by Dr. Bill Austin
The following old story applies to resentment. Once upon a time, two Japanese monks were walking along a road together. Prior to their journey, there had been a storm leaving large puddles on their path. When they came to an intersection, they found it covered with a large puddle of water. A young woman, dressed in white silk kimono, could not get across the puddle without ruining her kimono.
The first monk asked her if he could help and she said yes. The monk carried her across the puddle and put her down on the other side. She thanked him and went on her way.As the monks continued their journey, the second monk refused to talk to the first. There was an uneasy silence. It was evening when they arrived at their destination. The second monk asked the first, 'Why did you do it?'
The first monk was taken by surprise, 'Do what?'
'Don't play dumb with me!' snapped the second monk. 'You know we monks are not allowed to have anything to do with women, especially, shapely young women such as the one you helped.'
The first monk replied, 'I put her down a long time ago. Maybe you are the one still carrying her.'
My sons and I tease my wife, Karen, about one of her expressions: 'Get over it.' The statement does not mean that we should not look and process our hurts or wounds. It is not about being insensitive or uncaring towards another person. What this statement does mean is: There is a time to let go and move on. Do something about it - don't stay a victim all your life.
Last month's article was about how resentments can create distance in our relationship and numb our feelings for our partner. Our question for this article is how do we get over our resentments. Not talking about our wounds and disappointments is not a good answer. Storing our feelings is what got us into trouble in the first place!
Anger is a good teacher about what goes on in us. It teaches us that what we want is not being met. To understand what anger (and resentments, which are stored anger) is teaching us, it would be beneficial to reflect on the following questions: 'Why are we carrying it?' 'Why did we store or stuff our anger? What do we think we are gaining by holding onto our resentments?' 'Do we think we are 'getting even' by holding onto our resentments?'
We want the one who hurt us, divorced us, or disappointed us to hurt as bad as we are so we try to 'punish' him or her. In doing so, we stay a victim by allowing this person to continue hurting us. To 'get over it' means to take responsibility for our role in the situation and look for resolutions.
Dr. William E. Austin is a licensed psychotherapist and holds a Doctor of Divinity degree. He is a therapist with Tidewater Pastoral Counseling Services . He is well known for his warmth and sense of humor. His book, Creating Our Safe Place - Articles on Healthy Relationships, can be purchased through www.amazon.com.
Tidewater Pastoral Counseling: 623-2700