Do you have some built up anger or resentment toward you parents, or those you are close to? As I said last week, I do and so I decided to put Pema's experiment into practice, to work on replacing resentment with appreciation, with regard to my mother.
A little recap on the experiment
1. Experiment for a while with resenting my mother or father (or anyone for that matter) and see how that feels!
Remembering though, to...
It only took the week of keeping a gratitude journal recalling all the amazing things my mum and dad did for me, to allow me to decide which attitude to cultivate. No surprises!!
3. Make your own decision about which attitude to cultivate for the rest of your life!
APPRECIATION not RESENTMENT
So, how do I cultivate such an attitude? I need to be on the lookout for those feelings of resentment and my habit to feed them and instead cultivate an attitude of compassion, forgiveness and appreciation toward myself and others.
Remembering each time the resentment, anger or hurt comes up to acknowledge it with compassion, breathe and remember I have a choice in how I respond.
So having conducted the first part of the experiment, I made the conclusive decision to try to remember to choose appreciation rather than resentment. Then came the work of putting it into practice.
I find it so interesting to watch my mind and its' habit of building up resentment. When resentment of a person or a situation comes up, if I forget I have a choice in how I respond I can so easily hop on the 'resentment train' to an unhappy place. When I forget that I have this choice and board that thought train I strengthen the habit of resentment.
Resentment is a form of anger I am well practiced in so I am on the lookout for it and how to skilfully work with it to change the habit. Even now I can be tempted to resent myself for being resentful, further strengthening that unhelpful soundtrack in my head. I am reminded of an anonymous quote. Anonymous because I cant recall where I read it, so thanks and apologies to the author. 'Do not judge or condemn yourself or others, instead forgive all for being human and needing to learn lessons'.
Dropping the judgment frees me from shame and guilt. So time to let go of judgment and appreciate the ways I am doing my best to cultivate appreciation rather than resentment.
So, what do I do? I acknowledge the feeling of resentment come up and decide to put a spanner in the resentment soundtrack and practice appreciation instead. And to remember compassion for myself and others and to apply the healing balm of forgiveness to all including myself.
My Weekend Experiment
Recently, my mother joined us at our home for the weekend. She is not enjoying getting older, her mobility restrictions and health issues and understandably often finds it difficult to be in a positive state of mind. So this weekend provided an opportunity to work compassionately with my resentment around my experience of her as negative and critical.
Here are my experiment results ...
So I am experiencing my mum do that negative, critical thing and resentment comes up. '
1. Feel the resentment come up
As I have said many times it is so easy to attempt to get rid of this uncomfy feeling by expressing our resentment with complaints, blame and criticism or 'helpful advice', either out aloud or internally. Or equally unhelpfully trying to suppress or bypass this feeling. So, a more helpful response is to acknowledge the feeling and BREATHE - the intense uncomfy feeling will pass and then we will be free to respond from a wise spot.
My wacky mind - so easy to hop on that resentment train to that unhappy place. How can I turn this possible resentment fest into a appreciation instead?
2. I will BREATHE and remember I have a choice between ...
And how did things turn out? I remembered to acknowledge my frustration and resentment, breathed and decided to drop the untrue judgment and condemnation to allow for compassion, forgiveness and appreciation of her past kindness to me as a child and adult too. I decided to repay that kindness by taking her shopping, to Telstra and out for lunch and things improved considerably.
As I said last week we can practice this appreciation or resentment experiment with anyone and everyone, including those who are no longer with us, and those we find frustrating (Our teachers of Patience). As Pema says "If we learn to open our hearts, anyone, including the people who drive us crazy can be our teacher'. Maybe you would like to give this experiment a go too.
Have a great week. Thank you all
Kind Regards and Best Wishes