How To Stop Resentment From Killing Your Relationships

Have you ever stuffed a feeling just to keep things okay in your relationship? The answer is YES. If you deny you have, we need to talk because you are either a saint and I can sit at your feet and learn or (I am betting on this second one) you need to get help identifying what you feel.

Resentment is a secondary emotion generated by unexpressed feelings. The more you deny, ignore, or push down your feelings the more resentment you gather in your body.

Example: Let’s say you are angry over something that happened. Maybe you feel ignored or someone has hurt you with their words. If you sit on those feelings and don’t express your anger, where do those feelings go? They go into an energetic holding pattern and become tension in your body. The emotional cost of unexpressed feelings is that you become resentful.  

Think of emotions as energy-in-motion. Once they are denied or ignored the energy is blocked like putting a brick in a very small stream. The aliveness in your body is impeded like that blocked stream. These bricks of resentment cause you to close down and become numb.

Warning: blocked emotions can be very destructive to your health and well-being. They also can have a very negative affect on your sense of self and your connection to others.

Imagine each stuffed feeling adds another brick that further blocks the inner flow of your aliveness. Soon you have enough bricks to build a wall. You begin to wall yourself off from those around you. This wall of resentment not only blocks you but it blocks the flow outward. This constricted flow is particularly noticeable because it closes your heart to giving and receiving love.

After a period of time you become aware that you don’t feel much towards those you love and you might wonder, what happened? You have built a wall of resentments (unexpressed feelings) and now you might even blame them for not feeling love anymore. Even positive feelings not expressed can become part of your interior construction site. 

Other ways you can add bricks of resentment might include work situations, friends who frustrate you, other family members, the relentless judging of the mind towards those who think differently than you, and even from watching the news or reading articles that make you mad. The habit of stuffing emotions seems to grow exponentially.

Once the wall is fully constructed, your primary relationship is often in real trouble. You don’t feel love, at some level you blame them and before long the relationship’s hopes and dreams come crashing down. Unfortunately the wall of resentment doesn’t also fall apart. In addition your ability to feel love towards everyone is compromised.

There is hope however. You can approach this from several directions and start to experience positive changes rather quickly. The hopeful approaches include: having a healthy expression of your feelings; tearing down your wall of resentment; and bringing healing to your relationship(s).

Here’s the plan:

* The Healthy Expression of Feelings – The best place to begin is to become aware of what you are feeling. Simply acknowledging your feelings and doing your best to be accepting of all of them is a great way to allow emotions to flow right through you. This recognition and release of emotions is very healthy.

Sometimes you will find yourself trying to deny or ignore your feelings. Simply be aware that you are doing that and tune back inward and feel what you are feeling. This allows the energy of emotions to keep you feeling alive.

* Removing the Wall – This deconstruction project is important and can be done in ways that are very beneficial:

  • Get physical. Exercise can be a very useful way to release old pent up emotions. Going for a walk at the end of the day, you can imagine letting go of any stagnant feelings by allowing them to flow into the ground you walk on.
  • Practices like yoga, tai chi, chakra work and other are great ways to release and rebalance your physical and emotional body.
  • You can reach out for help and work with an energy-oriented therapist. This will assist you in releasing the stored energy of your emotions.
  • A simple practice called grounding in which you stand or sit and imagine releasing all the negative feelings through your feet into the floor.
  • You can also write in a journal the feelings you need to release.
  • Finally and most powerfully, you can become mindful of your thoughts and realize your thoughts create all your feelings. This approach removes all blame and instead says, “I am responsible for all I feel.” “I am feeling this because I thought that”. “Let me change my thinking and thereby change how I feel.” The key here is, you realize that your thoughts about what someone said or did are the true cause of what you feel inside. Your feelings are not caused by what they actually did. Post the following note somewhere you can review it daily - No one can make you feeling anything. All you feel comes from what you think.

* Bring Healing To Your Relationships That Matter

  • Begin this conversation with a humble apology about being unaware of your feelings and what you are doing to change that. When you own your mistakes and make a commitment to be open and compassionate with those you love, walls can come tumbling down.
  • Ask that together you can work on the healthy acknowledgement and expression of emotions.  This can include: you saying how you feel and you owning your reactions/thoughts that generated how you feel.  You can even say things like, “I need a few minutes to shift my thinking. - I am caught up in my reactive mind and am working right now on letting that go. - I have a big charge of emotions and I need to go for a walk.”
  • The important thing to avoid is blaming. Remembering you are the sole creator of what you feel inside.
  • When someone is really bugging you, acknowledge that “bugging” is caused by your thoughts not by them. An excellent question to ask yourself in times of reactivity to others is, “How is that like me?” Translation – what they are doing is bugging you because they are acting in some way that you judge about yourself as not okay. 
  • Lastly love is a powerful healing force if we get out of our own way.

I hope you find these ideas helpful in bringing more love back into the relationships that matter.

Let me know what you think about these ideas and any questions you might have.