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Having a grievance or a resentment is like drinking poison and thinking it will kill your enemy. - Nelson Mandela
You just gotta love Nelson Mandela. The man is extremely wise! The dictionary states the definition of resentment as: Indignation or ill will felt as a result of a real or imagined grievance. Oh boy, is that ever true! So many times, we experience things in our lives that are sooooo unfair, sooooo unjust, soooo unbelievably unconscionable, uncalled for and even sometimes, so unfathomable that it boggles the mind! Because of those times, in our desire to make things fair, even, or “just”, we visualize the wrongdoing as something we need to resent, or grieve or hold onto forever, believing that the longer we hold onto it, the stronger the “wrongdoer” will feel our resentment and the guiltier he will then feel....ummmm, guess what? Very, very seldom does the “wrongdoer” ever even realize we feel that about them! Especially if the grievance is “imagined”, as the definition states. What we think of as horrible, unjust, unfair, unconscionable may not even have crossed the “wrongdoer’s” mind as anything near that bad! There are so, so many examples I could give in my own life but if I did that, it would just give more focus, more “power” to those who have done wrong against me. And trust me, the wrongs against me are not imagined at all, they have been witnessed by others in some cases. I choose not to give examples because I don’t want to keep the flame burning stronger to ignite the injustices done. They don’t deserve that kind of recognition. If I spoke of them individually, they would “win.” They would get noticed and would be verbally acknowledged for doing things that nobody would ever deserve! I never deserved all that they did to me , but I can tell you this: because of what they have done, I have become a much more forgiving person. I have become a much more compassionate person. I have become a much wiser and less naïve person. And the most ironic and awesome truth I have discovered is that I still, truly still believe in the innate goodness of humanity. I still believe in miracles, even the tiniest ones. I still believe that people are loving and giving and sharing and caring, way down in the deepest part of their essence.
The other truth I learned is that if I hold onto that resentment, it is, as Mandela said, like drinking poison, expecting the other person to die and yet, it is me who would die from the inside out! It is the negative emotion that would destroy my physical and emotional health and my heart. I know this from past experience. Years ago, I had a lot of resentment and a lot of “righteous indignation” for the wrongs committed against me and for what? For nothing because the next truth I have discovered is: every single thing that has happened to me has a purpose. It’s all part of my journey here. It’s all a part of their journeys (all the "wrongdoers" in my life) as well. Each event, each action, each consequence, all have their part in the chiseling away at my rough spots and washing over me to create the jewel I was meant to be from the beginning.
All of it, every chapter of my life is part of my “book”, part of my “story”, part of the happy ending I get when it’s time to transition to the next part of life in a better place than this one! Resentment, therefore, is a waste of time, energy and special moments that we have in this life to become more of who we were meant to be. Again, it is that innate greatness that I am totally convinced we were born with. Whew, thank goodness for that!