Holding On To Resentment Holds You Hostage

You can’t have a harmonious relationship and hold on to your resentment, too. You can’t hold on to your anger and bitterness and still have a healthy heart and a settled stomach.

~Eric Buttwerworth

Have you noticed? Lately, there seems to be a LOT of toxic emotional energy floating through people’s minds and hearts; so much so it’s palpable. To effectively deal with the negative energy of anger and resentment is a skill most people are still working at getting a handle on, myself included. Medical studies prove that long-held anger and resentment are damaging to our physical and emotional well-being.

The bottom line is, the energy of resentment eats away at our minds, our bodies, and the body of our relationships. Given this knowledge, why would anyone want to hold on to resentment, anger, and bitterness? Someone once said holding resentment toward another person is like drinking arsenic and hoping the person you are resenting dies. Buddha put it another way: “Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal intending to throw it at someone else. You are the one who gets burned.” This helps put it into perspective, doesn’t it?

‘Re-sent-ment’ is re-sent anger. It is the mental and emotional act of resending toxic and negative energy through our own minds and bodies.

This is not to diminish the fact that many of us may have legitimate reasons to be angry towards another person. Sometimes people do thoughtless and even cruel things to each other. However, stop and think about it: Does holding onto resentment serve YOU in a positive, life-affirming way? Most likely, the answer is no. Most times, the person or people we hold in resentment don’t even know or care…or worse yet, some of them are already in the grave, but we are still allowing them to hold us hostage to the past. Isn’t it time to set ourselves free?

Buddha put it another way: “Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal intending to throw it at someone else. You are the one who gets burned.”

What I have discovered is that communication is always the healing balm in relationship issues and forgiveness sets us free. It’s important to remember that forgiving doesn’t mean we are condoning the actions that evoked our anger—it means we will set ourselves free from the past by not ‘resending’ the toxins of resentment through our mind and body in the future.

Proactive, clear, authentic, transparent communication and forgiveness will set us free from the energy of resentment, anger, and bondage to the past. If you are looking for a place to begin the process, consider the following mindfulness practice as a simple way to prime the pump.

  • Make a list of anyone you may hold in resentment. This could include yourself.
  • If you are uncertain, go within and ask your wisdom-Self to reveal where there may be bitterness in your heart. If you are willing to hear the guidance you will.
  • Then, commit to communicate with each person on the list to let them know you are setting both them and yourself free. If it is too painful to see them in person, call them or write them a letter or an email.
  • If they are no longer alive, write a letter and then, in a sacred moment of silence and peace, burn the letter, releasing the resentment as you bury the ashes.
  • What can make the process easier is remembering that we forgive others for ourselves, not just for them: Holding resentment only holds you hostage.

Set yourself free today. Why? Because you love yourself too much to drink arsenic or hold on to hot coals, yes?


Dennis Merritt Jones
Dennis Merritt Jones
Throughout his lifetime, author, speaker, and mentor, Dr. Dennis Merritt Jones has been on a quest to inspire and lift people to a higher expression of life. His vision is to guide people to their purpose, knowing that when one fully awakens to who they are and why they are on the planet, they share their gift to humankind and create an enriching life for themselves and the world around them. Dennis is the award-winning author of six books—three of which are recipients of a Nautilus Gold or Silver award—and hundreds of articles and blogs. He has written and released the following books: The Art of Abundance - Ten Rules for a Prosperous Life; The Art of Being - 101 Ways to Practice Purpose in Your Life; The Art of Uncertainty - How to Live in the Mystery of Life and Love It; Your ReDefining Moments - Becoming Who You Were Born to Be; Encouraging Words - Proof That Who You Are Matters, and; How to Speak Science of Mind. Dennis believes we each have the capacity and, ultimately, the responsibility to contribute something positive to this world, leaving it a better place than it was when we arrived. Reflected in his writings and presentations, his teachings promote a contemporary life-affirming, spiritually logical, and positive outlook on life. As a keynote speaker, Dennis is equally comfortable addressing an audience seeking spiritual inspiration or those seeking a purely secular motivational message. He uses his understanding of universal principles to draw upon wisdom from both eastern and western philosophies. As a mentor, Dennis works with individuals and non-profits to assist them in clarifying their vision and mission. He believes that there is a deeper consciousness of unity, cooperation, and reverence rising in humankind where the value of all life, regardless of ethnicity, geography, culture, or sexual orientation, is sacred. He believes this consciousness of unity, cooperation, and reverence for life and the planet will be one of the most significant influences upon society as we approach the challenges of 21st-century living.

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