5 Ways To Hold On To Resentments That Limit Your Recovery
Author: Justin Mckibben
The truth is we are not meant to hold onto our resentments. Our life is not meant to be a bitter and spiteful cycle of recounting past transgressions and being guided by our grudges. Part of our purpose in life is to accept the difficult decisions and personal differences we experience through one another, which means learning to let go and move on.
It isn’t hard to focus on the negativity and bitterness of life. It is pretty easy actually to stay attached to the negative meanings we apply to events. But it is important to remember in recovery that our personality is adapted through our psychological habits. We all experience hardship, but holding onto it builds resentments that hold us back.
Don’t believe me? Here are 5 ways to hold on to resentments that limit your recovery.
The tendency to overgeneralize things can turn small downfalls into seemingly chronic circumstances. To believe that if you fail at one thing, you will fail at everything is the kind of thinking that comes with overgeneralizing. Making a blanket statement about an experience and applying it to any similar situation without understanding each new experience is unique is not helpful to emotional growth.
It’s the same as having one bad day and automatically saying you have a bad life. The two are not the same, but if you want to hold on to that resentment then go on labeling everything as bad because of one bad situation.
- Black and White Thinking
Thinking in black and white is the same as thinking in terms of all or nothing. This state of mind is frequently found to be a factor in a vast variety of unhealthy psychological states. Black and white thinking puts everything into a box with a rigid and confining outlook. It tends to intensify negativity by making it seem more exact than it actually is. Black and white thinking makes us focus on one aspect and define the person or experience by that one thing, instead of broadening our understanding of it.
The truth is life is painted in capricious shades of gray. The ambiguity and uncertainty of it all is what makes life so freeing and beautiful. If you want to hold onto your resentments, keep thinking in extremes. If you want to let go, try understanding that you should try to see the good even through the bad.
- Unfair Double Standards
Setting unfair standards for other people’s behavior is never a good idea, especially when you don’t expect yourself to live up to the same code of conduct that you impose on others. More often than not, we do this because we recognize the things in ourselves we don’t like, and then we project those resentments onto others. Humility is necessary to be happy.
Empathy and understanding is a healthier way to examine life and let go of the contempt you build for others. It isn’t always easy, but it is important to reflect on your own mistakes and understand that everyone is human. Your resentment only hurts you.
- Being Unforgiving
Forgiveness is the key to letting go of resentments. It is by definition the opposite of being controlled by the actions of others or by life’s disappointments. Forgiving is to see things for what they truly are and accept it; it’s having faith that you deserve to move on from it.
This applies to forgiving others AND yourself. Holding yourself hostage in resentments against your mistakes is not healthy either. In recovery it may be hard to look back at a life of substance abuse and the harmful behaviors that typically come with it, but forgiving others and forgiving yourself reduces stress, depression and hostility while improving self-worth and even physical health. If you want to stay stuck, just remember to never forgive anything.
- Not Giving Gratitude
Your mental health can take a complete turnaround just from practicing gratitude for the things in your life. Acknowledging the blessings you have already been given makes it a lot more difficult to build resentments from the things you lack in life. Gratitude has shown to not only help mental health, but also improve the immune system and health of the heart. It is one of the most powerful mindsets at your disposal at any given moment.
However, if you want to keep holding onto that resentment just remember not to be grateful. Because people in recovery don’t have anything to be grateful for- right?
You don’t have a new chance at a fresh start? You aren’t still alive even though you have done some things that countless people die every day for? Sure, it’s hard to remember it all during the tough times, but to grow from it you have to be grateful for it.
Resentment, anger and bitterness are part of being human. However, empathy and compassion are a far greater part of life. For people in recovery resentment can become a down payment on relapse, but compassion can be the truth that sets you free.
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