"The past has no power to stop you from being present now. Only your grievance about the past can do that. And what is a grievance? The baggage of old thought and emotion."
-- Eckhart Tolle --
("A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose")
The Twelve Steps are designed to bring about "ego deflation at depth" and, thereby, a spiritual awakening which will solve the alcoholic addict's problem - "self" - in all its manifestations, selfishness, self-centeredness, egocentrism etc. One of the first concrete steps we take in this process of ego deflation is to list all of our lingering resentments, the lingering anger that we hold against people, ideas and even circumstances.
Why the importance in reconciling our resentments? The answer is that unless we do so they fester as an underlying anger that blocks us off from the spiritual resources that are buried within us. It is impossible for us to be honest, patient, understanding and loving while we harbour the lingering coals of the grievances we have towards others.
"Resentment is the emotion that goes with complaining and the mental labeling of people and adds even more energy to the ego," notes Eckhart Tolle, a renowned spiritual teacher. "Resentment," he observes, "means to feel bitter, indignant, aggrieved or offended. You resent other people's greed, their dishonesty, their lack of integrity, what they are doing, what they did in the past, what they said, what they failed to do, what they should or shouldn't have done."
"The ego loves it," he points out. "Instead of overlooking unconsciousness in others, you make it into their identity. Who," he asks rhetorically, "is doing that?"
"The unconscious in you," he answers, "the ego."
"Sometimes the "fault" that you perceive in another isn't even there," he notes. "It is a total misinterpretation, a projection by a mind conditioned to see enemies and to make itself right or superior. At ohter time, the fault may be there, but by focusing on it, sometines to the exclusion of everything else, you amplify it, and what you react to in another, he cautions, you strengthen in yourself."
[Tolle, "A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose," p. 62.]