The Problem with Resentment
This week's post came to me out of the blue. I honestly felt like someone out there needed to read this this week. The word resentment is defined in the Oxford Dictionary as being "bitter indignation at having been treated unfairly" . I'm sure my therapist would tell you it could be described as a "just-world complex". Either way, when we think about resentment, there is an unavoidable truth we cannot ignore. Resentment is an emotion in which we blame others but only suffer within our own selves. This is quite the paradox, because when you think about it, we tend to try to use resentment to punish or justify our feelings and reactions based off someone else's actions. But if you have done any kind of personal development at all, then you know that they only person who is in control or responsible for their reactions and emotions is ourself. Now folks, hear me out, I used to live on the top of the hill at the intersection of Better Than Thou Street and Judgmental Avenue. So I humbly and loving tell you that once I packed up my bullshit and moved to a new home, I can tell you how freeing this was once it finally made sense to me. Resentment doesn't need to be a painful anchor you pull around with you through life. If anything, it is another really useful tool on our journey.
In the last year, one of my main focuses in my personal life has been to view relationships as my greatest assignments and mirrors. Put differently, if someone else brings up any type of unwanted or negative emotion within me, then I challenge myself to look inward and reflect as to why this triggering for me. As a childhood abuse survivor, I can honestly say that the amount of resentment I have harbored for my mother has been there for over two decades.I am still chipping away at this monumental amount of resentment today. I felt beyond justified in my feelings as I blamed her for all that she did. The word "forgiveness" was nearly impossible for me to even acknowledge in this context because it felt like I was excusing her behavior by letting go of the resentment I so dearly clung to. I am in the process of letting go of my resentment for her, but myself and the child who was robbed a childhood still are in the process of healing. In order to move forward with my life I have to continue to reflect and focus on myself, not her. I think this is the key to overcoming resentment. I do not think it is enough to just say, "I forgive you" and naively think that that feelings and memories are released at the same time. But I do think that by forgiving yourself for holding so tightly to your resentment, or the what if's or any other limiting belief that resulted from an experience is the pathway to conscious living and freedom.
Allow me to illustrate this point further with a different personal example. A few years ago, my father-in-law asked my husband and I to temporarily relocate and move in to their family home while he and my mother-in-law relocated to another state for a job opportunity. At the time, their intentions were truly from a place of love and support. They both wanted to provide my husband and I with an opportunity to help both us and them out. However, at the time I felt that it was expected of me as a daughter-in-law and wife to "help the family" and be a good wife. From the moment we moved in, my resentment for the situation began to manifest within me and I externalized these negative emotions by manifesting a multitude of unhealthy habits, including but not limited to overeating, overworking, blaming my husband for my unhappiness and growing a misconstrued idea of manipution from my in-laws. They say hindsight is 20/20, but let me tell you, at the time, I could not see past how upset I was at Kalib for not doing the dishes when I never asked him to. I blindly was resentful at others for my unhappiness because I refused to choose to acknowledge the obvious truth. I choose to move in. No one forced me. I choose it. Looking back I can easily see that I was manifesting resentment over allowing my independence to be compromised. I wish I would have been able to stop in the moment and say to myself, "Stop blaming others for your feelings and circumstance! How are you responsible here? Why are you so hurt?" My resentment had nothing to do with my husband, unwashed dishes or my well-intended in-laws. My resentment was a result of not knowing myself well enough to understand that my independence is a big deal for me, and when shaken or altered it will manifest negative emotions such as anxiety and fear.
If you have found yourself in the house of resentment, or walking along Judgement Avenue, remember that you are looking in a mirror, not at a wall. You need to remove ALL others from the equation and focus only on yourself and your feelings. Resentment is not a result of another persons actions or words, it is an emotion that only you alone feel and harbor. Seeking validation and justification for the resentment you feel at the time is easy to find, but only continues to poison your beautiful heart and soul. Without the effort and hard work of self reflection, you are blindly allowing your emotions to run you and your life. Every choice we make is ours in this world and within our control. It's time you realize that you are either choosing to own your own shit and grow into your best self or that you are choosing to ignore your own part in why you are harboring resentment because vulnerability is scary for you. Either way it is a choice. Choose to grow, not rot my friend because you are too beautiful of a plant to not be enjoyed in the garden of humanity.