Sh!t Happens; Resentment Festers
But There’s A Cure!
Let’s face it, being angry or sad or disappointed is no fun. On the other hand, life would be pretty boring if nothing ever prompted you to assert yourself or create boundaries or if every person and situation completely satisfied your expectations.
Anger, sadness and disappointment are common words for ways we feel when things don’t go the way we want. Like it or not, they all come and go as part of any healthy relationship.
Ideally, they get freely expressed, and then resolve with appropriate attention and the passing of time.
Resentment, on the other hand, is an emotional response to ongoing situations that are not being properly dealt with. According to the paradigm of disease, anger and disappointment are more like acute diseases (which are most often self-limiting) while resentment is more like a chronic disease, the kind that never goes away unless the underlying cause is addressed.
As in the progress of a physical disease when the signs and symptoms are not being heard and attended to, chronic disease festers in the background until it severely limits the patient’s quality of life. A chronic disease can often end a person’s life, and in the case of resentment, it can end a relationship.
There is no healthy resolution of resentment without either a change in the external circumstances, or an internal change in how the person copes with their own reactions.
In the case of step-moms, resentment develops from over-doing, over-giving or over-caring. They don’t know how, or even why to leave more space for the dad to be the primary parent, and they end up doing a lot of things that go unappreciated.
I would say the same can be true of anything that makes you feel resentful. It’s born from doing more than we should be doing, even if the pressure to do more is a societal one or if the respect we seek is on a community level.
Because resentment is chronic, it’s also pretty addictive. The human brain produces potent neurochemicals that we associate with this emotion, and all the more often we make those chemicals, the more our cells crave of it. That’s why we indulge in self-talk that keeps us feeling sad, angry and disappointed all together long after the shit happened and we could have moved on, but didn’t.
The first step in breaking free of the resentment habit is making an important decision:
Do you want to be right, or do you want to be happy?
If you really want to move past resentment, just stop doing whatever brings on that feeling and notice what changes around you. If nobody cares that you weren’t still doing it, be happy that there’s a load off your plate!
And, watch out for the trap waiting right around the corner from resentment. That’s the one where you feel stupid or embarrassed that you were working so hard for so long, seemingly for nothing. Just let go of that right now; it’s a sign your body is looking for a way to get you to make more of that bio-chemical crack it’s missing!
Say goodbye to resentment, you’ll be so glad you did. When it tries to come back, just ask yourself that question again, and please choose happy! Your whole life depends on it.