I’m in the middle of taking a personal inventory right now, something I do periodically to keep the old emotional house clean. To start I’m writing an exhaustive list of the resentments I’m currently toting around. I’ve done this process before and have put quite a few of the nasty little buggers to bed, but even so, this go-around I’m embarrassed to say I’ve got over 100 and still counting.
Some of the items on the list are funny, some are childish, some are grandiose. The complaints range from the fact that I live in a world where global warming remains in question — despite the obvious science — to the fact that I have to report for work every day, regardless of whether I feel like it or not.
Why do this kind of accounting? I’ve found there’s something magic that happens when I put the ugly stuff on paper. An inner spaciousness opens in my chest when I come into line with what’s actually true. I write all my resentments down and start to relax, not because my righteousness is confirmed (it’s not) but because it’s just so clear that pretty much every one of them exists because of my inability to accept reality — and/or my attempts to manipulate the world around me.
I only became willing to try this because the lack of acceptance started to hurt too much. Living in reality is a great antidote to a fun little habit I picked up a while back — snarfing down a bunch of food and then throwing it up. The impulse to numb myself with this particular violent cycle was usually a response to the distressing feeling of being unable to control things to my satisfaction. For some reason, abusing food and my body seemed like a great solution.
I haven’t had to do that for years now, and I attribute this blessing in part to these occasional inventory lists. I don’t have to like what’s real, but it’s better to start there (including accepting how many grudges I’m stuck in right now). Maybe instead of believing the resentments, I can treat them like clues — red flags that lead me through a thick, brambly forest to a clearing at the center.