I prided myself on being a low maintenance person. I loved meeting with my friends, but didn’t ask too much of them. I also felt like the coolest wife ever because I rarely needed anything from my husband. I even told my patients that I was the easy going doctor.
The years passed and instead of being the cool cucumber that I thought I was, I became a resentful Rita. I was angry at my patients for eating their third bag of Cheetos. And I felt slighted by my friends who said they loved me but never picked up the phone when I called.
The best description of resentment comes from Dr. Drew: resentments are like swallowing poison and expecting the other person to die. Resentment eats away at your happy life and in time can ruin all of your relationships. TRUST. I’ve been there and I’ve ruined that.
How can you reduce your resentment and live a happier life?
1. Check your expectations
The best way to eliminate resentment is to not set yourself up for it. Even though I didn’t need my husband all the time, there were times where I did need some TLC. I expected him to be there when I needed it, even when things weren’t so hot for him. Questions to ask yourself: what expectations are you holding against your loved ones? Yourself? Where are you wondering what is in it for you? Slowly, if you can, start to let go of those expectations. When you do this, you release yourself and others from the failure set up and you free yourself from the shackles of the attachment.
2. Be open to different ways of getting something done
Don’t we all want things done our way? Before you set yourself into a certain path or expectation, be curious and open to other suggestions. This curiosity will help you go with the flow when you need it most. I expected my patients to listen to me because I happened to be their doctor. When I became curious on their thoughts on how to eat better, I discovered different ways of getting them to be healthier. I let myself off the hook and joined in a collaboration with my patient rather than in a power struggle.
Oh shit. This can be the worst. Sometimes people wrong you and it gets you really angry. Forgive them when you can and practice willful forgetfulness when you cannot. Keep in mind that forgiveness is a gift you give yourself—not them.
When you let go of resentment towards someone, you are not agreeing with or pardoning them but instead you are liberating yourself from the heaviness of your hurt. Acknowledge that it sucks to feel the way you feel and what they did was not right. At the very least, forgive yourself for not being able to forgive them.
The biggest lesson I’ve learned over the years with regards to resentment is how I had loose boundaries. I wanted to be a people pleaser and not having boundaries meant that hopefully people would like me. What boundaries have you set for yourself? Are you aware of any places where you haven’t had boundaries? Get honest with yourself and become aware where you need better boundaries. Start implementing them and feel into what feels right for you. Soon you’ll know where to draw the line in the sand.
When all else fails, always come back to gratitude. Some of these above points are really hard. And some of us like to stay in the story of resentment. At the end of your day (every day if you can), sit down and ask yourself what positive things occurred in your day, your week and your life. If you can only think of the fact that you woke up this morning or can breathe easily, you are better off than many people in the world. I always think of a patient in the hospital who has been there for a year because he can’t breathe without a machine. We take for granted so many things in this life. Let’s focus on what makes us happy and brings us joy.
Are you already doing some of these practices? Or do you have any other suggestions? Post in the comments so we can all learn from you!