If you are on a recovery or healing journey, do you find yourself stymied at times, wondering…
What is the missing link to sustainable joy?
Often the answer is, quite simply, resentment.
As a holistic health coach, I’ve noticed that women do a fantastic job tackling their physical health challenges, doing deep emotional work, and even conquering monumental life tragedies, but there is one area that is usually the last to heal. And that is overcoming resentments.
You are not alone, my friends. This is a humanity issue. Let’s look at these common belief patterns, which Eckhard Tolle calls “the universal patterns of resentment.”
Can you relate to any of these statements?
- There is something that happened in my past. I resent that it happened. If it didn’t happen, I’d be happy now.
- There is something happening in my life now. I resent that it’s happening. This is causing me to be unhappy.
- There is something that needs to happen in my life. I resent that it hasn’t happened. Until this happens, I won’t be happy.
Resentment is a feeling of anger combined with injustice.
We tend to stay stuck in it, feeling it over and over, often for long periods of time.
Resentments keep us unhealthy.
Resentment hurts us more than anyone else:
- Resentment puts us in a victim role, meaning it places our locus of power on the (unreliable, ever-changing!) outer world, placing blame for our miserable feelings on external circumstances. In other words, when we are resentful, we are making our happiness contingent on external conditions. The problem is that whenever our emotional state is conditional on circumstances, we put ourselves in a compromised and fragile position. This mindset makes us feel powerless.
- Resentment uses our reserve energy; therefore, it depletes us. We are often unaware that resentment is sucking away our energy causing physical, emotional, and mental health issues.
Resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.
I’d like to give you an example of how resentment began in my early professional life, got amplified over time, and remained a source of unresolved pain for decades.
I was terminated from a sales job early in my career over a minor technicality, and I felt certain I was targeted for being a successful woman in a male-dominated world. My resentment was compounded by the fact that even though several male coworkers knew what had happened, none of them came to my rescue for fear of their own jobs and reputations. Despite the blessing it actually was, propelling me into better career paths, whenever I thought about it (for decades!) or would even just hear about other women getting mistreated at their jobs, it would refresh my wound all over again, amping up my resentment.
Eventually I became resentful and highly triggered whenever I saw injustices towards not only women, but all people in need. And while it’s good to be compassionate towards the under served population, the resentment was so fierce, it underscored my feelings of powerlessness. So, while I couldn’t DO anything about these challenges I saw, my resentment grew, crushing my mental, emotional, and even physical health.
During my healing journey in 2018, I finally recognized the enormous power of resentments and how this was keeping me from achieving happiness, self-awareness, and optimal health and wellness. I finally deeply understood that I could not heal and hold resentments at the same time.
The next big step was identifying exactly what I was resentful for! The emotion is so strong that the details can sometimes be secondary. Resentment tends to get compounded with related issues over time, and even suppressed, so that eventually we don’t even realize we are reacting from that deep place of anger and injustice. This is why it’s important to methodically explore if there is resentment within us. You might even be surprised to discover it lurking within!
Identify lingering and hidden resentments.
Healing resentments begins with identifying them. I invite you to ask yourself, calmly and with great thought (imagine being a witness to your thoughts), a few key questions. I urge you to really challenge yourself here:
Am I possibly stuck in my resentments?
Do I get angry easily for things that are not really my immediate concern?
Do I find myself blaming others or situations without really knowing all the facts?
Am I still angry for something that happened in my past, or hasn’t happened yet in the future?
To help you search for any lingering resentments, I’m going to give you some scenarios, and invite you to see if anything comes up for you.
- If the pandemic didn’t happen, I wouldn’t be trapped in the house and responsible for the kids’ school work, without freedom to enjoy myself.
- If we had more financial security, I wouldn’t have to work and could do things I enjoy. It’s not fair that my friends don’t have to worry about this.
- If we lived in a bigger house like my sister’s, I’d have a more comfortable life and be much happier.
- If my step-father hadn’t been so strict, and unfair, I would’ve had a more normal childhood like all my other friends had, and I wouldn’t have gotten into so many destructive relationships as an adult.
- If my mother hadn’t lost her job, I would have been able to go to a better college and have a better career.
- If I didn’t have this illness, I would be happier.
Feeling frustrated with all these scenarios is totally understandable, but holding onto resentments surrounding them—even at a subconscious level—leads to unhappiness, dysfunction, and disease. Each one of these examples blames someone or a circumstance, and assumes the victim role.
I invite you to honestly ask yourself, “Am I still holding onto my resentments?” Are you still holding your happiness hostage because of something or someone else? If you are, really examine this. And, next, ask yourself if you’re willing to release them.
No woman on a quest for inner peace, gratitude, and joy can afford to be resentful. Remember, we cannot be resentful and truly happy at the same time. They simply don’t co-exist.
So how do we release resentment? Through forgiveness. Forgiveness is the antidote. I will explore this topic in depth in my next blog.
For now, please ask yourself if you are holding onto resentments, even unintentionally, and then work to release them.
Being able to tune into any lingering resentments and then truly forgive is a powerful tool for moving forward with your life.
A final thought: Happiness in an inside job. Rather than having our happiness depend on ever-changing conditions, we need to focus on our internal locus of control. This is where true healing and peace begin—in our hearts and minds.
I look forward to continuing this discussion with you soon.