What is sneaky, sore, and oozing with anger under the surface? Resentment is. It is like a wound that gets infected. Resentment has trouble healing and can spread to others. You may not realize you’ve been infected until resentment has burrowed it’s tentacles in you.
If you’ve ever been infected with resentment, you know it can take a toll on your happiness with life and relationships. The good news is there is a cure for resentment, whether it is budding or stagnant. You can reverse the wound of resentment with a hope-filled dose of choices.
How Resentment Infects
How does infectious resentment start growing and burrowing? It starts with a low simmering irritation. And grows when you feel like you don’t have a choice. The more you think you can’t change the situation, the more you resent the one you feel is responsible.
The free online dictionary defines resentment as “indignation or ill will as a result of a real or imagined grievance.”
A classic example where resentment can grow for women is trying to be “super-mom.” Whether you are a working or stay-at-home mom, you are vulnerable to resentment, if you feel like you carry all the weight of childrearing and household tasks. You are used to doing it all, but at times wish someone would pitch in, and take tasks off your plate.
Side Effects of Infectious Resentment
Resentment isn’t only felt by women, and it can arise for a number of reasons. No matter what your circumstances, what is the result of holding onto this resentment?
- Over-accommodating – You may become quick to give in. To keep the peace, you do it yourself. And, the more you do it all yourself, the more others don’t have to. In fact, they don’t even think about it.
- Burnout – And, if you are over working, you will eventually give more than you have, and get burnt out. Joy, desire, and excitement will fizzle out. Instead, irritability and apathy will rise up.
- Distance – When resentment takes hold, you will start to keep your distance from the one you are angry with. The infection is growing.
- Blame – You lose all sight of your choices. And, you can no longer see your part in the problem, all you can see is what others are doing (or not doing).
- Hopelessness – Once each of these side effects of resentment takes hold, you are left with hopelessness. This is a miserable place to stay.
The Cure to Reverse Resentment
Before I depress you further, let me unveil the cure to reverse resentment’s infection. Knowing your boundaries brings hope and relief to this deep infection. Identifying what you are willing and not willing to do (without pressuring others to accept your new position) is freeing.
What ingredients are involved in this cure?
Boundaries = Awareness + Choices + Boldness
- First, add awareness to your cure. Is your resentment triggered by your relationship or by life in general?
For instance, “super-mom” realizes that she is overwhelmed with life since she returned to work. And, when she gets overwhelmed, she looks to others to give her relief. While she is irritated with her spouse, she recognizes that he is doing his part to contribute to the family.
- Second, add a big heaping of choices. What choices lie in front of you? Look hard, there are more choices than you have seen.
For example, a burnt out “super-mom” realizes she can manage herself differently, so she doesn’t become burnt out. Each evening, she decides what tasks she wants to do (or not do), based on her energy level. She begins to recognize how she used resent others when she did more than she could happily.
- Lastly, add a bit of boldness. Are you up for sticking with your new choices (even if others complain)?
No longer super-momma decides to stop making her kids’ lunches. Instead, her kids can buy their lunch at school or make it themselves. The kids complain, but she holds firm, adding “I love you too much to argue with you.” She holds her position, knowing that in the long run, she’ll be glad she did.
How about you? Choices are hiding under deep wounds of resentment. If you are having trouble seeing your choices, ask a neutral friend, coach, or counselor to offer their lens. Sometimes a new perspective is enough to start you on the path to seeing your choices in a challenging situation.
On the flip side, is holding onto resentment ever better for you?
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Photo Credit: “Headache” by Leland Francisco