Resentment and How to Defeat it.

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April 10, 2019
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resentment

Bitterness and resentment are not uncommon feelings to experience. We experience those feelings when we feel we have been treated wrongly or unfairly by someone else. It can be a signal that something is not a right and that change needs to happen. However, long-lasting bitterness and resentment can cause serious issues. Resentment in relationships can be damaging and ultimately cause them to end. Bitterness and resentment in life can result in a lack of happiness and gratitude which can lead to more serious issues like major depression. Resentment is a valid emotion that can tell us a lot about what we are really feeling and what is happening in our inner world. It can be a very raw and honest emotion that is important to pay attention to. However, if left unaddressed, it can cause more problems in our lives. When it comes to defeating resentment, here are some actions to take:

Become more aware. Awareness can lead to insight. Insight gives us power. Power gives us the opportunity to make change happen. All change starts with awareness. If we are not in tune with the issue, it is extremely difficult to change. Resentment is an emotion that really tells us where we are. Being in touch with our own resentment means accepting its existence. Gaining awareness of our own resentment can be the first steps to defeating it.

Explore the underlying cause. Emotions like resentment often lie on the surface of deeper issues. For example, we may resent our spouse because we feel unappreciated or unimportant. We may resent our boss because we never feel good enough or we feel inadequate. We may resent the world because we feel we were never given a fair shot or we feel unvalued. Once we gain awareness, we must explore the deeper issue. This gives insight into the issue and can lead us to making changes.

Address the real problem. When we explore the underlying cause, we gain insight. That insight allows us to address the actual problem. If we are resentful because we ultimately feel unappreciated by our spouse, we now have the power to change it. Addressing the real problem can help prevent resentment from creeping back into our lives.

Communicate. In order to address problems, it likely involves communicating with at least one person. When we feel resentment, it is usually towards a particular person (or even a group of people). If we know where the resentment is coming from and we are ready to address the real problem, being open and communicating to someone about it can really help.

Practice gratitude. Resentment and bitterness leave little room for gratitude and contentment. Sometimes resentment comes from something someone else has done to us. Sometimes it comes from the perception that we have been dealt a bad hand. Whatever the case may be, gratitude can be the antidote to resentment. Thankfulness breeds contentment and contentment often breeds joy and happiness.

The existence of resentment is not wrong. We feel what we feel for a reason. It is important to listen to those feelings and understand what they mean. What we do with the resentment can really hurt us and others. Understanding resentment can help us make the changes needed to defeat it and find happiness in ourselves once again.

Michelle Overman is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist working as a counselor for students, faculty, and staff at Abilene Christian University in Abilene, Texas. She works with athletes, bridging the gap between athletics and mental health at ACU. She is becoming a Certified Mental Performance Consultant in sports psychology.  Michelle ran her own private practice in Austin, Texas where she worked with a diverse population, including couples and families. Michelle earned a Master’s in Marriage & Family Therapy and has been working in the field for 6 years.