Tag Archives: Let Go Of The Past

Resentment : Effects Of Holding Onto It

If we experienced significant childhood trauma, it is quite understandable that we may harbor feelings of deep resentment. However, such feelings can serve only to prolong and intensify the mental pain we feel. Below is a fairly well-known quote that encapsulates this idea :

‘Resentment is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die’. 

– Malachy McCourt

Feelings of resentment against another usually build up over a long period of time, often years. If we are still in contact with the person we resent, these feelings may be triggered by present events (such as again being let down by the person), perhaps giving rise to anger that seems, objectively, disproportionate to the current provocation but reflects the intensity of the omnipresent, latent, resentful sentiments that underlie this anger.

Indeed, feeling resentful involves constantly replaying and reliving in our minds the wrong that was done to us and so it can potentially give rise to strong emotional and visceral responses.

The reason we feel resentful against another person may be due to acts of commission (what someone did to us) or acts of omission (what someone failed to do for us), or both.

Feelings of resentment can torment us and make it impossible for us to achieve any semblance of peace of mind. We may, too, displace our feelings of resentment onto others, making us cynical, suspicious and incapable of forming meaningful and reparative new relationships.

So why do we hold onto feelings of resentment?

We may hold onto our feelings of resentment out of a sense of ‘moral integrity’ and a conviction that it would somehow be ‘against justice’ to allow our resentful feelings to abate (in other words, we may firmly believe that our feelings of resentment are ‘just’, therefore to jettison such feelings would be ‘unjust’).

Indeed, we may be of the view that to forgive the perpetrator would show us to be weak and make us vulnerable to incurring yet further psychological damage.

Or we may feel that to let go of our resentment would in some way seem to diminish the seriousness with which we feel the offence against us should be taken – rather like saying what we experienced ‘wasn’t that bad after all’ (which would constitute self-invalidation).

Finally, by hanging onto our resentment we may create for ourselves the illusion that we have more control and power over what happened to us than we actually do.

What Can We Do To Free Ourselves From Such Self-Destructive Feelings Of Resentment?

The bottom line is that tenaciously holding onto resentment, like a snarling pit-bull terrier with a cyanide-laced bone, is often extremely self-defeating and can act as an insurmountable obstacle between us and recovery.

To overcome feelings of resentment it can be useful :

1) to remind ourselves that our resentment may be negatively colouring our view of others, the future and the world in general

2) to remind ourselves that we might be displacing our feelings of resentment onto others who do not deserve to be treated badly, spoiling our relationships

3) to view our insistence on clinging onto our feelings of resentment as a kind of addiction or obsession which needs to be overcome

4) to remind ourselves that the stress and mental anguish our resentment causes us is almost certainly not worth it, especially as we cannot change the wrong that was committed against us and that our resentment is likely to be hurting us much more than the person we resent

5) to consider undergoing a therapy such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) to help us think less negatively

6) to remind ourselves that our belief that our feelings of resentment make us more powerful, in control and strong is likely to be an illusion

7) to remind ourselves that staying resentful, in many ways, allows the perpetrator to continue to make us unhappy, thus giving him/her continued power over us

8) to consider forgiving the perpetrator

Resources:

Self-hypnosis MP3s/CDs:

 

LET GO OF THE PAST – click here for more details.

DON’T HOLD GRUDGES – click here for more details.

 

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

 

 

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Copyright 2016 Child Abuse, Trauma and Recovery

Freeing Ourselves From Anger About Our Past.

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It is far from uncommon for those of us who have experienced a traumatic childhood to remain angry and resentful about the past, specifically, perhaps, about how our parents badly treated us. This can result in us bearing grudges and feeling bitter for years, decades, or even for a whole lifetime.

We have all heard the expression, ‘forgive and forget’, but how applicable is it to the kind of situation that I have just described?

Well, first of all, it is not possible to forget (unless, that is, we have unconsciously repressed the memories of what happened to us as a means of psychological defense).

But what about forgiveness? As we are all different, and as our past experiences are also all different, this boils down to a matter of personal choice. Notwithstanding this, many psychologists advocate forgiveness, not least because the act of forgiving is very likely to benefit us, and, of course, the flip side of this is that a decision NOT to forgive is liable to damage us.

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How Does Remaining Angry Harm Us?

If we constantly brood about how we were wronged in the past this can be mentally exhausting and cause us to feel perpetually anguished, unhappy and unable to enjoy the present or look forward to the future.

It also gives more power to those who wronged us : not only have they hurt us in the past, but, by refusing to let go of what they did to us, we allow them to keep us unhappy, both now and in the future. To put it colloquially, we permit them to score a double whammy against us.

By staying angry, bitter and resentful we may perpetuate a self-destructive feeling of unresolved anger (which we may displace onto others, ruining our relationships); emotionally exhaust ourselves with constant feelings of animosity and, in some cases, hatred; get caught up in a futile mental cycle of revenge fantasies and of waiting for those who hurt us to make amends (which, sadly, often never happens).

Moving On:

Instead of inflicting this pointless mental suffering on ourselves, we have the option to take what lessons we can from our adverse experiences and move forward with our lives, perhaps even turning these adverse experiences to our own advantage, in as far as this may be possible.

The Bottom Line :

The bottom line is straight-forward :

Does holding on to anger, bitterness and resentment make our present lives, and future prospects, better or worse?

It is, of course, up to each individual to decide.

Resources:

LET IT GO : self-hypnosis downloadable MP3. Click here.

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

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Copyright 2016 Child Abuse, Trauma and Recovery

Escaping The Pain of The Past

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If we had a troubled childhood, it is not unusual to find we become preoccupied with certain elements of it, or even obsessed. In this way, we can let it define who we are now in a way which is not good for us, preventing us from enjoying the present, and stopping us from feeling any optimism regarding the future.

We become, essentially, prisoners of our past.

However, freeing ourselves from this darkest of prisons we have constructed around ourselves is not easy; in fact, it is a process which can be both long and arduous.

A very important part of this process is to allow ourselves to fully experience the feelings that the memory of our traumatic childhood gives rise to and not to repress them. In other words, we must allow ourselves to grieve for our past and for our lost or stolen childhoods.

KUBLER-ROSS’S FIVE STAGE GRIEVING MODEL:

Kubler-Ross’s model, which can be applied to the grieving process that relates to remembering a lost or stolen childhood (although the model was originally intended to describe the grieving process following the death of a loved one) involves five stages we may need to go through before our grief can heal. These five stages are shown below:

1) Denial – during this stage, we find it hard to believe our loss has actually happened; it can seem unreal. In the case of childhood trauma, for example, we may find it very hard to believe that our parent/s or primary caregiver had/have betrayed us.

Instinctively, we do not want to think ill of our parents, especially when we’re children.

This is why many children who are mistreated feel guilty; they (irrationally) turn the blame that should be directed at the parent/s onto themselves to protect themselves from the knowledge that their parents are bad/have behaved badly.

2) Anger – once such denial has been overcome, anger about one’s lost childhood can follow (to read my article about childhood trauma and anger, click

3) Bargaining – not everyone experiences this stage but it may include trying to make ‘deals’ with any particular deity one believes in through prayer (eg ‘ if you just get me through this, I promise…’ etc).

4) Depression – now that the reality of one’s loss really starts to sink in, together with its accompanying implications, one can finally allow oneself to feel the sadness evoked by the loss. It is important to allow oneself to fully feel this sadness, as it is cathartic in that it allows one to work through and process one’s pain (click here to read one of my related articles).

5) Acceptance – finally, we reach a stage at which we have processed what has happened to us, have psychologically integrated the experience and accepted it as part of our life experience. We have come to terms with it and no longer let it control and hinder us – we are ready to move forward in our life.

It is important to note, however, that not everyone goes through these exact stages – therefore, when we go through the process of grief, we need not worry if our evolving feelings precisely mirror this model.

After coming to terms with our adverse childhood experiences, there are various things we can do to help us move forward in our lives:

1) We need to stop seeing ourselves as a victim.

Clinging on tenaciously to our sense of betrayal, our anger and our blame of others serves mainly only to hurt ourselves. Whilst we cannot change the past, we can change our attitude to it and, by doing this, we can prevent the memory of it from inflicting further serious damage on our progress in life.

For example, we can start to consider what we may have gained from our experiences – perhaps it’s made us stronger or given us the empathy any insight to help others experiencing various forms of psychological distress.

2) Take a step back from life and consider what we really want from it, and then start setting ourselves relevant, challenging, but achievable, sub-goals and goals to help us to achieve our desires, whether these be to run our own business, help others, study or whatever else we set our heart on.

3) Surround ourselves with positive, like-minded, empathetic and supportive people (as far as this might be possible). This may involve joining a particular club, group or society or changing our social milieu.

4) Seek out opportunities, however small, to help us to achieve our sub-goals and goals. We are much more likely to achieve our goals if we choose something we really like doing and for which we have an aptitude. Whilst most of us need to make money, the importance of doing a job/having a career that is intrinsically rewarding cannot be over-emphasized.

Indeed, studies show that once we’re reasonably comfortably off, having more money, even vastly more, makes very little difference to our happiness in the medium and long-term. Some people waste a lifetime learning this, becoming trapped upon what psychologists refer to as a ‘hedonistic treadmill’.

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Hypnosis downloadable audio for help with getting over the past. CLICK HERE.

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE)

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Copyright 2015 Child Abuse, Trauma and Recovery