“Resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.” Carrie Fisher
If you have ever held on to resentment and anger, you know that the above quote is true. Recently I have struggled with how to let go of resentment, grudges and built-up anger, and I have experienced the detrimental consequences of letting these emotions take over my mind and heart.
When anger struck me, I felt I was detached from the light in me. I felt like I was losing contact with who I really am. I felt I was on the verge of losing contact with the love I have in my heart.
I was so tired of this struggle that lately I focused on reading a lot about letting go of these destructive emotions. This list of strategies is what I started to implement to free myself from the angry thoughts that bring me more harm than anything else.
I thought it would be useful to share with you some strategies that are working for me as I am sure I’m not the only one facing such inner battles. Hope this blog post will be helpful for you to let go and reconnect with the loving and kind person you are inside.
1. Acknowledge that you are full of resentment
I often write that self-awareness is the first step to making a change, whatever that change might be. It is also the first step to releasing anger and resentment. Noticing what’s happening inside you is the first step to changing your emotions.
Once you recognise what these toxic emotions are, you can investigate further to better understand what is happening inside you and why.
2. Recognize the cause of resentment
Figuring out what is causing anger and resentment in your life will help you come up with the best strategy to overcome it.
Ask yourself when the resentment started to build up. Do you feel resentment towards a stranger or towards a family member? Maybe someone close to your heart disappointed you or hurt your feelings? If that’s the case, maybe the solution is to lower your expectations towards that person.
Analyze the context of the resentment that has been poisoning you. The more you know, the easier it will be to choose the right strategy.
3. Take responsibility for your emotions
This point is a tricky one. I know from my own experience how easy it is to blame other people for our emotions and behaviour. I’ve put a lot of work in taking responsibility for what I feel.
Whenever I get angry, I try to pause as quickly as possible and I ask myself a question: “Why am I feeling angry?” What was it that triggered me so much? My instinct was to look for blame somewhere outside but I’ve learned to shift my attention to inside myself and I strongly encourage you to do the same.
Every emotion has something to tell us about ourselves and it is worth listening to the message.
When you take responsibility for your emotions, it will allow you to heal whatever needs to be healed in your life.
Taking responsibility may seem scary but it is the only way to fully connect with the amazing person you are inside.
4. Practise being present
Maybe you have heard about the benefits of mindfulness hundreds of times. Maybe sometimes it is even annoying but when you think about what it means to be present you will see a value in developing this quality in you.
Being mindful essentially means that your mind stops wandering. When you are really connected to the present moment, you can’t think about why you resent someone or you can’t go back to some old hurts.
Being present lets us become aware of what’s happening in our inner and outer world. We become more in tune with ourselves and with the universe. We let go of the judgements and we become more compassionate and understanding. Once you find this place of compassion inside you, letting go becomes much easier.
5. Cultivate forgiveness
I wrote about forgiveness in my other posts. I’m mentioning it again as it is very relevant in this context too.
It is a very difficult process to really forgive. It is often challenging and confronting. I know it from my own experience. But it does bring healing and freedom.
You can read more about various forgiveness strategies in this post:
Here is also a video that I made about forgiveness. Perhaps the strategies I’m sharing here will be useful for you.
6. Find relaxation techniques that work for you
Try out different relaxation techniques and choose the one that works best for you. It might be breathing exercises, yoga or perhaps having aromatherapy. Or maybe the best way for you to relax is going to the gym or catching up with friends.
Whatever it is that makes you relaxed and calms your mind, do it whenever you feel that anger is coming your way.
7. Exercise daily
Physical exercise is an excellent way to release unwanted emotions from your system. Whether you love doing yoga or whether you prefer to go to the gym, do it regularly so that you get rid of the destructive emotions and fill yourself up with endorphins.
Physical exercise may not directly change how you feel about a given situation or person but it will certainly release some anger. Once your mind and body are cleansed of the negative energy it’s holding on to, you can do further work on your thoughts and emotions.
8. Take a break
When you are in one room with a person that makes you feel anger and resentment and you start to feel a new wave of these destructive emotions, leave the room as soon as possible. Take a short break. Take a few deep breaths in and out and let your body and mind reset.
If you can’t leave the room, just go to the corner of the room or to the window and just close your eyes and stop for a few seconds. Realise what’s happening and how you are feeling and ask yourself if this is how you want to feel.
Do you want to waste your energy on anger and frustration?
Stepping aside and asking yourself this question will create a little distance between you and your emotions. When you have a distance, you will have time to choose how you want to feel and react.
You can stop running on autopilot and start to make a conscious decision about how you want to feel and what you want your day to look like, and you take responsibility for your emotions and choosing them, instead of letting them run through you like a destructive lightning storm.
9. Send love to the person you resent
I know it might be difficult at first. It might feel awkward and meaningless but love is the opposite of hatred. So, focusing on loving thoughts will gradually take over your mind and where there used to be anger, love will prevail.
It may take weeks, it may take months or even years but it will happen if you are consistent because love always brings healing in the end.
I would suggest doing this point together with other points so that the healing process is faster. That’s what worked for me best when I was going through forgiveness processes.
If you go really deep and feel compassion and kindness for the person who hurt you, you might end up feeling quite emotional. I remember crying a lot when I was doing this practice thinking about a couple of my family members that emotionally abused me.
It was very emotional but it brought immense relief into my heart.
10. Talk to someone you trust
Sharing your thoughts and feelings with a friend or a coach is invaluable. Sometimes it is enough for someone to really listen to you to bring you not only relief but to also make you notice something new about yourself and about the situation that bothers you so much.
Recently I had a session with a wonderful kinesiologist who helped me release anger from my mind and my body. If you feel you need professional help to process and release whatever needs to be healed, get help. It may cost you some money but it will save you a lot of energy and health, which will save you a lot of money too in the long run.
11. Talk to the person that triggers you
Sometimes it is good to calmly talk to the person that triggers you. If you manage to stay calm and talk to them from a place of love and explain how you feel, it will bring you relief and potentially you might come up with a solution together. Being vulnerable often pays off and brings healing to these areas that need to be healed.
If you feel you really can’t do it. Don’t force yourself. Sometimes talking is simply not an option.
You might try writing a letter to them. Just write it without an intention to send it. Let the words flow, say everything that is bothering you. It will bring you a lot of relief even if the other person will never know about the letter.
12. Nourish gratitude
I like talking about gratitude. There is usually an element of gratitude practice in the workshops that I design and run. When your heart is full of appreciation for everything you have in your life, there is no space left for anger and resentment.
Gratitude and anger don’t hang out together. So if you focus on developing a habit of nourishing every moment of gratitude in your heart, your life will change for the better. You won’t invite anger into your heart because there won’t be space for it.
Do you think it sounds simplistic? Maybe it does, but I encourage you to try a little challenge. Carry a small notebook or notepad with you wherever you go and write down everything you are grateful for whenever you feel that moment of appreciation. You will see how your day will go by and there will be less space for anger and resentment.
If you want to make it more into a routine, keep a notebook at your bedside cabinet and before you go to sleep, write everything you are grateful for. You will have a good night of sleep and your energy will be cleansed from negative emotions such as anger. Once you turn it into a regular practice, gratitude slowly will become your natural state and anger won’t have easy access to your mind and body.
Please feel free to listen to this morning meditation that will nourish you with gratitude from the start of the day.
We are all humans and we go through different emotional rollercoasters from time to time. It is not possible to never get angry, but it is possible to have a toolbox of strategies that you know work for you to help you release angry thoughts and emotions.
Hopefully, this blog post helped you a little bit to build your own toolbox.
If you’ve tried out everything and nothing seems to be working, it might be a sign that there is a much deeper issue that needs to be addressed. I’d encourage you to look for professional help. You can message me or another therapist or healer. But do address that issue that destroys your inner peace and poisons you with anger.
Under this layer of anger, there might be an important life lesson hidden like a gem that is waiting for you to discover it.