I recently had a therapist ask me if I hold onto resentments. I answered without hesitation: “Yes, I absolutely do.”
I hold onto resentments for years. When I’m angry with a person, I’ll replay in my mind every slight I ever think they directed at me. I’ll nurture resentments, sometimes daily, by seeing myself as the victim of an unjust and thoroughly-horrible villain.
Yes, I’ve heard the expression “Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” But sometimes that poison just tastes so good!
There are literally hundreds of books written about letting go of resentments. This post is not a how-to. Instead, it is an acknowledgement, by me, that resentments are preventing me from finding peace.
I began my minimalist journey because I was unhappy and feeling overwhelmed. Clearing my house of junk did provide me with feelings of relief and maybe a little bit of euphoria.
But, as I’ve discovered over time, that feeling of euphoria doesn’t last forever. Clutter has slowly creeped back into my house. The peace I was searching for hasn’t arrived.
Side Note on Depression
I have been diagnosed with depression three times in my life. The first time was in my mid-20s. I took a prescription anti-depressant and attended talk therapy, and the depression got better (but it did not go away). After a year of this, I thought I had a handle on it and I stopped taking the medication and stopped attending therapy.
The second and third times were nine years later after the birth of my youngest son. Two doctors told me I had mild post-partum depression. I agreed with them. 100%, yes, I had depression. But I reasoned to myself and the doctors that I was depressed because I wasn’t sleeping or exercising and my diet was horrible. I was taking care of a newborn and a toddler, what did they expect? I promised to make healthy lifestyle changes and wait to see if my depression improved.
For the next year and a half, I unsuccessfully tried to manage my depression on my own. Finally, after one very rough month of almost daily crying, I decided to seek help with a holistic doctor.
Visiting the holistic doctor has dramatically improved my life. My depression is now under control. As a result, I’m making healthier food choices, making exercise a priority, managing some chronic pain issues, and sleeping better. This improvement did not happen overnight; it took six months.
Now Back to Resentments
During that rough year and a half when I wasn’t managing my depression, resentments overtook my life. Depression was feeding my resentments and resentments were feeding my depression. It was a vicious cycle.
Now that my depression has improved, I’m left holding onto my resentments and realizing that I need to resolve them in order to find more peace and happiness in my life. In all honesty, it has taken me six months to realize that resentments were creating issues for me.
I’ve decided to make changing my beliefs and attitudes toward resentments a major priority in my life. To begin my journey, I’ve done what any book lover would do, and I’ve ordered three books about resentments.
- Why Won’t You Apologize? by Harriet Lerner PhD – I think the title is perfect!
- Dance of Anger: A Woman’s Guide to Changing the Patterns of Intimate Relationships by Harriet Lerner PhD – I’m not really digging the title (I’m sure men have issues with resentments too), but I definitely need guidance on letting go of resentments in intimate relationships
- Stumbling Into Happiness by Daniel Gilbert – this one is more about understanding how expectations not matching reality leads to unhappiness, but it came up on my book search and it sounds interesting
This post is the most honest thing I have ever written to share on the internet. It was therapeutic for me to outline what I’ve been dealing with for the past two years, but I’m a little nervous to share this much personal info with the interwebs. In a way, I guess I’m hoping that someone else who is on a minimalism journey but is not finding the happiness that is promised (and believe me, the minimalist movement definitely makes it sound like happiness is just around the corner, after you clean out that closet), that they will see this post and see a little bit of themselves in my story.
I plan to share an update about my journey to let go of resentments in three months.
If you have any tips or advice, I’d love to hear them in the comments!