Living with resentment is a horrible way to live. You are doing yourself and your life a big injustice as you focus on hatred, bitterness, and jealousy. The sooner you overcome resentment, the quicker you can start using your time and energy for things that really matter in your life. It may seem hard to get out of a resentful state right now, but this list has 15 things you can do to move yourself from a negative state of resentment to a more positive state of happiness and calmness.
1. Live Your Life Well
Sometimes people go out of their way to hurt you in life. The best way to teach other people (and yourself) that they didn’t affect you negatively is to live your life well.
Live with integrity, don’t hurt other people the way they have hurt you, and make sure that you do your best to be happy and fulfilled in life. When people see that their impact on your life was minimal – at best – then they will have to live with what they did and feel bad that despite their best efforts, because you were able to become an amazing person.
2. Stop Beating Yourself Up
When resentment is present, you are beating yourself up in some way. Maybe you are mad that you didn’t take more action to protect yourself. Maybe you are mad that you let yourself get walked over. Or, maybe you are mad that you couldn’t see what was wrong and work to improve it. No matter what it is, you need to stop beating yourself up for a very simple reason: you wouldn’t have done anything different.
The only way you grow in life is through your mistakes and failures. In some cases, you may learn your lesson once and move on, and in other cases it takes a few times to learn your lessons. But, they are definitely lessons worth learning! They help you avoid future issues where you could feel resentment, and that contributes to your life in a positive way.
3. View People From Your Past Differently
Just like you couldn’t do any different, neither could they. They did the best they could with the knowledge and emotions they had, and if they had known better or been in a better place, then they definitely would have done better. When you see this, you can see that what happened was more about them than it was about you.
For instance, I used to get mad at a neighbor for her bad behavior. I took it personally because I believed that I was the cause of her anger, rudeness, and mistreatment. But, once I realized that she literally didn’t know how else to act, I realized she must be in a very negative state to act the way she has. Knowing that helped me let go of my negative feelings about her and, instead, feel sorry for her and come from a place of compassion. That’s helped me have a much better relationship with her.
4. Stop Comparing Yourself
A lot of resentment comes from comparing yourself to others and what they have that you don’t have. And, comparing yourself can become a nasty habit in life that is hard to recognize.
For instance, you may be basing your attractiveness on how big or small you are, which is really a comparison of other people that you think measure up to a certain perfection you have your mind. But, you may not see that comparison; instead, you may just look in the mirror and see imperfections.
Comparing yourself to others doesn’t just make you feel bad about yourself, it causes resentment. When you don’t feel that you measure up to someone else, you get resentful that they have what you don’t. Instead of celebrating their accomplishments in life or accepting them as they are, you dislike the fact that they are where they are and this causes you to have a lot of bitterness towards them.
It’s important to break the habit of comparing. The moment you find yourself comparing stop and refocus. Don’t think about what they have that you don’t; instead, focus on your strengths, be grateful for what you do have, and be OK with the fact that you are not perfect! Understand that the ‘you’ right now is enough to live up to other people’s expectations and should be enough to live up to your own.
5. Change Your Perception
Perception is reality. We have all heard that. But, understanding that is important to letting things go and moving on from our hurt and anger.
You must be committed to making positive changes in your life in order to change your perception. If you are, then your attitude will start to shift, and you will no longer focus on resentment. You will see that it is a complete waste of time. Instead, you will focus on what you can do to move forward with more happiness and positive feelings in, and you will take action to make that happen.
If you become passionate about living an incredible life free of resentment, you will prevail! So, get passionate about changing your perception on life and making the most of every moment, even the bad ones.
6. Use Your Reticular Activation System To Your Advantage
Your reticular activation system (RAS) is a system that, in part, tells you where you should put your attention. To active it, you need to focus on what you want, not on what you don’t want, and then keep that focus strong.
You do this all the time. For instance, when you see something want, such as a book, your focus turns towards that book. As you think about it, you see more of it and more of it until your whole world starts to be full of this book. It doesn’t have to be a book. It could be a car, a person, or anything else – it will become a constant part of your life.
Therefore, instead of focusing on the thing that is causing resentment, or the details that are causing you to feel resentment, start replacing those thoughts with thoughts that you would rather be focused on, such as personal goals. The more you focus on those personal goals, the more you will see things that line up with them and the less you will see things that make you think about your resentment. Soon, your emotions around the thing you were resenting will fade and disappear, and resentment will be a thing of the past.
7. Make Compassion A Habit
One of the best habits to introduce to your life is compassion for so many reasons – one being that it helps you to overcome resentment in your life. When you are compassionate, you don’t knock other people down and view them in a criticizing light. You start to find ways to love them – or at least not hurt them, and you stop complaining about them or wishing harm on them. All of that will stop resentment in its tracks.
It’s important to include self-compassion in this equation. Some resentment you are carrying may be because of what you have done in the past and be directed at yourself. Practicing self-compassion will help you to stop criticizing yourself and find ways to love yourself too.
8. Lighten Up
Stop taking life so seriously. All experiences are just a small part of your entire life, so don’t hold on to one or two things as if your whole life depends on it. Let things go, learn to laugh at yourself, learn to laugh at unwanted experiences, and don’t make molehills into mountains.
Also, don’t take your thoughts and emotions as permanent fixtures in life. You have a ton of thoughts throughout your day, and 99% of them have nothing to do with your life or reality. Thoughts are based on our current experiences and fears in life, and they usually amount to nothing, yet we let them dictate how we feel throughout our day and even, sometimes, our life. By recognizing this fact about your past thoughts and emotions, and finally letting them go, you will be able to overcome resentment instantly.
9. Get Present
Resentment comes from living in the past. There is no room for bitterness, hatred, or bad feelings in the present moment. It is a place of stillness, awareness, and happiness.
Make a conscious choice to live this life as mindfully as you can. Pay attention to what is happening around you and don’t allow yourself to fall into the past, especially in the negative past. As soon as you start thinking about a person or event that happened, switch your focus onto something happening in the moment – and there is always something happening.
Focus on the smells, sights, or sounds of the moment. They will be there, and when you focus on them, you will be taken out of your memory and into reality where resentment can’t live. It will be hard to stay in the present moment at first, but the more you do this, the better you will get at it!
10. Work It Out
Sometimes resentment can be worked out with a simple conversation. Whoever you are holding resentment towards may not know how you feel or how they affected you, and having a conversation with them about the incident can sometimes release your negative feelings.
This takes a lot of courage! You have to approach them, bring up a sensitive subject, and put yourself out there for more pain. But, if the conversation goes well, it will be worth it because the resentment will instantly disappear and be replaced with love, respect, or just indifference, which is better than resentment!
If the conversation doesn’t go well, you may still feel better. Brewing over something feels much worse than confronting it head on. When you confront your issues head on, you gain a sense of strength, and that may be enough to pull you out of the resentful feeling and move on.
11. Read Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search For Meaning
If you want to overcome resentment, then you need to read this book. Inside you will find details about Viktor Frankl’s time spent in a Nazi concentration camp and how, instead of falling into a resentful state, he came out with meaning and purpose in his life. This example of how to overcome resentment will strike a chord with you even if your resentment doesn’t stem from something as horrible as his experiences.
12. Stop Resisting Life
To live in a state of resentment is to resist what has happened in life. Eckhart Tolle says, “Whatever you fight, you strengthen, and what you resist, persists.” This is why something that you are resentful for is gaining strength and persistence in your life. You are resisting it and fighting what happened.
When you resist nothing, the negative feelings of an experience fades and is replaced with acceptance. When you accept what happened, you will not focus on it anymore and resentment will be a thing of the past.
13. Live For Yourself
It’s important to practice compassion in life, but it is also important to live for yourself. You can’t live for other people and their desires and wishes. If you do, you will start to become resentful.
If you currently find yourself resentful over things you have given up because you weren’t living for yourself, accept that you didn’t know any better at the time and make a conscious choice to start living for yourself from this moment forward.
14. Get Honest With Yourself
Take the time to admit what is right in your life and what needs to be changed. Admit that resentment is not doing anything for your life and you would rather live in a state of happiness and forward-thinking. As you start to get honest with your true desires, you will start to take action on them and let go of things that you don’t want in your life.
In addition, you will start to gain an understanding of how you got to where you are and what you need to do to change it. When you are honest with yourself about your past and what you want in life, bitterness will be replaced with action and being content.
15. Dream Big And Act On Your Dreams
Lastly, take the time to dream big for yourself. The bigger you dream, the more inspired and focused you will be on the life you want. You will stop focusing on the little things that have happened, and you will create a life where excitement and enthusiasm are the stars of the show.
It’s hard to be resentful when those things are in your life! You simply won’t have time for it.