Why is it so hard to let go of a resentment?
One of Padre's less attractive traits was a tendency to hold a grudge. I remember he was upset by Sears and decided to boycott them. I never did learn what the underlying issue was, but he boycotted that store until his death.
I have the same tendency. "Holding a grudge" is another way of saying "Holding on to a resentment."
I suppose it to be a form of pride. It's a way of saying I'm right, and everyone else is wrong. And no evidence to the contrary will dissuade me. Which means, I suppose, that I'm a typical specimen of the human race.
Another way saying this, of course, is to say that I find it hard to forgive. And, in a fit application of spiritual algebra, I find it challenging to forgive myself those times when I fall short or make a mistake.
It's easier, now that I'm in the elder years, to forgive. But that lack of forgiveness is a hard habit to break. I still backslide into lonely self-righteousness.
Sometimes, on a good day, I can laugh at myself. That's the best cure for self-righteousness. Sometimes, when I make a mistake – one I've made many times before – I can say “There you go again” (helps if I hear Ronnie Raygun's voice).
Sometimes, when someone has wounded me, I can see things through their eyes. Strive to see the situation from the most charitable point of view possible.
Sometimes, on a good day, that works.
Right now, today, I find I'm still clinging to the ghost of a resentment. I hope that time will cause that ghost to fade – though, like the ghosts in a Henry James story – time tends to strengthen the hold of this particular resentful ghost.
I keep coming back to a basic notion, one that seems naive on the surface, but still is probably best for my mental and spiritual health: Everyone is doing the best they can with the tools they have.
The person who offended me is doing the best s/he can. Her motives were well-intentioned. I'm doing the best I can to forgive.