One reason why we hold on to old resentments for so long is our perception that what some people did to us was wrong and unnecessary. We are so convinced of this that we feel justified in hanging on to those old negative feelings. But as we do our Step work that perception is challenged. This program teaches us to look at the other side of the story. Many of the people whom we have resented for years did nothing to us. They were merely protecting themselves in the best way they knew how. They did the right thing. Police are supposed to arrest people who break the law. Judges are supposed to sentence and punish criminal offenders. Healthy people are supposed to distance themselves from toxic relationships. Our children should not be left with non-functioning addicted parents. It was painful to us when all of that happened, but we admit now that it was all warranted and appropriate.
Most alcoholics and addicts want to be judged by their intentions and not their actions. My mantra used to be “well I didn’t mean it.” I believed that my good will should wipe out any actual damage I caused. Proper assessment of one’s character is ascertained by observing their behavior. So much of what we learn in Alcoholics Anonymous is gleaned by our actions, not what we say, think or do. This is precisely why we must look at our behavior when writing a resentment list. Once I know how my behavior affects others, I can change it and avoid resentments.