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Overcoming Anger And Resentment: How To Embrace Forgiveness

    Forgiveness Sets Us Free From Anger And Resentment

    There is much anger in the world today.  We are angry at our government.  We’re pissed off about the cost of food, the price of gas, the unprecedented levels of increasing governmental control and the state of our healthcare system. 

    I’m sure you can add many more items to this short list, but in the end, many if not all of these things can make you experience anger, frustration and perhaps more.  These pent up feeling, over time, can solidify and we can find ourselves full of rage, hatred, smoldering with resentment or paralyzed by trauma.

    Resentment VS Anger

    Resentment is not the same as anger.  Anger is a typically a short lived emotion which is natural and survival oriented.  Anger often starts off as an aggravation, irritation or frustration.  We can experience anger when someone gets our parking place or pulls in front of us on the freeway.  Resentment on the other hand can be much more.

    Resentment has been compared to holding on to a burning ember with the intention of throwing it at someone else.  Unfortunately all we end up doing is burning ourselves.  When we feel resentful, we feel the pain of the past over and over again.  It not only takes a toll on our emotional well-being, it can negatively impact our physical health as well.

    How Resentment Effect Us

    Resentment works on the body and mind twenty-four hours a day.  The amount of mental, emotional and physical energy required for us to stuff these feelings and keep them at bay is astronomical.   When we do, we can be left feeling obsessive, angry and depressed.

    Anger and resentment can impact our heart by weaken our heart rate and increasing our blood pressure.  It can disrupt our brain waves impacting our ability to think clearly and make good decisions.  Likewise, it can distress our muscular-skeletal systems producing headaches, stomach aches, muscle and joint pain, dizziness and feeling of fatigue.  It can also depress our immune system leaving it harder to ward off disease.

    The Unseen Aspect Of Resentment

    There is another huge implication that is often overlooked when you talk about resentment.  When we are resentful, we are giving individuals and situation power over us: power over our sleep, our appetites, our blood pressure, our health, and our happiness.  

    And the truth is, the other person involved in the situation isn’t hurting at all, only we are. 

    Forgiveness Can Free Us From Anger And Resentment

    Hard as this may be to hear, the only way of moving past feelings of anger and resentment is to forgive.  Many of us don’t want to bring forgiveness into our lives because we believe we are letting the parties involved get away with something.  

    This can set us on a path of bitterness and revenge or we may try to let it go and forget it.  Many times we can succeed in burying our memories of hurt or anger but they are still affecting us.  These memories sit just below the surface waiting to rear their ugly heads. 

    And so while we may not be thinking about them, they are still there taking a toll on us physically, mentally and emotionally. 

    What Is Forgiveness?

    • Forgiveness is not forgetting. If we are wounded deeply enough to require forgiveness, we may always have a memory of it.
    • Forgiveness is not Excusing or condoning. What happened should never be denied, minimized, or justified.
    • Forgiveness is not Reconciling. We can forgive the offender and still choose not to have or reestablish a relationship.
    • Forgiveness is not Weakness.  It is not about becoming a doormat or oblivious to cruelty.

    Forgiveness is about giving up the resentment we hold against someone and letting go of our burning desire to punish them.  The goal of forgiveness is to let go of our hurt so we can begin to fill our lives with positive thoughts and begin directing our energy forward again. 

    Forgiveness Is Not Excusing

    There is one thing that I think it is critical to understand…

    When we forgive someone, it does not absolve them from responsibility for what they have done.  It does not excuse them.  It simply frees us from being affected in harmful ways.

    So as you embark on the road to forgiveness, here are a few points I think it is important to consider:

    Realize you are ultimately responsible for your own feelings and for healing the hurt that is going on inside of you.  Understand that love is what you ultimately want for yourself,  from yourself.  Be aware that forgiving is a courageous act.  It has nothing to do with whether the other person can admit they are wrong, use it instead to liberate yourself.

    Forgiving Is A Process

    • Be willing to do what it takes to forgive. 
    • A simple way to begin is to read other people’s stories of forgiveness. 
    • Become mindful of when your thoughts move to anger and resentment and return to the present moment.
    • Write your thoughts and feelings in a journal or see a therapist
    • Perhaps you can take a class on forgiveness. 
    • All of these things can begin healing the deep emotional wounds within you. 

    Confront Your Emotional Pain

    Be open to the fact that some of these wounds may be tied to past hurts going back as far as your childhood.  Recognize that the situations may have been very unfair, but it is time let go of being a victim and regain your power.

    Let Go Of Expectations

    Become aware of all the “should’ve” in your thinking and speaking such as:

    • He shouldn’t have done this to me.
    • She shouldn’t act that way.
    • He should have known better.

    Decide To Forgive.

    Accept The Lessons Involved.

    Even if this decision is half-hearted at first, it will probably lessen your hurt and anger immediately.  View  this situation as an opportunity for healing and growth.   See what the situation has revealed to you and be open to facing up to our part in a situation and accept it..  Be grateful of the opportunity to discover an area in your psyche which needed healing.

    Ask yourself:

    • What have I learned from this event?
    • Has some form of attachment to a belief caused me this pain?
    • If so, what belief or beliefs were involved?

    A Final Note On Anger, Resentment & Forgiveness

    And I will say this again because it is so important…Understand that forgiveness does not condone or approve harmful acts.  In the same breath, forgiveness does not mean we have to allow ourselves to be abused.  We are forgiving the doer, not the doing.

    So while you might find your self feeling bitter and full of hatred, now more than ever is the time to forgive.  We as a people can’t exist in an environment filled with anger and resentment.   But together we can shift the energy on the planet and create a world of peace. 

    As John Lennon would say:  “give peace a chance”.

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