The Hidden Problem of Resentment


The other day, I was listening to someone speak about a situation that this individual was experiencing. The amount of anger and bitterness that this person was expressing out loud was quite frankly, overwhelming.

This person was cursing left and right. Saying demeaning and derogatory statements to describe both women and men. Honestly, if I could provide a movie rating on how this conversation went, it would have been an NC-17 or better yet, an NC-21.

As I listened, I began to wonder what in this individual’s heart could have caused such virulent words and behavior.

The only thing that I could come up with was that this person had unresolved anger in their life which ultimately lead to resentment.

Resentment for all of life’s unfair treatment. Resentment was caused by perceived personal slights. Resentment for people’s intentional and unintentional actions, and the bitterness that goes along with these actions.

I realized that if I want to have a broken life, holding onto anger which builds into resentment is a good way to do it.

We all get angry at times. Our human nature is to periodically feel upset about life’s circumstances, the words or actions of someone that impacted us. Yet, when we harbor those feelings of anger, something else in us occurs. A deep-seated bitterness grows and continues to grow if not addressed by either acknowledging the hurt or seeking to make amends for the hurt that was caused either to or by us.

What we often fail to realize is that unresolved anger has physical, psychological and even spiritual consequences attached to it. In this situation, I believe that the physical and psychological damage that this individual is experiencing is directly correlated to an unwillingness to forgive others and perhaps acknowledging some level of responsibility for circumstances that this person contributed to.

The impact of the conversation caused me to sit down and speak with my kids about the danger of holding onto anger and allowing it to fester until it reaches a tipping point.

My hope for them is that they can acknowledge that everyone gets angry and upset from time to time with people and life’s circumstances, but it’s in acknowledging and forgiving others that allow for a healthy outlook on life. Keeping negative emotions inside only leads to detrimental effects that my kids would be better off without.

In the situation I experienced, this individual was so toxic that I was sad after the conversation was over. Sad for the way this individual’s life turned out. A trail of broken relationships with loved ones and others seemed to envelop this person’s life.

I’m not a psychiatrist or psychologist, but it appears to me that the level of resentment and bitterness this individual possesses, has led to the earmarks of mental illness, that if continued to be unaddressed, will more than likely be the detrimental end of this individual’s once-promising life.

Mental illness in the form of believing that people/strangers are constantly prosecuting and harassing this person. But in reality, no one is doing this. In my opinion, some forms of mental illness are more than likely bore out of unresolved anger and unforgiveness.

Unfortunately, this isn’t the only person I know who is experiencing these issues.

As I tried to describe the situation to my children, I could only hope and pray that their lives would not be marked by the negative influence resentment bears on one’s soul, heart and mind.

The keys to battling the deep-seated roots of anger and resentment are:

If hurt either physically or emotionally, acknowledging the pain caused by the offender.

Evaluating what role, if any, you had with respect to the offending circumstances and if you shared a part, taking responsibility for it.

Apologizing for any role you may have contributed to with respect to the offense.

Although it may not be easy, forgiving the person for the offense. This may take time and the help of a trusted friend or trained counselor.

Not forgetting, but forgiving is the key to not allowing resentment to build up in one’s life.

I hope that my children will learn how to positively address issues of anger so that they will never fall into the trap that resentment can pull one down into.

Thankfully, children tend to be more forgiving than us “adults”. It would be wise to follow their lead and allow them to teach us how to live healthier, resent free lives.

What’s Next? Talk with others. Take action.

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