ACA Blog

Robbin Miller
Aug 16, 2010

Emotional Hoarding: Holding Grudges and Resentments

Today’s at, a 9 question quiz appears for readers to fill out to see whether or not they fall into the “Emotional Hoarding” category. Emotional Hoarding is defined as:
“Emotional hoarders collect grudges and have trouble letting go of negative emotions. The resulting emotional clutter may not be outwardly visible, but it can also have a detrimental effect on their lives.
While it's not unusual to lose your temper from time to time and have disagreements with others, if you hold onto those negative feelings for too long, it can cause long-term problems. Take this simple quiz to find out if you have emotional hoarding tendencies and, if so, how to curb them so you can live a happier life.”

I resonated on this definition several times before thinking that resentments can also fall under this category. Resentments are also holding negative feelings against another individual where it can have adverse effects one’s body as well. According to the new wave of spiritual enlightment in handling grudges and resentments, it is recommended that individuals learn to forgive and to let go through prayer and meditation. Since the event(s) already happened, it is not feasible to keep holding onto something that is in the past. It is important to hold onto the present moment and to take time to heal within. I told an individual during one session that holding onto grudges and resentments prevents the positive energy from flowing in our bodies and mind and spirit.

When we let in positive energy, we can create a new beginning and understanding for ourselves to move forward. Of course, relapse is possible, when a past memory or trigger will drudge up old stuff and become a broken record again. If individuals can learn to be mindfully aware of this moment without becoming attached to it with their breath, it is possible to let it go again and to self-compassionate with oneself. Scientific evidence shows that refocusing on positive thoughts becomes the new default mode in our brain. It takes practice and patience to learn the new way handling negative emotions.

Since we live in difficult economic times, it can be challenging for the therapist to teach their clients this new way of reacting to their negative thoughts. We also have to consider how one’s culture handles grudges and resentments in their communities and in their families. It is hoped that small progress can be made when dealing with these issues.

Robbin Miller is a counselor who specializes in mindfulness meditation; Positive Psychology; and Cognitive-Behavioral Therapies; and is also a volunteer cable access producer and co-host of her show, "Miller Chat" in Massachusetts.

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