Tag Archive 'resentment'

May 27 2014

An Odyssey from Resentment to Forgiveness – #109

Resentment is like quicksand…it really sucks! It pulls us in and holds us down, and we become stuck in our own self-imposed suffering. Forgiveness offers freedom from that suffering, but getting to forgiveness can sometimes feel like an arduous odyssey. Our defensive egos hang onto wrongs with the ferocity of a dragon guarding a great treasure! What is the treasure? The righteous victim position that proclaims, “I am right and I am wronged!”

It’s a challenge to relinquish that bitter prize for the better prize of freedom from suffering, happiness, and peace. We can be right, or we can let it go and be free. That’s a toughie because our ego really wants to be right (I know mine does)! Our mind keeps rehashing its case over and over again in an endless tape loop until we feel kinda loopy!

I recently had a conflict with a friend and was stewing in resentment for a while. Fortunately, I was highly motivated to restore peace, not only because it feels better, but also for health reasons. I know that holding onto resentment is toxic; it stresses the body, suppresses the immune system, and creates acidity, which is a breeding ground for cancer and other illnesses. As someone on a precarious cancer journey, I need to forgive as if my life depended on it, because maybe it does.

I’d like to share with you the following powerful practices that helped me on my odyssey from resentment to forgiveness:

INTENTION – Intention is a powerful tool for transformation. My ego hangs on to being right and feeling wronged with the tenacity of a pit bull, but my Big Soul Self is intent on harnessing that dogged determination and redirecting it toward letting go, choosing peace, and being happy. Whenever I’m aware of my mind chewing on a bone of contention, that’s my cue to take deep slow breaths and affirm, “I choose being happy over being right.”

PROJECTION – When we judge others it’s usually because they’re reflecting something about ourselves that we haven’t owned and loved. In other words, if you spot it in someone else and judge it, then you got it. Here’s what I wrote about projection in a poem: “Mirrors, mirrors all around, reflections of myself abound, what most needs to be loved is found in what I judge in you.” A good question to ask when I find myself judging someone: “How am I like that? How do I do what I’m accusing them of doing?”

IT ISN’T PERSONAL – It’s a great waker upper to remind ourselves: “It isn’t personal. It’s just my preprogrammed ego defenses butting up against their preprogrammed ego defenses, doing what ego defenses do.” I like what Terry Cole Whitaker wrote about that, “What you think of me is none of my business.”

EMPATHY – The fine art of empathy is when we put ourselves in the other persons place and imagine how they might be feeling and what might be motivating their position. When I see that they’re reacting from an old wound, as am I, we can connect on that common ground and empathize with each other

HO’OPONOPONO – “I’m sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you. I love you.” That’s the ancient Hawaiian forgiveness prayer called Ho’oponopono. Whenever negative, blaming mind chatter takes over, I keep repeating this prayer until peace prevails. I’ve added some of my own words that have been helpful for me: “I’m sorry. It isn’t personal. It’s just my ego defenses. Please forgive me. Thank you. You know I love you and I know you love me.” I imagine myself saying it to the other person. Then I imagine them saying it to me.

SURRENDER TO A HIGHER POWER – In my conflict with my friend I was feeling exasperated with my minds entanglement in its relentless tape loop of righteously wronged reasoning. Then, as divine synchronicity would have it, I saw a Youtube video of a dolphin entangled in fishing line. An deep sea diver beckoned the dolphin over and the dolphin came to him, trusting him. The diver compassionately worked on him for a few minutes and finally freed him from the fishing line. I imagined myself like the dolphin, surrendering, trusting, being open to comfort and help, feeling a loving presence helping me free my mind from its entanglement. This helped shift me into a peaceful place.

Revenge is sweet and I have a sweet tooth…but forgiveness is sweeter and leaves no bitter aftertaste. Ultimately, I know that one of the most important healings for me in this lifetime is healing resentment and learning to let go and forgive. I am pleased to say I am making progress!

How about you? Is there someone in your life you need to forgive? I highly recommend it – it’s much more peaceful living in an open heart than a closed mind.

In Love,

Jan Jacobsen


I’ve created brief sayings called Enlighten-Inklings, which are verbal nuggets of love, laughter, and learning gathered from my previous and current writings, placed on my watercolor backgrounds. I’m sending out one a day, Monday through Friday via e-mail (free). If you’d like to be put on the list to receive them, email me at enlightenink@gmail.com. To view archived sayings go here EnlightenInk.com and click on Enlighten-Inklings at the top.

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Mar 17 2014

The Healing Power of Play – Issue #108

I’m excited to announce that I’m quoted in a new book by Dr. Kelly Turner! She traveled the world researching the common denominators in people who healed their cancer naturally and she reveals the top nine healing factors in her wonderful book, Radical Remission: Surviving Cancer Against All Odds. I’m especially excited that my quote is about one of my favorite things – loosening the grip of negative emotions through play!

One of the nine healing factors she writes about is the importance of having positive emotions like joy, love, and happiness, which turn on healing genes and enhance the immune system. But it’s a tall order to feel positive feelings when cancer (and death!) is rattling your cage. When I was diagnosed with cancer despite all my years of living a health-conscious life, I tried to be positive, but a biting bitterness was chomping at the bit, grousing, “Geesh, I ate salads and drank wheat grass juice every frickin’ day and still got cancer! And my 80-year-old neighbor is puffing on cigarettes and hacking away all day and she’s probably going to outlive me! I might as well eat junk food and take up smoking!”

So I named this cynical one Cynny and invited her to fully express herself. Here’s my quote from the Radical Remission book: Play is a powerful shift tool when I’m stuck in negative patterns. When I notice my cynical attitude is taking over, I play with it! I give it a name, Cynny, and I exaggerate her grousing. I let her rip! This brings her out of the shadows, into the light, into wholeness, and I expand into the playful, prayerful state of grace. Plus, it’s just plain fun!

It’s true. When I exaggerate and play with whichever one of the miffed me’s I’m stuck in, it helps release the stuckness. Whether it’s feeling cynical about cancer or feeling like ‘chopped liver’ in a relationship – playing with it helps it play through. When every one of our shadows (disowned parts) is welcomed, then there’s nothing lurking in the shadows, and the shadows become integrated – the result is wholeness (the words ‘whole’ and ‘heal’ share the same root).

Recently I felt hurt by something a friend did, and the hurt festered into resentment. I was so stuck in vitriolic victimhood that I was ashamed to tell my husband Tom about it. I could see it clearly and knew it was my stuff, but I was stuck and couldn’t release it. Fortunately my need for transparency won out and I told him and he offered to do a Persona Interview (created by Gay and Katie Hendricks who also introduced me to persona play.) The interviewer asks the persona these six questions: What’s the most important thing to you? What are you most proud of? When did you make your first appearance? Who did you learn your style from? What are you most afraid of? What do you most want?

What I discovered is that this resentful persona is a darker cousin of Cynny – I call this one the Creeping Crud of Resentment. It takes over when hurt feelings fester into resentment. In the persona interview I let myself BE the Creeping Crud of Resentment, full-blown, sneering, snarling, loud and unleashed, letting it all hang out. I had to laugh at her vehement victim vengeance – she’s so wicked! I understood her and liked her better when I learned that what she deeply wants is to know that people care about how she feels (and what she most fears is that they don’t care). When the persona interview was completed, I looked at Tom sheepishly and asked, “Do you still like me?” He smiled and said, “I like you even more.” (He loves when I get emotionally naked!)

Another key healing factor that Kelly Turner discovered among cancer thrivers was the value of clearing emotional blockages by releasing suppressed emotions. In other words, bringing our shadows into the light where they can be healed.  (It’s interesting that when cancer is seen on an x ray it’s seen as a shadow.) The Creeping Crud of Resentment is one of my most embarrassing shadows. You know it’s a shadow when it’s something you’re ashamed of and try to hide. The more I bring this shadow into light and befriend and play with it, the more it lightens up and heals (and I believe it continues to heal whatever cancer may still remain in my body).

It’s true — love, joy, and happiness can heal what ails us, and so can facing, revealing and releasing whatever dark feelings are repressing our aliveness (and our immune system). There are many ways to do that, but for me the most fun way is to play with it, welcome it, make it bigger and more outrageous! When you crack yourself up, you crack yourself open and are more available for deep learning and healing. And, if you can laugh at something, you can be free of it.

What shadows of yours are you most ashamed to reveal? Invite them to the party, give them a party hat, exaggerate them, let it rip, and celebrate the healing power of play!

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Sep 08 2009

There’s Gold In Them Thar ILLs! – Issue #26

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I read something remarkable the other day that moved me to tears.  Eighteen-year-old Shawn Hornbeck, who was abducted by a predator at age eleven and held in captivity for over 4 years (he was found two years ago), wanted to share some of his insights about the experience with Jaycee Dugard, who was also abducted at age eleven and recently found after 18 years in captivity. He said in an interview:

“I realize this sounds like I’m stating the obvious, but you have to move on. You can’t dwell on the past. You have to keep looking toward the future and telling yourself that it’s going to be better than your past … I had a lot of built-up anger afterwards, which is normal. But this anger can take control of your life if you’re not careful. You’re angry about how unfair it is that this happened to you … Going to therapy really helped me get everything in order. One of the things that really helped me…is that we talked about how I could better myself from what happened to me, how could I use all those terrible, awful experiences I had, to grow and mature. I know it sounds crazy, but those experiences have made me a better person.

Wow! After all the horrors that he’d endured, this young man turned his victim’s journey into a hero’s journey by finding gold in his experience, finding the gift in his wound, and sharing this gift with others. He also freed himself from the captivity of his anger and bitterness. That is the ultimate freedom! And it is no small feat.

I know what it’s like to be a captive of resentment. It has been an ongoing teacher of mine. For years I was addicted to ‘stewing’, simmering in a soup opera of resentment, feeling victimized, wronged, and ripped off. Anyone who has ever been trapped in resentment knows what a powerful, addictive force it is. Hanging on to feeling wronged becomes more important than anything, more important than freedom from it, more important than love.

I vividly remember one day when I was about eighteen years old driving to work at the New London Submarine Base, stuck in traffic and stuck in a stew about my life, and singing, with tears and strong emotion, along to The Young Rascals song playing on the radio, People Gotta Be Free:

“All the world over so easy to see.

People everywhere just wanna be free.

Listen, please listen,

That’s the way it should be.

There’s peace in the valley,

People got to be free.”

I felt a deep longing to be FREE from the captivity of negativity and anger. I had started reading about how my thoughts and attitudes create my reality. The truth of that strongly resonated with me. I could see that it was my attitude that was creating my unhappiness. Nobody was Making me angry…I was responding with anger, and then dwelling in it, making myself stew, creating a negative attitude that made me a shit magnet, drawing to me more things to be resentful about. I realized that my resentment was far more destructive that anything anyone could ever do to me – I was only hurting myself. I set out on a lifelong quest to free myself from the confines of my negative attitude.

On this quest I eventually learned to become a “miner”: I discovered how to mine gold from my anger by seeing what is MINE, seeing my part in things, seeing how I was contributing to my own misery, seeing that I can choose to hang on to anger or let it go. I can choose to be a bitter person, or a better person because of my experiences. I can choose to dwell in the hell of The Heartbreak Hotel, or dwell in love. I can choose captivity or freedom. And I can choose to mine gold from any situation.

I’d like to share some keys to freedom that I’ve found along the way. When I notice myself feeling wronged and starting to spiral down into that sticky, stuck, stewing place, I do the following:

I witness myself - observing the physical feelings of resentment, such as a tightening of my body, shallow breath, eyes narrowed, lips pursed. Becoming aware of the contractive prison of my body enclosing me, and realizing that I am doing that to myself, helps me to take a breath and begin to shift into a more expanded place.

I accept that it is what it is. Receiving a diagnosis of cancer is an example of that: taking a deep breath…accepting…there’s nothing I can do about it…it happened…it is what is.

I allow and align with the feeling. I tell myself, “Yes, this sucks. I understand how you would feel upset. Let yourself feel it fully.” My hard stance begins to melt, allowing me to feel the sadness that lies underneath the anger.

I generate loving kindness towards myself – talking to myself with compassion, like talking to a wounded child, verbally hugging myself. “I’m sorry this happened. I know this is hard for you. I’m here for you. I love you.”

Finally, I mine gold from the experience - learning from it and owning what is mine; and then, seeing how it has made me a better person, a stronger person, a more empowered person.

All this results in FREEDOM, with the added bonus of some gold nuggets in your pockets to share with others. There’s gold in them thar ills and there’s plenty for everyone! Just think, if Shawn Hornbeck can find the gold in his experience, then anyone can.

Have you ever been held captive by your resentment? What are ways you have freed yourself from that captivity?  What is the gold that you mined from the experience? When we’re able to do that, as the Young Rascals sang:

“There’ll be shouting from the mountains on out to the sea,

No two ways about it, people have to be free.

Oh what a feelin’s just come over me.

Enough to move a mountain, make a blind man see.

Everybody’s dancin’, come on let’s go see,

Peace in the valley, now they want to be free.”

    In Love,

Jan Jacobsen

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