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6 Tips to Let Go of Resentment

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6 Tips to Let Go of Resentment

“Some of us think holding on makes us strong, but sometimes it is letting go.” —Hermann Hesse

Angry Wolf Drawing

As the author of cerebral works like Der Steppenwolf, good ol’ Hermann H. spent most of his life in an ivory tower writing dense books about the human search for self-acceptance. But such arcane angst is pretty low on the average person’s List of Everyday Problems. Let’s see what the real culprits are:

  •  Work/school commute traffic

  •  Gas prices

  •  Nosy mother-in-laws

  •  Keeping up your drug/alcohol habit

  •  And…

The dull, gnawing hatred toward

( insert friend/loved one )


( insert nefarious betrayal )

Whoa, where did THAT come from?


Where Resentment Comes From

If we’re honest with ourselves, past wrongs committed by people we love and trust aren’t easily forgotten like our normal everyday problems. Betrayal seeps into the bones and carves a well of toxic thoughts and feelings. Those wrongs stick with us no matter how tightly we cling to our drug of choice. Comfortably numb, right? Unfortunately, substances have the opposite effect on long term peace of mind and actually keep us at the bottom of that toxic well. Alcohol and drugs lull the mind into a stupor so it can nurture an insidious companion: resentment.

Anger feels like an effective answer to betrayal, and it takes a lot of pain and suffering to raise your own little army of resentments. Unfortunately, that army is actually a bunch of crafty ninjas that are attacking YOU. Here’s why resentment is so self-destructive, along with action tips to let those feelings go.  

6 Tips to Let Go of Resentment

Tip #1

You’re probably too close to the situation

It’s easy to lose sight of the bigger picture when your unresolved feelings begin snowballing into anger and blame. Addicts spend a lot of time in their heads, and being that close to a small issue can make it seem bigger and more important than it actually is.

How to Apply  Record your feelings either verbally or in writing. Revisit later and see if those feelings make sense in the bigger picture.

Tip #2

Justice is an attachment you choose to make

Resentment is often rooted in karma’s idyllic world where people get what they deserve. We hate to break it to you, but this world does not exist. Rampant evil goes unpunished, good deeds go without reward, and life goes on regardless.

How to Apply  Compare the ideas of karma/justice to your actual experiences. Understand that you’re not in control of how the world works, and that’s okay.

Tip #3

You’re a tree falling alone in the woods when no one’s listening

Do you make a sound? No one outside your mind’s metaphorical woods knows, but you sure have become familiar with those growing echoes of resentment.

  • “Dad never really cared about me…” Is that pain getting louder?
  • “I’ll never be good enough…” Since when did that hurt become internalized?
  • “He will probably leave me too, just like dad…”

That last one? Projection. Letting your resentments fester “alone in the woods” is dangerous territory because the echoes can take on a life of their own. Drugs and alcohol don’t stop this downward spiral–they hasten it.

How to Apply  Don’t suffer alone. Talk about your emotions with people who understand what you’re going through. Find a support group in your area:

Orange County AA Meetings
Los Angeles AA Meetings

Tip #4

They probably forgot already

Consider the perspective of the one who hurt you. This person is not sitting with steepled fingers cackling with glee at how they once affronted you. More likely, they either filed the incident into their “unimportant memories” brain bin or totally forgot.

How to Apply  Think of resentment like yelling at a person two buildings over. They can’t hear you, so why bother?

Tip #5

No amount of emotive rage will change the past

It’s natural to go through stages of grief when you’ve been hurt in some way. But let yourself go through them. Trying to skip the process with substance abuse only regresses your healing and actually prevents you from moving on. Getting high may make you forget the pain temporarily, but no matter how strong your dose, that past isn’t going anywhere.

How to Apply  Flush your bottles/pills and immediately contact a detox center. Your sober self is the only one who is equipped to make resentments go away for good.

New Start Detox offers same day placement

Tip #6

Taking the high road actually feels amazing

By now you’ve probably noticed that resentment hasn’t gotten you anywhere. That’s because you’re putting your energy and resources into nursing animosity instead of more fruitful endeavors. Real healing doesn’t come from states of emotional numbness. It comes from realizing how freaking awesome you are!

How to Apply  Recognize that betrayal is for tools, and you don’t need that in your life anyway.

Self-love and acceptance are the keys to letting go of resentment. Anger isn’t an answer; it’s a symptom of something deeper. Whether that’s fear, loneliness, or something else, the issue can’t be addressed until it’s understood. Take a cue from our ivory tower friend Hermann H. and try to approach your feelings on a less visceral level.

Feel like you need help? Our addiction specialists are available 24/7: 855-737-7363

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Posted in Addiction, Detox, For Loved Ones, Health and Wellness, Recovery, Residential, Trauma