Letting go of resentments can be quite difficult to do, as anyone who has tried to do so before can tell you. Some of the best things in life are difficult in achieving, but they are definitely worthwhile. Imagine a long-held resentment similar to an iceberg. An iceberg only has a tiny portion showing above the surface, mainly hidden deep below, with the opportunity for destruction. Kind of like when a long-held resentment keeps getting pushed under the surface where we convince ourselves that it is inconsequential. And in reality, at any moment the now massive problem below the surface could cause us to sink. Sink into the negativity and darkness that resentment brings with it. We are spiritual beings having a human experience and part of being human is to have situations occur in life that can cause resentment. Life is not for living comfortably (however much we may wish it), it is to leave this life knowing more than when we came into it. Our souls are always quietly urging us to grow to another level of consciousness and closer to achieving enlightenment. We can choose to take the unpleasant experiences we are given, learn the lesson from them and then let them go. Doing this lets our soul move upward. Or we can choose to hold onto our resentments, letting them turn into poison that slowly consumes our entire being. It takes away our light and the darkness wins.
The following account is about my resentments towards my parents, that I’ve worked through and overcome. I spent years and years trying to let them go, and even if I thought I had worked through them, the resentments would slowly creep their way back into my life and heart. I hated it. I hated having all those negative feelings, and yet there they were, like a disease that wouldn’t go away. But I never gave up and I found ways for me to let go of my resentments that worked.
I grew up feeling alone and with no support. Even though I had parents that would be considered perfect from the outside, I was made to feel that everything I did was never good enough, my voice was not heard, and little attention was paid to helping me through difficult times. It’s not that my parents were bad people or bad parents necessarily, it’s just that they grew up in households where they also received no emotional support. They did not even know what giving emotional support meant or consisted of, so they had no idea how to give it to me. For a long time, I held onto the resentment and anger for the things they did and did not do. So it was not just one resentment, but a lifetime of resentments added up. I was living with a huge iceberg of my own, and no matter how hard I tried to keep it under the surface, it just kept popping right back up. Let’s just say it took years to work through all my resentments with my parents and I attribute that to not having all the necessary tools to effectively let go. I would say that the most important tools that played a part in helping me let go of my resentments were personal strength, willingness, commitment, and learning coping skills to train the brain to think a different way. Firstly, personal strength does not always appear in the form of bulging muscles, it can show itself in the form of fearlessness, unbreakable willpower, the ability to love unconditionally, never giving up what you want to make of your life, and working through letting go of resentments (to name a few)! I believe everyone has the strength within themselves to overcome any hardship, it is just that we have to be willing to call upon it and use it. Secondly, I view willingness as a very big key for finding success in every part of one’s life. I have to be willing to let go. I have to be willing to make the effort to find a way to let go. I have to be willing to continue my efforts until I find a solution. Thirdly, commit to healing the poison and disease in yourself that is resentment, no matter what steps that involves. Years ago, after I had unsuccessfully tried to heal my resentments with my parents, I came to the realization that I wasn’t able to let go because I was constantly being re-triggered by their actions. I knew that I needed to temporarily separate my life from theirs, so that I could gain clarity and strength. This action hurt my parents, but I was committed to myself, first and foremost, to heal my hurt and I had to focus on what was best for me. And the decision turned out to be a good one, because when I opened the lines of communication again, I felt stronger and more secure in myself. I did not feel so sensitive to something they did that I did not particularly like. And finally, I believe learning skills to train the brain to think more positively than negatively was a major key in helping to let go of my resentments. I used Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, or DBT, which is based off of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or CBT. “CBT is a short-term, goal-oriented psychotherapy treatment that takes a hands-on, practical approach to problem-solving. Its goal is to change patterns of thinking or behavior that are behind people’s difficulties, and so change the way they feel” (Martin, B. 2016). DBT adds in skills such as acceptance and mindfulness to the core principles of CBT. Anyone can learn these skills, that’s what’s so great about them. They are simple in theory, and easy to be implemented into regular life.
I used to wish that I never had all the problems with my parents that I did. Now, if I still had the choice, I would not choose to go through my childhood and teens in the same manner, but I understand that it was all a process to help me grow. To learn strength, trust, wisdom, acceptance. I used to wish that I could have gotten over the resentments with my parents so much earlier. I accept that is how the Universe desired it. Perhaps by working through the resentments with my parents piece by piece, it was a way to not seem as overwhelming and hard to deal with. Each time getting a little less hard to work through and a little closer to the end destination. After all, who am I to argue that I know better than the infinite wisdom of the Universe?
Now that I have found tools to help me with resentments, I have the confidence within myself to know that what has happened to me does not define me. I do not need to hold onto my heartaches, I can let them go, be happy, and live in peace. I also want to give my parents credit for their willingness to be open to their mistakes, make changes, and commit to fixing our relationship by learning communication skills together. For a time I had given up on getting the relationship with my parents that I had always wanted, and I’m so glad that I did not give up because now it is better than I ever could have imagined.
Martin, B. (2016). In-Depth: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Psych Central. Retrieved on June 28, 2017, from https://psychcentral.com/lib/in-depth-cognitive-behavioral-therapy/