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The Value Of Resentment

Image of dog looking out from a big truck.

“Resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.” - Anonymous

What exactly does resentment mean? It is a complicated and multidimensional word. It falls under the category of anger, yet it is so much more complicated than that.

By definition, it is indignation or ill will stemming from a feeling of being wronged or offended. In reality, it is a strong and painful bitterness you feel when someone does something wrong to you; it is a feeling of anger or displeasure about someone or something you perceive as unfair. It is the umbrella term under which fall anger, ill will, grudge holding, spite, indignation, bitterness, grievance, and hostility.

This feeling of being harmed or wronged can result from actual events, or it can occur when people imagine a wrong has been done to them. It is very hard to see when resentment is irrational.

You can resent others alive or dead, groups, entities and God. You can also resent yourself. No matter what the form, or how justified we may feel in maintaining our position, the result is always personally harmful.

An important question concerning resentment is whether it just happens or is nurtured and grows.

Resentment, like any other feeling, is neither good nor bad. It is a message to tell you something is happening and that you need to pay attention. When it is held and nurtured, however, it becomes something much different.

A Different Kind Of Feeling

I believe that resentment is different from other feelings in that it is held, nurtured and fed. It begins as simple hurt, an ordinary anger that stems from a hurtful, unjust or perceived unjust experience. That experience is held in memory and replayed over and over, allowing it to grow into an epic event. Usually it is nurtured for years and has a huge impact on a person's life. Even such a potentially destructive force can have a purpose.

Three Purposes of Resentment:

1. When resentment is held onto, being resentful becomes a lifestyle:

Being resentful creates a life of being hyper-vigilant to injustice,

perceived slights, disappointment and being victimized. The normal ups and downs of life feel like the world is against you. There is a prevailing sense of bitterness and anger.

2. Being resentful creates an illusion of safety:

Being resentful causes one to feel powerful and strong. Anger creates physical energy and changes brain chemistry. It creates a barrier around you and feels like protection. No one can hurt me because I am armed with anger and resentment.

3. Resentment defines who we are:

“I am resentful therefore I am.” Resentment is basically what happens when you relive old hurt and make that hurt an object of worship. The resentment becomes that thing which anchors us and tells us who we are. I once had a woman tell me that she felt alive when she felt resentful. It helped her remember her past and to give up the resentment was to give up who she was.

The beginning of resentment occurs when there is a negative experience that does not or maybe cannot be resolved at that time. The event is remembered over and over, the memory is nurtured and grown becoming larger than the original event and larger than life. It rarely if ever goes away on its own because there is no motivation to change the situation. The brain says that resentment has an important purpose and to let it go would be a great loss.

“Anger, resentment and jealousy doesn't change the heart of others--

it only changes yours.” - Shannon L. Alder

When I was a young woman, I worked for a man who loved to listen to music as he worked. It was back in the day of 8-track tapes. When left unattended, the tape would play the same music over and over. The woman who had the job before me would let it play sometimes for hours. As her hatred of the music grew, her resentment flourished. She blamed her boss for not turning the music off when he left the office so that she would be more comfortable.

As her resentment grew, it spread to everything about the job. Because of this and other similar situations she could not tolerate, her resentment got to the point where she hated everything about the job and finally quit. What actually happened was when her boss left the office he did not turn the music off because he was planning to return. While he was gone, there would be problems to solve and unexpected tasks to complete. It never occurred to her to simply walk through the open door and turn the tape off.

Are you struggling with the pain that resentment is causing you? Do you need to walk through your own proverbial door and turn the tape off? I can help you find a way to let go of resentment and find a better way to deal with hurt and anger. Call me at:(919)881-2001.

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