You hear people say this all the time: “I have a right to be upset because of the way I’ve been treated. I have a right to be angry, hurt, depressed, sad, and resentful.” Learning to avoid this kind of thinking is one of my secrets for living a life of inner peace, success, and happiness. Anytime you’re filled with resentment, you’re turning the controls of your emotional life over to others to manipulate.
I became aware of how powerful this lesson was many years ago while sitting in on a meeting of 12 people who were in a recovery group for alcoholism and drug addiction. All 12 of those people were accustomed to blaming others for their weaknesses, using almost any excuse as a rationale for returning to their self-defeating ways. On a poster hanging in the room were these words: “In this group, there are no justified resentments.”
Regardless of what anyone would say to another group member, no matter how confrontational or ugly the accusations, each person was reminded that there are no justified resentments. You may need to consider whom you resent before you make your own choice about whether this is useful for you. Resentments give you an excuse to return to your old ways. This is what got you there in the first place!
Removing resentment and blame from your life means never assigning responsibility to anyone for what you’re experiencing. It means that you’re willing to say, “I may not understand why I feel this way, why I have this illness, why I’ve been victimized, or why I had this accident, but I’m willing to say without any guilt or resentment that I own it. I live with, and I am responsible for, having it in my life.” Why do this? If you take responsibility for having it, then at least you have a chance to also take responsibility for removing it or learning from it.
If you’re in some small (perhaps unknown) way responsible for that migraine headache or that depressed feeling, then you can go to work to remove it or discover what its message is for you. If, on the other hand, someone or something else is responsible in your mind, then of course you’ll have to wait until they change for you to get better. And that is unlikely to occur.
First, you have to get past blame. Then you have to learn to send love to all, rather than anger and resentment. Just as no one can define you, neither do you have the privilege of defining others. When you stop judging and simply become an observer, you will know inner peace. With that sense of inner peace, you’ll find yourself free of the negative energy of resentment, and you’ll be able to live a life of contentment. A bonus is that you’ll find that others are much more attracted to you. A peaceful person attracts peaceful energy. You won’t know God unless you’re at peace, because God is peace. Your resentments literally send God out of your life while you’re busy being offended.
At the root of virtually all spiritual practice is the notion of forgiveness. Think about every single person who has ever harmed you, cheated you, defrauded you, or said unkind things about you. Your experience of them is nothing more that a thought that you carry around with you. These thoughts of resentment, anger, and hatred represent slow, debilitating energies that will disempower you. If you could release them, you would know more peace.
You practice forgiveness for two reasons: to let others know that you no longer wish to be in a state of hostility with them and to free yourself from the self-defeating energy of resentment. Send love in some form to those you feel have wronged you and notice how much better you feel.
**Excerpted from Excuses Begone! by Dr. Wayne W. Dyer. Copyright © 2009 (Hay House).