Tag Archives: resentment

Play it again…

Dr. Ken Larsen

Our word “resentment” comes from the Latin (re) “sentire” which means “to feel”.  Therefore, the meaning of resentment is to feel it again.

Our experiences are filed in memory.  Many of those experiences in memory are accessible and we can retrieve them at will.  What we do with that memory is going to have an impact on our mental health and happiness.

anger-resentment

I’ve been fascinated by findings that have come out of the Adult Attachment Interview pioneered by Dr. Mary Main.  It seems that if a person with some difficult experiences early in life can formulate a coherent narrative of those experiences, and use that narrative in self-talk as well as in conversations with others, the difficult memory can be “tamed” and denied power over the person’s present life.

What I get from this insight is that when I choose to go into the filing cabinet of my memories and retrieve an experience that was painful when it happened, I have a choice about feeling the pain again.  I can play that old tape and feel it again, or I can step back and reframe the experience so that I understand what happened and can talk about it to myself and others in a coherent manner.

I remember an incident from when I was about 7 or 8 years old.  I had done something wrong and my father became angry with me.  He said something very unkind that was very hurtful to me.  As I grew up and left home I came to understand my father.  I was able to recognize the early childhood experiences that he had that made it difficult for him to give me what I needed from him.  He couldn’t give me what he didn’t have.  Once I understood, I could look at that memory more objectively and avoid the negative emotional baggage that used to come from reliving that moment.

 

 

Fear: Part 3

I Think I Can Get Away With It

by Barnes Boffey, Ed.D

Director of Training, Aloha Foundation… www.alohafoundation.org

I know a relatively large number of people who are having trouble with anxiety as they move into their elder years. They are anxious about the future, anxious about money, kids, weather and just about everything else, and they spend a great deal of time acting as if it were not their fault that they are feeling this way. Like a compulsive overeater who continues to eat bread and sugar but seems continually dumbfounded that they are gaining weight, denial and “hoping we can get away with it” go hand in hand.

As the anxiety becomes more pronounced in their lives, they generally  don’t want to hear that the state of anxiety they are dealing with now is a direct result of their not facing their fearing and anxiety in earlier years. Essentially they hoped they could avoid facing their destructive patterns; they hoped they could outrun it, evade it or deny it long enough so that the full force of the pattern wouldn’t catch them. They would then have gotten away with allowing themselves years of unchecked fear and anxiety without having to pay any price. Every emotion has a cost; some are very expensive (anger, resentment, jealousy) some have very little cost (generosity, gratitude and kindness), but there is “no free lunch.” Just as we can’t continue to spend well beyond our income, the cost of certain emotions can bankrupt us if we continue to create them over time.

We can get addicted to emotions just as we can to substances, and the root of much of this is the false belief that “I can get away with it.” We think we can stay angry at a spouse and not have it eventually cost us our relationship; we think we can stay resentful at our sister and not have it affect the family strength;  we think we can continue to be fearful and anxious without eventually weakening the entire framework of our mental health and happiness. With discipline, courage, thoughtful planning and good tools (see Fear #2) we can change directions. Without all three, our future may have more unpleasant surprises for us than we would hope for.

 

 

 

Love is all you need

By Michael Rice, LISAC, CTRTC

Addicts and alcoholics all lack happiness and a sense of well-being.  It’s what prompted them to drink/use in the first place.   Happy people who truly like themselves don’t have a need to abuse drugs or alcohol in order to feel better.   Pure air is more than sufficient for them.

allyouneedisloveWhen one has acquired the love of one’s self as well as the love from the important people in his/her life, they have acquired a pervasive sense of happiness and well-being.  Even in times of adversity or illness, the person who loves and receives love deals with unhappiness in healthy ways of hope and gratitude.  They handle life’s woes much better than the person who lacks love and connection with others.

Ironically, it is an addict’s/alcoholic’s drugged behavior while under the influence that causes them to lose whatever love they may have had.  The more they drink or use to dissipate their unhappiness, the more they create their own sense of shame and guilt . . . adding two more things they want to overcome by drinking or using.

What they need the most is love.  However, if those who are closest to them hold much resentment, harbor a lot of anger, and feel wounded by their behavior, it would be extremely difficult for them to show any compassion or love towards them.  The behavior of an addict or alcoholic oftentimes creates resentment and anger to those closest to them.  Others see their behavior as the person’s true behavior and not their drugged affected behavior.

Even in many treatment centers, the need for genuine love is overlooked leading to failed attempts at sobriety.  One of the reasons A.A. works so well is due to the love and understanding given them by those who have been there.  This is why A.A. is called, “A Fellowship.”  But all too often, it is the alcoholic/addict’s shame and guilt that puts up a defensive wall towards “getting help from outsiders” or “people who don’t even know me.”

The most successful mental health and recovery programs are those which are aware of the magic of love towards their clients.  I am not speaking of romantic love between therapist and clients but the love of true caring and concern from the important people in one’s life.  Love, both caring and romantic, has the power to create long lasting happiness and wellbeing.  Of course there is more than just Love that and addict/alcoholic needs.  They also need forgiveness and acceptance which falls under the umbrella of love.  Once again, I refer to the Beatles:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EKiqthx0GKw

 

 

 

 

 

Let Go and Get Free

By Dr. Ken Larsen

This is one technic for catching monkeys. Hollow out a large gourd, leaving a small opening at one end.  Inside the gourd put a piece of fruit that monkeys like a lot.  Then anchor the gourd securely and move on out of sight.  Soon, a monkey will come along to check out the gourd.  Finding the tempting piece of fruit inside, he reaches in and tries to pull it out.   But the opening in the gourd is just big enough to get his hand in.  Once he grasps the fruit inside, his hand is just too large to pull back out of the opening.  Not wanting to let go of the fruit, the monkey is trapped with his hand in the gourd.

monkeyAll the monkey has to do to get free would be to let go of the fruit, pull his hand out of the gourd and scamper up a nearby tree.

I wonder how often we grab and hold on to something that we think we want and need in spite of the harm it’s doing to us.

Some of the more destructive things we habitually hold on to are resentments.  Something happened to us in the past that was harmful or hurtful.  Sometimes the memories of these hurtful events haunt us and we play them again.  There are many reasons for “playing the old tapes” and none of them are good.  Each time we revisit those old resentments, the old feelings come back.  We need to let go.  Forgive the offender and make a conscious choice not to linger in those painful past places.  It takes some effort to do this, but life today will be better if we let the past stay past.

All too often the psychic/emotional pain caused by re- feeling these resentments leads us to looking for relief in a behavior or substance.   We feel bad and want to feel good and the cycle of resentment and pain can lead us to some wrong places to find the good feelings we want so badly.  Those “wrong places, can be behaviors or substances that are addictive.  We cycle from feeling bad to trying to feel good only to come back to feeling bad.  We are stuck and don’t know how to let go.

Sometimes it’s hard to know the difference between a true addiction and just a bad habit.  The one distinguishing characteristic that answers the question for me is “use despite harm.”  If we’re doing something or using something and it’s doing us harm and we can’t just stop, I think “addiction”.

“Use despite harm” can cover behaviors, substances, even certain relationships.  The key to letting go is to recognize that we are holding on to something that is harmful to us and then getting the help and support we need to let go and get free.

Let Go…

By Dr. Ken Larsen

This is one technic for catching monkeys. Hollow out a large gourd, leaving a small opening at one end.  Inside the gourd put a piece of fruit that monkeys like a lot.  Then anchor the gourd securely and move on out of sight.  Soon, a monkey will come along to check out the gourd.  Finding the tempting piece of fruit inside, he reaches in and tries to pull it out.   But the opening in the gourd is just big enough to get his hand in.  Once he grasps the fruit inside, his hand is just too large to pull back out of the opening.  Not wanting to let go of the fruit, the monkey is trapped with his hand in the gourd.

monkeyAll the monkey has to do to get free would be to let go of the fruit, pull his hand out of the gourd and scamper up a nearby tree.

I wonder how often we grab and hold on to something that we think we want and need in spite of the harm it’s doing to us.

Some of the more destructive things we habitually hold on to are resentments.  Something happened to us in the past that was harmful or hurtful.  Sometimes the memories of these hurtful events haunt us and we play them again.  There are many reasons for “playing the old tapes” and none of them are good.  Each time we revisit those old resentments, the old feelings come back.  We need to let go.  Forgive the offender and make a conscious choice not to linger in those painful past places.  It takes some effort to do this, but life today will be better if we let the past stay past.

All too often the psychic/emotional pain caused by re- feeling these resentments leads us to looking for relief in a behavior or substance.   We feel bad and want to feel good and the cycle of resentment and pain can lead us to some wrong places to find the good feelings we want so badly.  Those “wrong places, can be behaviors or substances that are addictive.  We cycle from feeling bad to trying to feel good only to come back to feeling bad.  We are stuck and don’t know how to let go.

Sometimes it’s hard to know the difference between a true addiction and just a bad habit.  The one distinguishing characteristic that answers the question for me is “use despite harm.”  If we’re doing something or using something and it’s doing us harm and we can’t just stop, I think “addiction”.

“Use despite harm” can cover behaviors, substances, even certain relationships.  The key to letting go is to recognize that we are holding on to something that is harmful to us and then getting the help and support we need to let go and get free.

Acceptance

By Kim Olver

When I think of accepting, the Serenity Prayer comes to mind:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; 
Courage to change the things I can; 
And the wisdom to know the difference.

There is however, a Choice Theory modification to this prayer and it goes like this: 

God, grant me the serenity to accept the people I cannot change;
Courage to change the one I can; 
And the wisdom to know that person is me! 

When we truly accept another person as he or she is, we no longer experience anger, frustration and resentment, hence the “serenity.” If you find yourself still resenting the other person, angry they won’t change, and/or frustrated with their behavior, you haven’t really accepted, have you? You are still attempting to change the other person, even though you may no longer be actively using deadly habits. You are still using emotions to coerce the other person to bend to your will.

canstockphoto0512675

Acceptance sounds something like this: “I know I haven’t accepted certain things about you in the past. I even tried many things to get you to see it my way and to change. But from this day forward, I am accepting every part of you. I am no longer trying to change you. It is your life and you get to live it in the way that is best for you.”

Then you have a decision to make. Just because you accept someone and their right to live their life however they choose, does not mean you want to stay in a connected relationship with that person. It is your job to take care of yourself. If you want something from another person . . . let’s say it’s your sister and you want her to stop using drugs . . . you can accept her as a person and accept her right to make decisions that may be self-destructive but that doesn’t mean you have to be a bystander witness to her self-destruction. You may choose to disengage from someone whose choices are painful to you.

If you are in a marriage and your spouse is cheating on you, you may accept him or her and recognize your spouse has the right to make that choice but that doesn’t mean you need to stay married and watch.

Is there something about an important person in your life you have been resisting? Are you ready to move in the direction of accepting that thing, whatever it is?