Have you been in a situation where something happens to you, and you feel hurt, disappointed, and even shocked? All of this can lead to sadness and frustration, and you wonder – how will I overcome the resentment that I’m feeling?
Recently I was having lunch with my friend Cindy. She told me, “There’s something really painful going on in my life right now.” I leaned in, “What??” She went on to say, “I have an old friend who recently turned on me. I reached out to her asking her to help me with something, and she told me no, and that she’d decided we can’t be friends anymore.”
Cindy went on to say, “I know we’ve drifted apart over the recent years, but I still considered her a friend – someone I could turn to.” I asked her what she was planning to do about the situation.
She said, “I want to be able to let this go. I’m trying to accept this as it is – but it’s still bothering me and getting under my skin. I want to be able to move on and to stop feeling sad and angry.”
As I sat there listening to her, I thought of different times in my life when I faced very similar circumstances. And I can also remember feeling that I couldn’t move on and overcome feelings of resentment as quickly as I’d hoped.
Feeling stuck in resentment hurts and is very distracting.
Here are questions to consider as you work your way out of this feeling:
1. What exactly am I trying to forgive?
For me, the emotions can often get wrapped up inside of each other. But – for a moment – try to have your thoughts become crystal clear. What exactly is the issue at hand? Write it down into one concise statement.
“I’m mad at Kim because she didn’t invite me to that dinner party.”
Next, try using Byron Katie’s method of questioning. Through her process, called The Work, you turn thoughts and statements upside down and can find peace where you never thought it was possible.
You can see her worksheet here. I sometimes attend her online classes, and she is a miracle worker. I highly recommend studying The Work if you want quick results.
After doing The Work you may have been able to reverse your thoughts entirely and not feel hurt anymore. If not, let’s go onto the next question.
2. Can I see how taking this too personally is keeping me stuck in resentment?
I think of each of us as inhabiting a self-contained energy field. We alone operate it and affect it with our own system of thoughts, emotions, and beliefs. Through understanding, we recognize that some people are not able to move past certain limitations.
So, stop and think yourself, ‘Why am I taking this personally?’ In a recent post on forgiveness, I discuss how one of Don Miguel Ruiz’s famous teaching is that nothing is personal.
Interesting side note – this is where the law of attraction comes in. Some people are good to you. They are capable of love, forgiveness, and kindness. Note that this is also not personal. That’s just who they are – but congratulations! You’ve attracted high-quality people because you are a match. You’re both vibing in a high-quality energy state.
3. Can I find it in my heart to have compassion and even empathy while overcoming resentment for this person?
This one is HARD! I know and have struggled with this step many times.
Try to see this person’s innocence. See them as having little awareness of how they are impacting others. Take the jump and open your heart – even if you really don’t feel you can. You will be surprised at how we can actually feel love for others. According to Jared Akers of Tiny Buddha, “Whether or not you believe in prayer, you can still set aside time during the day to think loving thoughts about someone you resent, wishing them good fortune and blessings.”
Also, the Course in Miracles states, “Love will immediately enter into any mind that truly wants it.” So decide to open up to the love and compassion within. It will free you.
4.How has my interaction with this person benefited me and pushed me to overcome negative, limiting thoughts?
There are ways this person’s behavior has benefited you. Maybe it’s taken you from point A to point B in your growth. Or perhaps this person’s behavior has kept you on your toes every day – forcing and encouraging you to remain grateful and present in the moment.
In any case, there is a higher plan, and this person and experience are in your life for a reason. In every interaction, you have the chance to untangle your connection to the sadness they bring about inside of me. You have the opportunity to see hurt and pain within and to transform it in a healthy and even miraculous way.
5. Ask yourself, ‘Am I ruminating?’ Take this opportunity to step out and beyond negative thinking.
Remembering that everything is perfectly fine at this moment. When you stop focusing on your resentment to take a walk outside or take a moment to play with your dog, you realize how true this is.
In The New Earth, Eckhart Tolle describes how ducks sometimes quarrel in the water. But, immediately after, they swim away in opposite directions and shake it off. It’s almost like they are modeling for us what it looks like to move forward in healthy ways. They don’t hold onto resentment.
Whenever you’re thinking about unforgiveness towards someone, you’re lost in your thoughts about the past or the future. You’ve lost the moment. It’s an interesting spin to use the experience as a chance to get back into this moment. And to appreciate with gratitude all of the good inside of it.
Extra thoughts on how to overcome resentment:
For additional help, try this cord-cutting meditation. I’ve used this many times when I need help working through resentment. What I appreciate about it is that the cords we have with other people are real. This meditation encourages us to allow a power greater than ourselves to cut the cord, releasing us to feel free.
Another resource is this inner body meditation with Kim Eng. By connecting with our inner body we can connect to pure life force energy within.
Lastly, to overcome resentment think of this quote by Maya Angelou, “You can’t forgive without loving. And I don’t mean sentimentality. I don’t mean mush. I mean having enough courage to stand up and say, ‘I forgive. I’m finished with it.” Sounds good to me.