Anytime resentments are present, you have a story about them.
You have a story about what happened and how you were wronged…
What you would’ve liked to have happened instead of what did happen…
What SHOULD have happened and what shouldn’t have happened.
You keep the story going with the energy that you pour into it.
We all do it and we’ve all done it.
We’ve all had events in our lives where we’ve thought we’ve been treated unfairly and people who we’ve thought wronged us.
And over time, if we keep these thoughts alive, they build into resentments that can threaten all parts of our lives.
The truth is that it’s so hard to let go of resentments because there’s so much focus and attention placed on the very thing that you’re resentful about or the person you’re resentful of.
Here are a few reasons you don’t let go of resentments…
1. Somehow you (and all of us) think if you don’t focus on what hurt you, it will happen again and you’ll be hurt.
This may be a conscious or unconscious thought but it’s always there.
It’s like we create the optical illusion that this resentment forms a barrier around us to keep future pain away.
It doesn’t and never did.
2. Another thing that makes resentments so hard to let go of is when you believe that if you do, you’re letting the other person “off the hook” for what they’ve done.
You think you’re making what the other person did to you okay when it’s not.
If you “let it go,” you think they’ll go back to their old hurtful ways.
The problem with this thinking is that in the process of holding onto hurt, you’re pushing away the person and restricting love.
Even though we all know it–a person either wants to change or he or she doesn’t.
No amount of holding someone accountable for what he or she did by constantly reliving what happened will promote change unless that’s their desire.
It just pushes them away which is the opposite of what you want.
In the attempt to hold someone accountable with your resentment, you also mask your inner voice of wisdom that never steers you wrong.
So do you automatically let someone “off the hook” when they’ve wronged you?
Of course not.
But focusing on moving forward in a conscious way and being open to seeing how (or if) this can be loving and healthy for both of you is what you can do instead.
3. Finally, you don’t let go of resentments because along the way, the pain has become part of your identity and who you think you are.
In an odd way, you can feel a sense of superiority and righteousness about the person or situation if you’ve been “wronged”.
Either consciously or unconsciously, you might think that if you stop being so resentful, this feeling of one-upmanship will be gone.
Innocently, you might hang on to your superiority and righteousness even though it doesn’t serve you and makes the situation or feelings of separation more painful.
You may not know who you are without that “label” even though you may know it’s destructive and wearing you down.
Susie remembers a time in her life when she innocently presented herself to her friends as a victim after a painful, life-changing event, her divorce from her first husband.
Yes, there was an element of righteousness and superiority to her thinking and actions.
It was so seductive to get sympathy and attention because she’d been “wronged” and she was the “better” person.
But after a short while, she saw that holding onto resentment and getting attention in this way wasn’t healthy for her.
Pretty quickly, she made the decision to let go of living with the idea of being “wronged” but she saw how easily anyone can fall into that thinking and the actions that went along with it.
Here’s what we and others have discovered over the years about letting go of resentments…
If a person doesn’t put any energy into the upset, the situation or the hurt, the resentment automatically goes away by itself (or at least is lessened).
It’s hard to let go of resentments when you continue to live out the story of what happened, how wronged you were or how much someone hurt you and what you’d like to do to that person because of what they’ve done to you.
It’s just like any other living thing…
If you feed the resentment and if you feed the story you have about it, it grows and stays alive.
If you don’t feed it, it doesn’t grow bigger and it doesn’t stay alive.
It’s that simple.