Resentment Eats Us Up! – It devours our well-being and leaves us feeling frustrated and low. In this article we’ll look to define what resentment is, how it affects us and how we can deal with it. It’s something that you may not even be aware of where we’re holding onto toxic negativity that is poisoning our joy and contentment.
What is Resentment?
It’s an underlying feeling of unfairness or being mistreated. Most commonly we’re resentful of someone or something that matters to us which can be a partner, someone else close to us or an organisation. The feelings we have can be anger, bitterness, frustration and hostility and we hold these feelings mostly in our personal relationships.
If we hold onto these negative feelings, it’s like we’re holding onto a toxic ball of lava that not only continues to burn us, but poisons us too. Consequently, we can feel powerless and fall into a victim state which affects our overall emotional strength and resilience.
So what can we do about?
Firstly, awareness is key. The start of any change has to come from a place of being aware of what’s going on or we ignorantly keep repeating the patterns on auto-pilot which may then include unhealthy self-soothing habits in a dire attempt to make ourselves feel better or to feel that life is bearable. In the UK, there’s plenty of ways to do that such as the openly abundant supply of alcohol or we can self-soothe with drugs, gambling, shopping, eating etc……
How do we become aware?
We notice something is different or is not right. Using a close relationship as an example, we may feel disconnected and we may feel we no longer want to be as kind or loving as we once were. We can then ask ourselves why and this may not be easy to answer. In doing this, we may notice that we’ve descended to feeling a bit sorry for ourselves and we may also be noticing all the negatives in our relationship and neglecting to see the good stuff. If it’s to do with an organisation, we may feel anger and feel the need for retribution or if it’s an employer our motivation levels may slip in amongst our negative emotions.
How to deal with it
It’s important to find ways to deal with your resentment and the first step is to take ownership of your feelings. These are Your feelings based on Your interpretations and these interpretations maybe wholly accurate or inaccurate but are more likely to be somewhere in between. You may then want to decide a course of action that could be –
- Get in touch with the underlying feeling for your resentment. This could be feeling hurt, fearful, abandoned, anxious, betrayed, rejected, unappreciated or something else. This can allow us to take ownership of how we’re feeling rather than feeling anger towards someone who we blame for eliciting these emotions.
- Talking to the person involved to express how you’re feeling. Using ‘I’ statements can be helpful here where we express how we’re feeling from our view point such as ‘I’m not very happy with x’. This differs from ‘You’ statements that often create a defensive reaction as they can come across as blaming such as ‘You’ve made me unhappy because of x’.
- Seeking a balanced view by talking to someone else about this. This can help us to process our feelings, gain a more realistic view and aid our ability to let go of our negative feelings
- Be aware of how you may be contributing to the situation. We can easily project our own negative feelings onto others.
- Changing something which will vary based on the situation. This can be putting boundaries in place to protect ourselves if we’re being taking advantage of, saying no more often or even leaving a person or a job role.
- Being balanced in your view – When we feel resentful and that things may not be fair, we can have distorted views and focus too much on what’s going wrong or what we’re unhappy about. This can be driven by repeated habitual behaviour where we may have brought some unhelpful negative beliefs from childhood into our adult world. Common unhelpful and mistaken beliefs are – I’m unlovable, not good enough, life’s unfair etc… Noticing what’s going well such as noticing how and when our partner shows us love can help. We can be blind to notice the great stuff people do but be over sensitive to the things that may hurt us. If we’ve always felt unlovable, we may notice behaviours in our relationship that support this rather than having a balanced view. The way in which we show love is often how we want to receive love and this can vary from person to person, hence it’s easy to miss when our partner is actually being loving.
- Seek to be forgiving or at least accepting. Initially to save our own negative feelings we may seek to be forgiving or at least accepting. Sometimes accepting how things are can feel that we’re resigning ourselves to defeat but being accepting means we can view the situation with greater reality which can move us to making a change or addressing issues more practically.
- Use it as a driving force – Our emotions are communications from our mind a body and it can be extremely helpful to tune into them. This may mean we position ourselves at work to get what we feel we deserve or we put ourselves in healthier environments.
As people we feel and (hopefully) express a huge range of emotions which is core to being human. Being afraid of them is likely to cause us problems or at a minimum stop us from flourishing. So resentment, anger and frustration is a part of life, however, if it’s too much and causing us distress, we may want to do something about it. If we’re resentful with lots of people and lots of things, it’s likely to be our issue than others mistreating us. It’s helpful to explore ourselves in the same way it’s helpful to seek to define how we want to live. I hope you can find ways to flourish and letting go of resentment can definitely contribute to that.
As always, please feel free to comment or ask any questions.