Something happened this morning -- doesn't matter what, that is not important -- and I immediately felt resentful. This particular instance was a classic experience of resentment, an intense feeling of dislike rooted to an extent in the thought that this is just the last in a long series of things this person has done that bother me. The prefix re- in this case actually is just an intensifier, meaning one feels strongly. But resentment often has that component of feeling something again. I re-feel my previous anger, making this anger worse.
Holding a resentment, it is said, is like drinking poison and thinking/hoping the other person will die.
Or it is like picking up a burning coal to hurl at someone. The person who gets burned is you.
Or that stray cat thing.
There are two exercises that I use to deal with resentments. One is to wish the other person well, that good things will happen to them, that they may be happy and at peace. This is not always easy to do, but with practice, I have found that I can eventually get there. I may have to do it over and over for a few days, but that is okay. A few days of well-wishing them is much better than days, weeks, months and years of walking around with the acid of resentment burning within me.
The other exercise is to spend time being grateful for all the good things in my life, all the blessings, great and small. At some point, I try to be grateful for the presence of the person I resent, because if I look closely enough I am bound to find a gift that they bring, even if it is just the gift of making me aware that I am not as free from negative thoughts and emotions as I would like to think. Again, this may require an effort of a few days, but I find that I do not spend enough time being grateful anyway. So one gift the person brings me is the reminder to bask in gratitude for a while. It cleanses not only the resentment but my whole day.
None of these things changes what the person has done, of course. But they do help change my way of looking at things and, most importantly, change the way I look at that person.
Old news, I know. But it is a lesson I need to revisit often.