How to Let Go of Resentment and Move On

Was there ever a time when you were completely grateful and free from negativity? Are you often so content with your life and relationships that you don’t feel anger or animosity toward anyone, not even those you dislike most?

If you answered yes to both, good for you. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case for everyone. Many individuals have resentment issues and are struggling to get over them. This article will guide you in understanding what resentment is and how to let go of resentment and successfully move on from it.

Image by Artist and zabiyaka from Pixabay 

What Is Resentment?

In the words of the famous Carrie Fisher, “Resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.” It’s synonymous with the words “anger” and umbrage.” Resentment is the bitter feeling you get when you’re treated poorly and unkindly by others. Usually, it’s associated with negative feelings that remain after an unpleasant incident that occurred in the past. You may also feel resentful when you re-experience injustices either real or perceived. 

It’s possible to resent a particular person for a long time and be seemingly incapable of getting over that feeling. After a while, your anger toward them will wane. You might even forget the reason you had an outburst in the first place. The next time you see the person involved, you may no longer be furious and are much calmer. However, due to resentment, you still prefer to distance yourself from them.

Why Do You Feel Resentment?

It can be hard to pinpoint at times where the long history of unhappiness that makes you resentful stems from. Primarily, though, resentment is caused by your desire for control and power. You can become indignant if you can’t call the shots in a situation or if things don’t work out as you planned.

Such feelings may come from an unresolved argument, jealousy, or a lack of compassion for another person. If you have resentment welling inside you, will you manage to make peace with yourself? Absolutely not. You’ll likely get stuck and harbor negative energy, which can harm you in the long run.

What Is Anger?

This is a natural and emotional response to a wrong or injustice that has been done to you, regardless whether it’s real or imagined. Disappointment may turn into anger, too, if an outcome doesn’t match your vision or expectation, especially if you’ve held on to the belief of success for an extended period.

Anger is a fight against and denial of reality. This means that whenever you feel it, you’re battling with the present moment due to your stubborn refusal to accept the situation you’re facing.

Anger as a Defense Mechanism

Although it tends to be seen as a negative emotion, anger has a defensive purpose, and it can provide you with power and control. It may serve as a shield that drives away uncomfortable primary emotions like embarrassment, pain, and vulnerability.

On the other hand, anger makes you prone to assigning blame to individuals, groups, or institutions even if the accusation is unreasonable. When angry, you might find it more sensible to condemn others’ faults instead of your own.

How Do Negative Feelings and Negative Emotions Affect You?

When you experience extremely negative emotions or feelings, you can become irrational and lose perspective of the situation. You might focus only on the things you want to see or hear as a way of coping with what’s happening around you. Having this mindset could prolong resentment.

Negative Effects of Holding a Grudge

Holding grudges is when you have lingering negative emotions, such as anger and bitterness, after someone wrongs you in some way. In doing this, you hurt yourself more than you hurt the person who caused your pain, although it might not be apparent in the beginning.

Grudge-holding can negatively impact your mental health. Instead of moving on and accepting your circumstances, you end up becoming more resentful, bitter, hopeless, and empty. Worse still, you could be at high risk of developing mental health problems such as anxiety, depression, emotional dysregulation, mood disorders, and suicidal tendencies.

How Do You Accept Your Past?

Some people find it hard to let go of the past because of their fear of uncertainty. Just like for most living things, for humans, survival is of utmost importance. This is why it’s only natural for you to avoid situations that can result in pain and discomfort.

Stepping out of your past is like stepping into the unknown. If you let go of your past, it’s akin to letting go of a crucial part of your life. That’s difficult to do since people often place great importance on past events. When you refuse to forget who harmed you and how they harmed you, it’s because you think that person is significant in your life even if that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Is Letting Go of Resentment Possible?

As difficult as it is to accomplish, letting go of resentment is definitely possible. It’s a healing process whose length and complexity depend on how deep the wound inflicted on you is.

More importantly, however, letting go is a chance for you to forgive and empathize. It helps you build other relationships in a more loving and understanding manner. This will eventually allow you to gain self-peace and freedom from the heavy weight on your shoulders.

Why Is It Important to Let Go?

You must let go of resentment because on top of affecting your mental wellness, it may negatively impact your physical health as well. Research shows that your blood pressure and heart rate increase when you choose resentment and anger over forgiveness. Such emotions could affect your nervous system, too. You have to release your grudges in order to keep your overall health, relationships, and career intact.

Why Is Letting Go of Resentment Hard?

If only saying “I’m sorry” were as easy as counting 1,2,3, then all conflicts would be resolved right away. But even though forgiveness is the key to moving on from resentment, forgiving and forgetting aren’t easy for everyone.

Unburdening yourself of resentment can be harder than it actually is because of bad advice you get from people around you. The best you can do is to reflect on your feelings, face them head-on, and eventually heal from them.

How to Let Go of Resentment 

You should know that forgiving and moving on is a process. Moreover, for it to be successful, you have to be fully committed to getting better. Here are some tips on how you can get past resentment with ease:

Learn to Recognize It

You won’t be able to move on and make peace with your feeling of resentment if you don’t acknowledge, accept, and do something about it. It would also be liberating for you to share what you’re going through with family members, friends, and even a therapist. Being honest and brave despite the negative emotions you’re dealing with due to revisited pain may help you move on more quickly.

Be Present

Mindfulness in any situation can be beneficial for your mental health. If you connect with the present and enjoy it to the fullest, you won’t have time to think about your past hurt. 

Additionally, when you’re in the moment, you become more in tune with yourself and what’s happening around you. As a result, you’ll find more reasons to be happy and stop fixating on things you can no longer change.

Confront the Cause of Your Resentment

Is your resentment toward a relative, a colleague, or even a stranger? If so, the first step is to throw away anything and everything that triggers painful memories and any sort of negativity within you. After throwing all those items away, you can work on trying to make peace with yourself.

Find a Relaxation Tool That Suits You

Anger and resentment are considered secondhand emotions. This is because they’re offshoots of primary emotions such as embarrassment, pain, and vulnerability.

If you want to forgive someone, it’s important for you to first tackle your primary emotions. This way, you can resolve resentment issues with less effort. To do this, look for a relaxation tool that’s suitable for you. A good example is meditation as it can aid in promoting calm and, consequently, reducing anger and bitterness.

Choose a Positive Mantra

Don’t let yourself be consumed by resentment. Instead, promote positive language that evokes feelings of gratitude and compassion. Use a positive mantra to shift your mindset.

For inspiration, you can use Aristotle’s mantra: “Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet.” You can even make your own and say it whenever you sense negativity bubbling in your chest. Start by stating something positive about yourself. Practicing this daily will go a long way in your goal to be the bigger person and forgive.

Embrace the Grudge

Instead of holding them in and letting them eat you up for the rest of your life, you can opt to embrace your grudges for the sake of moving on. How does this work exactly?

It’s a reflective exercise that requires you to examine your resentment and come out of it having learned something. You write down your grudges and what caused them. You also have to mention what you could have done to avoid resentment and the right thing you can and should do now.

This practice isn’t asking you to forgive on the spot. It simply encourages you to be thankful for what led to your resentment because you’ve gained an important life lesson from it. In due time, you’ll realize that holding on to animosity won’t do you much good, so you won’t go down that road again.

Imagine You’re the Source of the Resentment

If you’re aiming for inner peace and you seek to forgive the person you resent the most, why not try putting yourself in their shoes? If you understand where the person’s coming from and why they act a certain way, it’ll be easier for you to be compassionate and sympathetic toward them. 

Keep in mind that someone’s behavior isn’t necessarily a reflection of their character. Rather, it may be the product of the emotional baggage they carry.

Be Responsible for Your Emotions

In any sort of conflict, it can be tempting to put the blame on another person. After all, that’s simpler than admitting you’re at fault and dealing with the consequences.

However, remember that you’re the one who’s responsible for your life. Every time you feel angry and hurt, step back and reflect before acting on your emotions. Taking accountability for your feelings will help you heal from emotional distress.

Shift Your Perspective

Have you ever heard of self-distancing? Self-distancing is when you replay the interaction in your mind as if you’re part of the audience and not the person involved. This is a good practice for you to focus more on facts instead of the emotions at play.

You have to change your perspective and self-distance if you want to recover from resentment. By doing this, you can reflect inwardly and avoid being emotionally irrational.

Seek Professional Help

As your resentment toward a person grows, you’re bound to spend a lot of your time angrily thinking about them. You may even develop a mental, emotional, and spiritual bond with that individual, and not in a good way. When it seems as though resentment is taking over your life, it’s recommended to approach a professional counselor or therapist.

Counseling Now at Your Service

At this point, you should already have a better idea of who caused your resentment, why you resent them, and how your anger has affected your life. Only by letting go of resentment and embracing forgiveness will you be able to maximize your happiness in the years to come.

For expert guidance like no other, turn to the therapists at Counseling Now. We offer online counseling sessions in Ohio so you can conveniently get the treatment and self-healing you’ve been looking for. 

With Counseling Now, you can learn what true forgiveness entails and gain the kind of mindset that’ll enable you to live a better life. Let us be of service to you. Send us a message today.

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