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June 26, 2024

How to Let Go of Resentment

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Resentment is a complex emotion that can fester and negatively impact many aspects of well-being. While resentment can become an all-encompassing experience, it’s possible to work through your feelings and step towards a brighter, more forgiving future. 

Acknowledge Your Resentment

The initial step in letting go of anger and resentment is acknowledging it. Resentment can be sneaky and simmer below the surface, slowly poisoning your relationships, mood, and well-being. Acknowledging your resentment takes you a step closer to understanding your emotions, reducing negative feelings, and promoting forgiveness. 

Holding onto resentment may lead to harmful consequences for your well-being. Resentment can fuel a negative cycle of emotions that can be difficult to escape. Emotional tension, stress, and anger can impact your mood, sleep, relationships, and more. 

On the flip side, studies indicate that forgiveness reduces anger, anxiety, and depression and increases self-esteem and hopefulness. 

Resentment can show up in several ways: 

  • Anger and Hostility: Resentment can simmer beneath the surface and affect you differently. Anger and bitterness are classic signs of resentment, from low-grade anger to outbursts. 
  • Withdrawal and Social Isolation: People may withdraw from the situation or person that is the source of resentment or isolate themselves altogether. 
  • Passive-Aggressive Behavior: Sarcasm and negativity can be a way of expressing anger without full confrontation. 
  • Hurt: At the core of resentment is often a feeling of hurt or disappointment. These underlying emotions might come up as irritability, negativity, and tearfulness.  

Recognize the Cause of Resentment

Resentment can creep in from a number of sources, but some common causes that trigger these feelings are: 

  • Perceived unfairness
  • Unexpressed anger and disappointment
  • Unresolved issues
  • Low self-esteem
  • Envy and jealousy 
  • Feeling controlled or micromanaged 
  • Unrealistic expectations 
  • Feeling taken advantage of or used 

For example, resentment can fester in relationships where one partner feels like they’re taking on more than their fair share. When a perceived unfairness is left unchecked, anger, resentment, and frustration can build up in the relationship. Open communication and honesty are vital in moving forward. 

Understanding and recognizing the cause of resentment is an integral part of the healing process. When you start to look at why you’re feeling the way you are and can identify the source of resentment, you gain a deeper understanding of yourself. This self-awareness helps you to process emotions more effectively. 

Typically, resentment builds over time, and without a resolution, it just continues to grow. By addressing the root cause, you can break away from a negative cycle and feel empowered to change the situation and choose to let go or forgive if that’s appropriate for your experience. 

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Take Responsibility for Your Emotions

Letting go of resentment is a journey. The complexity of the situation, your emotional processing, and your efforts to address the resentment all play a role in your healing process. 

When you take responsibility for your emotions, you acknowledge that you have the power to change how you react to a situation, which can feel empowering. Taking responsibility for your feelings shifts your focus away from blaming others and toward your own emotional processing. Understanding how you feel and your triggers can help you prevent resentment from building in the future and address issues proactively. 

Practice Being Present

Resentment can show up in different ways from a number of sources. It can creep in from several contexts, affecting both personal and professional areas of your life. Resentment can occur at work, in relationships, in social settings, in financial situations, and beyond specific situations. 

There are several reasons why practicing being present can be beneficial for letting go of resentment: 

  • Reduce the focus on the past 
  • Develop a greater awareness of your emotions 
  • Cultivate acceptance without judgment 
  • Focus on solutions and moving forward
  • Foster self-compassion 

Here are some ways to start being more present: 

  • Meditation and mindfulness 
  • Mindful breathing 
  • Journaling 
  • Mindful movement like yoga and walking 
  • Practice self-care 
  • Limit social media use 
  • Practice gratitude 

Take a Break

Resentment is a complex emotion that takes time to build and address. Sometimes, taking a break can be a powerful tool for letting go of resentment for a few reasons: 

  • Get Some Distance: Sometimes, resentment builds because of a certain person or situation, and gaining some distance can help you see things from a less charged perspective. 
  • Cool Off: It’s hard to make logical decisions when you’re emotionally heightened and feeling angry and frustrated. Taking a break can help you to calm down, think more clearly, and approach the situation more rationally. 
  • Gain Clarity: Taking time away can help your brain decompress and think more clearly. It may also help you better understand your triggers and identify solutions that you hadn’t thought of before. 
  • Refuel: Feeling resentful, angry, and hurt can take it out of you. Taking a break allows you to recharge and return better equipped to deal with a situation or let it go altogether. 

Taking a break doesn’t necessarily mean avoiding the situation completely. The aim is to create enough space to manage your emotions more effectively and approach the situation more rationally. This could be going for a walk, listening to music when you feel triggered by a social situation, or taking a short break from a conversation with a family member as your emotions rise. 

Talk to Someone

Speaking to a good listener can help you find support. Depending on your situation, this could be a trusted friend or family member, partner, or therapist. You may have someone in your life you can lean on, or you may not be comfortable sharing with a friend. Whatever your situation, you can find something that works for you. 

Talking to a therapist can offer several benefits to someone trying to address and let go of resentment:

  • Gain a new perspective from an unbiased third party.
  • Professional guidance and support from a trained mental health professional. 
  • Learn healthy coping mechanisms to manage your anger.
  • Identify underlying issues. 
  • Help you communicate your own needs. 
  • Help develop strategies to address the situation. 

There’s no perfect answer for the best time to see a therapist for resentment, but there are some signs that speaking to a professional could be beneficial for you: 

  • If resentment is always present in your mind, and affects your daily life, relationships, mood, sleep, or ability to function. 
  • If resentment is causing a strain on your relationships.  
  • If you’re turning to harmful coping mechanisms like substance abuse or social isolation. 
  • If you’re struggling to let go and forgiveness feels impossible. 
  • If you have unresolved trauma and need guidance and support for processing past trauma. 
  • If you feel overwhelmed. 

The reality is that feelings of resentment don’t need to be overpowering before you seek help. If you feel stuck or are struggling to manage your emotions, a therapist can offer guidance and set you on a path to letting go of resentment and living a more fulfilling and happy life. 

Contact Thriving Center of Psych

Letting go of resentment is a journey that you don’t have to go on alone. The compassionate therapists at Thriving Center of Psych can help guide you through the process of healing, work through difficult emotions, and equip you with tools to stay calm and address resentment. 
Contact Thriving Center of Psychology today to book an appointment and take the first step towards letting go of resentment. You deserve to feel happy and empowered – we can help you get there.

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