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Are Resentments Justified?
by Dr Wayne W. Dyer
hear people say this all the time: "I have a right to be upset because of
the way I've been treated. I have a right to be angry, hurt, depressed, sad, and
resentful." Learning to avoid this kind of thinking is one of my top ten
secrets for living a life of inner peace, success, and happiness. Anytime you're
filled with resentment, you're turning the controls of your emotional life over
to others to manipulate.
I became aware of how powerful this lesson was many years ago while sitting
in on a meeting of 12 people who were in a recovery group for alcoholism and
drug addiction. All 12 of those people were accustomed to blaming others for
their weaknesses, using almost any excuse as a rationale for returning to their
self-defeating ways. On a poster hanging in the room were these words: "In
this group, there are no justified resentments."
Regardless of what anyone would say to another group member, no matter how
confrontational or ugly the accusations, each person was reminded that there are
no justified resentments. You may need to consider whom you resent before you
can make your own choice about whether this is useful for you. Resentments give
you an excuse to return to your old ways. This is what got you there in the
Why Resentments Are There
You may be familiar with a popular television show called Who Wants to Be a
Millionaire? If the contestant answers 15 multiple-choice questions, he or she
wins a million dollars. Starting with a $100 question, the person in the
"hot seat" answers five questions until reaching the $1,000 level. At
this point, the person is guaranteed to leave with something. Then the questions
increase in difficulty. If the contestant reaches $32,000, again, there is a
guarantee of leaving with that amount. So, there are two crucial levels to
attain: the $1,000 level, which is achieved by answering five relatively simple
questions; and the $32,000 level, which involves five increasingly difficult
I've just related details about this TV program to present the idea of the
two levels that you must achieve in order to have a chance at the highest
"million-dollar" level of awareness. The 51,000 level is one in which
you learn to leave blame behind in your life. If you don't do so, you go home
Removing blame means never assigning responsibility to anyone for what you're
experiencing. Why do this: If you take responsibility for having it, then at
least you have a chance to also take responsibility for removing it or learning
from it. If you're in some small (perhaps unknown) way responsible for that
migraine headache or that depressed feeling, then you can go to work to remove
it or discover what its message is for you.
If, on the other hand, someone or something else is responsible in your mind,
then of course you'll have to wait until they change for you to get better. And
that is unlikely to occur. So, at the $1,000 level, blame has to go. Otherwise
you go home with nothing and are unable to participate at the higher levels.
You must be willing to pass a new test at the second critical level, the
$32,000 question, which is the final obstacle you must face in order to move
into the more exalted realm of self-actualization and higher consciousness, the
million-dollar spiritual level. At this level, you must be willing to send the
higher, faster energies of love, peace, joy, forgiveness, and kindness as your
response to whatever comes your way. This is the start of the uncrowded extra
mile where you have only love to give away.
Someone says something to you that you find offensive, and rather than opting
for resentment, you are able to depersonalize what you've just heard and respond
with kindness. You would rather be kind than right. You have no need to make
others wrong or to retaliate when you've been wronged. You do this for yourself.
There is a Chinese proverb, "If you're going to pursue revenge, you'd
better dig two graves." Your resentments will destroy you. They are low
energies. And along the extra mile, you'll only meet others who have fully
grasped this concept. The ones who haven't made it to this level are all back
with the crowd who went out of the game long ago on an easier question, and most
are still back there wondering why they keep going home with nothing! But I can
assure you that they continue to blame others for their emptiness.
First, you have to get past blame. Then you have to learn to send love to
all, rather than anger and resentment. The story is told of the enlightened
master who always responded to outbursts of criticism, judgment, and ridicule
with love, kindness, and peace. One of his devotees asked him how he could
possibly be so kind and peaceful in the face of such disparaging invective. His
response to the devotee was this question: "If someone offers you a gift,
and you do not accept that gift, to whom does the gift belong?" The answer
leads you to the extra mile. Ask yourself "Why would I allow something that
belongs to someone else to be a source of my resentment?" As the title of a
popular book says, "What
You Think Of Me Is None Of My Business."
Stop Looking for Occasions to Be Offended
When you live at or below ordinary levels of awareness, you spend a great
deal of time and energy finding opportunities to be offended. A news report, an
economic downturn, a rude stranger, a fashion miscue, someone cursing, a sneeze,
a black cloud, any cloud, an absence of clouds -- just about anything will do if
you're looking for an occasion to be offended. Along the extra mile, you'll
never find anyone engaging in such absurdities. Become a person who refuses to
be offended by any one, any thing, or any set of circumstances. If something
takes place and you disapprove, by all means state what you feel from your
heart; and if possible, work to eliminate it and then let it go.
Most people operate from the ego and really need to be right. So, When you
encounter someone saying things that you find inappropriate, or when you know
they're wrong, wrong, wrong, forget your need to be right and instead say,
"You're right about that!" Those swords will end potential conflict
and free you from being offended. Your desire is to be peaceful -- not to be
right, hurt, angry, or resentful. If you have enough faith in your own beliefs,
you'll find that it's impossible to be offended by the beliefs and conduct of
Not being offended is a way of saying, "I have control over how I'm
going to feel, and I choose to feel peaceful regardless of what I observe going
on." When you feel offended, you're practicing judgment. You judge someone
else to be stupid, insensitive, rude, arrogant, inconsiderate, or foolish, and
then you find yourself upset and offended by their conduct. What you may not
realize is that when you judge another person, you do not define them. You
define yourself as someone who needs to judge others.
Just as no one can define you with their judgments, neither do you have the
privilege of defining others. When you stop judging and simply become an
observer, you will know the inner peace I'm writing about here. With that sense
of inner peace, you'll find yourself free of the negative energy of resentment,
and you'll be able to live a life of contentment. A bonus is that you'll find
that others are much more attracted to you. A peaceful person attracts peaceful
Not being offended will mean eliminating all variations of the following
sentence from your repertoire of available thoughts: "If only you were more
like me, then I wouldn't have to be upset right now." You are the way you
are, and so are those around you. Most likely they will never be just like you.
So stop expecting those who are different to be what you think they should be.
It's never going to happen.
It's your ego that demands that the world and all the people in it be as you
think they should be. Your higher sacred self refuses to be anything but
peaceful, and sees the world as it is, not as your ego would like it to be. When
you respond with hatred to hate directed at you, you've become part of the
problem, which is hatred, rather than part of the solution, which is love. Love
is without resentment and readily offers forgiveness. Love and forgiveness will
inspire you to work at what you are for, rather than what you are against. If
you're against violence and hatred, you'll fight it with your own brand of
violence and hatred. If you're for love and peace, you'll bring those energies
to the presence of violence, and ultimately dissolve the hatred.
When Mother Teresa was asked to march against the war in Vietnam, she
replied, "No, I won't but when you have a march for peace, I'll be
A Final Word about Forgiveness and Resentment
At the root of virtually all spiritual practices is the notion of
forgiveness. This was what came out of Jesus of Nazareth while he was being
tortured on a cross by a Roman soldier throwing a spear into his side. It is
perhaps the most healing thing that you can do to remove the low energies of
resentment and revenge from your life completely.
Think about every single person who has ever harmed you, cheated you,
defrauded you, or said unkind things about you. Your experience of them is
nothing more than a thought that you carry around with you. These thoughts of
resentment, anger, and hatred represent slow, debilitating energies that will
disempower you. If you could release them, you would know more peace.
You practice forgiveness for two reasons. One is to let others know that you
no longer wish to be in a state of hostility with that person; and two, to free
yourself from the self-defeating energy of resentment. Resentment is like venom
that continues to pour through your system, doing its poisonous damage long
after being bitten by the snake. It's not the bite that kills you; it's the
venom. You can remove venom by making a decision to let go of resentments. Send
love in some form to those you feel have wronged you and notice how much better
you feel, how much more peace you have. It was one act of profound forgiveness
toward my own father, whom I never saw or talked to, that turned my life around
from one of ordinary awareness, to one of higher consciousness, achievement, and
success beyond anything I had ever dared to imagine.
Indeed, there are no justified resentments if you wish to walk along the
extra mile and enjoy inner peace and success on every step of the path.
article is excerpted from 10 Secrets for Success and Inner Peace, ©2001,
by Wayne W. Dyer. Reprinted with permission of the publisher, Hay House Inc. www.hayhouse.com
More books by this author.
About the Author
Wayne W. Dyer is an internationally renowned author and speaker in the field of
self-development. He has created numerous
best selling books, audios, and videos; and has
appeared on thousands of television and radio programs, including The Today
Show, The Tonight Show, and Oprah.
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