Have you ever tried to let go of feelings of hurt and resentment from the past? It’s a real challenge for most of us. We tell ourselves that we want to feel better or swear to ourselves that we’ve moved on. But, the truth is that unless you take the time to deal with the pain that caused those uncomfortable feelings, it remains. Because it’s bubbling just below the surface, the anger can erupt again at any time.
Whether you’ve let your emotions fester over a family squabble or a lover who jilted you, the pain is very real--almost palpable. So, why should you rid cleanse yourself of the emotional upheaval? And, how do you go about it?
Why you should free yourself from hurt and resentment
Holding on to those angry feelings takes a toll on you both mentally and physically. Take a look. When you hold on to emotions like hurt, anger, or resentment, you are trapped by your own feelings. Take an example of a couple that splits up due to infidelity. The injured partner tells himself (or herself) that they are better off without a cheater. Nevertheless, they find themselves looking around every corner to ensure they don’t bump into that person. Ever. Again. This constant state of keen awareness can trigger anxiety or fear about how such a meeting would play out. It’s virtually impossible to rid yourself of these feelings.
Don’t let your anxiety or stress about that potentially awkward scenario hold you back. Instead, deal with your feelings so that if the off chance meeting ever does occur, you are equipped to handle it calmly, politely, and with poise.
The physical toll of holding onto painful emotions
Unresolved feelings can race through your mind and cause severe physical consequences. Some of the outcomes can be nausea, stomach ulcers, rapid heartbeat, and hypertension. Letting go of past transgressions against you can be a kind thing to do for your body.
6 Actionable tips to release hurt and resentment
So, now you might agree that you should let go of the past, but you might be wondering precisely how you should go about it. Here are a few coping strategies for dealing with anger, resentment, and hurt feelings.
#1 Identify the true root cause of your resentment
Start by practicing some honest self-talk. Look at the cause of your resentment. Let’s say you feel spiteful about someone who used to be a close friend because they spoke ill of you behind your back. Are you really holding on to the anger about them speaking about you? Or, are you possibly embarrassed that they smeared your name to other people? Could you simply be mourning the loss of a lifelong friend? Only after you are honest with yourself can you begin to cope with your feelings.
#2 Think about whether you contributed to the situation
Next, keep on that track of self-honesty and think about whether it’s possible that you contributed in any way to the circumstance that caused the hurt. Let’s use the example of the gossiping former bestie again. Was there a kernel of truth about what your friend said? Is it possible that you did something that caused your friend to speak poorly of you because you angered them? This doesn’t mean that gossiping was okay. You’re just conducting some sobering introspection and analyzing the situation to help you diffuse it in your mind.
#3 Compose an email but don’t send it
Now that you’ve identified the root cause of your anger and acknowledge your part in the awkward situation, it’s time to begin the process of letting go. Compose an email to the person who harmed you--but don’t send it! Write whatever is in your heart. Sure, you’re as mad as fire. But, you are probably also a bit shellshocked by their actions and saddened at the state of your relationship. Pour all of your deepest emotions and tumultuous feelings into this email. There is something genuinely cathartic about putting it all in writing. It’s like you are spilling the anger out of your body and onto the screen. Once you’ve said all that you feel, hit the delete button and move on.
#4 Master relaxation techniques to overcome the pain
As you’re working through your struggle with emotional pain, take time for yourself. Master a few relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, yoga, meditation, or being mindful of your surroundings. Letting go will be an ongoing process. As you learn to treat yourself better, your mind and body will help you in the process.
#5 Permit yourself to forgive
Forgiveness is a tough concept. As children, we learn to say “I am sorry” when we’ve behaved inappropriately or spoken out of turn. What we failed to learn is to say “I forgive you” in response. Instead, we rely on the less formal “It’s ok” which is closer to “it is what it is” than to forgiveness. Forgiving someone doesn’t make your a pushover or doormat. It means that you are ready to let go, move on, and reclaim control of your emotions with a clean heart.
#6 Minimize the impact of this stress on your body
The entire process of moving past hurt and resentment takes days, weeks, or months for some people. During that time, you will have ups and downs. It’s essential that you minimize the negative impact of stress on your body through exercise and good nutritional habits. Depending on how severe the emotional trauma, you might have days you’d rather lie in bed than exercise--get out and do it anyways! You may not feel like eating well, but make nutrition a priority.