I have heard holding on to a grudge as, “Swallowing poison and hoping the other person dies.” This is a great analogy because often times the only people affected by our resentment is us. Resentment has a way of coloring our view of the world and building a “chain” of perceived hurts and slights. Another analogy I love with respect to this chain of resentment I saw in this article, where that chain was compared to, “carrying around a bag of horse manure.” If you’ve ever smelled horse manure, you know how that can immediately change your outlook on a given situation.
Holding on to bitterness and resentment can lead to physical problems, too. For instance, in a recent study mentioned in many places, but here as well, the researchers concluded:
“When harbored for a long time,” Wrosch said, “bitterness may forecast patterns of biological dysregulation (a physiological impairment that can affect metabolism, immune response or organ function) and physical disease.”
It is a natural response to feel resentful and bitter at times. However, because we experience and feel those things doesn’t mean we have to hold on to them. In fact, we should look to get over them as quickly as possible. Resentment has a way of building greater and greater resentment. It accumulates. And if we hold on that resentment and bitterness, we could damage our own bodies due to the stress.
So how do you let go of resentment? Depending on the slight, it may be extremely difficult. The first step is choosing to let go. We may not “feel” like it, but we have to make a choice of the will. After that, it depends on the circumstances. Usually, if the resentment is towards a coworker, friend, or family member, it helps to talk it out. I’m no longer surprised at how many times I’ve heard one person is resentful and the other person doesn’t even know there’s an issue. Often times talking it out reveals the problem and that second person is truly remorseful and seeks to correct the situation. However, until the first person brings it up, that second person can’t act because he or she doesn’t know that there needs to be action.