Resentment is something I’ve been processing lately. Until recently, I didn’t realize how many resentments I was carrying, or how toxic it was for me, until I took a hard look day after day at the thoughts that were occupying my mind.
My process of grieving the loss of my mom is not over, and I'm no longer sure that grief really has an end. In any case, I will need more time than I ever imagined to feel fully functional again.
But in the process of healing and getting back to “normal” I find myself working on specific things. Resentment is one of those things.
I didn’t realize that (whether it's conscious or not) you can feel resentment not only towards the living but also towards those who have departed. It's like a childish kind of resentment towards them for leaving us here, alone, to figure it all out.
And of course, it's so easy to feel resentment towards friends and family and employers and colleagues who don’t get what you're going through. For not reading your mind and knowing that you're still hurting on the inside.
Resentment is heavy. It wears you down and takes a toll on your physical body. And a single thought of resentment contaminates other thoughts, creating a reality of bitterness, dissatisfaction, and unpleasantness towards others and towards life.
It takes a certain level of self-awareness to realize when you are turning into a sour apple and admit to yourself that you need to change. Sometimes others are there to point it out with love when we are becoming insufferable.
Whether you are recovering from a big change in your life, the loss of someone you love, or moving on from a previous relationship, I invite you to take a good look at your thoughts in the course of a single day and notice how many of those thoughts come from a place of anger, judgement and resentment.
Lately I've been doing long runs along the beach boardwalk. I was surprised to see how many resentful thoughts and feelings popped up in my runs during each mile. Recalling the Buddhist practice of loving-kindness meditation, each time I noticed one of these negative thoughts I tried to switch it to a thought of wishing that person well.
I went even further and I started to expand that well-wishing to every single person who crossed my path while running. This not only made my run very enjoyable, but I was able to break out of a negative cycle of thought by embracing one of the most basic spiritual laws, wishing others well.
Resentment won’t go away just because you wish others well. But it will start to loosen its grip. It won’t be so unbearably heavy. You can practice this simple technique anywhere, silently.
There are some people on my list of resentments that I still have trouble forgiving and moving on, people who still trigger strong emotions of anger and resentment for whatever reason. I don't know how much practice it will take to transmute that poisonous energy into a loving one.
The one thing I know is that when I am running and I think of those people who trigger my resentment strongly, I don’t lose control or composure. I might not be able to love them and accept them as they are at this moment, but at least I can wish them well. And that, to me, is at least a sign that resentment is loosening its grip.
I don’t want to carry the heavy burden of resentment on my shoulders. Let’s all take whatever baby steps we can towards forgiveness and more acceptance. It doesn’t mean accepting things that are unacceptable or being a doormat for other people. But a life full of resentment turns our own blood into poison, and that poison seeps out into our words, actions, relationships and communities. And that is not the world that we want to live in, is it?
Adrian Molina has been teaching yoga continuously since 2004. He is a well-known and respected instructor in Miami and New York, with an extensive worldwide following through his platform and school of yoga, Warrior Flow. Adrian and his husband Dennis reside in Miami and frequently lead workshops and international retreats in NYC and around the world. Adrian is also a writer, massage therapist, Reiki healer, meditation teacher, sound therapist, and a Kriya yoga practitioner in the lineage of Paramahansa Yogananda. Adrian is also recognized for the community-building work he does in Miami and beyond.