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Are Resentments Justified?

by Dr Wayne W. Dyer

You 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 first place!

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 questions.

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 with nothing

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 others.

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 energy.

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 there."

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.

This 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

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About the Author

Dr. 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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