Sunday, April 17, 2016

Turning Anger and Resentment Into Happiness

You’re angry because he forgot your anniversary – again. You resent that she spends more time with her friends than with you. There your parents go again – playing favorites with your younger brother.
These all boil down to resentment. You resent the other person for doing something that irks you.
You set up expectations for other person and expect him or her to live by them. But they don’t. And now you’re pissed.
It’s not that these are unrealistic expectations, but they’re your expectations. Maybe you let the other person know about them or, more likely, you didn’t because you think that “everybody” would act the way you expect. But everyone sees the world a little differently and makes up their own stories about whatever is happening based on their own history, personality and experiences.
You resent that they’re disrespecting, not trusting or ignoring you. You feel “right” about being mad at them because they “wronged” you in some way. You reinforce your negative beliefs about them by subconsciously searching for ways to keep proving yourself right. “There he/she goes again!” and the resentment grows.
“Living with resentment is like taking poison and expecting the other person to get sick.”
Resentment is a choice. You’re choosing not to forgive the other person. You’re choosing not to resolve the issue. You’re choosing being right over being happy.
Holding onto the resentment feels like ammunition for “one day” getting even or getting ahead. It gives you a victim story to tell others so they can feel sorry for you. Unfortunately, all this “holding on” does is push you further from your true feelings about the situation, limiting your ability to heal.
The hurt, rejection or abandonment festers inside you, creating a cancer that grows and inhibits your ability to live joyfully.
The Way Out
In order to change the situation, you have to want to change yourself. You have to value your own health and happiness over a perceived vengeance on the other person. The other person probably doesn’t even realize you feel this way about them.
Healing yourself has nothing to do with the other person. They’re going to keep doing whatever it is they’re doing that makes you so mad. You could explain that you feel upset when they do whatever it is that upsets you. But it’s their choice to change. You can’t control them.
Realize that your thoughts and feelings about this person also cloud your ability to have great relationships with others. In the process of making up negative stories about the other person, you’re also telling yourself negative stories about yourself.
If he always forgets your anniversary, if your partner doesn’t spend enough time with you, if your parents play favorites; then you must not be an important enough person for someone else to care about. You bring that belief into your other relationships and subconsciously look for more evidence to prove that your belief about yourself is “right.” Which breeds more resentment about other people.
If you can choose your own happiness over being right, there’s a way out.
Simple Steps
The most important step is to forgive the other person. As long as you hold onto being right and proving the other person wrong, nothing can change.
Forgiveness is only for you. Don’t tell the other person you’re forgiving them. It will only make things worse.
Release yourself from your self-imposed shackles. Release your negative thoughts and feelings about the other person.
Accept that the other person is the way they are and won’t change. Given this, is the situation something you can change your thoughts about and live with? Or is it something you need to distance yourself from?
Can you change your expectations of the other person? If, after you look at the bigger picture, you realize that your partner forgets all kinds of things (including your anniversary), can you accept that’s just the way he is?
Put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Look at the current situation through their eyes – and hearts. What if you had grown up with their parents in the environment they did? What kinds of beliefs about yourself and others would you have developed? And how would those beliefs contribute to their current actions?
I’ve found that this exercise quickly turns my anger toward another person into compassion. Here’s an example: The bully who inflicts his will on others in forceful ways grew up with an overbearing mother and silent father. Neither parent gave him the love he so desperately sought as a child. In attempts to gain the love and attention he needed, he became a bully. His parents sent him to military school to “get him straight.” This only made the issue worse since he was further removed from his parents. And now, as an adult, he’s still a bully, still using verbal and emotional abuse to gain attention. Still putting others down so he can feel better about himself. And he has no idea that he does it.
Now, when I interact with this person and other bullies like him, I don’t get angry. The resentment I used to hold has melted. Instead, I see a sad little boy who’s not feeling loved or accepted by his parents. I feel compassion for him. This changes how I interact with him. And it changes the way he treats me. I’m not the victim of a bully.
When you can start to empathize with the other person, or at least begin to understand their perspective, think about what you appreciate about the other person.
Things weren’t always bad. There are reasons you chose your partner. What are they?
While they may not be living up to your expectations in one area, in what other areas do they do a better job?
Write down ten reasons you’re grateful for the other person. While this may be challenging at first, it will shift you into a more positive mindset.
What you focus on grows. Focus on the positives, the things you appreciate. Make this a regular practice. The more you practice, your negative beliefs will begin to change to more positive ones.
And you will be happier.
You hold the key to your cure. It’s up to you to choose to free yourself of the cancer of resentment and open your heart to the happiness you’re seeking.

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See You At The Top,
Joseph Montes

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