Today I listened to a podcast on resentments. Bill Wilson, of Alcoholics Anonymous, claimed that RESENTMENT was the number one offender that led to relapsing to compulsive drinking after a period of sobriety. Having a resentment is letting someone live "rent free in your head." The resentment does not hurt the other person, per se, but it sure hurts us! So how do we deal with grievances?.
I am not a big proponent of the forgiveness theory proposed to us by religion. I, myself, will not forgive someone who has hurt me DEEPLY unless they have come to me and tried to make amends. I take a more philosophical approach to resentments. I think about life. Life can be HARD. I think about people. People are trying to cope with life being hard. People with good coping skills and a well-wired nervous system appear to deal with life realistically and with constraint. High strung, troubled, non-reflective people tend to act impulsively and in their own self-interest. Those being motivated by their own desire to always be "on top" will trample on feelings and rights of others. They can be narcissistic, mean, selfish, ignorant or just plain lazy. "Me first" is their motto and if you "get in their way", they will push you aside and stomp your feelings, dreams, property or loved ones. Unfortunately, there are many such people around and many of us get hurt.
I am now speaking hypothetically as (thank God) this has never happened to me, but say another woman had designs on my husband and decided to do her best to destroy my marriage (as a therapist I have had many such cases through the years). I find out about it and my husband confesses to chatting up this person and getting a bit closer than he should have (not talking infidelity here because that is a far greater pain and indiscretion). Everyone likes a bit of attention!
I would not forgive this woman for trying to start something with MY husband. I would think that life is hard and she was looking to "get for herself" something that I had and in her "selfishness" she went to grab mine. I would see it has human, mean, conniving and selfish. I would work to not make an issue of it and as long as I felt content that my husband was happy and wanting to be with me, I would move beyond it. I would have no relationship with this woman and not think well of her. Trust me, I would not forgive her.
So, that little example is how I work resentments through. If I resent people in my family I move away or I learn to say "NO" in cases where I feel they are taking advantage of me. Today I know I am nobody's banker, no ones slave, no ones door mat. I safeguard my boundaries and stay away from selfish people. I have an imaginary scissor with which I easily cut the ties that bind me to those who would hurt me. My approach is a bit different but after sitting with clients year after year and hearing the horrid stories of abuse perpetrated upon them by other people, I came to believe that forgiveness was not only unnecessary but often extremely destructive and harmful for my clients.