Releasing Resentment In Your Relationship How Resentment Starts When you feel wronged by another person, you naturally feel frustrated. If your ability to directly express your feelings of frustration is restricted, resentment develops. Resentment results from the compounding of the initial feelings of frustration with the inability to express those feelings. Resentment is especially powerful when experienced within our primary relationships, particularly with a spouse or romantic partner.
Why Resentment Works Resentment serves as a defense for us against painful feelings. Instead of continually carrying our pain and being forced to keep feeling it ourselves, we assign our pain to someone or something outside of us. Projecting our painful feelings onto someone else temporarily allows us to avoid feeling it ourselves. It feels safer and more comfortable to feel resentful towards someone else instead of carrying our pain within ourselves. It seems better to have the pain focused outside, rather than struggling with it internally. However, resentment becomes its own burden for us to carry. Avoiding pain by projecting it onto someone else works temporarily, but builds up within us until the resentment is its own festering sore.
Releasing Resentment – Feeling The Pain The first step in releasing resentment is to be willing to feel the initial hurt. We must be able to look under the surface of the resentment and find the true pain. Often, there is a core feeling that you are avoiding of being not good enough, or being not worthy of love. Once the core issue has been identified, you must work through those feelings, experiencing them fully. This step is painful, and may well involve tears, but it is important to truly engage with these feelings. Once you are willing to feel and process your hurt, you no longer need the resentment. You can let go of the heavy burden of resentment.
Releasing Resentment: Taking Back Your Power In processing the original painful feelings, you must be willing to understand what part you might have played in contributing to the pain of the situation. This does not mean that you are fully responsible. Taking on all the blame and making the entire situation your fault is not helpful. However, just as it is not all your fault, it is not entirely your partner’s fault. When you acknowledge your own part in contributing to the situation, you are taking back your own personal power to impact change. If you believe the situation had nothing to do with you, then you are denying yourself any power to effect change and help correct or change the situation. If you can recognize that you played a part in creating the painful situation, then you will be able to recognize your power to positively influence the situation.
Reframing Limitations The next step in working through your resentment is noticing that the partner you resent has a particular state of mind and a particular way of seeing life. Every person has a unique perspective, and your partner’s actions are ultimately consistent with his or her limited awareness, skills, and perceptions of the situation. It is true that if your partner was wiser and more aware, then he or she would be able to act differently, but the reality is the partner isn't wiser and more aware. Your partner only has the limited awareness that he or she has, just as you only have your own limited perspective.
Educating Your Partner To Get Things Right The Next Time For a relationship to be successful, you need to acknowledge that your partner is doing the very best he or she can from his or her unique perspective. Your partner also suffers as a result of his or her limitations, just as you do. Instead of simply settling for your partners lack of knowledge and limitations, take an opportunity to educate your partner about what took place that did not get said, but certainly was felt when the resentment was created. A Powerful Tool! Here is a quick and powerful formula for having that discussion with your partner. Find a time when you can spend about 15 minutes in a calm and focused place with your partner, free of distractions like cell phones or interruptions. Explain that you would like to take a minute to share an important event that took place in the past with your partner. Let them know that your intention is not to blame or shame them, in fact the goal is to learn how to do things better as a couple should a similar situation occur in the future. Alert your partner that all they have to do is listen and either agree or not agree with your request once they have heard it.
Here is the 3 step template of exactly what to say to your partner: 1. When You… 2. I Felt… 3. Therefore What I Would Like Is…
It would sound something like this: 1. When you were late for my birthday dinner… 2. I felt like you didn’t value me or my special day… 3. Therefore what I would like is that when we agree on a time for a special day like birthdays, that you would do your very best to be there on time. It is then that your partner responds with a simple phrase like “yes, I will do that and thank you for caring enough about me to be honest.”
That is it. It is a simple way to get your feelings heard in your relationship while also increasing your partners knowledge and insight about your needs so that they will be able to do a better job next time.
Are You Willing To Release Resentment? Are you willing to forgive your partner for not being wiser and more aware? Are you willing to forgive your partner for acting consistently with his or her limited ability? Are you willing to forgive your partner for the damage that was caused? Are you willing to express your true and honest feelings with your partner? Are you willing to take a risk to release past pain?
Releasing Resentment Frees You From Pain Remember that forgiveness is for you, not the other partner. Forgiveness is a choice that you make to let go of your resentment. It is a choice to free yourself from the recurring pain, to choose to not re-experience it over and over again. Today, consider letting go of a single piece of your resentment so that you can get on with your life. You might well be surprised by how much better you feel when you choose to release even one small bit of resentment.