People are going to hurt us throughout our lives. In some cases, we can easily give them a piece of our mind and move on. In other cases, our lives are intertwined so it’s not so easy to walk away. Perhaps it was an affair by a spouse, a betrayal by a friend, past abuse by a parent. What do we do with these powerful emotions when nothing has been worked out and such people continue to be part of our lives? If this scenario sound s familiar, then you are dealing with Resentment. The word resent comes from the Latin word “Retire “which means to re- feel over and over and over again. It’s different from the term Anger where the feeling is in the present, and as a result of something that has recently happened. When we live in resentment, it means the offence has taken place in the past and you continue to store the Anger against this person for what they have done or failed to do. Often the problem is that we have to co-exist in a relationship with someone who is continually exposing us to emotional pain. Failing to take action when we resent someone can have drastic implications on our physical, mental and emotional health. Resentment ultimately deprives us of joy and peace in our lifetime.
To effectively deal with resentment, consider the following questions
Have you confronted the person about what they have done?
A loving and healthy confrontation can do miracles to our emotional health. “Have you confronted this person about your issues”? Many people are comfortable living in resentment and anger when they haven’t given the offender an opportunity to know how they feel. People often assume that the offender should know. Whether they should or not is not the issue. It is your responsibility to make sure you do your part. When people hurt us, our emotional health is our responsibility. Our resentment diminishes only when we have taken the time and energy to let the other person know they have hurt us. It is only when you have confronted your offender, can you then take any further action. Without fulfilling this very critical aspect, feelings of resentment remain even if you decide to leave.
Is the Offender willing to change their problematic behavior?
We live in a fallen world, and as a result we must accept that we are all flawed. If the offender has hurt you in the past or in recent times, and you have confronted them about their behavior, and they are willing to stop or halt their behavior, then it shows they care about your feelings. In this case, it is not necessary for you to keep resenting. When a person is willing to change, and you insist on holding on to your anger, it often means you simply desire to control the other person with your emotions. This might sound simplistic. Indeed, it takes time to trust people again and we can still get on that journey without punishing people with our anger. We simply pace the amount of trust we give, and always dependent on consistent trustworthy behavior displayed by the offender. However, moving forward with someone while simultaneously resenting them will only cause the process to be sabotaged. You’ll find yourself using it against them at the slightest mistake and you’ll keep bringing up the past which makes it impossible to heal. If you have made up your mind to stay in a relationship with this person, and such a person agrees to change their behavior, you must be willing to give up the resentment and focus on paying close attention to behavior and building trust again.
Is your resentment about this person in question or someone else?
When people have failed to genuinely forgive someone who has hurt them in the past, anyone who comes along and mimics any behavior remotely close gets punished twice as hard for what the original offender did. It is important when we find ourselves unable to let go when someone has hurt us to evaluate whether the issue is in fact a separate issue all together or in some way attached to an old wound. If it is attached to an old wound, it is important to look at making peace and problem solving the original offence. When that has taken place, we can be much more objective about the nature or seriousness of the current issue in question.
Do you judge the offence as Unforgivable?
There are some offenses we may personally judge as unforgivable. It could be adultery, sexual offences or other forms of betrayal. When we have inner beliefs and judgments about certain acts and we are forced to live with someone who has committed such acts, we torture and inflict punishment not just on them for doing it, but on ourselves for putting up with it. In such cases, the issue is not so much the act, but our judgments of those acts. By continuing to live in the situation where the offence has taken place, it can take a toll or our moral conscience and eat away at us spiritually. When we are not spiritually at peace with ourselves, it causes havoc on every area of our life. There are only two options when this has transpired. It’s either to re-evaluate our judgments and surrender them, or to let go of the relationship and offender who we truly can’t forgive. Giving up such a relationship can be very difficult because we often have strong ties with them be it emotional, financial or a shared lifestyle. Living with resentment is a life sentence not just for the offender, but especially for the beholder.
Resentment is stored Anger which means it’s simply waiting with no closure. The more it waits the more dangerous and lethal it becomes and the more time and moments it steals. It’s important to make a decision when you resent someone. Are you going to talk it out, work it out or walk out!
If you are currently living with resentment in a relationship and want support to work it through, we have Anger Management specialists that would like to help you. Do call us to discuss your needs.
Anger Management Resources Inc.