Grudges and resentments can be one of the most dangerous emotions for a person in addiction recovery. Resentments often lead people to relapse time and time again. Bill Wilson, the famous alcoholic and Author of Alcoholics Anonymous wrote “Resentment is the Number One offender. It destroys more alcoholics than anything else. From it stem all forms of spiritual disease, for we have been not only mentally and physically ill we have also been spiritually ill. When our spiritual malady is overcome, we straighten out mentally and physically” he went on to say “… resentment is probably the most serious problem the average alcoholic is troubled with.” Whether you subscribe to a 12-step program or not, these statements are usually very true. This is why it is so important to learn how to face resentments, cope, and let them go. Learning forgiveness can be one of the hardest parts of recovery but also one of the most rewarding lessons of life.
If you want to learn how to let go and forgive, there are some very simple ways to start. It will be uncomfortable at first but once you start seeing the benefits you will realize the power of forgiveness. You will also be able to see how harboring resentments have really been affecting your mood and mental wellbeing. Here are 5 simple techniques to help let go of grudges and resentments.
Put Yourself in Their Shoes
Often times we can be very selfish. We focus on what people have done to us and automatically consider the other person malicious. Realistically, this might not be the case at all. Try to think what the other person is going through. Maybe they are having a much harder time in life than you. Maybe they have family problems, financial problems, or relationship problems. Maybe it was a misunderstanding. Really try to think of why someone might have done something to make you angry. Learning to use empathy is crucial for learning forgiveness.
Try To See Your Part in Resentments
Is there a possibility you played a role in your grudge? Did you do something to someone that caused them to retaliate? Back and forth retaliation can cause extreme resentments and grudges, which is not healthy. It will give you stress, anxiety, and sometimes even depression, all of which are not good for recovery. Really try to sit and think of ways that maybe, just MAYBE, this resentment may be partially your fault. If you have resentments at institutions, maybe try to see what has caused this. Personally, I hear many people have resentments toward church or religion. They will say “those people are so closed minded,” then after that, they write off religion completely and harbor a resentment. Have you considered, by doing this, maybe you are being closed minded as well? These are just examples but finding your part in a resentment can be a key way of letting it go. Open-mindedness is crucial for forgiveness.
Express Your Emotions
Ignoring resentment and bottling it up is not good. This only causes resentment to grow and grow, eventually causing you to crack or explode in rage, or even worse, relapse. When you are feeling angry talk to someone. Talk to friends, your support group, even a therapist. Work through your anger and try to find the root and what can be done. Sometimes this might require going to the person directly that you have a grudge toward. Do this wisely. Take the high road and don’t call them names or lash at them. Let them know how you feel, why it makes you feel this way, and, if you have played any part in the resentment, apologize for your part. Sometimes apologizing first will make the other person realize what they have done, and they will apologize as well. When they see you take the high road, most people will want to follow. De-Escalating the situation in a civil manner can cure many resentments.
Another way to express emotions might be going to the gym and hitting a punching bag, going out in nature and just screaming, or going on an intense run or workout. This reduces stress and, for many, allows them to expel their anger in a healthy way.
Journaling can help release emotions in a healthy way. You can write yourself a letter, or even write a letter to the person or entity you have a resentment toward. You don’t even have to send the letter. You can just spill your guts and everything you feel into this letter. Many people find this very rewarding and help them find the true reasons they are so resentful.
Meditation is a great way to reduce stress, anxiety, and resentments. Resentments require you to constantly focus on the past or the future. When meditating, you are trying to find peace at the exact moment. Meditation can help you become more present moment awareness, which will reduce resentments and grudges. The more you meditate, the less important resentments seem. Sometimes meditation is a great technique to either start you forgiveness process or end it. It’s often a good idea to meditate before confronting a person you have a resentment toward. Try to find peace and a loving way to confront your grudges so they can be handled in a civil and friendly manner. You will find this most successful. Once you have learned to forgive, techniques like these will likely become a pillar of your recovery.