A Resentment-Free Life
It's the only way to be free.
Posted Jun 12, 2019
Part one of this post outlined the effects of living with a chain of resentment. This post urges readers to break the chain.
To begin, say out loud:
- My emotional well-being is important to me.
- My emotional well-being more important than everything I resent.
- My emotional well-being more important than other people’s bad behavior.
Chances are, your conviction level went down on the third statement because that sounds like letting someone off the hook. And therein lies self-defeating nature of resentment; it devalues our own emotional well-being and makes us a living monument to someone else’s unfairness. So this time, say aloud:
My emotional well-being is important to me, period!
Don’t worry if this appears selfish. Your emotional well-being is intertwined with that of the people you love, so if you focus on your long-term well-being, you will enhance theirs automatically.
The only real choice in regard to well-being is increasing the value of experience or decreasing it, that is, valuing or devaluing. In close relationships, the only real choice is between compassion and kindness or resentment and contempt. We raise the value of experience by improving, appreciating, connecting, and protecting. We lower it by blaming and denying.
Ultimately, the choice between valuing and devaluing is a choice between empowerment and powerlessness.
Empowerment: Making your experience better in the real world
Powerlessness: Making yourself miserable because the real world isn’t the way it “should” be
Powerlessness: Focus on what you cannot do
Empowerment: Focus on what you can do.
“Improve” doesn’t mean “fix.” It means making things a little better. Improvement is incremental. Once you make things 5 percent better, it’s easier to make them 10 percent better. Then it’s easier to make things 20 percent better, and so on. The motivation to improve is more empowering than the results, even when the results feel better.
Write down one thing you can do to improve (not necessarily “fix”) your experience of something you resent.
In close relationships, appreciation reduces resentment; failure to appreciate increases it.
Write down one quality or behavior of someone you resent that you can appreciate more.
Valuing the Tasks You Need to Do
Chances are, you did it automatically when you started a new job: You created value in the things you needed to do and found a way to be interested and focused, even if those tasks were not inherently interesting. You only forgot how to do it when resentment took over.
Be clear on why performing necessary tasks honors your deeper value. For example, sweeping the floor for your family’s well-being makes more sense than doing it for your boss’ personal power trip. The boss’ power trip is the boss’ affliction. Your family’s well-being is your deeper values.
Identify a deeper value that will give you greater energy and focus to do a task that you need to do. (Example: basic humanity, family, growth/development, appreciation, religion, compassion, kindness, and so on.)
Most of the things we resent are not very important in the wider context of our lives. Identify something you resent, and then list three things that are more important to you that you would prefer to think about.
Write down what you can do to increase self-value by 5%. (Examples: experience your basic humanity through compassion, kindness, love, affection, and your desire to heal, correct, improve, create, repair, renew, grow, build.)
Valuing other people is so important to your emotional well-being that you don’t want to leave it up to them. Value others for your benefit, regardless of whether they deserve it. Whether they behave well or not, recognize the capacity of nearly everyone to:
- Form emotional bonds.
- Feel compassion.
- Rescue a child in danger.
- Heal, correct, improve, create, repair, renew, grow, and build..
Despite the cliché, we cannot “let go” of resentment. (It just keeps coming back.) Rather, we need to crowd it out by creating more value. When core value is high, resentment as an ego defense is unnecessary.