The Road to Forgiveness Part 1 – Releasing Resentment

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Thinking Like A Negotiator and negotiation isn’t just about dollars and cents or big contracts and multimillion dollar deals. Negotiation has an aspect in our personal lives.  In my original GoPINK® philosophy the “N” in PINK is for Negotiation.  Not only being an expert in business negotiations but also negotiating balance in our lives.  In this article, it’s about negotiating forgiveness.

Forgiveness.  I’m sure you’ve heard that before.  Especially if you’ve read anything I’ve written.  My GoPINK® Rules of Engagement book talks about forgiveness.  Rule #2 Release All Resentment.  Resentment is the poison we take that we think kills others but really kills our spirit.

Thinking Like A Negotiator has to do with your personal life as well as you business or employment life.  Releasing resentment and having forgiveness is part of thinking like a negotiator. I spend time on this when I speak about taking control of the handlebars of your life™ I devoted an entire rule in my GoPINK® Rules book to it.  I spend time on it in my 3-day live training (see training tab for the next event date).

Forgiveness and releasing the resentment we feel towards those who have harmed us, hurt us, betrayed us, attempted to destroy us, attacked us or anything else is not an easy task.  However, it must be done to enjoy life and have peace.  A person who has unforgiveness cannot have peace.  The two cannot exist together in the same space.

If you know my story, you know my parents were alcoholics.  My mother did horrible things to me.  She purposely tripped me causing me to slam my face into a wall when I was 11.  I had a black eye for 2 weeks because of it. She left me in a store on purpose when I was 5.  She constantly threatened to get rid of me and send me away to boarding school.  She belittled me.  She abused me.  She never told me she loved me and instead told me I was no good and to get out of her sight. She died when I was 12 of alcoholism.  I resented her for many years.  I had a right to didn’t I?  After all she did so many horrible things to me and she had the audacity to die and leave me with a father who was dead inside!

My father drank, smoked, sat on the couch all day and said nothing to me.  If he did say anything it was to tell me I was a loser. He let my boyfriend come and live at the house when I was 15/16.  Actually the boyfriend just stayed over and moved in and my dad said nothing. The boyfriend raped me with my father in the bedroom next to mine. The boyfriend hit me, belittled me and tore me down constantly.  My father heard it, ignored it and let him treat me like that.  That taught me that women were supposed to be treated that way by men.  After all, I saw my parents abuse each other.  My father threw my mother into the TV once breaking her arm and she hit him over the head with a big glass ashtray in one of their many drunken fights. I learned that’s how men treated women and that started many years of abusive relationships for me.

My father did nothing to protect me. He never disciplined me, guided me or parented me in any way whatsoever. He never had much food in the house and instead gave me money to go eat out all the time. It seemed like he wanted me out of his sight too. I felt unwanted and unloved. I ran with the wrong crowd. I got into trouble probably in an attempt to get his attention but nothing phased him. I dropped out of high school and he didn’t care. I was on the fast track to being a loser.  When I was 18, I came home one day to find an empty house and a note of eviction on the door.  My father packed up and moved from Texas to Florida and didn’t leave me a forwarding address.  He abandoned me.

If that’s not enough things to be resentful for, I got into many abusive relationships.  Once a raging alcoholic beat me up very badly and nearly choked me to death. I always say it was the hand of God that took his arm from around my neck.  I blacked out.  I woke up on the floor, bruised, swollen and defeated. I covered the bruises and continued to suffer in silence. It was my lot in life.  Another man pulled a knife on me.  Another yanked me out of bed and drug me down the stairs. I was raped in the military and experienced psychological warfare when I was deployed because I wouldn’t sleep with a man that decided he wanted me during the deployment. I believe all this happened as a result of what I learned in my childhood.  I thought I was a loser, that I deserved to be treated badly by abusive men.  It seemed to be my path in life.

I could go on and on, as this is only the tip of the iceberg.  Lots to be justifiably resentful for right?  I can carry all that baggage and much more as war wounds from a lifetime of chronic trauma.  However, resentment is poison.  It poisons your body, your mind and your spirit.  We’ve all had bad things done to us in one-way or another. I just happen to have had a multitude of horrible experiences in my life. More than the average person from what I understand. However, when people meet me today, they cannot believe I went through any of it, let alone so much.  Why? It’s because I have peace and joy in my heart. I hold no resentment. How is that even possible? It is possible and I’m living proof.

What do you do with the feelings and thoughts around those things that have happened to you?  Do they torment you?  Do the thoughts make you burn inside with anger?  That’s how you know if you have or carry any resentment.  What is resentment?  It’s that deep burning anger or intense feelings that you feel about the situation when you think about it.

If you have those burning feelings, you are in trouble and need to do some work to release the resentment.  If you don’t, it will cause you problems such as health issues, relationships issues, work issues and life issues in general.  If you doubt that, check the research that has been done about anger and unforgiveness and how it affects us. What you think about you bring about and if you think about those things and you have a burning reaction in your body, it will negatively affect your attitude and your day to day life.  There are so many books out there that talk about forgiveness including the Bible “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” Col 3:13

This article isn’t going to tell you how to solve the resentment problem.  That is for a longer conversation.  I have tools in my GoPINK® book about it and I coach people on it.  I only coach those who are ready to release it though.  If you are not ready or not willing to get ready, you need to do the work around that (I can help with that too). Contact me at Eldonna@ThinkLikeANegotiator.com for more information.

I spent most of my life going in circles carrying all that resentment like a badge of honor.  I guess I wanted someone to validate me and kept hanging onto it hoping someone would care enough to hear me, see me, or something, anything to make it better.  I was angry all the time.  It was a seething anger just below the surface and it kept me in a pit of despair for a very long time.  It also caused me to keep attracting abusive relationships with men and even some abusive and toxic friendships.  Many positive people didn’t want to be around me because I was negative.  I think back to a time in church in New Mexico.  I was in the Air Force and I was starting to build a friendship with someone the same rank as me.  She asked me how I was doing and I don’t remember what I said but I do remember her saying “wow! So negative!.” She pulled away from me and didn’t have any more to do with me.  I didn’t realize what had happened until years later but the memory of that reminds me of how many years of my life I was in a negative state of mind.

One day in August 2005 after I had done about a year of work with a small group at a Vet Center to deal with the sexual assault issues, the man I was engaged to left me for someone else and cut me out of the business we had started together.  That was the straw that broke the camels back for me and nearly did me in emotionally.  All that stuff I had not dealt with for all those years came flooding in at once.  I was broken down and that started 6 months worth of intensive, gut wrenching, painful sobbing and crying. Think about the deepest most painful heart breaking grief and despair you’ve ever felt and multiply that times 1000 every day for 6 months. That’s what it felt like. One day I looked in the mirror and saw the problem looking back at me.  The problem was me! To be honest I’m not sure how I survived that and how I am still standing.  I cried almost non-stop. Somehow I got out of bed everyday. My kids would find me in a heap on the floor in my bathroom sobbing for hours. I’m not sure how I made it through every day other than my close friends that helped me through that and held me up when I couldn’t hold myself up and my faith. I honestly thought it would never end and I would never stop crying. In fact I had to take medication for a while to stop the crying. That’s how bad it was.

After the crying subsided and while I was working through it, I did a lot of significant work around releasing the resentment.  This didn’t happen overnight and is still a work in progress because there are still people who do me wrong or do something to hurt me and I have to go back to my tools to release the resentment to ensure it doesn’t stay in me. Many people don’t want to go to that place to deal with that mess in their lives.  It’s not easy but I wouldn’t trade my peace of mind for anything.  The work wasn’t a piece of cake.  After all I had a lifetime of chronic trauma to deal with.  You most likely don’t have near as much mess and it won’t take as much to let go of that resentment.  If I can do it, you can do it!

I didn’t intend this post to be so long but I thought it was important to share the intensity of the resentment I had so you can see it is possible to let it all go.  The next post will be about forgiving yourself and some tools to use for releasing that resentment.  Until you forgive, you cannot live in peace.  One you release that resentment it opens up space for the good to come in and fill that space.  Your life will never be the same once you learn how to eliminate the poison of resentment from your life.

As I always say – “the power is in the work.”

Eldonna Lewis Fernandez
Eldonna Lewis Fernandez

Veteran negotiation and contracts expert Eldonna Lewis-Fernandez, author of “Think Like a Negotiator,” has over 30 years of experience crafting killer deals both stateside and internationally, many in excess of $100 million. She’s currently the CEO of Dynamic Vision International — a specialized consulting and training firm that helps individuals hone negotiation skills — as well as a nationally regarded keynote speaker, session leader and panelist on the Art of Negotiation. Eldonna may be reached online at www.EldonnaLewisFernandez.com

2 Comments

  1. Lauriann Blakeman says:

    Good for you for not only surviving but thriving! Life gives us many challenges to process, as I too, have had my challenges. I agree that forgiveness is key. While I am pretty good at forgiving others, I am not so quick to truly forgive myself. It is a process, and sometimes I just have to “start again”. I have learned that there is always light at the end of the tunnel, although that tunnel can be longer than I like at times!
    Life is like a motorcycle ride – we responsibly accept the challenge when we get on the bike, not knowing for sure what is around the next corner, and smiling at the end of the day!

    Thank you for your article! Would love to meet you in Denver at the summit!
    Life is a good thing!

  2. Diane says:

    You are a strong and amazing woman. Thanks for sharing and for taking it to the next level to help others. May you always have an abundance of blessings on your journey. Happy trails.

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