We all carry it sometimes–that gnawing, teeth-on-edge feeling toward someone or something that harmed us. We all feel resentment.

We may resent a person, the system, the company we work for, humanity, the government, our bosses, people from other countries or ethnicities–even ourselves.

The problem with harboring resentment is that it leaks. We may think we’re keeping it inside, but in fact, it’s leaking out all over everything we do. It’s polluting our relationships. Have you ever been unable to enjoy a romp with your kids because you were just too full of negative emotions? It’s hard to be as free and happy as kids are when you are stewing inside.

I call it “grudgery” because harboring resentment is like “drudgery.” Like a slave–you have to haul around this heavy load of garbage day and night, and you don’t get paid for it. In fact, it takes a toll on you.

Resentment is bad for our health. Scientific studies have found that negative emotions like resentment/unforgiveness can hamper our immune systems and our central nervous systems. Resentment and unforgiveness can make us more aggressive than we need to be (causing trouble in our lives) and also make serotonin–the feel-good, soothing, happiness brain chemical more scarce.[1]

Why not let it go so we can be happier and healthier? Drowning it out with music, sex, liquor, drugs, material possessions–those things only work for a short time. They don’t get rid of resentment. It will loom up again inside us unless we learn to let it go.

Here’s a method: Imagine you are blowing up a big, blue balloon. Imagine out of your lips are coming all the thoughts and words of resentment you have against a person. Blow it all into the balloon. Let it stream out of you. Now tie up the end of the imaginary balloon and release it into the atmosphere. Imagine it floating up far, far away from you. Finally, imagine it bursting into flames like fireworks. All your resentment is now nothing more than ashes to be blown away by the wind.

That should actually give you a lighter feeling–a feeling of release.

Don’t pull the balloon back! Whenever you think of so-and-so, think: “I’ve let all that go.” Then take a few deep breaths Feel your shoulders sink into place, free of that heavy, heavy burden.

Remember: you are not “punishing” the other person by harboring resentment. You are only punishing yourself.

You don’t need the drudgery of grudgery. Let go of your resentment and live more freely. You’ll find yourself enjoying life–including being a dad–a lot more.

 

 

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