Last week, I brought up the importance of clearing out what you don’t want, to make room for what you do want. I want to make the clarification that the point is not actually about s of anything, it’s more like transforming it in a way that might serve you better.
We talked about how to work with triggers, which are really just signposts pointing out where you are stuck. The invitation when someone pushes your buttons is to get curious about what it is in you that is having such a strong reaction.
Today, I want to talk about one of the most important things to address inside your metaphorical closet, resentment. Holding onto resentment is like carrying around a giant bag of rocks on your shoulders. It takes a lot of energy and you are not going to be in a very good mood about it. Most importantly, resentment blocks your ability to thrive. Period. Even if it’s a subtle resentment that you keep hidden. Hiding it doesn’t keep it from hurting you. As long as you’re holding onto resentments on any level whatsoever, it is keeping you from thriving. Why? Because thriving requires an open heart and resentment, no matter how small it is, closes your heart.
There are all kinds of resentments. There are life-long resentments, holding onto grudges for people who have done you wrong in the past. Maybe they did you really wrong. I know. I get it. Or it could be resenting your circumstances. It could be resenting that other people aren’t behaving like you think they should. It could be resenting that the world IS how it IS. Whatever the resentment, trust me, it’s jamming you up. That’s just what it does.
The quickest way to clear the resentment out is to forgive it. It’s true that forgiving is not as easy as it sounds and the reason it’s hard is because of the attachment to being right, on some level. The ego wants to be right at all costs, but the costs of holding onto resentments are no small thing. When you look closely at your inner argument, what are you actually arguing for? I’ll tell you. You are fighting for the role of victim. The reason I am telling you this is not to make you feel bad or wrong for doing it, we all do it. I’m telling you because the ego is really good at hiding this simple truth from you. None of us want to actually be a victim. What we all really want is love, safety and belonging. Being a victim implies that somebody else has the power. And you know the truth, the truth is that you have the power to choose how you experience the world. It’s all about perspective. Someone can look at a situation and see themselves as powerless, while another person in the same situation can see it very differently.
Forgiveness can feel like the long path, but there are shortcuts to getting there. And one of my favorite shortcuts is deciding to believe that everyone is doing their best from their own state of consciousness. Now, this is not to make excuses for them, or to condone bad things that happened in the past or the negative things that are happening now. It is simply to say that everyone is doing their best with what they know. Because we are! This is something that I, myself, have to keep coming back to every time I find myself getting caught up in what other people are doing or not doing.
It’s important to keep in mind that we are all imperfect and we are all ignorant on some level about something, usually about many things. And that includes you. It helps me immensely to remember this fact, because it makes it so much easier to forgive myself and everybody else.
Believing that everyone is doing their best from their own state of consciousness has allowed me to forgive some of the most unforgivable things.
And yes it’s true, even If they didn’t know any better, that doesn’t make it right that it happened, but it does make it easier to let it go. Letting it go is where the freedom is and holding on to it, is where all the self-inflicted suffering is. Holding onto resentment is like keeping yourself locked in a cage even though the key is in your pocket. You have the key and the key is to forgive it all!
I held onto resentments about my past for years and it never got me anywhere good. Sure, during that time I was able to recruit plenty of people to buy my story of woe, agreeing that I had every right to be upset. Getting other people to agree that you have every right to keep yourself locked up in a prison cell of victimhood, is that really where you want to be? No way. That is the opposite of thriving. It just means you have recruited a team of prison guards to help keep you stuck. The only way out is to let the whole thing go.
So let’s get real specific, because especially right now, with the state of the world getting turned upside down, it is really easy to get caught up in a whirlwind of resentment and forget all your tools and it can hit you out of nowhere. One day you could feel perfectly fine and then the next day, you are irritated with everybody. This is going to be especially up for those who really don’t do well with change. You are not going to be able to depend on people to behave the way you expect them to, especially not now. The truth is that things are not normal right now. Even if you are trying to go about your business as usual, it’s not business as usual. So if you are finding yourself getting upset at other people for not behaving the way you think they obviously should, just remember, they are responding to this whole thing from their own level of consciousness. As much as you would like to, you just can’t control other people. You can only control yourself.
So what does this mean as far as moving forward? I like to see this as a wonderful opportunity to practice self-responsibility. What I mean by that is checking in with yourself regularly to find out what you need and then being willing to ask for it. Instead of expecting other people to behave the way you think they should, let them know what it is that you need. Be as transparent as possible. If you are struggling, let the people who care about you know that you are struggling and also let them know how they can support you. If you need someone to just listen while you blow off some steam, ask for that. If you need someone to help you brainstorm some solutions, ask for that. If there is a really specific thing you need them to do that would really help you, let them know what that is. If you don’t say anything, it is unreasonable to expect them to read your mind.
Here are the three things you need to know about transcending resentment and setting yourself up to thrive:
1. Try to remember we are all doing the best we can, so forgive everybody and forgive yourself.
2. Check in with yourself regularly to find out what you need. Especially if something is up.
3. Ask for help. Don’t expect others to know what you need. That’s not their job. In fact, expect that they don’t know what you need and it’s your job to tell them.
And that’s it. Pretty simple. Now that we got all that out of the way, next week we can get into embracing a life of thriving.