12 Ways To Clear Resentments
Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: Andrea Harrn Psychotherapist and Author of The Mood Cards
19th October, 20110 Comments
When we hold onto resentments we are holding on to negativity. Holding onto negativity is counter-productive to leading a happy, calm, conflict free, positive life. Negativity is draining. Imagine you are holding all your resentments in a bag. How large would it be? Do you really want to continue carrying it?
Make a commitment to yourself to release resentments and acknowledge that every circumstance that presents itself to us gives us an opportunity for learning and growth.
Below are 12 suggestions for clearing resentments
1. Find time to think about the resentments you hold. Make a list of each and every resentment. Include resentments toward particular people, peoples, organisations, or perhaps society for perceived wrongs and injustices. Quite often when people do this exercise they find there are not so many on the list. Think about how much time you give to thinking about the resentments. Is it proportionate?
2. Next look again at each resentment and ask whether you had any control of the circumstances. When things happen out of our control we feel powerless because in fact we had no power over the situation itself. However we do have power over our responses. So if for example your life becomes affected by an unforeseen event or an act by another person look at your thinking around this. Its quite natural and normal to feel disappointed, angry, hurt, upset by the behaviour of others. However when you hold onto it you are giving a lot of power over to others. Try instead to see the action or behaviour as belonging to them (not you) and ask yourself whether you want to continue to feel bad because of someone else.
3. If you are resentful about society’s wrongs or events out of your control do something positive with your feelings. Join a group, political party or volunteer in a positive way. Turn negative into positive and see how much better you will feel. If you see yourself as a victim you will be one. If you see yourself as a positive agent for change you will be one. Make the Choice!
4. Look again at each resentment in turn. Ask yourself “what was my part in this situation”. This step is about taking responsibility for your own actions or inactions. Write down your part against each resentment and think about what you can learn for the future.
5. Think about how you have allowed each resentment to affect you. Think about the extent to which it has affected you and ask yourself how much longer you would like it to affect you. Perhaps another week, month, six months, year or the next ten years. Begin to see now the power you have over your own life.
6. Think about unfinished business on the list. If there are resentments on your list which still need to be resolved then look at who you need to speak to in order to do this. Start to think about communicating your thoughts and feelings with the other party/parties.
7. If you are unable to speak face to face or you feel you cannot face the other person for whatever reason write a letter (that will never be sent) – the purpose of this is to release all of your thoughts and feelings onto paper, or do this on the computer. The reason for not sending it is to free you up to be as open as you want to be. Don’t hold back in this letter. Say it how it is. You are not going to send it. Repeat this exercise every day for a week.
Dear John, When you did/said this or that I felt X Y Z and I think ABC and you etc. etc.
By the end of the week see how much better you feel. If necessary continue into the following week but every other day and reduce gradually till you’ve nothing left to say.
8. If you can speak to the person involved because they are still in your life and you want to improve the relationship speak to them about making some time together to discuss your relationship. Suggest you both have a notebook so you can really give this your best shot. Before you meet up think about the following statements to help you share your thoughts:
a) I am with you because……
b) My feelings were hurt when……..
c) I feel angry when…….
d) I resent you when………
e) I resist new ideas from you when…..
f) I want to believe……….
g) I don’t trust you because…….
h) I hate it when……
i) I love you when……..
j) I don’t want to forgive you because……
k) I find it hard to believe you when………
Get the idea. Add statements that are specific to you. Try not to accuse though as this will put defences up and will be a barrier to reconciliation. Think about the tiniest resentments and hurts that have been stored up for however long.
This part can be repeated as necessary.
9. When sharing your thoughts make a rule that says
A) Only one person to share at a time
B) Person sharing does not elaborate on statement
C) Person listening cannot comment other than to say “thank you for letting me know”
D) Once you have both shared agree to release and completely let go of your feelings about all of it.
This part is known as CLEANSING AND RELEASING
10 Next part is all about moving on. Take your notebook again and think about endings to the following statements or statements relevant to you:
I forgive you completely for…
I appreciate you because…
I thank you for…
I want you to…..
I understand now……..
I acknowledge your thoughts about
I am proud of you because……
I love you because…….
I want to be part of your life because…….
I have learnt ………..
And now I can………..
11. Maintaining communication is key to keeping a happy relationship. It will enable trust and respect to grow between you and this will allow you both to feel safe in speaking your truths. Make time to see or speak to those that are important to you. We all have busy lives but the importance of partners, family and friends can never be over-stated.
12. Accountability and responsibility. Be 100% accountable for your actions and 100% responsible for your own communication and 100% responsible for listening to the communication of others. Be straight with people, honest and true to yourself. Be happy.
About the author
Andrea Harrn is a psychotherapist and author of The Mood Cards, a self-help card deck of 42 moods and emotions to explore for emotional intelligence and well-being.
Andrea works using an integrative model of therapy and has worked with hundreds of clients over 15 years, helping them find clarity, balance, peace and happiness.
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