Resentment – When We Idolise Our Anger, and How to Overcome It

It has been said that ‘hate’ is a strong word. So, is there some other emotion that could better describe the way you feel toward something or someone else?

To hate someone means to exhibit hostility in their presence. On the other hand, resentment involves showing similar behaviours of disgust, albeit more discreetly. In fact, a person who harbours resentment may be more depressed about it, and the feelings of anger that come with it are more likely to be internalised than projected.

You can’t so easily hate a person, especially if it is regarding someone closest to you. But it is easier to resent a person. Even the strongest of bonds you have with someone else can be strained with resentment.

Resentment as a coping strategy

Resentment comes from a sense of having been treated unfairly; to being faced with injustice and humiliation. You could dislike someone for a plethora of reasons, but what sustains a resentful attitude towards them is often because of something they did that was damaging to your self-image.

What if I were to tell you that resenting something or someone requires a lot of emotional and mental energy? The reason is because you know your self-worth; your self-respect. You know far better than to be taken advantage of, or to be taken for granted. Ultimately, you create an emotional barrier, by resenting and engaging in avoidance behaviour with the people who can’t seemingly do anything right by you.

Perhaps they’ve once made you complicit for a mistake, or burdened you with a responsibility that wasn’t yours. The reasons could be endless.

However, many people have argued and lived to tell that resentment is overall not a healthy means of coping. We engage in an avoidance behaviour so as to keep up an “out of sight, out of mind” mentality. Similar to bottled up emotions, resentment eats you up from the inside.

Resentment is, in and of itself, a suppressed feeling. By resenting others, you stop yourself from being heard.

When you harbour resentment especially for someone else, you have this flawed idea that for your emotions to be resolved, you must bring forth justice; an end to the perceived ongoing conflict. Resentment encourages you to contemplate acts of revenge. The idea is in restoring fairness to a previously committed wrong.

Resentment has been said to be the backbone of failed long-term relationships. In that moment, you are not seeing someone for who they are and what they mean to you. You judge them over something or a series of things they have done “bad”.

Do people regret resenting others?

Regret is one of the more likely case scenarios to come out of resenting someone close to you, especially if you had prolonged the strained relationship for an extended period of time. At some point, you will begin to wonder how different things would have been if you had chosen to give said person a better chance.

When you resent someone like a parent, a sibling, a child, a lover, or even a close friend, you become blind and indifferent to their love and support. No amount of good they do for you will compensate for the negative way they’ve made you feel. Of course, it is only natural to feel that way. You feel betrayed, and trust will have to go a long way, you tell yourself.

You can’t punish someone for the rest of their lives. You also can’t place a person in a negative light for that one bad thing they did. But that doesn’t stop many people from doing just that. You resent others because it is easier to blame them for everything than it is for you to find a place in your heart to forgive them.

Nobody likes resenting, or even to feel resentment by others, ourselves. Yet you’d do it anyways because it is an easier way to deal with someone. To abandon resentful thoughts for someone means to admit that you were wrong for thinking that particular way; wrong for doing so. It is easier to uphold anger and disgust if it meant us being “right”. All in all, resentment is about restoring one’s self-image than it is to throw shade at others.

The virtues of forgiveness

Forgive others as you’d like to be forgiven by others.

Granted, it is an annoying thing to hear when you hear others tell you to practice the subtle art of forgiveness. It gets even more irritating if you don’t hear it coming directly from the very people you resent.

The best thing about forgiveness is that it is the best way to let go of our anger and frustrations. It means no strings attached. You no longer have to worry about those unnecessary thoughts of people lingering at the back of your mind, and you definitely do not have to hold yourself (and others) to impossibly high standards.

To forgive isn’t easy. It’s a compromise of your own ego. You’d think you’re doing someone else a favour, but it won’t necessarily be so. Others’ fates are not for us to determine. But you can always divert your story towards a better direction.

For all you know, to be forgiving is more or less an act that brings about closure. It is a mark of how far you’ve grown as your own person, that you are not willing to allow someone else’s bad decisions to disturb our peace of mind. Forgiveness is a strength on its own.

Communication is key

In any relationship, communication is vital to its ongoing success. To know how exactly healthy your relationship with anyone is, a good indicator is to look at to what extent you could speak freely to a person without any reservation.

Talking is always good progress, provided that there is patience and forbearance between speakers. Open up and share your frustrations; pinpoint exactly where things went wrong. Sometimes, no apology was ever issued simply because no one knows what it is that they did wrong, if they had hurt you at all.

To engage in a conversation with someone whom you resent can be tricky, but it can be done with the right approaches. My advice: be honest and be as direct with them as you possibly can. Let everything out on the table. And don’t be afraid to show your emotions so long as you’re being respectful with them. Respect is what helps the conversation move forward; to reach a mutual understanding.

It’s okay; you don’t have to see them afterwards

After all that is said and done; from the building up of your frustrations to acceptance and letting go, you can always forgive someone and still not see them any more frequently. You don’t even have to think about them anymore.

Forgiveness means to let go of our grievances. What you may not constantly be aware of is that you could also let go of your ties with that person. Although, this is completely a personal choice. You’ve abandoned your habits of avoidance behaviour, but there is a difference between doing that and parting on peaceful terms.

The thing about resenting others is that no matter how much distance you create between them and yourself, you would still have them on your mind. You allow them and their wrongdoings to haunt you. But once you’ve accepted the mishaps that came with them, and that you’ve made amends, then you are (by definition) free!

It is however nice if you could rekindle a once loving relationship, or even to start anew, so long as you do not allow the same mistakes to repeat themselves. Immediately after you forgive them, the question of ‘trust’ would still be on the fence. What comes next could either make it or break it.

I implore you to let that be done on your own accord, and to what feels natural to the relationship. Surely, relationship dynamics have changed drastically prior to amending past mistakes, but things can heal gradually if you’d want to make it so.

Overcoming Resentment – difficulty level: made easy


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