Don’t Let Resentment Poison Your Life
Are you angry with a (supposed) loved one, whose actions cut you so deep, you can’t even talk to them? Does the littlest slight by a spouse, parent, or friend set you off, and you’re so blind with hurt and rage that you don’t even want to be around them? Now, think about that anger. Think about the last time that person upset you. What was the offense? Was it deserving of your reaction? Why do you think you reacted that way? If you start the next thought with, “because they always __________” or “they never __________”, then you are probably suffering from resentment.
What is Resentment and Why Do We Do It?
The human mind will do almost anything to feel good. From day one, we crave security, which is why this aspect of development is so crucial in infancy. In our relationships, we strive for security, trust, and respect, and when we don’t get it, we feel inadequate or unloved. The emotions that are attached to rejection and neglect exist, because the mind wants you to be aware and react. From there, your job is to make the situation right. In most cases, this involves discussing the issue with a loved one, telling him or her how you felt during a certain situation.
However, taking action doesn’t always happen; most people don’t like confrontation and would rather remain passive to prevent from “rocking the boat”. It’s also possible that the object of your resentment doesn’t change, even after months or years of confrontation. In either case, the repeated offense and constant feeling of disregard lead to resentment—a very ugly emotion that poisons individual growth and relationships. Once resentment seeps in, it is very hard to reverse the damage.
The Injury of Resentment: A Festering Wound
Resentment is a form of brooding and is rooted in envy. When we don’t get what we need or want, we hold a grudge. The mind, with its fixation on fixing problems, replays the repeated offense, over and over, until we feel overwhelmed with hatred and anger. Brooding, over-analyzing, and experiencing the emotions associated with resentment can literally poison the body and mind, while dismantling any loving relationship.
· Resentment inhibits insight and personal growth. It holds you back and prevents you from moving on.
· Resentment makes us feel hopeless. Our attempts at changing this situation seem futile, which leads to an overall feeling of helplessness.
· Resentment breeds emotional distress. Once we feel the effects of this powerful emotion, we seem to wallow in it, often exhibiting a victim mentality.
· Resentment can increase our risks for self-harm, like eating disorders or alcoholism.
· Resentment can lead to developing disorders, such as depression, anxiety, or cardiovascular disease.
Whether you haven’t taken the initiative to state your mind or whether the offender is incapable of change, you only have one choice: Change you. Resentment will distract you from your life’s purpose. It will prevent you from forming other meaningful relationships. It will keep you from obtaining the necessary introspection required to grow and develop into a person you can love. Love and light cannot exist in the shadow of hatred.
How to Prevent Resentment
Step 1: Speak your mind.
Don’t become a nag or a critic, but speak your mind. Keep an open dialogue and don’t let feelings you have go unchecked. The offender needs to know their offense, so he or she can correct it. Don’t forget to use “I” and “me” statements, as in “I get really frustrated when people don’t listen to me. It makes me feel as if I’m not important”. Oh, and think before you speak. Resentment is a two-way street.
Step 2: Be a better listener.
Don’t let the other person’s resentment be the ruin of your relationship. And listening is a serious matter when it comes to respect. By showing your respect and understanding a loved one’s feelings, you can be more empathetic and caring. These emotions become habits, and these habits become lifestyles.
Step 3: Be kind.
If you feel offended, try to understand why. Are your feelings warranted or are you acting out because of something else? Is it possible that your loved one had a bad day? It doesn’t make the offense any less hurtful, but by tempering your initial emotions, you will be more forgiving and less irritable in the first place.
How to Kill the Roots of Resentment Once They’ve Grown
Step 1: Admit you have a problem.
You have a problem. You. Yes, someone else’s neglect and disregard is making you feel angry, but you can choose whether to be powerless to your anger. From here, you must acknowledge the cycle of resentment, as you would any other addiction. You play scenarios over and over in your mind, for what reason? You cannot change the past or alter the future. Focus on now.
Step 2: Welcome distractions.
When you find yourself brooding, do something else. You can read a book, write in your journal, paint a picture, or watch TV; do anything but brood. Remember, resentment festers and breeds negativity.
Step 3: Forgive and forget.
First, forgive yourself for allowing you to feel this way. Forgive yourself for enabling the situation, and take responsibility for your part. Second, forgive the other person, and if you want to salvage the relationship, learn to “forget” past injuries. If you can move on from the recurring neglect, you can see the present events as isolated incidents.
Step 4: Meet halfway.
Hash things out with the offender. Figure out a way to meet in the middle. What are some things you need to and are willing to accept? What are some things he or she needs to change? Try and let the other person explain his or her behavior, so you can see the situation from another point-of-view. This is also a good time to set limits.
Step 5: Learn to walk away.
Poison will injure and kill if you don’t get help. If the situation remains the same or worsens, cut your losses. Resentment is about your feelings. You are the only person in control of you. Don’t be the reason for your pain. Be the reason for your liberation.
- Melissa Lavery, M.S.
Altman, L. (2011, July 7). Envy, Jealousy, Resentment – The. Retrieved March 10, 2015, from http://intentionalworkplace.com/2011/07/07/envy-jealousy-resentment-–-the-“comparison”-emotions-at-work/
Clark, A. (n.d.). The 7 Best Tips for Handling Anger and Resentment in Relationships. Retrieved March 10, 2015, from http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2014/11/23/the-7-best-tips-for-handling-anger-and-resentment-in-relationships/
Sichel, M. (2011, March 3). 10 Steps to Letting Go of Resentment. Retrieved March 10, 2015, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-therapist-is-in/201103/10-steps-letting-go-resentment
Winch, G. (2015, February 15). 10 Surprising Reasons You Shouldn't Brood. Retrieved March 10, 2015, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-squeaky-wheel/201502/10-surprising-reasons-you-shouldnt-brood?utm_source=FacebookPost&utm_medium=FBPost&utm_campaign=FBPost
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