Friday 31 May 2024

Don’t be a collector of resentments

Resentment is toxic. It is a negative feeling you hold about others, which slowly destroys you from the inside. Resentment is chronic anger, and just like chronic stress, it is worse than occasional stress.

Resentment is like holding a grudge against a waiter who spilled your coffee; it burns you more than it stains them.

Additionally, resentment is a form of intrusive thought that accumulates and destroys relationships, starting by decaying your relationship with yourself.

Resentments arise from unmet expectations and, more importantly, from excessive expectations. People pleasers among us have this unrealistic expectation that if we do everything right, and do it the right way, all will be well, and others will behave in the way we want and reciprocate with gratitude. However, striving for flawless approval only leads to endless disappointment. This disappointment is the seed for resentment to grow and take root.

Like a weed, resentment is hard to get rid of. Here are some of the reasons why:

  • Letting go of resentment means you will have to confront the issue with the person directly, which is overwhelming for many. Instead, we end up pointing fingers at someone in our minds without ever vocalizing it, leaving us bitter and stagnant.
  • Letting it go feels like a failure, a loss, as if we have surrendered without a fight, letting the other person off the hook.
  • Letting it go does not give us closure. Instead, by holding on to it, we create a covert contract in our minds, building ‘if-this-then-that’ scenarios.
  • Resentment is a powerful coping mechanism that reinforces a victimhood response. It is easier to be addicted to the cheap wine of bitterness.
  • Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, letting go of resentment is hard because it means relinquishing the false sense of power and control it gives us.

The frantic mind is particularly susceptible to triggering and harboring resentment. Although it is not easy to let go of resentment, one can surely recover from it.

Recovery starts by acknowledging that you are choosing to be resentful to achieve some goal, and therefore, you can choose not to be resentful. We choose to be resentful because we believe it serves a purpose or gets us what we want. However, resentment, which is all in our head, does not even have the utility of an angry outburst, which at least informs the other person of your ill feelings.

Once we know that we can choose how to respond and that holding on to resentment is a choice, we can start to heal ourselves of it. Here is a useful tip: next time you realize you are being resentful, adopt some self-distancing.

Ask yourself the following question: “What will I think about this next?”

This question can take you away from the downward spiral of resentment, in the moment, and instead make you aware of the choice you have.

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