Dealing with resentment using the “Letter of Forgiveness” technique
One of the most painful yet most useless emotions is resentment… There is no offense on the list of basic emotions. And this is understandable. After all, resentment is a combination of several basic emotions at once. First, anger (anger) as a reaction to something unfair. And, secondly, the fear of demonstrating the very anger when we understand that this is fraught with more serious consequences.
Resentment is a childish emotion
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Feelings such as self-pity, disappointment, and annoyance can also be part of the resentment. It is permissible for children to be offended. They feel defenseless and therefore cannot show open anger to adults. They sometimes show this, but as a rule, they receive negative feedback from parents or other adults in response. Therefore, they “choose” to be offended.
Also, due to incomplete development, they are not able to give a reasoned justification for their point of view. Simply put, it’s normal for childhood to be offended. But as a person grows up, they have other tools to respond to what they consider unfair. However, many people get used to being offended. This type of reaction becomes a habit, and many of us live with this habit all our lives. But what is relatively normal for childhood is far from the norm for adults.
Unlike anger (anger), which can serve as a source of motivation and activity, the energy of tension when offended does not go outside, but inside us. This is the biggest danger – insult causes a flurry of negative feelings and does not allow them to be released. This stressful condition lowers not only mental health, but also immunity, as well as the ability to rationally think. We think worse and get sick more often.
Alternative reactions of resentment
Resentment is always an internal choice of an adult!
If someone tries to offend us, this does not mean that we should do so. What are the options for responding to what we consider unfair?
- Anger, anger, aggression. Oddly enough, but this is the most natural natural reaction. However, in modern society, such a reaction is fraught with legal (and not only) consequences.
- Demonstration offense – this is when we show the offender our negative reaction, but at the same time we do not enter into open conflict. It is not known how the offender will assess this behavior, which means that the further development of events is unpredictable.
- Hidden resentment – this is when we live anger “in ourselves”, “boil” like in a pressure cooker. In this case, two scenarios are possible: 1) internal stress will reduce immunity and provoke various bodily diseases.
2) “pressure cooker” sometimes “explodes” under internal pressure. To relieve internal stress, some people begin to drink, smoke, consume illegal substances, gamble, and behave aggressively.
- There is one more option – “Disposal of offense”. For example, you are offended by someone to whom you cannot express or show anything, but at the same time the internal tension reaches a critical value. In such a situation, you can “utilize” this negative onto someone else. Offended by the chief – fell on subordinates. Husband offended – fell for the children. “Disposal” is one of the most common ways to react to grievances.
But all the same, it is better (more useful for us) not to be offended, because this is only our inner choice, which means the final decision: to be offended or not is ours.
Psychological technique “Letter of Forgiveness”
A letter of forgiveness (or a letter of resentment) is a psychological technique aimed at eliminating accumulated negative emotions (mainly resentments) in relation to oneself or another person.
This technique is used when there is no way to talk to the abuser directly (for example, he died or you are afraid of him). Instead of expressing everything that is boiling to your abuser, you can express all your emotions on paper, working with each negative emotion.
In cases of resentment against oneself, it is also effective, since it helps to bring thoughts into a logical sequence, as well as reduce internal tension, allowing oneself to live all the emotions that arise.
The letter of forgiveness can be written in free form, but you can use pre-prepared questions. It is even better if the questions are formulated by a psychologist who understands your situation and has the skill of posing “Socratic” questions (a method of dialogue, in which, instead of arguments, correctly selected questions are used, allowing the interlocutor to come to the right decision himself).
The concept of the “Letter of Forgiveness” method is based on the fact that in order to forgive, you must allow all negative feelings towards the addressee (or yourself) to live and come to a feeling of calmness and love. Some are skeptical about this technique. And this is understandable. We are all different. This means that the methods applied to solving our problems cannot be the same a priori. But, if you like to write about your feelings, keep diaries, transfer thoughts to paper – this method is likely to be effective for you. After it, it will be easier for you to communicate with this person or it will be easier to look at your “mistakes”, because of which you hold a grudge against yourself.
How to write a letter of forgiveness – 5 steps
Select a specific addressee. Even at this stage, a person can understand that not everyone around is to blame, but only one – the one from which everything began and turned into a habit.
- It is recommended to choose quiet place, so that no one bothers, and allocate 1.5 – 2 hours for this exercise. Working with thoughts and feelings is not rushed. If you are in a hurry somewhere and constantly look at the clock, then the effect of such an exercise will be little.
- It is better to write thoughts and feelings on a piece of paperrather than on a computer. And it’s better to do it pencilrather than a pen to use fine motor skills to express emotions.
- Costs tune inthat “getting into a grudge” can be accompanied by very strong negative emotional manifestations and tears. Actually, the point of this technique is to let the “Genie out of the bottle” in order to feel calm.
- Start with what you wanted to say. Write everything that comes to mind, that sits in you and breaks out. Just write, regardless of what words you use. Informal vocabulary in this case is quite acceptable. Call a spade a spade, write what you think, do not filter anything. Express everything that has boiled in your soul lately. Write, don’t stop. When the stream of thoughts ends and there is nothing more to write about, then we can say that the energy of emotion has come out, or, more precisely, onto a sheet of paper. Fine!
- Thereafter sit quietly, rest, feel your body, try to relax. Breathe evenly. What do you feel? What thoughts? Don’t try to analyze them. Just commit. As it goes – and rightly so. Trust the process.
Forgiveness Letter – Writing Technique
The structure of a letter of resentment can be spontaneous, or it can have a certain sequence. If you find it difficult to write about your feelings on your own or you do not know how to formulate a thought, simply answer the following questions:
- Why am I mad at you? (“I am angry with you for …”, “How could you …”, etc.).
- Why do I feel hurt? (“I am offended that you …”, “I was offended when you …”).
- What am I afraid of? (“I’m afraid that …”, “I don’t want that …”).
- Why does it hurt me? (“It hurts me because …”, “It hurt when you …”).
- How am I disappointed? (“I am disappointed that …”).
- Why am I sad? (“I am sad because …”).
- Why do I blame myself? (“I am ashamed that I …”, “Unfortunately, we …”).
- What can I thank you for? (“Thank you for…”, “I forgive you for…”).
- “I love (respect) you and let you go with love / respect)”.
You don’t need to send or show the letter to someone. This is your personal tool for working with feelings. Moreover, it is advisable not to reread this letter. It is not worth keeping it, but it is better to destroy (tear or burn). You have expressed all the emotions that overwhelmed you and prevented you from living a full life. Then what is the point of returning to them? On the contrary, by getting rid of the letter, you yourself will create an additional setting for getting rid of feelings of resentment. No letter – no offense.
If suddenly, after performing this technique, you did not experience a full-fledged feeling of “liberation” from resentment, then perhaps you could not express all the accumulated feelings that at this stage were too deep and difficult for you to understand. Perhaps you restrained yourself, worked more consciously (choosing words, correcting mistakes in the text) and did not follow your feelings.
Don’t be scared, it happens. Repeat this exercise, but not earlier than a week later. During this time, the brain “finds additional arguments” for your letter.
Self-response letter on behalf of your abuser
You can supplement this technique with a letter – a response. Write a letter to yourself on behalf of your abuser, in which write everything that you wanted to hear from this person. The response letter can be written arbitrarily, or you can resort to the well-known model:
- Dear (dear) …
- I will forgive forgiveness for …
- Please forgive me for …
- I promise you that …
- I am grateful (grateful) to you for the fact that …
- I love (respect) you …
Let it be in your imagination, but perhaps at some point you will want to forgive the offender.
The main thing is to remember that constantly resenting everything and everyone is a sign of psychological immaturity, which tells us that a person is in the position of a “child” or “victim”. In such a position, it is difficult to build normal relationships, achieve professional or career growth, raise children, communicate with friends and live a full life.
So, it is worth moving out of such a destructive position into the position of an “adult”:
- learn to speak, negotiate, resolve conflict situations in a favorable atmosphere of dispute – dialogue;
- learn to calm down and look at the situation from a positive point of view. Criticism in our address should not always cause offense. Perhaps this is constructive criticism. But we, due to our habit of being offended, do not notice this;
- it is worth understanding that no one can offend us until we ourselves make such a decision… So, you can ask yourself the question: “Why did I decide to be offended now instead of talking and finding out everything?”
- find and remove a secondary benefit… It so happens that a child is offended in order to attract attention and feel needed. When parents begin to “dance” in front of him, he feels their care and attention and understands that this is an effective method of achieving goals. And in adulthood it behaves the same way. With the help of resentment, he tries to manipulate others in order to feel needed;
- it is worth accepting the fact that people are who they are. They act as they see fit, they have the right to make mistakes, in the end. If their behavior does not meet our expectations, then it is worth reconsidering your expectations. At least, it will be faster and more effective than trying to fix everyone, and in case of failure, it’s easier to hold a grudge against everyone;
- if you cannot solve the problem related to the offense on your own, you can seek professional help from a psychologist or a psychotherapist.
Remember, to be offended or not is always our inner choice! Still have questions? Write a comment!
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