Resentment is a complex emotion described as a mixture of disappointment, hurt, disgust, and anger. If you ever felt bitter about being mistreated, chances are you felt resentment. If the feeling of resentment has not been dealt with, it is common for people to hold the grudge, continuously replaying the painful event in their mind, struggling to let go of the desire for revenge.
Yet, as Malachy McCourt wisely said, “Resentment is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die.”
Resentment often builds up over time and is especially common in long-term relationships.
It takes many forms and can look like:
- Revisiting a negative situation in your head over and over, feeling like a victim.
- Engaging in a punishing behavior, such as ignoring or snapping at your partner.
- Being vindictive, acting or saying things that would hurt your partner.
- Refusing to talk about your feelings, expecting your partner to know why you are angry.
- Feeling annoyed or upset with your partner.
- Speaking in an irritated tone of voice.
If you are ready to let go of resentment, here is how:
1. Acknowledge that you feel resentment
Any feelings you experience are valid. They are also trying to tell you something. Your resentment might be a sign of you needing to express stronger boundaries, leave an abusive partner, or get in touch with a younger part of yourself that has some hurts to process.
2. The cost of carrying grudges
While feeling resentful might feel like fighting a good fight and standing up for yourself, it actually just ends up poisoning your relationship and making you feel bitter.
Write down what is the cost of feeling resentful for you and what are the benefits? What comes up for you when you consider letting go of resentment?
3. Learn to talk about things that bother you right away
Cleaning dirty dishes at once takes way less energy than if you wait for days or weeks. The same goes for addressing hurts in your relationships. Not easy, takes vulnerability and discipline but will save you from feeling disconnected and resentful toward your partners in the long run.
Non-violent communication (NVC) techniques will help you talk about your distress in a loving and effective way.
4. Mindfulness and forgiveness
To overcome resentment and move on, it is important to become aware of your feelings. Mindfulness practice will help you cultivate this skill. Over time you will be able to discern the feelings underneath the resentment and create more space for forgiveness.
5. Gratitude practice
Years of resentment can make you feel defeated and overly focused on things that don’t work. A daily gratitude practice will help you remember why you chose to be in a relationship to begin with.