I will preface what I’m about to write by saying that I try not to view life in increments of 365 days. I do try to take one day at a time, regardless of where that day falls in a calendar.
That said, as a person living in society, its virtually impossible not to think of events as encapsulated in a units of time as society marks. So…on this last day of the year 2022, I’m reflecting on an event of this past year and how it affected me.
I had a negative experience last February that shook me deeply. I will not go into specifics but feelings of betrayal and disillusionment resulted from the experience. I became very angry and filled with self-pity. I was hurt. I became very resentful which is something I’ve spent most of my adult life working to avoid. I’ve had resentments to deal with throughout my life but I have spent time and effort to address them and felt progress was made. Then…POW….another big ole’ resentment to address.
What I have learned from dealing with resentments is to discern what I can address and what I can’t address. I can’t address events that have happened but I can address my impulsive need to obsess on those events, which take me away from the present. I can’t address how another person thinks and behaves but I can address my own mind and behavior. It isn’t easy to break obsessive and impulsive behavior which is how I’d describe the fostering of a resentment. It is very easy to be angry, stay angry, wallow in self-pity, etc. It is also inevitable that anger and self-pity will affect all areas of life, creating great discomfort. I tend to look for distraction from discomfort which isn’t healthy. It takes effort and honesty to address anger. We have to honestly assess why we are angry and go deep. I have to go beyond “So and So did this and pissed me off!”. I have to look at why “their” actions caused such agitation. I have to assess my feelings and address them, even if the anger is justifiable. Anger, in and of itself, is not an invalid emotion. However, how I respond to anger can be non-productive (at best) and destructive which is not justifiable.
One thing I do regularly that has helped greatly is to keep a journal. The journal allows me to see my feelings on paper and to look back on how I was in days past. I don’t edit myself when I write. I just get it down….bad penmanship and all. This allows me the opportunity to look back on past days with a different perspective than I may have had when I wrote the journal entry. Reading the journal entries from immediately after the aforementioned negative events, now several months removed, gives me better perspective. I can see more objectively through the raw emotion. I can more clearly see areas in which I can address in myself. I can also more easily come to acceptance of the things I can’t address or control. In a nutshell: Live and Learn.
What I have learned (or been reminded of) is that resentments cause tremendous damage and if left unaddressed, will lead to catastrophic results. I’ve also learned that I’m a long way from being beyond having resentments. But I’ve also been reminded that when addressed by way of reflection, meditation, and prayer, they can be a fruitful opportunity to learn and grow. I can’t say I’m 100% done working on this most recent resentment. But I’m in a better place now, at the end of 2022, than I was nearer the beginning of the year.