How we should let go of resentment

Once upon a time, two Japanese monks were walking along a road together. The rain the evening before had left large puddles in their path, so they made their way with care. When they came upon an intersection covered by an especially large puddle of mud, they noticed a young woman who had stopped at the edge of the puddle. She was dressed in a white silk kimono, and her dilemma was obvious: there was no way she could cross the intersection without spoiling her gown.

The first of the two monks asked the woman if she would like some help. She answered yes. The monk then scooped her up in his arms, walked straight through the mud, and put her down on the other side. The woman thanked him and continued on her way.

The monks resumed their journey, but a rift had developed between them. The second monk refused to speak to the first. They walked together in an uneasy silence until that evening when they reached their destination, the lodging temple. It was there that the second monk turned to the first, pointed his finger, and demanded, “Why did you do it?”

The first monk was taken by surprise. “Do what?” he asked.

“Don’t play dumb with me!” snapped the second monk. “You know what I’m talking about. You know very well we monks are not supposed to have anything to do with women, especially shapely young women such as the one you carried across the puddle back at the intersection. Tell me, why did you do it? Why did you pick her up?”

The first monk paused for a moment, shrugged, and then replied, “I put her down a long time ago. Maybe you’re the one still carrying her.”

The story raises what may seem an obvious question: What (or whom) are you still carrying after all these miles?

It is the question of resentment.

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Let that stuff go

Resentments as we teach at our depression treatment centre are known as ‘the number-one offender’ when it comes to our mental health. Resentment is the greatest enemy emotionally vulnerable people face and the biggest contributor to staying stuck. In fact, if we don’t let go of resentment, resentments pose a considerable problem for many people, not just those who are chemically dependent or have difficulty with their emotions for example. If you examine almost any problem that comes between people, you will probably find a resentment lurking near the heart of the matter. Resentment is a common human problem – and often a severe one.

The word resent means to “re-sense” or “re-feel.” It is one thing to feel a feeling, such as anger. It is another thing to replay a scene or a conversation in your mind, dredging up the hurt and the anger again and again.

Certainly anger has its place in the emotional makeup of a healthy human being. Anger can be an honest and appropriate response in certain situations. But there is nothing good to be said for “old anger,” or resentment. Resentment has no positive side; it is simply a destructive emotion.

For more information about our depression treatment centre or how to let go of resentment get in touch and come heal with us

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