Resilience, resentment and a cure

Did you know resentment can have an eroding impact on your resilience and mental well-being?

I didn’t, not until a few years ago when I had a big shift in thinking and perspective, which for me was of tremendous help to my outlook on life in general.

The cure for resentment, and an element of building resilience, is the ability to… forgive.

The thing is, it can be challenging to forgive can’t it? But think of it this way.

If a storm blows down a tree and it knocks down part of your house would you resent the storm?

You might get angry for a while, but you wouldn’t resent the weather. You’d do your best to manage the damage and ensure it didn’t happen again.

So, why do we resent people?

We can’t control people any more than we can control the weather.

We could choose to tell them how we feel and ask them not to do it again and hopefully influence them, but we can’t really control them.

Resenting someone is like taking poison and expecting the other person to die.

Resentment can lead to anxiety and in extreme cases depression.

In short, feeling bitter and hate is not good for our mental health as we just get eaten up inside.

They probably don’t care anyway.

Whereas forgiveness can lead to lower blood pressure, a stronger immune system, less anxiety, healthier relationships and improved self-esteem.

What’s not to like?

Having said all that, I get it. We usually feel resentment because of the injustice.

And it can be particularly challenging if the person who’s hurt you doesn’t admit wrong.

The important thing to remember is, just because you forgive doesn’t mean your feelings are invalid or that they just stop. It just means you stop holding the resentment against them.

The reason we forgive is for our own sake, not for theirs. And, it’s ok not to forget because we can learn valuable life lessons.

Just like in my example of a storm blowing down a tree and it knocking down part of your house. You learn what you need to do to stop, or at least reduce the odds of, it happening again.

Here’s a simple process to get you started to help you forgive.

  • Acknowledge your feelings. Your feelings can only be dealt with if they’re openly recognised.
  • Do your best to understand why they did what they did. You’re not saying they’re right or condoning their actions you’re just doing your best to understand. Empathy helps to forgive.
  • Reflect on times you’ve hurt someone else and in particular on those who have forgiven you.

In some extreme cases professional help might be needed, possibly a counsellor.

And be mindful, forgiveness is a process. Even the smallest of hurts might need to be revisited and forgiven over and over again.

For our own well-being resentment is one thing we can do without, we need to do our best to let go of it.

If you’re feeling resentful, when would now be a good time to do something about it?

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