Thursday, December 27, 2012

Resentment and Forgiveness

In the 12 step programs there is great emphasis on addressing one's own 'resentments' and attempting to 'let go' of these and move on to 'forgiveness'. It was explained to me early that 'forgiving' didn't mean I 'condoned' what I perceived as the other person's behaviour. Further it was also explained to me that in the 'heat of the moment' I was supposed to be defending myself directly and surviving and leaving the forgiving till a later time. Even the Dalai Lama has said that if a person is pointing a gun at you and shooting you are right to defend yourself.

However, holding onto resentments has been described as 'taking poison and hoping the other person dies'. We are what we think. Cognitive behavioural therapy says specifically that our thoughts create our emotions and we also tend to attract and be drawn to what we feel, sometimes in a viscious circle kind of way.

The key to addressing our 'resentments' in the 12 step program was to make an inventory of all those who we felt had hurt us and then list what the hurt was. This hurt was described as being less complex and more specific than most of us are willing to do. Indeed we tend to think of ourselves as 'terminally' unique but when we actually list our resentments and see the pattern is rather basic we realize that we're not that special or different from anyone else.

The experience of resentment is associated with a threat to the following:

1) Money - it's utterly amazing how much resentment people hold to anyone who interferes with their money 'supply'.
2) Sexual life - it's equally amazing how much resentment people hold to anyone who interferes with their sexual life.
3) Security - this refers to whatever we believe protects us and keeps us safe in what we believe is an unsafe world. It probably should be at the top of the list because certainly I still have fleeting negative thoughts of the careless irresponsible drivers who drove through lights and hit me with their vehicles leaving me today with some rather serious pain issues where joints were damaged. That's an example of a 'security' issue. The failure of the insurance company to compensate me for my loss is another resentment issue that goes with money.
4) Self esteem or status or personal relationships - we have a 'social image' of ourselves. I have had a serious resentment to a compulsive liar and pervert who falsely accused me of being attracted to them, as a form of extortion for money. In then end I had to pay them off because the courts are only about money and no longer care for 'justice' or 'right and wrong'. Indeed the courts are a source of resentment to me because as a dead lawyer friend said, the middle class of Canada can no longer afford them. The legal system no longer protects me from thieves and criminals and all I have is insurance which costs me more and more to the point where I'd think the insurance and legal system and criminals were in league against the law abiding citizens. Of course after the 'status' issue, where the 'false allegation' impugned my 'reputation' and rewarded the liar and criminal, I had a resentment about the money issue. At the same time I worried that my family and friends would think there was some truth in this even though I knew that anyone who knew me knew me as a good man. I worried that these days people don't want to associate with anyone in any kind of trouble for fear 'bad luck' is infectious. I know the love of my family and close friends wouldn't be affected by these consequences of my working within a corrupt government with the most dangerous and disturbed people but I still worried and had resentments about what these negative experiences would do for my relationships in general.
5) Ambition - I wanted to buy another house having lost two to divorces and the punishment that is institutionalized there. I hoped to work less with later years and more pain. I wanted to be safer and be surrounded by friends who accepted me as I am after all the sacrifice and work I'd done. I worried about health care and cosmetic care and safety in old age and worried indeed I'd be pushing a cart on the street or dying painfully of a treatable medical condition but not having the insurance or money to pay for this. I have resentments against those who have interfered with my attempts to 'get ahead', to 'be the best person I can be', to 'love and not hate', to be 'fearless' and to do those things I wanted to do on my bucket list, like sail around the world, learn the bagpipes, right the great Canadian novel, serve as missionary doctor, make love, sky dive, para sail, take a trip into outerspace and meet aliens, any of those things. I can develop a resentment against anyone who gets between me and where I see myself in the future, even in the future a day or two from now, like recently when a slow moving arrogant Heathrow security guy held us all up so we missed our flight and I'd been hoping to get home and to bed but instead was delayed a day and didn't sleep till 3 am. Expectations have been described as "pre formed resentments'. Consequently we try to have 'good intentions' leaving the outcome in God's hands. That's the Christian thing but I was trained in science and medicine that I'm responsible not only for intentions but for outcomes and I have a resentment for 12 steppers and Christians who abdicate responsibility for poor outcome saying it's in 'god's hands' whereas as a rifle marksman I also know that most poor outcome is a product on lack of training, practice or taking into account the wind. So I'm learning how to coordinate my expectations and time frames with the limits of others and the environment rather than having 'great ideas' without realization of how much is involved in the actual translation of idea into finished product. I'm also very appreciative of those who are successful at this and less likely to criticize effective people than many whose lives are less so and they rarely seem to really look where the need for change is, not with the external world but rather with themselves.

Of course I have to address resentments I have to myself, ie the person I was yesterday rather than today. Most of what occurs in my life is a product of the desires I had yesterday. I can see the outcomes of my prayers and ambitions when I was younger. I can also see the effects of 'karma' or 'divine retribution' the older I get. So I have joint that's painful not so much because of the injury but more because of the lack of care I took and my unwillingness to follow medical advice at the time of the injury. So much of what I deal with today is a product of my 'knowing better' and not taking 'good advice' or 'listening to my superiors, parents etc".

So I have to recognise that my happiness is subtracted by my resentments. It's like the hard drive of a computer that's full of spam. I have to forgive if only to stop thinking of the old shit.

Now I've got to go back to work right now.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

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