March 15, 2005

Letting Go of Resentments in Intimate Relationships

"We keep our resentments inside as a method of:

~ proving to ourselves that we are "right" and the other is clearly wrong;

~ reinforcing a belief that the other really isn't worth loving (he or she doesn't deserve it);

~ maintaining control (or the illusion of control) of the relationship or the situation;

~ being angry to avoid intimacy, or other deeper feelings of hurt, sadness, despair, sex or fear;

~ being heard or listened to;

~ taking revenge or punishing ("getting back at" a partner);

~ keeping the position that the problem is all the other’s fault;

~ maintaining the "status quo" out of fear that change would be destructive.

Basically, we learn to hold on to our resentments as a way of protecting our own ego. The personal emotional price of such protection is high. Nobel Prize laureate, Hans Selye, described the most stressful emotion as "the desire for vengeance."

You have at least four choices if you are keeping in anger or resentment:

1) Hold on to it indefinitely and be pretty miserable;
2) Forgive and become more free, peaceful and clearer;
3) Let go of your own fear and create the opportunity for you and your partner to develop a new level of respect, understanding, and intimacy; or
4) Decide to forgive and choose to keep as a top priority, the maintenance of the partnership.

If you decide to forgive, remember to acknowledge all of your feelings toward your partner...not just the hurt or resentment. Take responsibility for sharing what you want, what you fear, what you need, what you would like it to be between the two of you. Keeping the lines of communication open is one of two critical factors in becoming forgiving.

Keeping your heart open is the other. Resentment collecting closes off some part of you and keeps it hidden from yourself or others. Forgiveness allows you to become fully open to the possibility of love, enjoyment, fulfillment and connection with others. An open heart keeps you alive."

By Lloyd J. Thomas, Ph.D. who has 30+ years experience as a Life Coach and Licensed Psychologist.

No comments: