Moving Past Resentments in Sobriety

“Moving past resentments in sobriety” and “I promise you a life of joy and wonderment” were the search phrases that jumped out at me this morning. They go hand-in-hand, one follows after the other. When you get past your resentments, there IS a world of joy and wonderment out there.

In recovery circles, it is a well-known fact that resentment is the number one reason people drink. Interestingly, the CDC cited that in 2011 in the US, there were 11.8 million substance abusers. Wow. Assume that most of them have resentments, and that’s a lot of resentment flying around out there!

I found it possible in sobriety to get past my resentment I had held tightly for 38 years. It was against my parents for things that happened while I was growing up. I was very angry and bitter, but didn’t show it. I kept it all inside, bottled up. But when I drank, it came out, often big-time. in the form of rage or huge despair and wailing with grief from my losses.

My life became one of victimhood, living life as the victim, and “poor me,” “you’d drink, too, if you suffered what I did.” I was consumed by self-pity. Before sobriety, while I was still drinking, I had no clue that there was a way out of this nightmare. I had no ability to see that I was creating my own misery through the fueling of my resentment against the folks.

I was creating my own misery by failing to take responsibility for my own feelings, to heal from the grief and hurt. That took some time in sobriety to discover that it was my responsibility to do so. And, I had a choice to continue being bitter or to work myself free of the chains that were binding me. Ahhhhh, a choice… Sobriety led me down the path to freedom when it helped me realize I always have a choice in everything I do. We all do. Yes, even you.

What I found after I worked through my resentments, has been great joy and wonder at the world around me… the physical world and all Her wonders, as well as the people in the world, and all of their wonders. I learned to have greater kindness and tolerance for others… great compassion. The more I practiced those things, the more wondrous things became in what the person revealed to me about themselves, what they shared with me, how they treated me. Closer bonds have been established. It has been true joy and wonderment.

So how can you get from your resentment to that joy and wonder about which I speak? It’s a process… a process of looking at your wounds and feelings, and identifying where that keeps you stuck in present day. It’s about using that process to look with new eyes at the resentment and the person whom you resent, until you are able to reach forgiveness.

This is a process I guide people through in my one-on-one coaching.  If you want to experience joy and wonderment in your life, you may be interested in learning more. Go to “Coaching” under the “Services” tab. We can work on that resentment that is keeping you from joy and wonder, and you can experience more peace during this holiday season.

I was indignant about looking at my “stuff.” After all, I was justified! I WAS a victim. That’s a fact. But there came a time in sobriety when I realized I just couldn’t carry my bitterness any more. It was affecting my ability to get to true sobriety, emotional sobriety. What I discovered was forgiveness and that helped me to find joy and wonder, peace and freedom.

How about you? How do you work through your resentments in sobriety? Have you reached joy and wonderment in your life?

 

 

 

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The Purpose of Resentments

Good morning! I hope today is a pleasant day for you. I was affected by three search terms this morning: why is it important to respect rights of others, what purpose do resentments serve, and how does compassion help. Wow. Three very important issue and I’d like to address all three today.

Let’s start with why is it important to respect rights of others? In a nutshell, my response to that question is because it is the considerate, kind, and appropriate way to treat others. We each, in my opinion, have the right as people to be treated as if we matter, to have our rights as people  treated with respect, to be respected for who and what we are. That is, unless we are harming others, and that I don’t respect.

But consider this, if we want our rights respected, we need to offer it to others first. Then it will come back to us. When we respect another’s rights, they thrive and grow, becoming all they can be. For example, my rights to have a safe and happy home, to be treated as a valuable being, were not respected while I was growing up. As a result, as an adult I had great difficulty being myself, let alone growing into my greatness. It was only after learning to respect myself that I overcame that early treatment and have been able to grow.

The rights we each have, in my opinion, are to be treated as valuable human beings, worthy of consideration and kindness. We have the right to be in safe environments, rather than ones in which physical, verbal, sexual, or emotional abuse are present. Consider that you want your rights to be respected and, therefore, you need to respect another’s rights for that respect to be returned to you.

Let’s look now at the purpose of resentments. In my case, my resentments served the purpose of keeping me a very closed and self-centered person, seeking attention in the form of pity. My resentments gave me something to spend my energy on. It gave me the free license to be critical and demeaning toward others.

Perhaps the most important role that resentments play for us is allowing us to avoid being responsible and accountable for ourselves. We place the blame for our woes or failures on another and that takes the attention and the heat off of us. After all, it is difficult to look at and own our own behavior, especially when it is poor behavior. This is the only benefit to keeping resentments and, in my experience, when cleared of them, I experienced great freedom and peace.

How does compassion help? Well, for me, compassion was the precursor to forgiveness. Compassion softens everything, allows us to see others as humans – fallible. Often, we can see our own behavior being played out by another, and that leads to compassion not only for the other, but for ourselves as well. Yes, compassion is a softening emotion, easily practiced when we look at our own foibles and bad behavior.

How does compassion help you? And do resentments serve a purpose for you? How about respecting the rights of others… what do you see as another’s rights? Leave a comment and let us know.

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What Are Resentments?

Resentments are grudges or angers we hold against another or ourselves. They can be major or minor.

This is the start of my post yesterday, Thurs the 18th of October. Then, nothing came to me, and I decided to wait till the afternoon to write. I forgot… This morning got away from me and I had to leave for my volunteer job. My apologies for no post yesterday or earlier today. I hate to have you come here and not find a new post when that is what you’re looking for…

Many people carry huge resentments… years old. I did. I carried mine against my parents for 38 years, and fueled it with drinking and drugging. I was one wound-up, angry woman!  Provoke me and watch out… My husband got a lot of my wrath, and in all fairness to me, I must say he slung his mud my way, too, and many times that’s what I was reacting to. Mostly, I kept my mouth shut. All that did was build the resentment I had against him for his verbal abuse, and many other things. Life was filled with drama…

Is this a familiar story for you? Sound like your life with different circumstances, perhaps, but the same gist? How is your life working?

Maybe your resentments are smaller than a full-blown rage against Uncle Harry for something he did years ago. Maybe, it’s an issue in traffic, when someone cuts in front of you and then slows down to 5-10 miles under the speed limit. Do you do the slow burn in that situation? I do sometimes… Or how about the neighbor who plays loud music late at night… do you begin to momentarily resent those things?

The point is, we deal with even minor issues that lead us to generate resentments, which are things we go over and over and over again in our mind. If we have a momentary anger and were able to resolve it by taking action of some sort, that is not a resentment. The on-going thinking of the offense is what makes it a resentment.

What are we to do with these annoyances, these little things that get under our skin? Ah, there is relief. Let’s take the example of the driver who pulls out in front of us and then slows notably. This driver is oblivious, unconscious. Don’t you have to have compassion for someone who is so clueless in their life? I’m saying “in their life” because if, while performing a function in which one wants to be fully present, they are so absent, chances are they are like that in all areas of their life.

I feel compassion that they miss out on all the miraculous things that occur in front of us all day, every day. The beauty, the mystery, the bad experiences that lead to good outcomes… They are leading a life similar to the one I led before sobriety, before I learned to deal with resentments by learning to manage all the things I mentioned above. But at least I was a conscious and aware driver.

The next time you get peeved about something that seems small, yet it develops into something that consumes you, try offering compassion. You will begin to see many things about which to be compassionate. It takes some practice, and is so worth the effort in the end. It offers you peace and calm.

Does this give you some idea of what a resentment is, you who searched for this term yesterday morning? I hope so. How does my suggestion to see the other person with compassion sit with you? Does it resonate, or make you angry and resentful that I would suggest compassion as a course of action? Leave a comment and let me know.

 

 

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More About Resentments – Living Free From Them

Eeeergh! I just wrote a wonderful blog about resentments, but posted it into a new page, rather than a new post. I had to go in and copy the post from the page, and I did that, but forgot to save the new post before I went back to copy the title of the blog. In the process, I lost the post! The worst part is, I cannot remember what I said… again, eeeeergh!

Well, here I sit, trying to recollect what I did say…. and I am drawing a blank. So, I will start over. Speaking of resentments, I have one against myself, and that is, I resent myself for my loss of memory, my inability to remember from one minute to the next.

I could rail against myself, really get into the resentment and feel sorry for myself, but that leads to that slow churning gut I referred to yesterday, and I choose not to live like that today. I think about a seminar I attended a month ago, in which I learned that my years of drinking and drugging eroded my hippocampus, the center of the brain responsible for memory. So, I can now work on forgiving myself for all the years of substance abuse. I can make a joke about my memory loss, understanding that it just is what is; and I can accept it and move forward, despite the limitations it poses for me.

Speaking of substance abuse, I recall a portion of my post from earlier today. Do you know the CDC cited 11.8 million substance abusers in the US in 2011? That’s mind-numbing! It is a well-known and documented fact that resentments are the number one reason people drink. Therefore, it is startling to realize that for there are close to 1.8 million people who live with resentments on an on-going basis.

Boy, there are a lot of resentments flying around! My major one, the one I harbored and nursed with drugs and booze, the one that lasted 38 years, was against my parents for my upbringing. About six years into sobriety, I got into a deep despair over the futility of my life and the events that occurred as a child. I saw no purpose to it, to me or my life.

Then I had the opportunity to help a man who was in acute emotional pain. I talked with him after his share at a meeting and relayed resources I had discovered along my path that were helpful in my healing from childhood issues. He was so grateful, his eyes filled with tears. I was deeply touched, and I realized my past had been of use to someone else. There WAS purpose to my upbringing, I had purpose!

Since that day, I have had no difficulty with despair, and have continued along what I believe my path to be, which is to share my story in the hopes that it will be of use to another. If we can use the knowledge of our painful experiences for the purpose of helping another, it helps to diminish our resentments.

For example, you Vietnam vets can work with newly-returning vets and give them a proper welcome home, a thank you for their service. This you can do to make use of what you endured. Suddenly, you can see why you endured what you did… to be useful to another. You know how hurtful it was to be received so poorly, to not get a welcome home, that you do not want others to have to experience that. And that is how your experience can be of service to others. I understand one of the Vietnam Veterans of America’s purposes and activities involves working with new vets to welcome them home. Ah, such a beautiful way to turn around your pain, your resentment.

When we put to use our resentments by turning them around and doing good for another to so they can avoid what we suffered, it helps to dispel them. What a wonderful thing to be able to do! It is incredibly freeing and it leads to peace.

How are you using your resentments to good use? How are you helping another to avoid what you suffered? Leave a comment and let us hear how you are doing that.

 

 

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What Are Resentments and What Can You Do About Them?

Today let’s talk about resentments… grudges, anger toward another. Webster defines resentments as feelings of hurt or indignation from a sense of being injured or offended.

When feeling resentments, one is overcome by bitterness and anger. It’s a slow burn in the gut. Much emotional energy goes toward justifying  one’s resentments, leaving a feeling of incompleteness. There seems to always be a feeling that you are right and justified in feeling your resentments, but that does not provide relief from them.

If you experience resentments, you know what I am talking about when I say they produce a slow burn in the gut. You relive that anger again and again, over and over. Many people drink over their resentments. In fact, it is a well-known and documented fact that resentments are the number one reason people drink.

So, how does one get past them?

First, there has to be a feeling that you want to resolve your resentments. You are tired of that slow burn and the emotional havoc they play. To resolve a resentment after deciding you want to resolve it, you can follow the steps below.

Humbly look at the situation and determine if you did something to provoke another. Did you say something or do something to hurt another? If so, look at whether the other person responded in an expected manner in response to your actions or words. If this is the case, own your behavior. Recognize that you were in the wrong and give up the resentment. Apologize if that is indicated to set a situation right.

If you did not contribute negatively to a situation and can still say you were wronged, feel that wound, feel how devastating the event was. Grieve the loss from it… loss of trust, loss of safety. For example, the Vietnam vets who were wronged by the American people when they returned home need to consider how they lost their trust in the public. To come to resolution of their resentments, they need to grieve that hurt, that loss.

Now consider looking 180 degrees, with new eyes. Choose a life of peace rather than one filled with resentments and bitterness. To do that, hold yourself in compassion for being a wounded person. Before going on to the next step, allow yourself to feel that compassion for as long as you need. Try not to cross the line from compassion to self-pity. Compassion is open and expansive, while self-pity is closed and contracted.

Finally, consider that the other person was, in fact, wounded themselves and was demonstrating the humanness of a person in emotional pain. Offer them compassion for their pain. Keep repeating this process of looking at this person with new eyes until the resentment begins to lessen.

In the case of the Vietnam vets, consider that the American public was terrified, looking for something or someone to blame to lessen their frustration about what was happening at the time. In their ignorance and lack of ability to place blame in the right place, they unfairly took it out on the vets as they returned home. It is possible, even though that experience was horrible and highly uncalled for, to get past those resentments against the American people.

When you deal with your resentments in the above manner, you will find a freedom that is most rewarding. Your relationships will be more satisfying, and you will experience more peace-of-mind.

What has you trying to cope with resentments? Can you define one of your resentments? Follow through with the process above and see if that helps to lessen your resentments. If you notice a lessening of your resentments, leave a comment telling us of your success to resolve them.

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How to Find Forgiveness

Yesterday, I spoke about how forgiveness found me. It was quite by accident. Now, I know how to recreate that for myself and I thought I’d share it with you how to find forgiveness.

Tiers of Forgiveness

Tiers of Forgiveness

It happens in tiers, or stages, over time. There are many emotions to deal with, and the original anger and resentment will resurface for you to look at. It gets easier if you apply the following process.

  • Identify the original anger. Recognize it as hurt and let yourself feel that hurt. Be willing to feel it.
  • Don’t get into how justified you are about your anger. Allow yourself to hurt.
  • Take a look at yourself and determine if you may have done something to provoke the other person. Be really honest about that, even if it is embarrassing to admit. Better to know this up-front. Be willing to look honestly. Be willing to be responsible for your own actions and words.
  • If you did do something to provoke the other person, perhaps an apology is in order. Drop your pride and apologize if you were the one who set the ball in motion.
  • If that is not the case, then look further at yourself and examine whether you have ever done the very thing for which you are angry.
  • Chances are, you have in some form or another. Think about how you felt about yourself when you did that. Were you feeling badly about yourself and took it out on another in some way?
  • Have compassion for yourself for how badly you were feeling about yourself when you did that act, or said what you said to be hurtful to another. Really hold yourself and give yourself comfort. Be willing to show yourself compassion.
  • Now, think about the other person and consider that they most likely were feeling badly about themselves when they did what they did to you.
  • Now, try to see them with the eyes of compassion for the wounded soul they were at that moment that they hurt you.
  • Don’t condone the hurtful actions. Forgiveness is not about condoning the hurtful actions or words of another. It is about freeing up your heart from the resentment you harbor. It is about clearing your heart.
  • Once you see with the eyes of compassion, try to bring forgiveness into your heart.
  • Know that they were doing the best they could at that moment, just as you always do the best you can in any moment, even if you are hurtful to another.

Try this series of ideas for one with whom you are angry and resentful, one whom you are unable to forgive, and see if it is helpful. See if it shows you how to find forgiveness.

If it is yourself you need to forgive, the same stages of self-examination and compassion apply. If you try this method, let us know the results. Leave a comment with your success, or let us know if it just didn’t work.

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How I Found the Gift of Forgiveness

There was a definite advantage for me in finding the gift of forgiveness. It is a gift for you, as it frees your heart of the resentment, anger, and hurt which you harbor. When you forgive, it adds a great deal of inner peace to your life.

According to Webster, to forgive is to give up resentment and the desire to punish someone, to pardon them, to overlook one’s transgressions. This is not to say you condone what another has done. Yet, you give up the need to punish them with your silence, or scorn, or anger.

Finding the Gift of Forgiveness

Tiers of Forgiveness

Forgiveness for me happened in tiers. And it involved many years of tears. There was a period of years in my life when I endured much physical and verbal abuse; the details are not important.

What is noteworthy is that I was told repeatedly during those years that I was worthless, no good, and would never amount to anything. Needless to say, I started to feel very worthless.

I went on with life, resenting this person who had bestowed the extreme physical and emotional hurt upon me. I seethed inside. I made snide comments to punish them, or withheld my love and attention as a way to further punish. 

Then I became sober. I had to look at what was done without having alcohol to numb the pain, and it was excruciating to do so. I did it because I had no choice but to go through the pain if I wanted to heal. And I wanted desperately to heal. 

I was doing a self-appraisal one day, looking at all my relationships with men that I had had over the years. I realized that for each of them, I would get drunk and scream at them how worthless they were, that they were no good, and would never amount to anything.

I was horrified to remember and to admit this to myself! What a horrible thing to have said! I realized I did not mean it, that I was feeling those things about myself, and just took out my anguish on them.

Suddenly, I wondered if the person who said those things to me felt the same way – felt worthless and no good about themselves, and that is why they screamed those words at me.  I saw myself with compassion, knowing what extreme pain I was in at the time. This allowed me to believe that the person who abused me was also in great pain at the time, and I was able to feel compassion for them, also.

This didn’t excuse my behavior, and I have since apologized to these men, but the psychological and spiritual damage was done. Yet, by acknowledging how I said these things, and applying compassion to both myself and the person who abused me, I was able to forgive myself, and the person who had said them to me. Years of anger and  resentment slipped away. I have since gained peace from years of abuse. 

What are the ways in which you are withholding forgiveness? Is it getting in the way of your peace of mind? Tomorrow we will look at ways you can learn to offer forgiveness, so you can gain peace, too.

 

 

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The Process of Forgiveness

Thank you, Sherry Gaba, for your wonderful post. We had a lot of veiwers reading it.

Today, I wish to continue with the topics in the book, which brings us to forgiveness. This photo is entitled Tiers of Forgiveness, because, in my experience, forgiving is a process that occurs over time, in layers. It could be referred to as the process of forgiveness.

Sherry’s post is a good lead-in to forgiveness, as the ability to forgive is an ideal end- point when we deal with resentment. When we have identified the object of our resentment and have worked through it, we are ready to gain peace through forgiveness – peace with ourselves and, hopefully, peace with the other person(s). There is great freedom in forgiveness.

So, we have identified the person with whom we have a resentment, and we begin the process of looking at ourselves – our behavior and actions, our words and thoughts, and we accept responsibility for these. By that, I mean we hold ourselves accountable, make any amends necessary, which includes to ourselves, if we have treated ourselves badly. We “own up” to our bad behavior and compliment ourselves on the good.

It has been my experience that when I do such an appraisal, I see that, often, I have done the very thing for which I am angry at another. How can I be angry at someone, when I have done the very thing that brings me anger? I soften, recognizing our humanness, our woundedness, and I feel compassion, both for myself and the person I resented. Suddenly, the resentment has diminished. Done over time, this method is the process of forgiveness and can lead to peace. At least, that is what I have experienced.

Deciding to forgive is is a difficult decision to make. For me, it meant backing down from that stance which allowed me to be self-righteous, and, frankly, to play the victim. I believe I played that role in an effort to hurt and perhaps punish, the person I felt had wronged me. I find that I no longer need that role, and, again, life has been freer, and I have enjoyed a closer relationship with those I forgave.

If you went through the process of forgiveness, what improvements have you seen in your relations with others? Have you experienced peace as a result of forgiveness?

 

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Do Your Resentments Serve A Positive Purpose?

Guest Post By: Sherry Gaba, Recovery Coach & Author

Please welcome Sherry Gaba, who has written the dynamite book, The Law of Sobriety.

Revenge, negativity, hatred, scorn are just a few of the emotions that an individual can be carrying around with them without even being aware of the impact they have on their day-to-day lives. Every person on the planet has had experiences that are less than pleasant, some experiences that could even be described as horrific and traumatic. A question that you need to ask yourself is what are you doing with these emotions that you are carrying around like chronic baggage?

Have You Faced Your Resentments?

When facing your resentments, have you ever taken the time to evaluate the exact purpose those resentments have in your life? Are your resentments living in your head rent-free? This is a popular saying in the program and it makes a great deal of sense. Every human being is given 24 hours in each day, no more and no less. Time is the one resource that we cannot get more of.  Are you investing emotional energy in things that will benefit you or are you investing emotional energy by carrying around negative resentments? When you take the time to evaluate your resentments you may see how your choices aided in the outcome of situations that resulted with resentments.

Take Responsibility

The Law of Sobriety tells us that we need to take responsibility for the choices that we made in the past and the choices we will make in the future. When examining specific resentments, maybe towards a past romantic partner, a parent, an old friend, you will see where choices you made create a level of accountability. This is not to say that horrific things that happened to you are your fault, but it does reinforce that you no longer need to live in the land of victim. There are tools that you can use to help examine specific resentments with the desire of moving past that negative emotion that doesn’t serve you.

A Tool For Healing

Journaling is a great way to document your journey of recovery and can be used to let go of resentments. In your journal write a letter to the individual that caused you to have resentment. In this letter write down how you experienced the situation, what you felt and how this experience affected you. Use as many specific and detailed descriptions as possible to paint a very clear picture. While writing this letter try to express your accountability for your actions during this experience. Close the letter with a sentiment of forgiveness, even if you don’t believe it at the time.

The act of writing this letter and reading it out loud if desired begins the process of letting that negative energy go, releasing it into the universe. Continue to read the letter over time and you will find that you begin to believe the words of forgiveness and it is at this point when the universe knows that you have finally released that negative resentment that was taking up space in your mind and in your heart. Remember that if you are experiencing emotions that are negative, these emotions don’t serve you in a positive way. If something doesn’t serve you in a positive manner, you must learn to release those negative emotions to make room for emotions that will serve you.

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Sherry Gaba, LCSW, is a Life and Recovery Coach on Celebrity Rehab on VH1 and author of The Law of Sobriety which uses the law of attraction to recover from any addictions. Sherry can be reached at sherry@sgabatherapy.com for coaching packages, therapy, teleseminars, workshops, or speaking engagements. www.thelawofsobriety.com or www.sgabatherapy.com.

 

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How To Try To Forgive

Tiers of Forgiveness

“The moisture of our tears encourages a blanket of softness to grow over the rocks of resentment which, over time, cleanses and dissolves the hardness. Over time, we become able to forgive others.

Softness continues to expand, hardness continues to melt. Over time, we are even able to forgive ourselves.”

Why is it important to try to forgive? Perhaps the main reason is to achieve freedom from the anger and resentment that we feel toward one who has wronged us. This is not achieved because we condone what the other did, nor is that advocated. Forgiveness is more about us and the effect our continued resentment is having on us.

Resentment and anger are exhausting. They suck the very spirit out of us, preventing us from experiencing unencumbered joy and peace. We continue with tension, tight muscles, a churning stomach, high blood pressure…

Given that our energy is used in such a manner, why do we continue? Often, it is because we feel justified, feel that the misery created is our badge to be worn, to display to the world that we have had a hard time and that is what has made us what we are. Unfortunately, this belief keeps us in the victim role, often feeling sorry for ourselves. This is detrimental to our very spirit. It is draining for those around us.

How can we try to forgive? It is helpful to do a self-appraisal, to look at one’s own responses in a similar situation. Sometimes, we may realize we are doing the very thing for which we are angry. When we can realize this, we are able to have compassion for ourselves, which then leads to compassion for the other person. We are able to see them as fallible human beings, perhaps in acute emotional pain. Armed with compassion, forgiveness happens. The rocks of resentment melt.

This takes time and is not an overnight matter. The process begins with feeling the pain of the offense, admitting how hurtful it was to us. In other words, we need to acknowledge the detrimental feelings. We need to grieve any loss associated with this, such as the loss of a happy marriage, a happy childhood. This process is more effective if one elects sobriety over a habit of numbing one’s feelings with alcohol.

What do we gain when we try to forgive? We discover a joy and peace such as we have never known, a knowingness inside that all is well. We can let down our guard and, in so doing, we experience deeper relationships with others. We heal and we grow.

Do you need to try to forgive someone? How is that working for you?

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