Resentment is such a GREAT and extremely important topic to talk about. It’s a heavy burden to carry.
I did a quick poll in my stepmom groups to ask some questions about resentment. I wasn’t surprised by how many responded. Nor was I surprised by what were seen as the biggest sources of resentment. In first order it was money- either how much the steps got or how much went to the ex and how much their own kids or their house had to go without, the next most common source of resentment was how the steps treated their dad, her partner or the other kids in the home and that there weren’t any consequences for that behaviour. But there are more situations in the blend that cause resentment besides these two.
I think we can safely assume that resentment is very common in stepfamilie. Maybe more so than in first time never divorced families. It’s not that stepfamily members are the only ones who experience resentment, but by virtue of the complicated dynamics, it’s not surprising when it does show up. There are plenty of good reasons as to why that would be the case. You probably have a good idea of what I’m talking about because it’s likely you’ve experienced it yourself. I’m going to get a bit personal with you and share my story and how I got through it. It’s a process I successfully walk along side my coaching clients. For me personally, it was one of the biggest hurdles I had to get over. I have been able to get over it because I wanted peace in my life so had to intentionally choose the peace over the resentment. I know it’s what many stepparents want and deserve. After my poll, I decided to create a group coaching program to let go of the resentment and move into more love.
What is the best solution to resentment? Love, compassion forgiveness. These were the things that gave me the peace I needed and sought.
It may sound weird for me to talk about love, compassion and forgiveness for those that have made us feel resentment. But, I ask you to consider one part of that last statement >>> they made us feel resentment<<< that realization, for me, was KEY. Trust me, I hated it when I had multiple people tell me that to feel anything is not the result of someone’s actions or lack of actions. That it was my choice to feel anger and resentment. Trust me further when I felt like saying I am not CHOOSING resentment. It was happening on it’s own. And I felt to a certain degree that I deserved to feel resentment, considering what my situation was.
But once I came to the place of ACCEPTANCE it created much needed space for me. That was space I created in my head and heart- it helped me to let go of how much of my negative thoughts and feelings were almost building up to toxic levels. That was the poison I was drinking. I HAD to figure out a way to not let my resentment ruin me. It took so much head and heart space it was affecting my health. Acceptance was my starting point because I couldn’t change the situation ( I tried very hard) or change the other person in my life, and my husband wasn’t going to change either so I had to change me. I was so tired of the fighting. I had to take MY power back. Acceptance then created the space for seeing things differently, about where I had CHOICE and that felt empowering. I decided what I was going to allow and not allow in my life. For me that meant stepping out. Stepping back wasn’t enough for me or my situation. Those boundaries were critical.
Once I had created the boundaries it opened up even more head and heart space. From there I could forgive myself first. I forgave myself for trying so hard. I forgave myself for having the feelings of resentment. If I tried to hide them or deny them that gave those feelings more strength. My efforts weren’t appreciated or accepted so I tried harder. And that was the starting point of my resentment. Once I realized that their rejection wasn’t about me but was about their issues, that freed me up even more. It wasn’t personal. From the space and grace I gave to myself I created even more space. The resentment was softening. As a result I opened more compassion for my husband, who was feeling stuck in the middle. Once the door of compassion opened for him then the door for forgiveness opened. I did not understand where he was coming from,, but I really wanted to. So I intentionally worked on that.
Genuinely investing in my self care was also a huge part of softening resentment. These are the steps I suggest with my clients as well.
To summarize: ACCEPT the situation as it is, ACCEPT that you cannot change others but CAN change your response and how you view the situation. For example onne of the changes I made was setting boundaries about what I would no longer continue to ALLOW . I wouldn’t allow their behaviour to hurt me so I stepped back first then needed to step out. Once I felt empowered with stepping out, I forgave myself which opened up forgiveness and compassion for my husband. From there I focussed on releasing the past from it’s hold on me and looked ahead to the future and gratitude for how the letting go created deeper connection with my husband. We were unstoppable!
However, I think the process would have been much easier and quicker if I had a stepfamily coach who could guide me through it. And that’s why I created a program to make that process smoother.