Working with clients over the years and in personal situations I’ve noticed that many people appear to have clean and tidy homes. It’s a different story if you open the cupboards and closets. Then there is the good, old junk room! To me this is a mirror reflection of skeletons in the closet: things you don’t want to look at because of the emotions, memories and meaning you’ve given to the objects now hidden away. Keeping these objects and not dealing with the past literally blinds you because you are so stuck that you cannot see accurately what is happening in the present moment. When we hold on to anger and resentment we create tension, density, rigidity, and aggressive energy in our body and mind.
Your spaces and lives become tainted with this energy and mindset from the past causing you to react, resent and judge yourself and others. It keeps you stuck in victim mode and puts the blame and responsibility on someone else. There is no power or opportunity to change if you are acting from a place of the past. Being able to let go doesn’t mean dismissing, avoiding and denying your feelings or experiences; it’s about facing, accepting, feeling, processing and transforming them.
I love helping people let go of objects because it creates a domino effect to then also let go in the mind, body, and spirit.
The more resentment builds up, the harder it is to deal with. Just like dirty dishes, if you do them right away it takes 5 minutes. If you wait until the end of the day then you have the mountain to deal with that will take significantly longer. Now imagine dealing with a lifetime of resentment!
The longer you wait to deal with things the harder it gets. Sometimes it’s needed and required to put things on hold. However, using this as an ongoing avoidance technique, never dealing with unresolved matters of the heart, you run the risk of living in an emotional tornado.
What it looks like when you don’t let go of resentment
If there is an accumulation of unresolved conflicts without repair and reconnection, emotional resentments start to build up. These resentments create stories, actions and behaviours that can be passive aggressive, avoidant and create unsafety in the relationship. Let’s look at how this can show up in different parts of your life:
Have you ever replayed and ruminated on past events stirring up the same emotions and feelings all over again? These replays create a mini or full on flashback where your heart, mind, body and spirit are reliving the event. Getting stuck in the past will affect your present points of view, actions and behaviours.. Being in the now with fresh eyes can help shift this pattern.
For example, someone cuts you off while you are driving and you assume that every time someone does it, they are out to get you. Then you begin to drive aggressively and misinterpret harmless mistakes. Holding onto that anger creates resentment instead of letting go and driving in peace and compassion.
In the body, resentment can make itself known as chronic and recurring tension, pain, headaches, fatigue or cancer (this is also true for holding onto other past emotions). Movement practices, energy work and somatic trauma therapy can help release trapped emotions, helping you stay balanced.
For example, when we are so stuck in resentment we physically feel horrible and this affects our ability to enjoy life and have pleasure. Let’s say you are holding a grudge with your sweetheart and they are in a good mood and want to go out for a walk. You’ll likely say no because of the unresolved issue and resentment.
Things literally don’t get done OR you do them holding a grudge because you “have to” or “no one else will” or they won’t do it to your standards. I’ve seen this so many times over the years with clients, family and friends. There is an ongoing narrative and point of view around how things should be done. With those beliefs comes resentment around something that occurred in the past and now the individual is acting from the past in the present, continuing the battle.
For example, you have this thing with how to put dishes in the dishwasher. You’ve told your sweetheart repeatedly how to do it “properly” and they’re still not doing it. Well guess what! Rigidity kills joy. That grudge sticks around for other areas of your relationship and you pick on them for everything they do “wrong” in the house. That’s a fun relationship.
With resentment comes loss. You lose your connection with your intuition, creativity, playfulness, inner knowing, passion and life purpose. Your life energy is being pulled away and you are so much in your mind that you lose connection to your inner spirit, drive and your ability to act from a conscious place.
For example, while you are holding onto this grudge about the dishwasher, you go for a walk and instead of connecting with nature, yourself and the lessons behind the experience, you ruminate and rehearse a conversation of hurtful things you can say to them to get your point across or “win” the battle.
When we come from a place of unconditional love we are able to understand that a person’s reactions have little to do with us and more to do with their unresolved past. Of course, we play a role in relationship dynamics and we need to own our triggers. However, when you are no longer connected to the love you have for yourself or others it creates a false film of what’s really happening. Here compassion is replaced with hate, anger and resentment preventing a true sense of listening and understanding and a way to move forward.
For example, your sweetheart has given you a compliment. However, because you are still holding on to an argument about who does the dishes, you are unable to receive it or give love back. Your heart is closed for business and you are unable to act from a place of love, compassion and caring. Over time this is very stressful and will leave both of you feeling lonely, sad and unappreciated.
Overall there is a sense of rebellion at times, sometimes it may be the silent treatment or saying “I’m fine”, but the person’s body language and energy says otherwise. Another way it shows up is arguing over small things that don’t matter like who’s turn it is to do the dishes.
Often people will hold grudges because they never had an honest conversation about each other’s understanding of the situation, let alone attempts to repair it. Years go by and that emotion, feeling and story run on repeat dictating your actions, behaviours and words towards this person, others and even yourself. I’ve experienced this often in life: People will hold on to the same anger about something that happened 20 years ago leading to unexpected outbursts of rage! Very often there is a simple misunderstanding of what happened.
I’m sure many of these sound familiar. Now what?
How To Let Go?
Here is a process to let go of resentment and create peace in your life and relationships:
What do you value?
How can you integrate it more into your decisions? What boundaries do you need to set?
What beliefs need to change to make that happen? What can you let go of?
Rewrite what you tell yourself about the other person, yourself, and the world? What is it that you want to believe now? Make journaling a daily practice to help.
What emotions do you need to release? What stories will change now that you’ve let go?
What techniques have you tried in the past that helped? What new energetic and somatic techniques can you try now?
What daily movement practices can you integrate to keep things flowing on a regular basis?
What support can you get to make these changes?
What new dynamics will you create both for yourself and in your relationships?
What types of communication do you want to integrate? Do you need to learn anything new? Are there any books, workshops or classes you can take?
What can you let go of physically that causes tension in your home?
What can change about how you do things?
Where can you step up and own your part? What responsibilities have you been avoiding, denying and defending?
What daily practices can you integrate to help you act from a place of compassion, peace and power?
How can you develop and strengthen your connection to compassion, love and empathy?
How will you connect with your inner spirit daily? Start to explore what it means for you and what helps you stay connected to your spirit and heart.
When do you feel unsafe? How does it feel in your body?
How do you want to create a sense of safety for yourself? How will you create safety for important others in relationships?
What points of view can you change that were creating unsafety?
Make a list of needs and start communicating your feelings and needs to others instead of blaming, shaming, judging and avoiding.