Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Clearing Feelings of Resentment

Certified Practitioner, Rapid Resolution Therapy
Resentment about the past feels awful. Many people will tell you the only way to clear it is to forgive... let it go... make peace... and a lot of other well intentioned, but rather trite statements. I've learned a more liberating and simple way to move beyond resentment.
Did you know that resentment isn't caused by people or past events? The response is actually caused by a glitch in communication between the logical and emotional mind. If your logical mind has a thought about an upsetting event, the emotional brain reacts as if the event is currently happening and sends the anger response to get you to stop the event from happening in the current moment. Once you clear the perception of a current threat, the anger recedes. That's it. You don't have to forgive anyone or change yourself.
If you watch animals in the wild, you don't see them carrying grudges and holding resentments toward each other. Why? Animal minds are not as complex as human minds. They are not able to reflect on the past or project into the future. Animals are totally oriented to the present, so their minds don't send a lot of unnecessary adrenaline if there is nothing posing an actual threat in the current moment. Dr. Jon Connelly, a mentor of mine, illustrates it with this story:
"If some monkey saw some other monkey monkeying around with his monkey girlfriend, he'd run up to that other male monkey snarling, posturing, and showing his teeth until that other monkey beats it out of Dodge. Two weeks later, you see the monkey sitting up in a tree eating a big, fat banana. It's a nice sunny day and his girlfriend is scratching his back in just the right spot and you ask, 'Hey, what about that other monkey? Aren't you still pissed off?' He'd say, 'What monkey?' You say, 'The one that was monkeying with your girlfriend two weeks ago.' The monkey looks confused and says, 'I don't know what you're talking about.' Then he goes back to eating his banana."
Dr. Connelly came up with a funny, clever way of bringing the mind to the present that clears resentment quicker than anything else I've seen. First give your mind something to consider that it realizes you don't need to do anything about RIGHT NOW. Then say out loud, "There's nothing I need to do about that right now." After you use the process with a few obvious statements, apply it to things from the past. Here's an example: 
  • People are polluting the Mississippi river. Stop them, stop them right now!
    • (You reply, "There's nothing I need to do about that right now.")
  • The population is exploding in China, go ahead stop it, stop it right now!
    • (There's nothing I need to do about that right now.)
  • There is a Civil War soldier being shot at in 1862, do something, do it right now!
    • (There's nothing I need to do about that right now.)
Now- try applying the same responses to something from your past. See the examples below for some ideas for how to do this.
  • Stop him from saying that to you when you were a kid. Stop him right now.
    • (Now reply: "There's nothing I need to do. I'm not a kid. It's not happening.)
  • Stop him from doing that to you back then. Make him be more enlightened. Do it now!
    • (There's nothing I need to do about that right now.)
  • Make her be nicer to you. Make her be a more compassionate person. Go ahead- do it!
    • (There's nothing I need to do about that right now.)
Now check out how you feel. I hope this gives you ideas for ways to coax your mind back to the present and release what is beyond your responsibility or control. The present moment is where you have power. All there is to do right now is anything that would bring you more peace and joy in your life. Be that monkey and go get your fat banana!
Courtney Armstrong, LPC, is a licensed professional counselor and nationally known speaker on trauma and grief. She is the author of Transforming Traumatic Grief: Six Steps to Move from Grief to Peace After Sudden or Violent Death of a Loved One.

No comments:

Post a Comment