Jumping in Sicily-Giampaolo Macorig-Flickr-CC

All of us have experienced simmering anger that turned into resentment. The problem is, resentment does nothing to address the real problem. Resentment wastes time and makes you suffer.

How do you know if you suffer from resentment?

  • You keep talking about a past wrong
  • You identify with something that should not have happened
  • You secretly wish for revenge
  • Your mind is occupied with a past transgression
  • You tell other people about old problems that never go away
  • Your wins are all about out-doing someone else
  • You talk endlessly about someone you don’t like

Resentment is a sign that a conversation is well over-due.

Maybe you need to set a boundary. Maybe you need to ask for what you want. Perhaps you need to tell someone the truth about how something really affects you instead of pretending everything is OK. The point being that nothing is going to change unless you initiate a difficult conversation.

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One way to ease the difficulty of such conversations is to speak about the observable behaviors, rather than your feelings or assumptions about what’s going on. Look at the difference between saying, “You have a bad attitude and don’t care about others” versus “Yesterday I saw you slam down the phone and leave work early.” While unable to accurately measure someone’s attitude or motivation, you can definitely ask for a specific behavior change that is observable.

Sometimes the conversation you need to have is with yourself. There are many things you need to address:

  • The part you played in the problem
  • What you can do to make peace
  • What you learned
  • What you need to forgive
  • What you need to do if the same thing happens in the future
  • How you have done the same thing to yourself
  • How you have done the same thing to others

Real freedom is about how you feel. As long as you harbor old resentments (toward those living or dead) you imprison yourself.

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Let go of old resentments. Set boundaries. Ask for what you want. Forgive yourself forgive others.

Now what does it feel like to really be free?

Marlene Chism is an executive educator, consultant, and author of Stop Workplace Drama and No-Drama Leadership. She works with executives, and high-performing leaders who want to transform culture in the workplace. To explore opportunities please email her here.

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