“Holding on to anger, resentment and hurt only gives you tense muscles, a headache and a sore jaw from clenching your teeth. Forgiveness gives you back the laughter and the lightness in your life.” – Joan Lunden
One of the best things you can do for yourself when it comes to letting go of stress is to let go of old resentments. Nothing good ever came from holding a grudge or letting the resentment build up inside you.
Resentment is like a broken record, where your mind plays out the same scenario repeatedly. Each time you hit the replay button you also replay the anger and other feelings associated with the incident. The more you do this, the deeper the bitterness, resentment and pain wedge into your mind and body.
Reliving anger also evokes the stress response in our bodies: racing heart, spike in your blood pressure, shallow breathing, and even muscular tension. And the worst part is, by holding on to all this anger, resentment, and stress the only person you are hurting is yourself. Quite often, the person you are upset with has already either forgotten or moved on from the incident that has you so upset.
Fortunately, there are methods you can use to work on letting go of resentment and the stress that goes along with it.
Hit the “stop” button.
Instead of continually hitting the replay button in your mind, hit the stop button instead. Living in the past causes stress in its own right because you can’t do anything to change the situation. Recognizing this helps you to move on and let go of the anger and resentment, and the stress that those negative emotions carry with them.
Accept responsibility for your thoughts and actions.
In order to move on, it’s important that you accept responsibility for your own part in the incident, and also for your own thoughts and feelings now. When you are feeling resentful, it’s easy to get stuck in the victim mentality. If it fuels a sense of righteousness at the same time, it’s also hard to let go and admit that maybe you played a part in what happened as well.
Using a journal to record your thoughts can help with this. Putting your thoughts and emotions down on paper is a great way to let them go.
As tempting as it might be to hold on to past hurts, forgiving others makes it much easier for you to let go of resentment and stress. Forgiveness is more for you than it is for the other person. It doesn’t mean you’ve forgotten the hurt, it means you have made a conscious decision to let it go and move on with your life.
As you learn to let go of resentment, you will find yourself living more in the present moment. It’s very freeing to not have those old hurts taking up space in your head and causing you stress. It may not happen overnight, but as you practice letting go you will find that it does get easier.
You are the only one who can change your thoughts and decide when the right time is to stop the continuous loop in playing in your head. Use these tips to move through the process from feeling resentment to practicing forgiveness, and you will also find that it’s easy to let go of the negative emotions and the stress caused by them.