Disease re-sent no more
I was incredibly moved by the personal responses I received from last week’s column on grief and loss. I heard the pain and struggle that so many are moving through surrounding very real grief events happening in their life. I got it overwhelmingly that the help sought was in how to get through the pain and return to a place of peace; boy, do I understand the desire for that. It was all the encouragement I needed to write some follow-up columns here on healing and recovering from emotional pain.
There is something instinctual within each of us that knows that life is not meant to be lived in pain, and so we quite naturally desire relief from it. Yet, as we discussed last week, healing our hurts can be a challenge since we often use less-than-helpful information on how to directly deal with loss and we can end up stuck in them instead.
Completing our hurts is all that the ‘energy-of-emotion’ desires; that is, emotion can only be completed when allowed to be felt and fully expressed…And that takes what it takes. Avoiding or stuffing our feelings is the only way not to complete them. Dealing with some emotions are tougher than others. Let’s talk about some of the emotions that can keep us stuck in pain and tools to help get us through it.
Resentment, or as I like to call it, “The I’d rather be right than happy emotion”
Resentment is at the top of my list. The Buddha said: “You will not be punished for your anger, you will be punished BY your anger.” I am sure we have all had experiences of that. Resentment is to literally resend to yourself negative thoughts that create painful emotions and then to do that over and over again. Remaining stuck in resentment is a joy-stealer, love-ender, and a life-experience killer! If left unresolved, overtime it can diminish our physical health as well.
“Resentment is like taking poison, hoping someone else will get sick” – Malachy McCourt.
The inability to overcome resentment probably constitutes the single-most devastating impediment to healing our important relationships, including the one with ourself! Even if we resent someone who has died, the replaying of past events trigger feelings as if they were happening to us right now. In fact, your body doesn’t know the difference. Resentment stands directly opposed to forgiveness, which is the giving up and letting go of the anger without condoning the behavior that caused it.
Look again at that quote: “resentment is like taking poison, hoping someone else will get sick.” This makes clear one of the most devastating aspects of resentment. And if you are experiencing it right now, you know exactly what I mean. If you’re thinking about ways to get even or prove just how wrong the other person is, it may help to remember that the other person, who is that re-occurring bad movie playing over and over again in your mind, is probably feeling no pain, perhaps not even thinking about you at all or the interactions that are currently renting space in your head. Ultimately, resentment hurts you far more than those you may hold a grudge against, so it just makes sense to find a way to heal it.
Here is a practical tool to begin the process of healing resentment:
The First Draft – Second Draft Process
Writing is perhaps one of the best forms of safely expressing one’s self, especially when dealing with resentment. That is the purpose of first draft, to begin the process of expressing, pushing out and leaving behind the pain of resentment. First draft is the place where you get to say and share everything that you are feeling surrounding a particular person or event that has you angry. Rather than stuffing it or confronting someone in an angry way, first draft allows you the space to get it all out on paper…and I mean all of it! Since first draft will never be read by anyone but you, you have the complete freedom to express exactly what you are feeling without the concerns of hurting another. Hold nothing back, edit nothing, just let it rip…Get it ALL OUT!
I have never hurt a piece of paper’s feelings, but I have certainly said things in anger that have caused others to be and feel hurt. First draft is a powerful tool in actually healing resentment with no negative cost to others. Often when we confront another in anger, we make the situation worse, leaving us to deal with bigger problems! Try first draft first; that is why I call it first draft!! First draft is meant to allow you to express ALL the pain, and you do that until you are done, finished and complete. Only then do you move on to second draft to take on the underlying cause. (First draft can be shared with a counselor or trusted advisor to help you in your healing but never with the person it is about; that is what our second draft is for).
Second draft is used as a way of healing the issues which caused the pain, anger, or other emotions you were feeling in your first draft. Second draft IS meant to be read or communicated to another, so we want to ensure that everything that was painful in first draft has been expressed and doesn’t make the trip into our second draft. If you begin to feel the pain again, return to doing a first draft until the feeling is complete. You may have to do this several times, and then maybe several times again, but those feelings will come to an end if you honestly express them. Once your feelings have been completed, return to dealing with the issues, and do so with the idea of healing them. Remember this is a process to resolve the issue that caused the painful feelings to begin with. This is beneficial for you and for the other.
It is also important to remember that you may not get the issue resolved by agreement; that is, you may agree to disagree, but the benefit lives within your willingness to communicate your truth with the intention of healing and being love. Using your power to heal does not require agreement, it only requires your choice to be accepting and clear. That which works for you may not work for another, nor does it have to in order for us to communicate with respect and love. Either way, you will be free of the resentment because you expressed yourself fully and you chose to communicate your truth with love rather than fear.
Second draft also asks us to take responsibility for our part, since how we responded is our responsibility (response-ability). The process may require us to make amends or to clean up our integrity around something we said and did not deliver on. Integrity is merely being your word and being accountable for cleaning up anything that is not followed through on. This type of authentic communication is often the bridge which returns us to open and loving dialogue with the other. When you become willing to take responsibility, it often paves the way of possibility for that other to do so as well. Again, either way, you end up free of resentment.
A second draft also allows us to express things like “when you said _________ I felt ___________. This can be helpful to communicate to the other person, as it may reveal why a breakdown in communication occurred in the first place or why we were triggered, which then allows us to heal. “The Course in Miracles” reminds us that “all attack is a call for help.” When force is used, power is absent. To be in your power is to be a stand for those things which represent you. Standing for what you believe in from a place of love rather than righteousness is the key to being free of resentment. It is people like Nelson Mandela that come to mind when I think of the power to heal. All of us would have understood why he may have held a grudge, yet he decided to change the world instead.
In the end, issues do not have power over us, nor do they make us feel a particular way. Using the first-draft, second-draft process will help you to return to a place of peace and clarity…a reminder that love is always the answer. If you are ready to end the pain caused by resentment, give this process a try. Remember that it is not necessary to agree with another’s point of view or to condone behavior you stand against. Neither position is a good enough reason to stay trapped in the diseased hell of resentment when there is an express train to heaven waiting at the next pen and paper near you.
Please feel free to share your experience and know I am here should you require any help. Until next week, may peace be with you – J.R.
(J.R. Westen, D.D. is a Holistic Health & Spiritual Counselor who has worked and presented side-by-side with Neale Donald Walsch for over a decade. He is passionate about helping individuals move beyond their emotional and spiritual challenges, transforming breakdowns into breakthroughs. His coaching provides practical wisdom and guidance that can be immediately incorporated to shift one’s experience of life. As is true for most impactful teachers, J.R.’s own struggles and triumphs inspired him to find powerful ways of helping others. Sober since June 1, 1986, J.R.’s passion for helping individuals move through intense life challenges drove him to also specialize in Addiction and Grief Recovery. J.R. currently shares his gift of counseling & coaching with individuals from around the world through the Wellness Center, Simply Vibrant, located on Long Island N.Y. In addition, he works with Escondido Sobering Services and serves on the Board of Directors for the Conversations with God Foundation. He can be contacted at JR@theglobalconversation.com, or to book an appointment, write firstname.lastname@example.org.)