Can You Assist Someone Who Is Angry, Hateful, Bitter Or Resentful


This Mind Matters News was born through the need of someone who has attended one of my seminars, wanting to be able to assist a relative who is 40 and ruining their life by hatred and bitterness and in my client’s opinion not allowing the possibility of even contemplating forgiveness.

So how do you approach someone who either knows nothing about the benefits of forgiveness or rules out the very possibility of forgiveness?  And indeed who doesn’t recognise how their own thoughts of hatred and bitterness are destroying their own lives.

Part of the answer is to recognise that Forgiveness is for the Forgiver not for the forgiven. Forgiveness is so that you can handle and cope with an issue and allow yourself to live peacefully instead of ending up an angry, hateful, bitter, resentful, unhappy person. Perhaps this concept can be stated, which may open up or lead to the possibility of asking the person to “please at least read a couple of pages about forgiveness by one who has experienced it”.

So the following is offered in order to at least gives oneself permission to consider a different way of thinking about the traumas, injustices or adversities that one has experienced:

1.      A Teacher’s story

2.      A quote from Andrew Matthews “in a Nutshell”

3.      An article prepared by Lorna Stewart who used to work with Sandy

4.      Sandy’s Free E-book on Handling Trauma, Grief and Loss

A Teacher's Story 

A teacher once told each of her students to bring a clear plastic bag and a sack of potatoes to school. For every person they had refused to forgive in their life's experiences, they were told to choose a potato, write on it the name of the person, and put it in the plastic bag.

Some of the bags were quite heavy.

They were then told to carry this bag with them everywhere they went for one week, putting it beside their bed at night, on the car seat when driving, and next to their  school desk.

The hassle of lugging around this bag soon made it clear to them what a weight they were carrying unnecessarily, and how they had to pay attention to it at all times... how they could not forget it or leave it in embarrassing places.

Naturally, the condition of the potatoes deteriorated to a nasty slime.

This was a reminder of the price we pay for keeping our pain and negativity.  Too often we think of forgiveness as a gift to the other person.

Clearly, it is for ourselves!

A Quote From Andrew Matthews “In A Nutshell”

At some point most of us learned that it is a good idea to forgive people. We learned that it is "holy" or "spiritual".

But there is a more basic reason to forgive people: when you don't forgive them, it ruins your life!

Let's say: a) you are my boss and you give me the sack, or b) you are my girl, and you run off with my buddy. So I say, "I'll never forgive you for that!"

Who suffers? Not you!

I'm pacing the floor. I've got the knot in my stomach. I'm losing sleep. You are probably out partying!

Where do we get the idea that if WE don't forgive people, THEY suffer? It's nuts!

Recent studies at the Public Health Institute in California confirm that hostility and resentment tear down your immune system and double your risk of heart attack, cancer and even diabetes. Bitterness makes you sick!       

To forgive someone, you don't have to agree with what they did. You just have to want your life to work.


Is it easy? Usually not. But you don't forgive people for their benefit. You do it for your benefit.

An Article Prepared by Lorna Stewart – on Forgiveness

Forgiveness is the fragrance the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.” – Mark Twain.

The whole idea of “forgiveness” is based on faulty reasoning.  Here’s what happens.  We create rules inside our head for how people should behave.  When people “break the rules”, we resent them.  Resenting people for ignoring our rules is absurd.

Most of us grow up believing that we can punish other people by refusing to forgive them – that is, “If I don’t forgive you, then you suffer”.  Actually, it’s me that suffers.  I get the knot in my stomach, I lose the sleep.  Half the time, you don’t even know what’s going on in my head.

Next time you are resenting someone, close your eyes and experience your feelings.  Experience your body.  Making people guilty makes you miserable!

People do what they do, knowing what they know.  Whether you make them guilty, makes no difference – except that it ruins your life.  Things are the way they are.  If a hurricane floods your basement, do you say, “I’ll never forgive the weather” ?   If a seagull craps on your head, do you resent the seagull?  Then why resent people?  We are no more meant to control people than we are meant to control rainstorms and seagulls.  The universe doesn’t operate on guilt and blame – guilt and blame is just stuff we’ve made up.

While we’re talking about forgiveness, the first step to making your life work is to forgive your parents.  Sure they weren’t perfect.  But when you were a kid, your Mum and Dad didn’t have all the pop psychology books on “successful parenting”, and they had a lot of other things to worry about besides raising you!  Whatever they got wrong, it’s history.  Every day that you refuse to forgive your mother is a vote to screw up your life.


Consider this …. What if someone does something terrible?  Do I forgive him?

I have a friend called Sandy MacGregor.  In January 1987 a schizophrenic with a shotgun walked into the Sydney suburban lounge room of his three teenage daughters and murdered them (along with the friend who was with them).  The tragedy saw Sandy descend into a personal hell of pain and anger.  Few of us could imagine what he went through.

With time, and the help of friends, he decided that his only chance to make his life work was to let go of the anger, and somehow forgive the offender.  Sandy now spends his life helping others to achieve forgiveness and peace of mind.  His experience is evidence that it is humanly possible to let go of our resentments, even in the most extreme circumstances.  Sandy would also tell you that he let go of his anger for his own benefit and his own survival.

I notice that people who have had experiences like Sandy, fall into roughly two groups.  The first group remain prisoners of their own anger and bitterness.  The second group achieve an uncommon depth and compassion.

The events that transform us are usually not the things we would choose.  As someone said, We never want to go through what we need to go through, to become what we want to become.  Heartbreak, illness, loneliness, desperation … we each get our share.  After any major loss, there is always a mourning process.  But ultimately, the question is whether the experience makes you harder or softer.  Does adversity make you more compassionate or more cynical?

For those of us who are less challenged than Sandy, the choice is the same …. Do you want your life to work, or don’t you?

Sandy’s Free E-book on Handling Trauma, Grief and Loss

Sandy’s Free E-book on Handling Trauma, Grief and Loss may be helpful. It really is a personal journey about his experience with forgiveness after the murder of his three daughters on 23 Jan 1987. You can get this free e-book at this link.

So, if you know somebody who has an issue with anger, hate, bitterness, resentfulness (there’s more) that is ruining a life then please speak about forgiveness. Remember forgiveness is for the forgiver – not the forgiven. Use the stories here and offer Sandy’s Free e-book.

All the best,


"Your gift from God is your potential – Your gift to God is to use it."


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