Recovering from resentment:

Recovering from Resentment


Image by Kathryn Siveyer

The skill of letting go of anger and bitterness

“Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.”


Return to being human.

No-one is born angry, resentful or evil. However, our hearts and minds can easily be filled with strong and persistent negative emotions and intentions due to a victimhood experience. The more that resentment plants the desire in one to exact a wrong, the further one moves away from our humanness with which we are gifted at birth. The skill of letting go of anger and bitterness requires the realisation that resentment has the potential to undermine our humanity, its integrity and its capacity for compassion, as well as the potential to eat away at our peace of mind and well-being. Holding onto resentment has a cost. This skill is the ability to transform the impulse for revenge into a search for something larger; it is about broadening one’s perspective to encompass a sense of the ‘other’.

This skill invites the act of forgiving. Forgiveness is not a pancake movement. Feelings cannot just be flipped, but you can tilt the balance in the direction towards the discovery of a new way of operating in the world. Hatred and resentment have a tight grip in the same way that the more one focuses on a problem the more engrained it becomes. Forgiveness results in a loosening of that tight grip. It generates  space and creates capacity to doubt, modify and think anew.

Quotations from the real life stories:

Denise Green

‘What happened was out of my control, but how I respond is within my control.’

Denise GreenDenise’s Story
Letlapa Mphahlele

If my enemies had been cannibals, would I have eaten white flesh? If my enemies had raped black women, would I have raped white women?’

Letlapa MphahleleLetlapa’s Story
Michael Lapsley

‘I can’t look at myself as a victim – it diminishes me as a person.’

Michael LapsleyMichael’s Story