Yesterday I was talking with a girlfriend of mine who has recently gone through a divorce. It’s been over a year since it was finalized. Her ex has re-married and she, too has “moved on.”
But, then a legal issue arose that required his signature, and she lamented…”I just want this to be over!”
There are few things worse than lingering stress, heartache and resentments from a past relationship. I think we all would agree that bitterness and regret do nothing to move us forward to a happier, freer life.
But, what if you KNOW this, yet still can’t shake the feeling?
These are three key tools that are sure to help.
1st Own your part FULLY.
I was introduced to the magic of self-responsibility years ago….but, what if the other person is a liar, or a cheat…or humiliated you? What if you lashed out at them only because they started it by being mean to you?
Honestly, it was difficult for me to disconnect my behavior from theirs. But, I was lucky enough to have a friend who loved me enough to not just take my side out of loyalty, but to help me see the truth about myself.
My experience has taught me that justifying my bad behavior – no matter how small it may seem in comparison to another’s shortcomings KEEPS ME STUCK!
It took me a long time to acknowledge that I had been abusive towards my husband. From my perspective, he was the bully that made me unhappy and in turn I thought it was impossible for me to be kind.
The reality is; a person who is truly happy and kind to start with, would have responded much differently than I did to my husband.
2nd Identify how you’re still attached.
Once you’ve gone beyond your resentment to how you participated ask yourself these three questions:
a. Have I done to another what I am resenting my spouse for?
For example, let’s say your spouse was unfaithful and you are trying to put the marriage back together….you’re making progress, and then all of a sudden you find out they are still in touch with the “other woman.” Ouch!
Of course, you say, I would never do that! Perhaps not exactly, but, in your life have you ever kept something from someone, because you were afraid they would be mad at you? Have you had an “innocent” phone call with a work buddy or ex-boyfriend, that you withheld from your spouse. IF so your answer would be; “Yes, I have done to him (or another) what I am resenting him for.” Don’t try to quantify it. Your freedom lies in the balance.
b. How am I keeping this heartache or resentment alive?
Maybe you’re talking about it with everyone who will listen. Maybe you’ve become physically sick as a way of proving how much he’s hurt you. Maybe you simply refuse to/or cannot forgive him. You self-protect and get your strength from punishing.
Any of these fit for you? At one time or another, they have all applied to me.
c. Who is this pain and resentment harming?
Your answer could be any or all of these; myself, my (ex)spouse, my relationship with my (ex) spouse), my family, my kids, my relationship with my kids, my kid’s relationship with their dad, my employer.
I’m sure there are many more…but, you get the idea.
No matter how justified your anger, hurt and resentment may be, at a certain point you may want to ask yourself; is it helpful? “ Sure I’m entitled to it…and sure I can build a case for it, but is it helpful?”
Personally, my answer is usually a resounding NO!
3rd Let go of your resentment and pain.
Before your eyes roll back in your head in frustration, and you scream, if I could let go, I WOULD! I want to let you know, I understand!
There is probably nothing more painful than knowing that letting go, or surrendering is the answer, and then NOT being able to do so.
There are also few things less satisfying — nor more draining on our happiness - than intellectualizing forgiveness and living with the slow-burn of disrespect and one-upmanship.
If either of those are you, here’s the solution:
a. Pray for the NEED to be resentful be removed. Or, that the NEED to be unkind or punishing be removed.
How many times had I simply prayed for the resentment to be removed, only to find that another one popped right up? Praying for the “need” to be removed, is like pulling a weed out by its roots rather than just cutting it off at ground level.
b. Make amends for your part.
No…don’t tell your spouse, “I’m sorry for my part.” Own your wrongs (in person) for; harmful behavior, unkind attitudes, destructive actions, etc… without any context or justification for how you behaved. Own it, and acknowledge it to the other person. Let them know you see the error of your ways, and that you are committed to not being that person anymore. Get counsel, however, on making amends for things that they aren’t aware of, because this could be harming them all over again.
c. Be different.
Support yourself by whatever resources you have. Friends, family, God, exercise, etc… Strengthen yourself in being the person who has grown beyond past behaviors, attitudes and actions.
You may notice that one of the by-products of this process, is that your old defenses of anger, victim and ambivalence no longer control you. Instead, there may be a periodic and profound sadness that appropriately comes when a love relationship has ended. Feel it. Avoiding it can feed the need to get angry and resentful all over again.
Having personally been freed of a lifetime of hurt and resentment that came to a head in my marriage I encourage you — with my whole heart — to give yourself a chance at a new life. Better than beginning again… we can encompass a compassion for our mates and ourselves that wouldn’t otherwise be possible. And, in turn discover true joy and freedom.
And, by the way…this process is not limited to spouses. I encourage you to root out ALL resentment in your life!
Be sure to share this post with the links below...then let me know how much you want to be free…and what you’re going to do first!
As always, I’m in your corner…
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