Walking through life with resentment is like walking through ankle-deep molasses. You move, but not well, not far, and not fast. Forgiveness, resentment, resistance… let’s look at them.
Here’s something about forgiveness from two sources: One old, one new. The Bible, in its various versions available, says anger happens, but don’t “sin” (add to the issue) by letting the sun go down on your anger. In other words, take care of this promptly so you don’t carry anger or resentment longer (or further) than is necessary or beneficial for you. Sometimes you can resolve anger and resentment with others, sometimes you can’t. But you can always choose to release resentment for your own benefit.
Eckhart Tolle said we would do well to forgive each moment so as not to allow resentment to build. He stated in his book, The Power of Now, that the mind has the unconscious belief that “… negativity or unhappiness in some form, will somehow dissolve the undesirable condition. This, of course, is a delusion. The resistance that it creates, the irritation or anger… is far more disturbing than the original cause that it is attempting to dissolve.”
Tolle also said this: The ego believes that in your resistance lies your strength, whereas in truth resistance cuts you off from Being, the only place of true power. Resistance is weakness and fear masquerading as strength. What the ego sees as weakness is your Being in its purity, innocence, and power. What is sees as strength is weakness. So the ego exists in a continuous resistance-mode and plays counterfeit roles to cover up your “weakness,” which in truth is your power.
One level of resistance we have to forgiveness, from our ego-mind that is, is that it seems unfair to “have to” forgive, like it’s letting someone get away with something or off too easy. Ego-mind wants retribution; it wants others proven wrong and at fault. Our true Being knows that Universal Law has a remarkable and appropriate way of handling restoration of balance in each individual life and in the bigger picture, so that we don’t burden ourselves with resentment, or regret, or as some call it, bad karma or negative attraction. A good thing to remember is that Universal Conscious always has more information than we do.
Releasing resentment, which is what the practice of forgiveness is about, contributes to a more harmonious experience of life for all involved, but most especially for you; and you are the only one you have any true, lasting influence with. I know… Forgiveness is easier said than done at times, but doable, if we really understand what forgiveness is about. Forgiveness is ultimately about us, about expanding our spiritual nature and wisdom, about releasing ourselves from the prison without bars that resentment, in its many forms, keeps us and our lives and our love trapped inside.
Here are two significant reasons to practice forgiveness:
What It Does to You: Resentment causes your moments in life to be miserable or less than they can be because you’re living through your ego-mind and not in your moment and not as your Spiritual Being, most of the time. You wake, go through your day, and go to sleep holding a grudge, or more than one. This means your ego-mind is controlling you rather than you choosing for yourself how to feel and be. So you feel angry or upset, but powerless or, worse, destructive. You identify with ego-mind’s interpretation and script rather than Spiritual Being’s understanding, wisdom, and true power.
Powerless is a concept of ego-mind, which it encourages you to feel, because, as Tolle is cited above, ego-mind believes if it fumes or rants long enough, that will somehow resolve the issue… possibly, that others will prefer not to incur your wrath so will behave the way your ego wants them to. If this really worked, well… it’s obvious it doesn’t, because, for one thing, none of us have the only ego on the block. Nor does taking destructive action create the feeling of restored peace and balance you actually desire as a Spiritual Being, though ego-mind will attempt to convince you it will satisfy you. But even ego-mind is not satisfied by this action and will continue to hold resentment.
Then there’s the matter of what it does to your body. Any level of anger releases chemicals in your body that immediately, in some cases, but eventually, in all cases, creates one or more health imbalances and even disease. And, resentment causes these chemicals to re-release on a consistent basis. One health “bible” I recommend everyone have on their bookshelf is Louise Hay’s book, You Can Heal Your Life. At the back of the book is a comprehensive list that links health imbalances and diseases to emotions. I’ve used this for myself and others since I discovered it in the 1980s. If you want to understand what we do to ourselves through improper use of emotions (and what can be done about it), this is the book that demonstrates it clearly.
How Resentment Causes You to Behave: It causes you to speak poorly about others. Yes, venting is sometimes necessary; but not all commentary is done to vent and then resolve an issue. If it was, many of us would have no long-standing issues; and we know that’s not the case.
There are three BIG reasons speaking poorly about others is a no-no:
Reason 1 involves Law of Attraction. I’ve bumped my head against this one a number of times and I’m finally getting the message: What you speak of you get more of. Having this one manifest in my life irks me because I really DO know better. As I said, I’m much improving in this. And not just by not speaking about certain things, but also by not dwelling in the thought forms that might be spoken but aren’t. Better thoughts are a choice. Even better is if they stem from enlightened insight.
Reason 2 is that you may say things you can never (and I mean never) take back. Even if the person forgives you, you may have a challenge forgiving yourself. And then there’s gossip, which Gandhi said is a form of violence, which it is… to whomever is being gossiped about, and to the gossiper.
Reason 3 is one that often escapes our notice because we’re too busy feeling self-righteous: We demonstrate more about how out of true consciousness and balance we are to others than we ever intended to. Ouch!
But this isn’t about keeping your mouth shut and your feelings pent up. It isn’t about denying what happened or putting a false positive spin on it. It’s about deliberately not giving it more energy with your thoughts than is genuinely required, and doing so from enlightened insight about why this is important to YOU. Again, venting to a support person in order to move forward is different than telling anyone and everyone about what’s bothering you about something or someone, especially if you have no intention of doing anything constructive about it at the inner or outer levels.
Here are two significant ways to practice forgiveness:
First: Know that resentment puts your ego-mind on what happened, recently or long ago, and not on what good or something better you can create Now. As author Augusten Burroughs said about regret, “Like all the other high-octane feelings-anger, jealousy, love-regret can be burned as fuel. In fact, it should be. Regret should power something beneficial,” do the same with resentment. Power something beneficial for all involved, even if this means the only thing you do or can do is release your resentment. This is more empowering than you may now realize or imagine.
Second: This significant way to practice forgiveness may seem an unusual one, for some at least, but it’s one of the quickest ways to release resentment and gain conscious wisdom. It’s all about the Mirror Effect… or another way to put it: It’s all about ME. The Mirror Effect is based on attention to the FACT that others reflect us. They reflect what we do or what we’ve done, in some measure and in some way. This is one I use often, and often just shake my head when I do it and have the inevitable realization. It can be annoying, upsetting, or liberating to see the truth of the Mirror Effect, but your response is a personal choice.
Let’s do a quick demonstration right now. Please be completely honest with yourself so you get the full benefit. Think of someone you hold resentment about or have a complaint or criticism of at this time. State to yourself, in one concise sentence, what you’re upset with them about. Are you now or have you ever done the same or something similar to them or someone else, or at all, in any manner? Though I have plenty of my own examples, I’ll use an obvious one someone said to me once: “I cannot tolerate intolerant people!”
Relationships-personal, professional, and social-can be the trickiest. You may recall the quote, “Familiarity breeds contempt.” But is contempt the only thing familiarity breeds? No; nor does it have to. What leads to that contempt is ego-mind chattering away about what it wants or needs, based on its fears and insecurities. Our Spiritual Being self has the power to address what-is quite differently. Viktor Frankl, a concentration camp survivor, contributed powerful writings about his experiences and choices. One of his statements is, “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
What causes any of us to do some of the things we do, to make some of the choices we make? Sometimes, we aren’t objective enough or conscious enough to do better in a particular moment. Practice looking at others’ situations and at possible reasons for their behaviors and choices, by looking at your own behaviors and choices, current and past.
We tend to feel justified in our behaviors, but deny this to others. We don’t understand how they can make certain choices, but we expect our motivations to be readily apparent and accepted. We can release some of our judgments and resentments of others, if not all of them eventually, and even of ourselves, if we use this Mirror Effect (It’s All About ME) exercise. When you become more understanding about this with yourself, it becomes easier to be more compassionate and empathetic with others. Amazing shifts happen when we do this.
If you want to live the higher form of love, and serenity, which is resentment-free, YOU have to do that, not wait for others to give you a reason to do that or respond in kind. You have to find your why and your how within you then practice it. You can give others a reason to respond in kind to you first. This doesn’t mean you allow abusive behavior. Speak up. Even break your association, in extreme or particular cases, if that’s required.
But you can do either of these from personal power and empathy for how challenged we all feel when we live from the unconsciousness of ego-mind and not Being, rather than act from anger that keeps you bound by resentment and limited in how you experience your life. If you are not free of resentments, you’ll find there are other areas of your life where you don’t experience freedom or harmony. No part is ever truly separate from the whole.
The best way to not carry resentment is to put it down on the path and leave it behind. When you put this into practice, you begin to relax. You begin to release. You begin to let go of expectations of others to be perfect, just as you don’t wish to have that expectation placed on you. You begin to find life and being with others easier, and they begin to find it easier to be with you, too. Fewer resentments build. Fewer causes happen to trigger resentments.
All behaviors create a loop. Might as well loop around what you prefer to experience, as much as you can. You and how you experience life and others can become more joyful, or at least easier, which is what ego-mind desires but doesn’t know how to accomplish. But your Spiritual Being self does. Release resentments to free up parts of your life that don’t work as well as you’d like, because then you are freer energy-wise than you have been. Don’t just imagine a resentment-free experience, become it. See what this attracts into your life. It’s a good practice, one you’ll appreciate.
Practice makes progress.
© Joyce Shafer
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