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5 Actions That Dissolve Lingering Resentment

Life with Holley_Resentment_Shine a Little Light

What can you do to dissolve a lingering resentment that refuses to budge? Work through the 5 actions detailed in this post; coax the root of your resentment into the open!

Once an underlying problem is exposed, you have the option to practice acceptance, etc., and deal with it. Not everyone is accustomed to looking closely at their thoughts and emotions, which is what these 5 actions entail.
Try to keep an open mind about applying new perspectives to old issues; you may be pleasantly surprised just how positive the results can be. And let’s face it, if what you already tried isn’t working, you have nothing to lose by taking this shot at thinking outside the standard box.

-Speed Peek (Take 5 Actions and Dissolve Resentment)
-Understand More (How to Dig Deeper)
-Anti-Challenge Reframing (Releasing Fear/Anger)
-Short Story (Shine On)

Speed Peek

Your Objective: First, Find the Bottom Line

Sometimes an unresolved, deep-rooted emotion is attached to what you see as a surface problem resentment. Until this root problem is recognized and experienced, the attached resentment will continue to rear it’s ugly head.
Your objective is to find this root and start pulling it out. It needs to be experience and move on.

When we track resentment to it’s emotional source, a frequent revelation is the deep emotion in question tends to be any one, or a combination of, the following:
Anger, Fear of Abandonment, Fear of Death, Fear of Failure [1].

Understand More reviews TWO TOP REASONS you may miss the connection between surface problems and these core emotions.

(Questions to Yourself)

  1. What is the PROBLEM (what you felt hurt by)?
  2. How does this problem AFFECT you?
  3. What is PAINFUL about this affect from problem?
  4. How is the pain a problem for YOU specifically?
  5. What EMOTION are you experiencing?

The Action You Have Already Taken

Have you experienced a lingering resentment, I mean an old one, that pops up out of nowhere? Even after you went through the processes of venting to a trusted friend or professional, journaling, practicing acceptance [2]; even moving on to happy things in life, there sits your resentment, causing you pain again?

I’ve been there before; baffled as to why I was still angry or fearful. I practiced acceptance, and everything else known to me, to rid myself of resentment. It just didn’t make sense for this anger festering inside me to still follow me everywhere.

Part of what was so confusing, is I did feel relief directly after my efforts. I had every reason to think I had done away with the resentment that had drained me. That is, until the day my original resentment topic was triggered again.
Even though I managed to look unaffected on the outside, inside, I found myself reliving my hurt and pain all over again.

Keep reading to understand how I approached the 5 actions above.

If you will spend a little of your time truly giving thought to your answers, you can expose what’s keeping you chained to an ugly-feeling resentment, and begin the process of handing it an eviction notice.


Understand More

If your surface level problem is only a symptom of troubled, deeper emotion, you’ll know soon enough, because just treating the symptom will not bring lasting relief.

Resurfacing resentments are likely due to one (or both) of these two things:
1) What you had worked through before was only the top layer of a resentment related deep emotion, not yet addressed.
2) You bypassed experiencing part of the hurt you actually felt from your resentment.

Side Note:

There are also cases of severe/reoccurring trauma involving resentments. While the actual power to overcome resentment still lies in your hands, it usually is a far more involved process. Meaning that the difference between these cases and the norm, is it will likely take longer to resolve underlying fear or anger. That said, it remains a fact that fear and anger, like any emotion, will not dissipate on their own. The final key to releasing harmful, negative emotions will always lie in your participation.

How did you overlook these resentment fears in the first place?

  1. Experiencing emotional pain is not enjoyable. Therefore, it’s no big surprise that we instinctively stop looking for “why” we hurt, once a reason is found. (The problem of course, is you don’t uncover something deep, unless you dig; sweeping dust from a dirt lot, will not uncover an item that lies a meter below the surface.)
  2. You may have bypassed acknowledging you were hurt by a specific person or thing. By not admitting, to yourself, that you were upset by who/what caused you to feel pain, you skip experiencing that portion of your hurt. This leaves you not fully realizing or experiencing your surface negative feelings. Negative emotions always come back to bite you if ignored.

Surprisingly, an automatic “Forgive and Forget“ response can be a handicap in this incidence.

It is possible you may have tried to assume blame for portions or all of what caused you pain by making excuses for who or what hurt you.
(e.g.: “I should have more empathy; they were just reacting to their own fears.”) While there may be an understandable reason for the person or situation that caused you pain, and an easy case to make for forgiveness, this does not erase the fact that you were hurt by choices made by other people or circumstances.

Forgiveness is a great end goal

While forgiveness is where you find optimal relief in the long run, I learned the hard way that jumping to forgiveness, and consequentially bypassing the acknowledgment of what I felt in the moment backfires.

Seemingly healthy efforts like empathy and forgiveness, can easily leave emotions not experienced. They can even prompt you to assume responsibility for actions that were not yours, by offering excuses for the offenders actions.
Empathizing with external forces comes after acknowledging you have a natural, knee jerk negative emotion. You do not have to act on your negative emotion and causing a scene, but you cannot pretend like it never popped up.
The good news is, when practicing acceptance becomes second nature, mountains turn into mole hills; it will not always be a big project to experience and release negative emotions.

[Side note: There is a difference between experiencing negative emotions about others when they hurt you and taking responsibility for your part in conflicts, including resentments.
Taking an honest look at all of the realities, including your participation and your choices, is a part of practicing acceptance. Self-responsibility will be highlighted later this year.]

Taking a Closer Look: 5 Actions (Questions To Ask Yourself) About Resentment

Should you have any difficulty reaching answers to these questions, a little shortcut I found is inserting the word “WHY?” into the question.
With this exercise, you are trying to accomplish going beyond the place you would normally stop thinking introspectively about how you actually feel. These questions are meant to probe deeper; reaching a point where you become aware of what emotion is fueling your discomfort.

1What is the PROBLEM (that you felt hurt by)?
Name the surface problem here, which will be obvious; it is the event that initiated a feeling of hurt or anxiety in you.

Surface PROBLEM examples:
a) Words or actions that left you feeling hurt, angry or anxious
b) Loss of job
c) Death of someone care about

2HOW does this hurtful thing AFFECT YOU?
Step outside yourself a bit; take an objective look at how you are affected.
A simple way to be more objective is to think of it this way: What would you say to a friend if they explained the situation to you?

Examples of the AFFECT of hurt:
a) Felt betrayed or embarrassed by hurtful words or actions
b) Don’t know how you will pay bills without a paycheck
c) Opportunity to communicate with the person who died is gone

Where you really Start making progress on resentment…

3WHAT is PAINFUL about this problem?
This is where you uncover layers under the surface hurt; getting a more accurate picture of what the actual problem is.
[Once you have an answer, ask yourself the same question: “WHAT” is it about this painful affect that is painful? You can usually keep reducing this at least another 2-3 more times.]

Examples of PAIN felt:
a) You felt betrayed; less important
b) Feeling scared that you will lose a safe place to live or not have food to eat
c) You feel angry that you no longer have companionship/support, you are sad or angry about the way they died

(Go as far as you can on 3 and 4; this is time well spent and will help you with reframing beliefs that are not adding joy to your life.)

4 HOW is the pain in question 3 a PROBLEM for YOU specifically?
Once you’ve got a clear idea of what the real problem is (from repeatedly asking question 3), more digging takes place with this “how” question.
[Repeat until your answer reveals the primal fear involved.]

Examples of how problem is SPECIFIC TO YOU:
a) Belief that if you are not important, you are not wanted. Resulting fear = Abandonment
b) Your family will be homeless and starving because you did not provide for them. Resulting fear = Failure
c) Realizing all ways this person will no longer be in your life, and that there is no hope of this changing, brings you to thinking of your own mortality. Resulting fear = Death

5What EMOTION are you experiencing?
[What are you FEELING at the moment, now that you have answered all the questions you can? Having your bottom line answer, you will want to run it through the method of practicing acceptance[1], plus, one more thing we have not touched much on in this blog: You need to pack it’s bags and move it outside of your head. See Anti-Challange© topic on verbally sharing about the fear you find, and why this is important.]

Examples of Emotion Experienced:
Now, compare the matching a, b, c’s above to get an idea of the progression of thought you’re looking for. Remember to add in the repeating of actions 3 and 4 as needed.
I do hope you try this and it becomes habit for you. Learning more about yourself is a very happy surprise, and definitely a big ingredient to feeling positive and comfortable with yourself.


Verbalizing Emotions

Anti-Challenge Goals/Instructions:
1. Read 
2. Think 
3. Take action

Releasing Fear, Anger and other Negative Emotions

No matter which methods you use for the end-goal of dealing with negative emotions, they all have one purpose: To make life more enjoyable. The methods talked about in this article (practicing acceptance, journaling, and verbalizing what you discover after uncovering deeper emotions) all work together in helping dissolve deep resentment. Although, one of them in particular is often overlooked: Verbalizing your discovery.

To put it simply, different methods achieve slightly different benefits. Practicing acceptance internally attunes your physical, emotional and cognitive realities; journaling helps many aspects of your self-awareness (patterns, measurement of growth, etc. can be referenced), and then, there is verbalizing the emotions you have discovered.

With verbal sharing, the strength that fear gathers when hiding is cut off to a large degree.

Once your words have been spoken, there is no ‘backspace key’ or re-write of your journaling pages. Putting your fear into spoken words removes the the temptation to spin your in-the-moment emotions and thoughts to match what you would rather be experiencing. This is a good thing; you put a lot of effort into pulling reality into the day light, you don’t want it to slip back into hiding.

Verbalizing fears and other negative emotions is important for several reasons:

  • Speaking to another person acts as a pressure relief valve, getting rid of some of the emotional energy that fear builds-up. If kept secret, the opposite occurs; fear’s energy multiplies. When no longer hidden and gaining steam, fear begins to lose it’s power to control you.
  • By putting fears out in the open, they are kept, at least at the moment, from retreating back into hiding. Seeing them clearly in the open, it is easier to identify them as what they really are: Assumptions about the future.
  • Giving much thought to your fear and writing about it is extremely important, as you will gain different insight from these practices. Yet these two methods also are vulnerable to ‘sugar coating’, also known as rationalization, justification, and denial. However with verbalizing, you cannot literally retract talking with someone about the emotion (type of fear) you discover. This is a powerful asset to you, as it is great building material for reframing your perspective and beliefs that are ruled by fear. (Remember, it’s all about seeing the realities for what they are, and putting energy into what you can contribute to, instead of things out of your control,).
AN AMAZING THING HAPPENS when you work on finding your fears and sharing them: There is a sense of relief that will dawn on you one day, when you realize the world did not come crashing to an end just because you looked your fear in the eye. This is more freeing than you dreamed possible.

Life with Holley
“Anti-challenge Reframing © 2018” was created from an idea, and partial
terminology, derived from a comment made on my June 25, 2018 Instagram
spoof-post: “International Anti-Selfie Day”.  Thank you to Vaughan
(@vaughan.knight  Instagram) for your insightful, witty words: “You could offer
a ‘reframing’ service; new opportunities from old!  Start a new
anti-challenge whenever life doesn’t live up to expectation. Therein lies
something not to be found in the successful events.


You might be able to guess one of the reasons I chose this frame for the feature picture. Seemed apropos, shining some light on deep emotions to flush them out. The second reason this image struck a chord, is the challenge I find in the location. Captured this sky last year at a trail head I’ve shot approximately 50+ times. Yes, there are plenty of favorite places I’ve photographed hundreds of times, but what makes this location special, is it’s one of the first places I recall deliberately hunting for “new stuff”, while on very familiar turf. To my amazement, unique shots have been found almost 100% of the time.

There’s A Simile

I see this little spot, on the outskirts of a small town, much the way I see the rest of life: Every day is unique, bringing with it new opportunities and changed circumstances. My thinking use to stop there, ‘new day, new chance’; a train of thought along the lines of wanting the opportunity to do better.

This gratitude for the opportunities each new day brings is definitely still in place, and also serves as a comfort when things are less than fun. But now, I’ve added another perspective to it:
I’m glad to be alive each day I wake because the good things in each day also change from one to the next. As the good things will be different tomorrow, there’s no way I’m leaving a drop of current happy behind; I actively seek out every scrap of joy I can, right now, in the moment.

This small shift in perspective has not only added a ton of fun to my life, but it has also slowed me down enough to truly embrace living.

With this slowing down came a bonus: As life is more calm, I don’t fear my fears the same way I had in the past. Sure, they crop up from time to time, but guess what? They also have an expiration date; they won’t last forever. Isn’t it amazing what big change a small shift can make.

Image: “Shine On” 
iPhone X
July 16, 2018 

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