Resentment can ruin a relationship. If you don’t figure out how to let go of resentment in a relationship, it can be one of the biggest reasons for a breakup. There can be various reasons a person may become resentful but one of the main causes is definitely unhealed emotional wounds of the past that get triggered at the slightest provocation or by the most trivial of events.
Resentment makes a person bitter and toxic. It creates trust and anger issues and can be detrimental to one’s mental health if left to fester within for too long. Resentment can break the strongest of relationships because it’s a nagging feeling of having been treated unfairly. Dealing with resentment is important. It may seem hard at first but it’s imperative that you learn to let go of it.
What Is Resentment?
Sally met 80-year-old retired physicist Richard on a flight to Toronto. “From ‘x’ and ‘y’, I am now fascinated with ‘I’,’’ he said. “Who am I? What is the purpose of my life? What do I do with what is left of me, in me? These questions have intrigued me all my life. Finally, I have the time to take it up more seriously,” he said.
Sally learnt that he was traveling with an entire bunch of people who were disciples of a saint and his teachings, which mainly dealt with the science of Self Realization. They got talking about the soul, karma and, of course, her favorite subject, coupledom. The moment she told Richard about her quest, understanding man-woman relationships, he had her in his thrall. Such deep concepts explained so simply.
“You have a karmic attachment with your spouse. You both bonded over Raga and Dvesha”. Seeing Sally’s confused expression, he explained, “Raga means desire, attachment, want, need. These are the things you want to do, keep, have, feel and experience with regards to your spouse. He brings happiness and pleasure, makes you feel secure and cares for you. But then, you are also fused with him on dvesha, which is resentment. Dvesha means anger, pain, disappointment, at times even hatred and depression.”
This brings me to the question: What is resentment? Well, resentment is often described as an angry and emotional reaction to being treated unjustly or, as the Oxford Languages Dictionary, puts it – a “bitter indignation at having been treated unfairly”. It’s basically experiencing overwhelming and bitter feelings as a result of unjust or negative treatment by loved ones. Resentment often causes irreparable damage to one’s trust in love and relationships.
Resentment can also cause one to feel shame, bitterness, anger and harbor a desire for revenge over the most of trivial issues or even serious ones – an insensitive comment made by a friend, unjust treatment by family (intentional or unintentional) or criticism at work. The person may feel victimized and hold on to the hurt and grudge for a long time until it comes out in the form of emotional outbursts of anger.
Someone going through resentment may feel a whole range of emotions including disgust, disappointment, anger, fear and shock. Letting go of resentment or forgiving the person who caused it may become extremely difficult for those dealing with resentment. They may forget the incident or event but the resentment caused as a result of it remains within them for years.
Related Reading: 9 Signs He Regrets Hurting You
Why Does It Happen?
“How could a man know so much and express it so easily without merely passing any judgment on the very unpleasant dvesha, which I seemed to have in plenty too?” Sally wondered.
Almost as if reading her mind, Richard said, “I have been married for a good 45 years, so I have probably experienced far more of both raga and dvesha. Every person on this flight has felt both too, and in as much degree. Raga and dvesha are the glue that bind a couple together or any relationship in our lives, for that matter, causing them to heap pain on each other, resulting in more and more karmic debt.”
But, why does a person become resentful? Well, there can be several reasons but the most common seems to be being mistreated or wronged or betrayed by another person. Resentment is an extremely destructive, poisonous and difficult feeling to overcome or let go. It engulfs you physically, emotionally and psychologically causing severe damage to one’s mental health and well-being.
Resentment can be experienced all over again by recent events in one’s life like being rejected at an interview, being put down or humiliated by others, being neglected within the family, non-recognition of achievements, betrayed in love, being taken advantage of, and not being heard, among other things. The feeling of resentment usually originates from past experiences of insult or wrongdoing by someone.
It stems from events or situations that happened a long time ago. It can dissipate if the person who caused it renders an apology, but that’s easier said than done. Abusive parents, public humiliation or embarrassment…these are other reasons why people become resentful. A hurtful or mean comment or a careless action is enough to make a person resentful. They tend to replay the negative thoughts making it difficult for them to let go, forgive and move on.
How To Let Go Of Resentment?
“We have to take steps to resolve this debt, on each other,” Richard said. “If you are responsible for beginning the hurt, take a moment and step back. When you are ready, go to him and confess your wrongdoing. After that, ask for his forgiveness and assure him that you will try your best not to repeat it,” he explained.
“Even if I do that, I know I would be lying. I mean, how can I not repeat it? I will, and so would he!” Sally said vehemently. “Just mean it then,” Richard said calmly.
“When you are asking for absolution, mean it then. All of us operate from different levels of consciousness throughout the day. At least, at that moment, operate from the higher levels. If you are convinced in your heart that you are the one starting the cycle of hurt, wait for the moment till you feel genuine remorse. It is enough if you mean sorry then. Do not bother where you will be next time or even if you would do it again,” he explained.
“Hmmm….”, Sally said, not convinced. “It will be the start of something big or small. I can’t tell you that. But it will be a start I promise you,” Richard said. There was so much faith in his voice as he told her that. “What if he started the cycle of hurt?”, Sally then asked.
“Forgive him that instant. Do not tie him down with more karma. Tell him, ‘I know it is not you, the pure soul who is hurting me. It is the man XYZ that you are now who is hurting me, and I am letting it go.’ When you care for someone, and he cares back, it will be difficult for him to continue with new cycles of hurt. If you do not hurt him back for the old ones, it will be impossible for him to hurt you again.”
“Very Zen,” Sally told him. “Will it work?”
“Well, you must have tried several ways by now, I am sure. Try this now,” Richard concluded.
Related Reading: On-Again-Off-Again Relationships – How To Break The Cycle
Dealing with resentment is hard but letting go of resentment is harder. Hard, but not impossible. If you’re wondering how to let go of resentment or how to stop resenting someone, we may be able to help you. Resentment can be both a dissipating or persistent emotion depending on the event and how adept the person is at dealing with resentment.
Resentment, if left to fester, can prove to be detrimental to your mental health. In such a situation, you may wonder how to get rid of resentment. Well, there are ways. There are letting go exercises and tools to help you figure out how to release resentment. These 5 ways listed below might just help you understand how to get over resentment:
1. Understand your feelings and why you find it difficult to forgive
Before figuring out how to let go of resentment, it is important to understand the root cause of the problem. Introspect and analyze your feelings. Consider where those overwhelming feelings of anger, disappointment, disgust and fear are coming from. What do you feel when you think of those unpleasant past experiences? This is the first step to letting go of resentment.
2. Practice compassion toward yourself
Learn to be compassionate toward yourself. Resentment, when kept inside for a long period of time, can provide you with a sense of familiarity and security because those are the emotions you’ve felt and held on to for years. It may have become your coping mechanism, but in the long run, it can prove to be poisonous and damaging to your mental health and well-being. Practicing self compassion and mindfulness can help you heal.
3. Practice empathy
How to let go of resentment? How to stop resenting someone? If you’re asking yourself these questions, being more empathetic could be the answer. Try empathizing with the person or situation that caused resentment. It might just help you realize or see things from a different perspective. It could have been a misunderstanding that caused you to become resentful. Seeing things from the perspective of the person or event that caused resentment may help in reducing those overwhelming feelings.
Related Reading: 9 Ways To Practice Mindfulness In Intimate Relationships
4. Focus on what you are grateful for
In today’s times, it is very easy to get entangled in a web of negativity. However, instead of victimizing yourself, try to focus on the positive and happy side of things. Maintain a journal of all the things you are grateful for and those that bring you happiness and joy. Make a list of things or people in your life you are grateful and thankful for. It’s one of the most effective letting go exercises there is. Focus on everything that is going right for you, things that you are fortunate enough to have.
5. Consult a therapist
This is one of the most important ways of letting go of resentment. Therapy can prove to be beneficial if you are dealing with resentment. A therapist will help you understand the root cause. They will help in dealing with resentment and guide you in the right direction so you can figure out how to get over resentment through different therapy techniques. The healing process may be difficult at first, but will eventually prove to be fruitful. Making peace with your past will help you move on to better things in your life.
Resentment can make a person toxic. A therapist will be able to help you find the underlying cause and navigate the difficult feelings through effective coping strategies. If you’re stuck in a similar situation and can’t figure out how to release resentment, Bonobology’s panel of licensed and experienced therapists is only a click away.
Resentment can alter a person’s reality to an extent where they become unable to see the positive side of things. It is not a healthy space to be in. Understand that holding on to negative feelings will do you more harm than good. Make an effort to heal for your own well-being. Make an effort to forgive and let go – this is the most important part of the process. Don’t let resentment become a part of your identity.
Resentment is hard to let go of if left to fester within you for a long period of time. The negative feelings of anger, fear and disappointment become so strong over the years that they become a part of your identity. You begin to find security, solace and a sense of familiarity in them.
Take responsibility for your feelings. Introspect and try to find the root cause of the problem. Practice forgiveness, compassion and empathy. Make a list of things and people that bring you joy or you are grateful for. Consult a therapist if needed.
Yes. It is possible for a relationship to recover from resentment. It will require time and effort from both partners. Both of you will have to sit and talk about your problems and learn to forgive each other for the hurt caused. It’s not an easy task but it isn’t impossible either.