How to Shed Resentment
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Grudge Reduction1 of 17
By Woman's Day
According to Alex Lickerman, M.D., "Forgiving requires us to let go of our anger, of our desire to punish and of the need for an apology. In forgiving, we're ultimately seeking to free ourselves." But letting bygones be bygones is easier said than done—especially when you're dealing with a variety of relationships and emotional connections. Keep reading for tips on how to move forward with everyone, from your best friend to your boss.
Family Member2 of 17
The offense: After tossing back a few too many drinks at a friend's party, your sister picked a fight with you that turned ugly—and public. You managed to keep your cool, but it was humiliating nonetheless, and you're still seething months later.
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Let It Go3 of 17
If your sister apologized and this type of blowup was out of character for her, then you may want to address it by saying something like, "I'm having a hard time getting past the party incident, but I want to clear the air so we can enjoy each other's company again." Then talk about why it happened and whether there are lingering issues that need to be discussed so you can move on. However, if this is yet another example of out-of-control behavior on her part, then "forgiveness may require redefining the distance at which the relationship is held," says Lickerman.
Distant Relative4 of 17
The offense: Your cousins have yet to thank you for the elaborate holiday dinner you hosted—that they didn't lift a finger to help with—and this isn't the first time.
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Let It Go5 of 17
"Accept that this is the way they are, and be proud of yourself for being so thoughtful," says Elizabeth Lombardo, Ph.D., author of the best-selling book A Happy You: Your Ultimate Prescription for Happiness. "Look for opportunities in the future to make things different, such as asking for help in the kitchen the next time they're over for a meal." If their rudeness continues, though, then speak to them directly and let them know that you'd really like to continue including them in your plans, but that you'll need them to pitch in a little to do so.
Close Girlfriend6 of 17
The offense: Whenever you make time for her, you end up wasting some too. She's always late, and your resentment deepens each time.
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Let It Go7 of 17
Identify the root of the problem—chances are that it's not waiting at the restaurant that bugs you; it's that she seems to value her time more than yours—and tell her how you feel. "Try something like, 'I know we're both crazy-busy, and I love that we can get together, but it upsets me when you show up late, because I make a real effort to be on time, and I stick to it,'" suggests Lombardo. "Then problem-solve together. For example, you may agree that she'll text you right when she's leaving so you can stay at the office and get some work done rather than wait for her at the bar."
Colleague8 of 17
The offense: Your co-worker gave your project some negative feedback in a meeting last month, and you're still hurt and angry about it.
Let It Go9 of 17
You're likely upset because of assumptions you've made about her intentions. "She may have been trying to throw you under the bus, but it's also possible she was trying to help make your project even better," Lombardo notes. Don't assume you know what she was thinking. "Why not depersonalize her comments? Consider what truth there was in her feedback, and focus on improving your project in any way you can."
Boss10 of 17
The offense: Your boss took credit for your brilliant idea, and weeks later, he's still being praised by the top brass.
Let It Go11 of 17
"Be proud of yourself for how valuable your work is to your team. Then ask yourself what you're worried about and address that," Lombardo advises. For example, if you're worried you won't move up because no one knows how much you've contributed, then meet with your boss before your next review to recap your successes. "He'll be reminded of your contributions, plus it reflects positively on him to have such a successful employee," she adds.
Spouse12 of 17
The offense: Forgetting an anniversary is one thing, but your husband actually forgot your last birthday! He's apologized 20 different ways, but you're still seething.
Let It Go13 of 17
Sometimes, "we may find ourselves withholding forgiveness to avoid appearing to condone what was done to us," explains Lickerman. He notes that holding a grudge also helps us feel more in control—which is especially attractive when we're hurt and vulnerable. Your hubby already acknowledged he was wrong, so if this incident was a fluke and he consistently shows you how important you are to him, then let him off the hook already!
Neighbor14 of 17
The offense: It's Saturday morning, and yet again, you're jarred awake by the sound of your neighbor's power tools.
Let It Go15 of 17
"Before you go strangle him, take a deep breath to gather your thoughts," suggests Lombardo. "He's focused on accomplishing things in his day, not ruining yours." After you've calmed down, go have a talk with him. According to Lombardo, you might try, "'I can appreciate that you want to finish the lawn before it gets too hot out, and I'm sure you can understand my desire to sleep in when I work double shifts all week.' Then try to agree on a time that would be acceptable to start the yard work."
Yourself16 of 17
The offense: You didn't devote enough time to a major work project… and it showed.
Let It Go17 of 17
If you keep beating yourself up about it, then you could be setting yourself up for more failure. A May 2010 study from the journal Personality and Individual Differences examined college students who had procrastinated in studying for an exam. Those who forgave themselves for their shabby preparation improved their moods and procrastinated less the next time around. Resolve to do better in the future, and let bygones be bygones.