Resentment is defined as a negative emotion often experienced due to being mistreated (or perceived by us as being mistreated)and is more common than we might think. Frustration, anger, and disappointment are a part of our lives. However, when these feelings become too intense, they can produce feelings of resentment. People who experience resentment feel frustrated and shameful and might even seek revenge of some kind. Resentment is not associated with any certain mental disorder. It is usually a result of feeling as if we are not being heard and/or feeling invisible.
Resentment can be triggered in many ways. Common triggers of resentment are being taken advantage of by other people, not being able to voice my concerns, being wronged by others, and being disappointed when someone fails to meet expectations.
There are a few signs which indicate that you have been experiencing resentment. These include not being able to forgive someone or forget about something they did to you, feeling regretful, acting passive-aggressively in relationships, and feeling small or inadequate in front of others.
“Bitterness and resentment only hurt one person, and it’s not the person, and it’s not the person we’re resenting – it’s us.” – Alana Stewart.
Resentment can be extremely damaging for us, as Alana Stewart said. It can intoxicate a person and can lead to unhealthy outbursts of emotions. You can end up hurting the people you love the most by venting at them. It can also contribute to low self-esteem and self-confidence. In addition to this, resentment is also harmful to both your body and mind. Grudges are a constant reminder to you that you (believe that) were mistreated. This can contribute to depression and anxiety. Moreover, resentment can also lead to high blood pressure, inability to sleep at night, headaches, and even poor lifestyle habits such as drinking problems.
Since resentment and holding grudges are very detrimental to our overall wellbeing, managing your resentment is very important. Here are six ways to reduce resentment to live a more peaceful life.
Meditation promotes calmness, increases inner harmony, and improves overall mental wellbeing by facilitating deep thinking and self-reflection. It offers a plethora of physical and mental health benefits ranging from stronger immunity to lower stress levels. Mediation allows the body to repair itself and protects the body from damage caused by physical stress. Moreover, it works well for reducing resentment too.
Psychotherapist Deepesh Faucheux says, “People keep processing everything that happens to them. That processing of the story—what so and so did to me, she wronged me, why doesn’t he respect me—keeps the energy identified as anger and resentment, instead of seeing it as simply energy.” By directing all your attention to the present moment, meditation makes you stop thinking about how others wronged you or treated you unfairly. It clears your crowded mind and makes you feel at ease. Meditation eliminates all the worries, anger, and jumbled thoughts from your mind and allows you to listen to your inner voice.
- Recognise why you feel resentful
According to Rabbi Zalman Schachter, “We get to see that underneath the anger, there is fear, pain, and sorrow, and we cannot deal with anger unless we also deal with what sustains the anger.” One important step you can take while dealing with resentment is to identify why you feel this way. What happens? What did someone do to make you feel that way? When you figure out why you feel this way about someone,
you will find it easier to forgive that person and let go of your grudge. Knowing why you feel how you feel will allow you to deal with your anger more effectively. You would then be in a better position to take action to manage your resentment. For example, thinking about the times the person you resent came to your help or made you feel special can reduce your feelings of resentment. Soon you would find it in you to forgive that person and keep away the feelings of resentment.
- Talk to someone about your feelings.
If you find it hard to manage your resentment yourself, don’t hesitate to ask for help from your family and friends. Try and talk to the people who you believe would be wise enough to give you the best advice. Sharing the feelings that bother you with your trusted friends will make sure you don’t keep your feelings bottled up inside. Your friends and family members would also help you deal with your resentment by sharing their insightful advice with you. If you feel that the advice of your friends and family member was not helpful, try seeking professional help. Certified therapists are in a better position to guide you on how you can release your emotions and avoid unhealthy outbursts.
- Relinquish unrealistic expectations
Unrealistic expectations only set you up for disappointment. It is normal for us to have high expectations from others. However, whether or not they meet our expectations are beyond our control. This can lead to disappointment, which, if persistent, can transform into resentment. Therefore, it is important lower your expectations of others. There are certain things you can do to let off these high expectations, which only breed resentment. Don’t lower expectations so much that you are taken advantage of, or put up with poor behaviour of others – but be aware of demanding perfection in particular, or expecting fantastical, overly idealistic outcomes.
- Forgive the person you resent
Forgiveness neutralises anger and resentment. Dalai Lama once said, “One moment of anger can wipe out a lifetime of merit.” Therefore, it is important to cultivate forgiveness both for yourself and others. I’m not saying this easy. It can be very challenging for you to forgive the person you resent, especially if it feels like you are condoning something they did. However, there is nothing you can’t do. Remember, holding grudges is not healthy. It can be very detrimental to both your physical and mental health. Grudges can lead to blood pressure problems, stress, anxiety, depression, chronic pain, heart attack, and insomnia. Forgiving people, on the other hand, fosters healing and growth. It allows you to move forward in life and gives you freedom. You no longer remain a captive of your resentment and anger.
Importantly, it is not about them, it is about you. You are helping yourself byu forgiving where possible.
In addition to this, forgiveness also fosters empathy. Since you cannot forgive someone without having feelings of understanding, compassion and empathy for your transgressor, forgiveness encourages one to be more empathetic. Most importantly, when you forgive someone, you forgive yourself you. There is no more victim or self-blaming. You stop denying everything and accept what happened to you.
- Speak up!
Instead of keeping your feelings of anger and disappointment bottled up inside and waiting for them to turn into resentment, speak up when someone hurts your feelings. However, don’t be too hasty with the expression of your feelings. Be patient and wait until you calm down. Only then express yourself. Voicing your concerns and standing up for yourself is very important, especially since it reduces the feelings of inadequateness.
When someone asks you to do something you don’t want to, say no. Instead of resenting that person later, it is better to say no right when they ask you. Saying yes to everything can make you feel like you are being taken advantage of. Declining an invitation to dinner from your relatives or refusing to write a paper for your friend is the best way to prevent resentment towards others. Learning how to effectively communicate with others is the key to preventing resentment built-up.
- Don’t complain to others.
Although complaining is a way for many people to manage and deal with their emotions, obsessive complaining can not only make you pessimistic but can also produce feelings of hopelessness and helplessness. Constant complaining can also make you irritable and less likeable by the people around you. Your negativity is likely going to influence their lives as well.
So, good advice is that when you feel hurt or disappointed, don’t complain about it with others in a way that escalates and amplifies your resentment. Try not to get others involved in your matter. Talking healthily about it and reflecting objectively is valuable – but gossiping, complaining or whining adds to the resentment. It may result in adding fuel to your anger and resentment. Instead of complaining to others and expecting them to take your side, talk directly to the person who made you feel this way. This is the most effective way of not only reducing resentment but also preventing it.
There are many ways you can minimise your complaining and become more positive in life, and being grateful is at the top of the list. Practising gratitude can help us understand our emotions and grow and heal around our anger and resentment. Not only does practising gratitude foster hope for the future, making us more forward-looking and optimistic, but it also improves emotional regulation. Practising gratitude is one of those things that you need to make a habit of. Being grateful improves both our mental health and physical health. A 2004 research study showed that practising gratitude daily can give a boost to the immune system, which allows human bodies to fight off potential bodily threats.
“Compromise, communication and consistency are needed in all relationships, not just romantic ones.” – Alex Elle.
Compromise is a key in any relationship. It can reduce and even prevent feelings of resentment and learn you how to deal with others more effectively. If you want to learn how to compromise, there are a few ways you can do it.
First of all, don’t always try to be right. Everyone wants to be right all the time. We believe we know what’s best. It is quite normal to feel that way. Everyone does. However, it is important to know that when we feel this way, we stop hearing what the other person has to say. This makes the other person feel like he is not being heard, which can produce feelings of resentment. The exact thing can happen to you. When your partner is hell-bent on being the right one, he ignores whatever you have to say. As a result, you feel invalidated and invisible, which contributes to feelings of resentment. Therefore, don’t try to be right all the time in order to keep your feelings of resentment in check.
Another thing you can do to become more compromising is to be more flexible. By flexible, we mean willing and able to change. Many uncompromising people are resistant to change. Being flexible means being open to unexpected and diverse situations. When you are adaptable, you work without boundaries and embrace challenges instead of ignoring or avoiding them. Adaptability strengthens your coping mechanism and makes you more emotionally stable. Instead of being resentful when things don’t turn out the way you want them to, you manage your emotions and learn from every situation that life presents you.
Although learning how to stop being resentful is challenging, you can manage it effectively and time and effort. In our experience, forgiving the person you resent, communicating with others, and lowering your expectations are the best when it comes to reducing your resentment. Hopefully, with the help of these tips, you will learn to be able to lead a more optimistic and peaceful life. However, if you feel that you have not made any progress and self-help tips are not working for you, feel free to reach out to a mental health professional for help.
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