It is different than anger in that it is internally processed.It is a sense of injustice that becomes stronger over time.

Resentment, to me, is when instead of wishing others well, you want to see them fail.You want them to ” pay ” for the harm they have caused you.You want to see them publicly shamed so you can say, ” See, they deserved it.”It is difficult, if not impossible to see people that have hurt you, cheated, stole, or lied, and and see them appear to be happy and prospering when you are struggling.

There is a degree of familiarity to it.It makes you want to ” bite the hand that feeds you “. Instead of appreciating or accepting what is, you ponder about what could have been or should have been.

Unlike anger, it can be hidden behind a smile, a kind word, or silence.We don’t always want to admit how we feel, even to ourselves.

When I sat down with my journal to write, I posed this question; what can I do?

The first thing that came to mind was to forgive.

Ah, yes.Like the saying goes, ” To err is human and to forgive is divine.” Forgiveness does not make any sense to the rational mind.In fact, my response was,” yeah, yeah, I know that already” but there is a world of difference between knowing something and the act of doing it.Once I actually sat down to do it, I felt a release.A burden was lifted and I received some insight.

For one thing, prayer and forgiveness gives you a place to vent.By being willing and making the effort to forgive, you have to acknowledge your feelings and  no one can dispute your grievance.There is no need to justify yourself or convince anyone.You are being proactive in the situation even if you never verbalize it outwardly.The choice to ” let it go ” is yours and yours alone.

There is energy locked up in resentment that can go towards fueling your future success.We don’t even realize how this drags us down and holds us back.As it says in the Lord’s Prayer, ” Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” If we don’t forgive, our prayers are hindered and we stay stuck.

When we bring our offenses into the light of forgiveness, it is easier to detach from them.

I have taken steps in my life to set boundaries, communicate my needs, and honestly assess what I can and can’t do.I make a sincere effort to obey the golden rule and put myself in other peoples shoes.Believe it or not, that is still not enough.I have been burned anyway ( and so have you ).

I minimize my contact with people and situations that are potentially hurtful or toxic.This may seem like a good idea, and it is, but it is also unrealistic and inadequate.We are surrounded by wounded people who wound people.They are our friends, family, co workers, neighbors, leaders and we, sometimes, are those wounded wounders.

They are everywhere

Day to day, we are forced to interact with one another. Some would seem to be wrapped in barbed wire.They cut us and cause us to bleed.Some would seem to be sweet but they are also sticky, drawing us in effortlessly, then leaving us drained and empty.

In spite of our best efforts, we can’t completely avoid this.

Resentment is culmative.It is the result of enduring behavior, treatment, or circumstances that we perceive as unreasonable or unfair,  time after time.

At first, I though forgiveness was it, the solution, but that wasn’t all there was to it.

Here is the surprise, for me.

We use resentment as a distraction and an excuse. Facing it forces us to make changes, big changes, as a result.These will ultimately benefit us but in the meantime, it requires us to face fear, discomfort, and the unknown.We HATE that, at least in the very beginning.

This applies in our personal life but also in how we relate to the world at large.We resent our government, the media, the system, but are we willing to do anything to help change it?

Facing resentment is like a spring cleaning, shaking the dust out and cobwebs out, letting the sun shine in.It is also a day to day maintenance thing.You think of a situation, grrrr…You hear a name and your jaw is clenched.Why?? Can you let go? Forgive ?? What do I do now ?

It may be the motivation we have all been waiting for, but not looking for.


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