“Resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.” ~ Carrie Fisher
Resentment – it’s a corrosive emotion that causes damage to the container, no matter how cautiously you try to hold it in.
Why do we get resentful? You might not have ever been consciously aware of it, but resentment always comes down to time. We feel resentful when we believe we’ve wasted time on something or someone.
Most of us start out in a relationship or activity giving willingly of our time. In fact, all of us have been in situations where we consciously choose to put our own needs, wants or interests to one side BECAUSE of what we consider to be a higher priority. We want to invest in a new relationship, we want the person we love to achieve their dreams, we want to give a new job our best shot, we want to give everything we can to the raising of our children. We make sacrifices. And at the start we are glad to do that, even though it means we move into a place of imbalance.
But over time, if we don’t begin get a pay-off for the sacrifice we’re making (enough money, appreciation, acknowledgement etc) we start to get that niggly uncomfortable feeling that reminds us we are off our path. In fact, if we are still neglecting the things that are important to us longer term, even if we are now well remunerated or appreciated, resentment will show up in our lives.
As a society we deal with resentment in one of three main ways, and usually in this order:
- We swallow it down and become a ‘martyr’, carrying on in our unfulfilling life and always putting others first. We keep a lid on resentment, or worse: begin to live a colourless formless life that is all about function and never about heart or art.
- We simmer with anger and crankiness, which pops up unexpectedly in our lives as over-the-top reactions to people and situations, or as passive aggression. We develop a fondness for muttering under our breath or closing doors just a little too hard.
- We slide into depression, despair and apathy. We begin to give up on ourselves and our dreams. We lose faith in ourselves and our abilities.
So what are we going to do about it?
If you suspect that you are burdened with resentment in any area of your life I’m going to ask you to do something radical.
Stop for a minute, and invite Resentment to come have a chat with you. Don’t be intimidated by them, or scared. Resentment looks like a five year old stompy-footed version of yourself…
The stompy-footed five year old inside you is very clear about what’s not working in your life right now, so why not let them get it all off their chest.
The best way to work with your Inner Child directly is to have a conversation between the Big You, and the Little You. You can do this through what is known as Left Hand – Right Hand Dialogue. It’s an easy thing to do! Simply find some different coloured pens or pencils. Use your dominant hand (the one you usually write with) to be the Big You, the conscious awareness of you as an adult. Choose one pen for this hand. Then use your non-dominant hand to represent your Little You, and let that hand pick a pen, or pens to write the responses.
Have your Big You write a question for your Little You, and then let your Little You respond. The writing will be awkward, so don’t worry about spelling or vocabulary. What you’ll get is honesty, and love, and isn’t that all we really ever need to get clear about life?
Here are some suggested questions to use with your Inner Child work:
- Why are we so angry?
- What’s the worst thing about right now?
- What would we prefer to be doing?
- What would make us happier?
Of course, your Inner Child will have a list of hurts and complaints, but don’t expect it to be all everyone else’s fault. Your Inner Child has a lucidity and an honesty that will get right to the heart of your situation, and it might not be what you think!
I’ll share an example from my own life (about fifteen years ago) at a time when I was just starting to get hugely busy with my spiritual and psychic work. I still had a corporate communication business, but my spiritual work was taking more and more of my time. I was becoming ‘very professional’ and ‘successful’ as a psychic, and my quiet love had become a business in its own right. I was also feeling a little burned out, and my initial enthusiasm was waning:
Big Nicole: Hi Little Nicole, why are you so cranky right now?
Little Nicole: It’s just not fair! We never have fun anymore. You only ever use your cards for the other people. When do we get to play with them? Why don’t we just play with the crystals like we used to, or go sit in the garden with all the fairies? You’re always too busy. I hate that. And Mr X is so mean and stupid to you at work. It doesn’t even pay good money!!!
Oh. I hadn’t expected that. I thought the problem was that my husband left his dirty dishes on the counter and could never get them into the dishwasher. I thought it was my never-shrinking to-do list and the things I never got time to get to. I thought it was all these other things…
When you have finished writing with your Inner Child, go make yourself a cup of tea or get a nice cold drink (yes, take the time to have a five minute disconnect from the process you just worked with – you need to be firmly back in your adult brain for this next bit ) and then sit down and read over what you wrote.
Your Inner Child has given you a magical list of resentment remedies. Take a pen and underline the important parts of what they said to you.
Little Nicole: It’s just not fair! We never have fun anymore. You only ever use your cards for the other people. When do we get to play with them?Why don’t we just play with the crystals like we used to, or go sit in the garden with all the fairies? You’re always too busy. I hate that. And Mr X is so mean and stupid to you at work. It doesn’t even pay good money!!!
Now you need to put your Inner Child’s guidance into action. Start by finding some small windows of time just for you. Following my own Inner Child’s advice I gave myself the gift of ten minutes (that’s nothing! – anyone can find ten minutes!!!) each morning to choose a daily card, reflect and write a few insights, and play with my crystal collection. One day a week I took a half-hour walk out in nature. Even though the amount of time I was gifting back to myself was small it made a huge positive change in the sense of freedom and expansion in my everyday world.
Little Nicole was also right about the mean man – I had a corporate client who was hugely demanding, calling me at home on weekends and expecting me to work 20 hour days to complete projects to his insane deadlines. I finished my contract with his organisation and walked away, knowing that I had enough clients to work at my spiritual ‘job’ full time.
And I asked my husband to please put his plates in the dishwasher, and after asking him, he did!
My resentment melted away because I was honouring my own needs and making space for them in my life.
We feel resentment when there is not enough time for our own dreams and interests. Of course our resentment will find a place to focus our attention, so we end up thinking it’s our annoying boss, or our ungrateful husband, or our demanding children who are ruining our lives. But in fact, it was us and our choices all along. And in the beginning we were happy with those choices.
By making time for ourselves and our dreams, our lives become more fulfilling and sustainable – and we find that the unbearable becomes tolerable again. We might even regain our zest for the things that are currently dragging us down.
Resentment always has simple antidotes. It is about reclaiming a corner of your life for YOU! Life is short, and precious. Don’t taint it with resentment – it’s just not worth it. There’s always a better way. Today I’m holding the intention that you find clarity, and the courage to take action to make your life more aligned with your Soul. ❤ Much love to you xx