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Individual and Couples Counselling in Calgary

  • Writer's pictureRovena Magidin

Antidote to Resentment

woman looking at the ocean

Life happens. Stuff happens. We get hurt, we hurt others. Sometimes unintentionally, sometimes, due to the lack of awareness, or understanding, or skill, and sometimes, sadly, on purpose.

It's hard to recover when it happens. Our mind says "this happened before, it might happen again. Don't forget" - and so we keep thinking about it."Why did it happen to me? It's unfair. How can she/he/they do this to me? What does it mean about me?"

Along with resentment we carry anger, sadness, grief, fear, shame, guilt, confusion and so many other emotions . It's a heavy load to carry, yet, we are often afraid to put it down. Sometimes we carry it as a shield, sometimes just out of habit, sometimes as a proof that it did happen. It can feel very lonely.

It's natural and very human, it's just that we get hurt by our own resentment way more than the other person. No wonder they say“Resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.” (quote attributed to multiple sources.)

The antidote to resentment is forgiveness.

Today I wanted to share a different perspective on forgiveness, one rooted in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), which I practice both professionally and personally.

In ACT, Forgiveness has nothing to do with forgiving the other person, it has everything to do with yourself and with giving yourself your life back.

Think of Forgiveness as 2 words - "give"and "before".

Forgiveness = give yourself your life back. Give yourself back what was here before resentment took over your life. Reclaim a life filled with meaning and joy, not consumed by bitterness and anger.

Forgiveness is NOT

  • excusing someone's actions, or saying it was ok

  • pretending it didn't happen and trying to forget

  • invalidating our pain; our pain is real

  • ignoring our thoughts and feelings

  • blind trust

  • it's also not about the other person

Forgiveness is a choice, a gift you give to yourself to live your best life, and be the best person you can be.

It's not easy, especially if what happened was traumatic or shattered your trust. You might need to embark on a journey of healing your heart, mind, and body.

It also doesn't mean that once we forgive we are ready to immediately give our complete trust to the other person - that's going to take time and a lot of work.

So, how exactly do we do this?

woman, eyes closed, feeling of freedom

This is where the tools from Acceptance and Commitment Therapy are most helpful.

Acceptance is never about passively accepting what happened to you, or giving up, or condoning it. Acceptance is about accepting this very painful and very human experience, with love and compassion, creating space for it, not denying it but also not getting lost in the pain. Acceptance is about accepting your thoughts, your feelings, your pain, and then - taking actions. That's where commitment comes in.

Commitment is about your dedication to yourself, to the life you want to live, and the person you want to be. It's about honouring our values, and your dreams. Living Your Truth.

If you've been hurt in a romantic relationship, your resentment story might tell you "you can't trust anybody". Or it might say "I'm not ready to let go, so I'm not ready to date". Acceptance is all about noticing the thoughts and feelings, holding yourself tenderly, practicing self compassion. Commitment is about connecting with your deepest values and taking that next step towards the life you want to live.

You might be saying to yourself, "yes, I'm scared, and I'm still going to create that dating profile." "Yes, I've been hurt in the past, but what do I want to do now? I'm going to go dancing and have fun, and nothing will stop me."

The process might look like this:

  • Notice and create space for your painful thoughts and feelings, with as much kindness and compassion as you can find

  • Name that stuff that’s hooking you (here’s this painful memory from the past, here’s my resentment story, and here's the anger) 

  • Come back to the present moment, ground yourself, and notice what is here right now - your resentment and, also, the whole world around you

  • Reconnect with your values. What do I want to live for now, what sort of person do I want to be?

  • Take a step towards that life, in allignmnet with your values

  • Repeat

Not easy, but worth it. Giving yourself the gift of forgiveness, because You are worth it.

There is so much more depth here and I find myself very limited by a format of a small blog post. If this is something you want to explore, I'd be happy to support you in private sessions. I offer Individual and Couples Counselling in Calgary, and online around the world.

You can book your free consultation here. I'd be happy to talk to you and answer your questions.


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