resentment

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The dictionary claims that "to resent" is "to take strong exception to (what is thought to be unjust, unfair, etc.)," but I feel that resentment goes much further than that.  If I were to define resentment, the definition would be very similar to those of other words found here in the obstacles section:  A poison emotion that eats away at a person's peace of mind, mental well-being, and ability to treat others well.  Resentment is a lack of acceptance and a lack of forgiveness.  Resentment says volumes about the person who resents, but very little about the people or actions that are resented.

It's very easy to fall into the trap of resentment--other people put us in position to do so almost daily when they do things that are unthinking or uncaring.  Someone else may get the job or the admission into a school even though you're far more qualified; someone may not invite you to a party to which they've invited everyone else; someone else may meet with great success even though they don't work nearly as hard as we do; someone may say something rude to us or about us behind our backs.  But what do all these things mean?  These are all other people's actions, reflections of other people's personalities or abilities, yet we allow them to cause us to become resentful.

Where resentment is concerned, I like to keep in mind Earl Nightingale's words:  the world doesn't care.  When I first heard those words, I took immediate exception.  I don't believe this world is an uncaring place.

But he follows them up by saying that the world is impartial, and I have to agree with that.  We are what we are, and we aren't what we aren't, and no amount of resentment is going to change that.  Let the world go on without that promotion or with those words having been said about you--on the day you die, these things will mean nothing at all.  Why allow them to mean something today?  Why allow them to rob you of the peace of mind that may make this day very pleasant?  The cloud of resentment (much like the cloud of anger or jealousy or covetousness) blocks out the sunshine; it's a wall that prevents the soft spring breeze from reaching your skin.

Of course, this is all easy to say.  I've had times in my life when I've been quite resentful of things that have happened that have hurt me considerably, both emotionally and financially.  I've held on to the resentment against the people who did what they did for quite a long time--months, even years, even though I tried very hard, on a very conscious level, to rid myself of the feelings.  No matter how hard I tried, though, the feelings stayed, and they always crept back into my mind to haunt me. They made me miserable, and I didn't know how to deal with them.

One of the biggest steps that helped me finally to rid myself of the thoughts had to do with ceremony.  As human beings, we need certain ceremonies to allow certain feelings to pass;  therein lies the value of funerals, wakes, weddings, etc.  We begin anew, allowing the ceremony to serve as a right of passage from our old world into our new.  I devised a very simple ceremony, which involved another step--forgiveness.  I wrote down the names of the people who had harmed me on a very small piece of paper, and one day when I was driving down the highway, I took each paper, looked at the name, thought of the person, then said aloud:  "I forgive you, and I don't allow your actions to have any more power over my life."  I then threw the piece of paper out the window of my car, never to be seen again.  If I had been in a more spiteful or vindictive mood, I suppose I might have flushed the pieces of paper down the toilet, claiming poetic justice, but that probably wouldn't have been as effective.

The other principal that came into play in that situation was acceptance, which has a lot to do with faith.  Things were as they were, and I had to accept that.  I had tried to fight the situation, but I had been for the most part unsuccessful (until some time later, when all of my claims were proven true).  I had to realize that what happens in life happens for my best--my faith in God guarantees that.  Even when things go "wrong," they're going for the best--what's "right" for me may not be the best for me in the long run.  If I accept things as they are and as they have been, I can focus on today instead of obsessing about the past, even if it's the very recent past.

People who hold on to resentment are hurting themselves a great deal, and they usually don't even see it.  They're poisoning their minds and their bodies with stress and negative feelings, and they're holding back the happiness and contentment and peace of mind that could be theirs if they could only get rid of the clouds and the walls that are holding the positive things back.  It's not easy to rid yourself of resentment, but always remember--the person you resent is going through a great deal of pain him or herself.  As Longfellow says, "If we could read the secret history of our enemies, we should find in each man's life sorrow and suffering enough to disarm all hostility."  Or resentment, I add.

  

  

Nothing on earth consumes a man more than the passion of resentment.

Friedrich Nietzsche

 

Resentment opens no door and breeds no courage.

Susan Glaspell

  
  
Resentment is an evil so costly to our peace that we should
find it more cheap to forgive even were it no more right.

Hannah More
    

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Eugene Carman

Rhodes' slave!  Selling shoes and gingham,
Flour and bacon, overalls, clothing, all day long
For fourteen hours a day for three hundred and thirteen days
For more than twenty years.
Saying "Yes'm" and "Yes, sir" and "Thank you"
A thousand times a day, and all for fifty dollars a month.
Living in this stinking room in the rattle-trap "Commercial."
And compelled to go to Sunday School, and to listen
To the Rev. Abner Peet one hundred and four times a year
For more than an hour at a time,
Because Thomas Rhodes ran the church
As well as the store and the bank.
So while I was tying my neck-tie that morning
I suddenly saw myself in the glass:
My hair all gray, my face like a sodden pie.
So I cursed and cursed:  You damned old thing!
You cowardly dog!  You rotten pauper!
You Rhodes' slave!  Till Roger Baughman
Thought I was having a fight with some one,
And looked through the transom just in time
To see me fall on the floor in a heap
From a broken vein in my head.

Edgar Lee Masters

from Spoon River Anthology

   
Articles and book excerpts on resentment:

A Cry of Pain      tom walsh

 

When we have painful memories from hurting experiences,
we may feel justified in holding on to the resentment.
But resentment is corrosive.  It doesn't affect the person
we feel anger toward, it destroys the host.

Susan L. Taylor

  
Resentment is an extremely bitter diet, and eventually poisonous.
I have no desire to make my own toxins.

Neil Kinnock

 
  

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Resentment is the number one offender. It destroys more alcoholics
than anything else. From it stem all forms of spiritual disease, for
we have been not only mentally and physically ill,
we have been spiritually sick.

Alcoholics Anonymous

   

As smoking is to the lungs, so is resentment to the soul; even one puff is bad for you.

Elizabeth Gilbert

   

Resentment always hurts you more than it does the person you resent. While
your offender has probably forgotten the offense and gone on with life, you
continue to stew in your pain, perpetuating the past. Listen: those who hurt
you in the past cannot continue to hurt you now unless you hold on to the pain
through resentment. Your past is past! Nothing will change it. You are only
hurting yourself with your bitterness. For your own sake, learn from it, and then let it go.

Rick Warren
The Purpose Driven Life

   




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Let today be the day you stop being haunted by the ghost of yesterday.
Holding a grudge and harboring anger/resentment is poison to the soul.
Get even with people. . . but not those who have hurt us; forget them,
instead get even with those who have helped us.

Steve Maraboli
Life, the Truth, and Being Free

   
Expectations are resentments under construction.

Anne Lamott
   

Nothing on earth consumes a person more quickly than the passion of resentment.

Friedrich Nietzsche

   

Anger, resentment and jealousy don't change the heart of others-- they only change yours.

Shannon Alder
300 Questions to Ask Your Parents before It's Too Late

   

 

    

Strength of character means the ability to overcome resentment
against others, to hide hurt feelings, and to forgive quickly.

Lawrence G. Lovasik

   
Resentment is often a woman's inner signal that she has been ignoring
an important God-given responsibility - that of making choices.

Brenda Waggoner