“Remember, Heidi,” said my neighbor as I complained. “Resentment is like drinking poison hoping the other person dies.”
I nodded. I had been doing so well on my positivity journey . But today I wanted to show everyone my middle finger.
Yup – I had swallowed A LOT of that resentment poison. Apparently it was on sale, and others had drunk it too.
“I resent my ex wife for getting away with so much but I also resent myself for letting her,” said my friend Bob, “So I guess you could say it’s double resentment. I’m giving us both the finger.”
Bob had just started a “Happy Heart” workshop to help him move forward. Another woman in his class resented her boss for passing her over for a promotion. “Now I have Schadenfreude,” she told the class. “I want something bad to happen to him too….like getting triple demoted and assigned to fetch me coffee all day.”
Hopefully the workshop will help them. But not all of us live in Northern California and have access to prayer bead wearing Happy Heart Instructors.
To resolve these harmful feelings ourselves, we must first understand what resentment even is. The Cambridge Dictionary defines resentment as “a feeling of anger because you have been forced to accept something you do not like.”
However, BetterHelp, an online therapy group, says that while that definition is correct, it ignores the complexities of the feeling. According to them there are three types of resentment:
- Persistent Anger
- Unfair Treatment
- Dwelling on Upsetting Experiences
Any sound familiar? They certainly do to me. But I don’t want my own yucky feelings to hurt my daughter or others around me. You don’t either! Ask yourself if your resentment is a one time issue or a becoming a new way of life. If the latter, you might want to seek professional help to gain a new perspective. If the former, the steps below might help. Don’t let resentment hold you back from the life you are supposed to live.
1. Do Something Nice for Someone
Usually I’d say volunteer with those less fortunate. Regardless of what happened to you, someone else always has it worse. However it can feel overwhelming trying to find the right cause, organization, and time to volunteer. If it’s easier, look to your own social circle and just do something nice for a friend. Mail a card, bake muffins, or call to say hi. Focusing on someone else and THEIR emotions takes us away from the sinkpit of ours. I have lots of stationary on hand and buy more greeting cards than the population of Bhutan. But hey, writing others helps ME and gives joy to THEM.
2. Play Music
In my last post, I wrote how blasting P!NK helped me overcome Imposter Syndrome. Well it turns out that her song “Blow Me (One Last Kiss)” also is quite effective for resentment. Especially when I sing aloud in the car. It helps me gain power to move on.
3. Get Active…like SWEATY Active
When my mom was dealing with a painful estrangement in the family she worked out two hours a day in a hardcore spin class. She was the oldest and the fastest one there. Through sweat droplets, her mind let go. Hard to ruminate and dwell when your body is exhausted trying to climb up the next hill. Exercise might not make pain go away, but it does make it more manageable. Who doesn’t feel better after a workout?
4. Appreciate One Thing EVERY Day
During the pandemic our family had to recite a ‘Win of the Day” each dinner as a testament to positive thinking. Now I still try to keep this up. It can be the plant I haven’t managed to kill yet. Or how I bought enough underwear for my daughter and me to avoid doing laundry one day longer. Bonus points if we can be grateful to the person that is the source of our yucky feelings. Sometimes I have resentful feelings toward my ex about things that happened in our relationship. But then I remember he gave me my daughter and is a good dad. My heart always softens.
5. Move from Victim (as in something that was DONE to you) to Conqueror (something YOU are doing).
How in this setback are going to rise up even stronger? What can you learn from the past to get better at this year? If in doubt, just ask, what would P!NK do?
Throw out the resentment poison and stay positive to propel yourself forward. At the end of the day resentment is a choice. We can never choose what happens to us or how others act. But we CAN choose how we decide to respond and live our life. Are we going to stay stuck or move forward to something new? I am working on moving forward. Every. Single. Damn. Day.
“I always tell myself that nothing ever is worth holding onto if it hurt you, because the longer you hold onto anger and resentment, the longer you feed it and keep it alive.” -Katie Piper