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How to let go of resentments

How to let go of resentment for good

Resentment is an important topic for the alcoholic or drug addict. The word “resentment” is mentioned 17 times in the big book. Consider this paragraph from the chapter “How it Works”:

“It is plain that a life which includes deep resentment leads only to futility and unhappiness. To the precise extent that we permit these, do we squander hours that might have been worthwhile. But with the alcoholic, whose hope is the maintenance and growth of a spiritual experience, this business of resentment is infinitely grave. We found that it is fatal. For when harboring such feelings we shut ourselves off from the sunlight of the Spirit. The insanity of alcohol returns and we drink again. And with us, to drink is to die.”


Letting go of resentment for good is crucial for the alcoholic or drug addict. Harboring anger or resentment is a “luxury” that we cannot afford.

How to let go of resentment for good: What is resentment?

The word resentment comes from the French word sentir, which means “to feel.” Resentment essentially means to “re-feel” or to feel over and over. We relive the circumstances that led to the resentment and feel it over and over again.

When someone wrongs us (or we imagine that someone wronged us), we often feel strong feelings of injustice or humiliation. It wounds our ego, our sense of self. We feel defensive and angry. Sometimes we carry these feelings around for days, weeks, even years. We often play a mental tape of the incident over and over in our minds, getting angrier each time we replay it. When we let go of resentment for good, we gain freedom from these repetitive thoughts and negative feelings.

How to let go of resentment for good: How does resentment affect us?

Resentment stays in our heads and affects everything in our lives. It can cause us to become cynical and affect our future relationships. It can hinder our personal and emotional growth, cause us to have difficulty with self-disclosure, cause us to have trouble trusting others, and result in a loss of self-confidence. Most important for the alcoholic, resentment cuts off our connection with a Higher Power, and makes it difficult to live a life based in spiritual principles. To let go of resentment for good allows us to have a better connection with a higher power and to be able to practice spiritual principles.

How to let go of resentment for good: Steps 4 & 5

For me, doing a fourth step was crucial to letting go of resentment for good. In the first column of my fourth step was a list of people I held resentments towards. During my fifth step, my sponsor pointed out that I had a part in every resentment I harbored.  Even if my part was as simple as not letting go of the anger more quickly, I realized that I had a responsibility in each and every one of my resentments. It’s humbling to realize that you were at fault in each situation that you originally blamed entirely on another person. It also helps to get over the anger and feelings of hurt, because you recognize that no matter what happened, you are at least partially responsible for the resentment.

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