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“Holding anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.” Gautama Buddha
Resentments arise from failed expectations. You expect people or situations to differ from what they are. You expect things to be as you want them, as if you were God. People shouldn’t be hurtful, neglectful, or deceitful. People should be loving, considerate, generous, and kind. But this is not Reality. People are not always loving, considerate, or kind. People, including you, can be hurtful, neglectful, and deceitful. You’re picking a fight with Reality when you expect Reality to differ from what it is. When you do this, Reality always wins. Whenever you feel hurt, disappointed, resentful, or even angry, identify the unrealistic expectations that fuel your suffering. You will see you abandoned your mandate to honor what is.
Resentments destroy. There is a saying that “hatred destroys the hater.” The bitterness of resentments consumes your joy. When you tighten the noose of resentment around someone’s neck, you choke yourself. Resentment makes people spiritually ill. You suffer, and in your suffering, you cause suffering for others. Too many of people then descend into a world in which they forget everything except their grudges.
When you let others anger you, they conquer you. Resentments remove you from the present moment into a dark and negative thought-world. You lose touch with the goodness of life. You are a prisoner of your anger, unable to stand out in the light of life.
For some, even the smallest of “mis-expectations” cause resentment. If you become resentful over petty matters, what does that make you?
By releasing your resentments, you set yourself free. Several techniques exist to let go of resentments:
- Imagine the person you resent as a child. See they were once innocent. Reflect on the fact that no one chooses their genes, their character, their parents, or their environment growing up. See that if you were they, you would have acted exactly as they did.
- Reflect on the harm you have done to others. Acknowledge your own ego, which wants to control life, including others, to your own advantage, without regard for the well-being of others. See that everyone struggles with this trait. Recognize that everyone manages their egos imperfectly. No one is invulnerable to harming others.
- As you consider another person’s harmful behavior, contemplate the role of their disease, their ignorance, or their situation in their actions.
- Pray for the person who has harmed you. This invites forgiveness.
- Give something to the person you resent. Do something for them.
- Accept what has happened and move on. Accept people as they are and Reality as it is—a perfectly imperfect universe that only seems imperfect from your limited point of view.
- Drop expectations of people, places, or things being other than they are, while holding others accountable for their actions.
- Assert yourself—do what you must to protect yourself from harm and to improve your situation. Remember that love requires boundaries. Different people need more or less boundaries, depending upon how intimate you are with them and how destructive they might be. Put up proper boundaries so you can love without being harmed.
- Remember the sacredness of all things. All people are sacred and deserving of your utmost respect.
- Let go of injured pride. It was never about you in the first place. Practice patience, tolerance and equanimity. Respond with love and care from a place of mindful calm and tranquility. Treat others with respect and care because you are a respectful and caring person.
- See all that Life brings you not as reward, harm, or punishment, but as an opportunity for growth, liberation, and a deepening of your humility.
- Contemplate on the fact that resentment only hurts you. “It is like taking a poison and hoping the other person dies.” You suffer the most from your resentments.