It’s Good to Let Go: Freedom from Resentment

· July 20, 2016

It’s good to let someone go, but it’s better to do it without any leftover resentment. Free yourself from the burden of anger, rage and despair. When you can calmly let someone go, your way of looking at their departure becomes more subdued, light and freeing.

It seems like a contradiction, but escaping painful and unhealthy emotions is possible. While some moments do require you to live them intensely, it’s possible to do it without hurting, without scheming, looking for a way to hurt those who have hurt you.

How can we let someone go without feeling bitter? Channeling, preventing emotional overflow, knowing our emotions and allowing ourselves to express them in the least harmful way possible for us and our surroundings. 

happy person in field

Grudges make us vulnerable

It’s very difficult to not feel anger and resentment towards someone who has harmed us with their selfishness, attitudes and negative actions. However, we can channel our feelings using a process that involves the following:

  • Understanding that anger is normal, but that rage will only cause us more pain.
  • Each one of us should examine in which way our emotions manifest and transform into bitterness and grudges. In order to do this, the first step is to gain perspective, let our minds and the situation cool off and reevaluate our situation.
  • The facts themselves have already harmed us, so there’s no point in doing any self-harm by having destructive thoughts and behaviors.
  • It’s useless to seek out the satisfaction, repair and return of those emotional parts that a relationship has taken with it. There are no cure-all formulas that will quickly heal your wounds.
  • Thus, in order to free ourselves of the heavy burden of failed relationships, first we must make use of that wonderful ability that our brain provides us: the ability to forget.
  • It’s hard to forget, so at first we must work on not focusing on our memories and the details of the ordeal that concerns us. 
  • This will help us accelerate the forgetting process and neutralize our unhealthy emotions. The next step is to not feel sorry for yourself. Don’t brand yourself as a victim and contemplate the option of forgiving them for the way the person who wants to walk out of your life is harming you.

walking on water

Forgiving them doesn’t erase the damage they caused

No matter how much distance you place between yourself and the situation, forgiving doesn’t erase the damage caused. It also doesn’t justify anything, nor does it absolve the person that has offended you of their responsibility. However, forgiving does help keep our thoughts from destroying us. And it helps us maintain the confidence and respect we have for ourselves.

If we don’t want to turn into frustrated, bitter, grouchy, fearful, pessimistic, lonely, obsessive, guilty, aggressive and conflictive people, it’s important to forgive.

All of us should leave behind those relationships that involves negative feelings and that destroy parts of ourselves that we value or appreciate. In this sense, the metaphor called “The Weight of Resentment” is very illustrative:

Resentment, that was the subject of the day in our class. In order to talk about it, my teacher asked us to bring in some potatoes and a plastic bag. Once we were all seated, he asked us to pick up a potato for every person we kept a grudge towards. 

We wrote their names on the potatoes and kept them in a bag. Some were really heavy. The next step in the exercise consisted in having each of us carry our bag around for one week. 

woman on bus looking out window

As expected, the potatoes started to decompose and we grew tried of carrying them around with us everywhere we went. We were learning the lesson, since our bags clearly showed us the emotional burden we were carrying around on a daily basis.

While we centered our attention on the bags, we neglected things that were really more important. At the same time, we felt how the inside of our emotional bags were rotting and started to become more and more unpleasant.

Only by making it tangible did we realize the price that we were paying on a daily basis for holding a grudge over something that had happened in the past, and which we could no longer change. As our resentment grew, so did our stress, insomnia and emotional exhaustion. 
woman sitting on branch

The absence of forgiveness is like poison which we take in small daily doses, but enough to weaken us just the same. In short, it’s clear that forgiveness is not a gift for others, but rather for yourself.

Think it through, if a breakup has already harmed us, there’s no point in letting it wear us down any longer.