The cycle of resentment starts with unaddressed hurt feelings, leading to anger which when left unresolved become deep-seated resentment causing systemic infections of the whole mind and body, resulting in more and more flare ups of hurt and anger at the slightest perceived provocation. This is why resentment is hard to root out, it’s never just one thing! It’s a series of issues so tangled that any one argument will lead into the next and the next and the next. Before you know it, everyone involved is so upset and no one wants to listen to the other.
What complicates it further is the reality that hurt is a subjective concept. We can say one thing to someone and it doesn’t hurt them at all yet it causes a world of hurt to another. So when we’re accused of hurting another, we plead innocence, insisting we meant no harm and that the hurt person is overly sensitive. As we defend and diminish the hurt, this is what will then turn into anger, causing the hurt person to lash out, hurting us in return. Before you know it, everyone is hurting everyone else and no one knows what’s going on anymore. Each person wants the other one to fix their hurt but they can’t because they’re hurting too! And on and one the cycle goes until nobody knows if they’re coming or going!
Someone has to step up to be the hero and start over from a clean slate. Once we release the resentment we’re holding on to (see how here), only then can we hope to help our partners release their resentment. For us to do that, we need to realize that we’re dealing in an area of subjective reality. Emotions such as hurt are subjective. We have to stop the cycle and instead choose to listen to the person who’s saying they are hurt, step back and start to look at where we caused the hurt. At this point the person will be super-angry and probably even mean-spirited. Ignore their anger, not the behavior but the emotion of anger. If you perpetrate the anger, the other person then feels justified. So instead, step back to acknowledge the hurt and address the residual anger.
Listen to the person, really listen. Not preparing for a rebuttal, no, just listening. Listen and validate what they are feeling without any kind of justification on your part. By facilitating them this space to be fully heard, we allow them to move through their anger and back towards their hurt, where we can then apologize and accept responsibility. This does not mean we are responsible for each and every single thing that went wrong, no. It simply means we are now looking only at our contribution in the cycle, taking responsibility for it and apologizing. Doing this should bring healing to the person that’s hurting.
Remember we’re dealing with a cycle covering eons of hurt and anger. The deeper the resentment the longer the process. So we ask for more examples, seek to understand their perspective. It’s crucial that we seek to see their perspective; 2/3rd of this this conversation is about hearing them and only 1/3rd is about responding, apologizing and taking responsibility. We acknowledge to them that there’s obviously a lot of pain there and that we’ve hurt their feelings around that, we assure them we don’t want to discount their pain and we listen humbly and intently.
We accept their examples to be expressions of their hurt. We allow it to be their hurt without getting defensive about it, just listening intently and acknowledging and apologizing for each example, seeing it as the gift it is, leading up the path of healing. We allow their words to be representative of something that’s important for us to hear. We all want so desperately to be heard. It’s not about how we meant it but rather how it was perceived. So listen. Hear them. Hear their pain. Make it better. Start them down the path of healing.
Once we’ve taken responsibility for the hurt we have caused them from all their examples, it’s crucial that they then understand we’re willing to change. Not trying to get them to change their minds but that we’re actually willing to change. We then set about changing what needs to be changed. We can all change if we understand that our actions are hurting those we care about. Transformation really is possible once we find ways of forming new habits and start to display signs of changed behavior. Cheers, Grey xoxo