Most of us have experienced some level of resentment at one point or another in our lives. Resentment can spiral out of control, fester and begin to take over our thoughts, actions and even our well-being. Resentment can overwhelm our innate sense of joy and ease. How can we overcome these feelings and regain contentment and peace of mind? Here are 10 steps to help control the downward spiral of resentment.
1. Understand what resentment is. Resentment can show up as bitterness over the perception of being treated unfairly. It can manifest through jealousy, anger, hatred and resentment. It is important to understand that resentment is all about you. It is your emotion.
2. Once you have identified that dark, bitter feeling that begins to grow from within, call yourself out on it. Ask yourself, “What is this ugliness I am feeling?” Look at it. Examine it. Roll it over in your mind. Acknowledge your feelings.
3. Ask “Why?” What caused you to feel this way? Did this come from jealousy? Do you believe you have been wronged in some way? Do you have a sense of righteousness about your feelings? Recognize the trigger for your feelings.
4. Understand that only you can control your feelings. The feelings associated with resentment set off a negative chain of reactions in your mind and body that can damage your relationships at home, at work and even your health. Once you understand that you are experiencing resentment and why, you can begin to take ownership of your feelings rather than project them on to another person or situation. Taking ownership puts you back in control.
5. Prepare to be rid of resentment. In the emotion of resentment, you are having a conversation with yourself. Now is the time to change the conversation. Using tools such as those offered by Newberg and Waldmen from Words Can Change Your Brain (2012); take time to slow your breathing, begin to relax the muscles in your face, neck and shoulders. Deepen your breath. Try to yawn a time or two. Begin to sigh through your exhale, noticing the vibration of the sound in your chest. This allows you to relax and focus your brain, as well as release the tension caused by your emotion.
6. Imagine the voice that keeps playing in your head. Who is doing the talking? Ask yourself, “Is this who I am?” “Is this my innermost value?” No. It is not. Now identify your deepest value. Is it happiness? Peace? Compassion?
7. Remember that your true self is essentially the energy of love. Try to remember a time when you experienced yourself as love. If you have trouble finding that memory, look for that part of you that identified your innermost value. Recognize that quality in yourself.
8. Now that you have rediscovered this part of your self, look for these qualities in your environment. Find the beauty around you everywhere you look; perhaps a smiling face, a flowering plant, a busy squirrel, a contented pet. Acknowledge this beauty in your life. Find gratitude in the joy you are experiencing and your ability to recognize it.
9. Offer this expression of beauty, life, and happiness to others. Consider the feelings of others. A simple gesture will do: A smile, opening a door for a stranger, offering your seat on the bus, or letting a driver into a crowded lane. By putting your negativity aside, you open the gates for goodness to flow through you. Your emotions and your spirit spiral upward.
10. When circumstances arise in which you find your emotions leading down the path of resentment, recognize that you are exactly where you are meant to be in this moment. You are on your own path and you have the ability to choose the higher ground. Using these steps will help you reclaim your peace of mind and find compassion in the situation. Ultimately, your inner peace and well-being will hinge on your ability to forgive. Let go and let love express through you.
Dr. Mary Jayne Rogers is an Exercise Physiologist specializing in whole-person wellness and fitness education and instruction. As an educator, Mary Jayne brings multi-dimensional wellness and fitness experiences along with a welcoming and genuine teaching style to inspire students and wellness enthusiasts of all ages. Dr. Rogers is the owner of Profound Wellness LLC.