letting go of resentments

to resent something means literally to feel emotions again.

and again

and again.

and again.

believe it or not – there is something seductive about this repetitiveness. it can be done quite effortlessly, it’s familiar. nothing new needs to be learned, no new perspective needs to be considered.

it’s also a massive waste of time.

one of my clients used to have a real problem with that. over and over and over again he would think about how badly his mother-in-law treated him. he would come and bring one piece of evidence after the other: she said this! she did that! she forgot this! looked at me that way! the more he talked about it, the more upset he would get. but he couldn’t leave it alone.

this type of resentment is exhausting. and this is why it is a waste of time:

just do the math: let’s imagine our emotional life runs along a path. every day we have the opportunity to “walk”, say, 10 miles. we can walk these 10 miles in a straightforward direction, which would gain us 10 miles. of course this rarely happens.

we can walk it in a wavy, zigzag direction that still generally moves in a forward direction and we’ll gain maybe 7 miles; that’s the best we can usually expect.

if we’re stuck in resentment, though, we go back and forth and back and forth, and no matter how many days we walk and exhaust ourselves, we hardly ever gain an inch.

what are ways of getting rid of these resentments? as usual, it depends on the person and the situation. here are a few things that might help:


i always imagine resentments as something clingy and graspy. a powerful image for me is to imagine myself holding on to the resentments and then just opening my hands and letting them go. – what’s your image?


meditation, especially buddhist meditation, is often all ABOUT letting go. in insight meditation, for example, one experiences feelings and thoughts like clouds on the horizon of our awareness. they come, they move from here to there, they disappear. i find this particularly useful because practicing this kind of meditation helps us realize that we are not our feelings and thoughts, and that we don’t have to be ruled by them. it’s the other way round: they are part of us, they belong to us, we decide what to do with them.

contemplation / reflection

in contemplation or reflection, you can quietly and gently use your thoughts to feel your way through a situation. during a long walk, while lying in bed, or in some other quiet, relaxed situation, you can ask yourself questions like, “where do i feel this resentment in my body?”, “what would happen if i wasn’t resentful against this person or situation anymore?” the idea is to be curious and full of wonder, accepting of whatever response may or may not come


and then of course, you can also talk to a friend, or to a counsellor. don’t have a counsellor? get in touch with me.

isabella mori
counselling in vancouver

31 thoughts on “letting go of resentments

  1. Pingback: I’m going for a triple-double almost suicide | Sexy and Disgraceful

  2. Pingback: Finding Your Marbles » A Mental Health Survival Guide » Link: Letting Go of Resentments

  3. Jorge

    This is the most hollow of advices I’ve ever read. This person has no idea of what to do, has no method, is superficial and what’s most troubling, harmful. If you feel resentment please consult a trained and proper professional.

  4. isabella mori

    dear jorge – thanks for taking the time to leave a comment. unfortunately, you did not leave any email or web site address to contact you so we can engage in some discussion about this. so i’ll just ask you here: could you please elaborate on what you found so troubling about this post?

  5. jennifer

    Hi Isabella…

    I love this article. I think visualizations, imagination, creativity, and meditation are all very powerful techniques in overcoming many of our challenges. I think we are just beginning to discover the power of our minds!

    Great post!


  6. isabella mori

    hi jennifer – you’re absolutely right. i would go even further and say that more than techniques, creativity, conversation and meditation can become ways of life.

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  8. Pingback: resentments: where do they come from? » change therapy - isabella mori

  9. kenneth daniels

    I once saw a representation of resentments as a man walking through life with this huge sack of large rocks in it & each rock weighing you down is resentment.
    carrying This sack drains you of physical strength & mental & lugging this load around becomes a habit & we are used to being tired & miserable.
    But, if we take each rock out of the sack & examine it & realize the power it had over you the let it go turn it over to whatever power that you feel is greater than yourself. You get so much freedom & relief from it it’s like walking 6inches off the ground. Great article

  10. Andy

    I think that resentment is a wasted emotion, in that it does you know good whatsoever. I little like jelousy. Finding a spiritual path, for example, being attuned to Reiki or setting time aside for meditation, can help dispel issues such as resentment. Often these issues surface before hand though as part of the process.

  11. Pete

    Resentments are the past, worry is the future, so if I am wasting time in either, I am not living in the present. When I find myself in either I do a “Being in the Moment” exercise….like others have said before me…..meditation

  12. Jeff

    Identification of reentements seem rather simple in your context… Once you realize a love one holds them how should you go about the resolution?? this seems to be the complicated part?? That iswithout creating more resentment

  13. Pingback: resentments, eckhart tolle and the present

  14. Albert Sullivan

    Hi’ I have completed steps 1,2,&3 and am now ready for step 4 please email on finding a sponsor to guide me through the 4th step I Thank you and please be aware that your deed will not go unnoticed by the angels in heaven!!

  15. Personal Growth

    got here from google and I must say that you have summed it all. It always helps to teach a laymen with example and you have done the job in a pretty good manner. You need to get rid of extra flab or weight and resentments is definitely one of them.,

  16. Fritz Schmidt

    I have found it useful to move into forgiveness therapy when dealing with clients who hold onto resentments. Through forgiveness theapy they can take a pro-active role in healing and feel they are again in charge of permitting the resentment to have power over them.

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