By: Jess Cambell
Nelson Mandela said that resentment is like drinking poison yourself, but expecting your enemies to die from it. Everyone knows that resentment ruins your mindset. But did you know it can also wreak havoc on your physical body?
Resentment is never a good feeling to carry around, yet we’ve all experienced it in some capacity throughout our lives: someone, at some point, has hurt you in some way and you haven’t been able to let it go. But where resentment becomes a bigger problem is that holding pattern you get into, when those lingering feelings of anger and bitterness begin to change the way you relate to people every day, no matter the circumstances. Yes, those feelings affect your mindset each day — but they can also affect the health of your physical body.
It’s not just a mental thing
There’s no denying that our overall health is heavily dependent on the connection between mind and body. There are countless studies that prove the existence of the placebo effect — someone believes the medication they’re taking or treatment they’re participating in is creating a positive outcome when, in fact, it’s their belief in the treatment itself that’s causing great results.
Harbouring resentment, over time, causes your overall mental outlook to become darker. You’re more negative and judgemental not only toward others but also toward yourself. You have a harder time being sympathetic or empathetic, and you are more easily angered than others who aren’t resentful.
But when it comes to your physical body, holding onto resentment can cause you to be in a constant state of stress, a.k.a. fight, flight or freeze. Your cortisol level (read: stress hormone) increases which, over time, can actually cause your immune system to become resistant, hindering its ability to fight infection properly. Being in constant fight-or-flight mode also increases your blood pressure and heart rate, thereby increasing your risk of heart disease, depression and diabetes, among other things.
Embracing the “f” word
Resentment is a heavy burden, emotionally and physically. So, how do you finally put it down for good? Forgiveness.
Forgiveness can be a big, scary concept for some, depending on why they’re carrying resentment in the first place and who they’re carrying it for. But the beauty of forgiveness is that it doesn’t have to directly involve the person or people who hurt you in the first place. Choosing to enact forgiveness in your life isn’t just about saying the words I forgive you; it’s also about the process of working through the emotions associated with your hurt and finding a way to move forward. This does not mean you have to hear an apology from someone (although it can help). You get to decide how you ultimately feel and behave toward them, regardless of whether an apology has been made or not. That’s the power forgiveness truly wields.
The most important aspect of forgiveness is to forgive yourself. Find a way to understand your emotions around the hurt, why you feel them and how you can let them go or, at the very least, exist peacefully within you. Even though looking inward like this might feel scary, it is absolutely worth the work — and you are worth doing the work in the first place. Don’t let resentment burden you any longer. You deserve so much better than poison.
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