How To Be Better Not Bitter

Alexis Dent
April 16, 2020

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In life, particularly as you age and endure more life experiences, it can be easy to succumb to bitter feelings. Bitterness about not getting that job you really wanted. Bitterness about the one that got away. Bitterness that you make less money than your coworker who doesn’t work as hard as you. Bitterness about that breakup you didn’t see coming. Bitterness that you’re drowning in student loan debt. Bitterness that you have a broken family dynamic. Bitterness that you keep encountering financial road blocks that prevent you from living the life you truly want to live. The list can go on and on.

better not bitter

Therefore, it is safe to say that you likely have experienced one or two of these unfortunate scenarios throughout the course of your life. In fact, you may have experienced several of these scenarios, and you can’t seem to shake the frustration you feel. Whether the former or the latter is the case in your situation, the first emotion you may be compelled to lean into is bitterness and resentment. I say this not to shame anyone, because after all, resentment is natural. But rather, I say this as an opportunity to empower you not to feel bitter, but to feel better.

It’s always easy to make grand cliché statements and platitudes like, “It feels good to feel good,” but research points to this being true, and not just in the emotional sense but the physical one as well. In fact, a study conducted by Concordia University demonstrated just how detrimental bitterness could be for your health. Not only can it make you feel stressed, but bitterness can also affect your metabolism, hamper your immune system, and it can even damage the way your organs function. Simply put: your mental emotions can cause physical disease, which is far from an ideal situation.

While it may seem far-fetched that bitterness can wreak havoc on your internal organs, it is in fact true. Bitterness is a complex mix of multiple negative emotions, scientifically rooted between anger and sadness. According to the study from Concordia, “like anger, it is caused by a sense of injustice, but bitterness also entails a sense of impotence which makes it similar to sadness.” The complexity of these emotions can harm you both mentally and physically, so here are some tips to help you remain healthy and become better, not bitter.

How Can I Overcome Bitterness?

As with anything, overcoming bitterness is easier said than done. Nevertheless, you can overcome the emotional plague that is bitterness with a few simple changes in habits.

Mindset Shifts

A shift in mindset is usually needed to overcome bitterness, especially if the bitterness is deep-seated and has been festering under the surface for quite some time. While in some instances bitterness is the result of recent events or relatively surface-level frustration, other forms of bitterness can be the result of years of experiences that compound your emotions over time. However, no matter what the context of your bitterness may be, a mindset shift will do wonders and help you overcome this toxic mental state.

A mindset shift can often be tough to tackle on your own. After all, if mindset shifts were easy, you’d never struggle with your emotional well-being or mental health. Therefore, it’s completely understandable if you need some help along the way. Self-help books as well as (reputable) websites, blogs, and online videos can help you shift your mindset and overcome your bitterness with actionable tips and insights.

Affirmations and Self-Care

If it seems like affirmations and self-care are mentioned quite frequently in regard to mental health, it’s because they are both paramount to building your figurative toolbox of mental wellness tools. When you regularly practice affirmations, you can begin to train your mind to believe in more positive and empowering thoughts about yourself, your past, your present, and your environment. Affirmations can be positive thoughts that you say out loud daily, write down in a journal, or scatter around your home in the form of sticky notes. No matter what medium you use to practice your affirmations, simply ensure that they become a habit.

Affirmations are a form of self-care, but so are more tangible activities, like taking a bath, reading an awesome book, practicing yoga or exercising. The more you show yourself love, the easier it is to release the emotions that no longer serve you.


Therapy is more accessible than ever, and for deep-seated bitterness, therapy is likely the most effective route to heal from the pain you’ve experienced in the past. Seeing a therapist can very helpful in working through your emotions and overcoming your mental road blocks.

It’s important to note that therapy isn’t just useful for deep-seated bitterness. It can also be helpful for any level of bitterness, since bitterness doesn’t do anything but make us miserable. Additionally, therapy is a proactive way to ensure that your mental health is in tip-top shape, even when you’re in a place in life where you don’t think you need a counselor. Wherever you are in life, therapy can help you work through the emotions of both past and present, and in this day and age you can even do so in a virtual manner.

At the end of the day, bitterness is a toxic feeling. Holding on to this negative emotion prevents you from living your best life. If you’re experiencing bitterness, there is nothing to be ashamed of. However, you should use this bitterness for your betterment. By putting in the work and committing to self-improvement, you can release these emotions and become a happier and more productive person.

Alexis Dent

Alexis Dent is an essayist, author, and entrepreneur. Her work is primarily focused on mental illness, relationships, and pop culture. You can find her writing in the Washington Post, Greatist, Harper’s Bazaar, Marie Claire, and more.

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