Letting Go of Resentment—A Kiss & Make Up Day Challenge
In reality, letting go of resentment or working on reconciling a relationship should happen as soon as the thought pops into your head, but maybe Kiss & Make Up Day on August 25 is just the reminder you needed. We’re going to cover what resentment is, acceptance of what happened, and letting go of it for the sake of you and your relationship.
What is Resentment?
According to the dictionary, resentment is often defined as “anger and indignation experienced as a result of unfair treatment,” and it’s not uncommon. In the context of a relationship, it can be caused by many things; feeling unnoticed, public humiliation, cheating, hurtful words, jealousy and although the root of one’s resentment is unique to their relationship, one thing that’s true for all cases is that resentment hinders emotional health and overall quality of life. It can go as far as manifesting in the form of physical pain.
It’s also important to be honest with yourself if your pain is caused simply by something not going your way. Sometimes these feelings can be introduced when reality has not met your preconceived and personal expectations, so if your pain is stemming from an idea or unwritten rule that your partner was unaware of, this can be a great opportunity to negotiate your deal breakers.
Accepting What Happened
Now that you’ve acknowledged that you feel like you’ve been treated unfairly, it’s time to dissect your primary and secondary emotions. Resentment and anger are often secondary emotions, or reactions that occur most often from the primary emotion of vulnerability.
We all know that relationships take compromise, and that sometimes means giving up parts of ourselves for an overall enhanced relationship. Feeling betrayed can make us feel embarrassed that our partner didn’t hold up their end of the compromise which needs to be communicated clearly instead of retreating into a cyclical downward spiral of more negative emotions. The old saying goes: “Anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die,” when we could avoid the poison altogether.
Letting Go of Anger
Whatever negative thoughts you’re feeling, from sadness and anger to resentment and bitterness, are all connected to a self-obsessed cycle. If you become trapped in this cycle, not only does it taint the way you perceive the past, it hinders you from the present and makes you fear the future. Letting go of our resentment is the hardest part of the process, and, on the other hand, the most rewarding.
Here are some different techniques to reconciling relationship conflict and letting go of anger, regardless of the root of it:
- Give yourself a timeout—We can say hurtful things we don’t mean in the heat of the moment. If you find yourself wanting to say or do something malicious, physically separate yourself. Go into another room, take a walk, or put pen on paper to get the hurt out.
- Emphasize the positive—Renegotiating relationship deal breakers or simply talking about what happened can make people become defensive if they perceive it as a personal attack. Make sure to point out the things that your partner does successfully in your commitment. Rewarding good behavior is a better learning technique than reprimanding mistakes.
- Share your feelings and try to see your partner’s perspective—Communication is always key. Even if your partner knows you well, they can’t read your mind. You need to say things out loud, especially because it takes the burden off your brain. Also, make the first move! You could be so inside your head that your partner is unaware of what they did to make you feel betrayed. Empathy is also a skill we should all work on. Try to be objective and remove your bias when considering how your partner feels.
- Say something when the problem occurs—If you don’t bring it up right away, your negative emotions will start to shape how you perceive every ongoing aspect of the interaction of you and your partner. If your partner is aware of the circumstances when they happen, it will give them a better understanding of how they can become a better partner as well.
- Make compromises—Compromise is a two-way road. Allow your partner to explore these techniques from their end of the relationship. They may communicate needs that you weren’t aware of before. The important thing is that you both agree that the perfect relationship doesn’t come with no issues, but rather two people who care enough about each other to work through the issues.
Let go of the anger and hang on to the good lessons. Working through resentment successfully means both you and your partner need to be vulnerable, which is where growth happens.
Donna is a Volonté contributor and freelancer who lives in San Francisco with her understanding husband and not-so-understanding teenage sons. Her work has been published in The Journal of Sexology and she is currently writing a book on love languages.