Healing The Bitterness of Resentment

All of us, even leaders, feel resentment at times. You might feel a slight from seeing a promotion offered to someone more junior, from someone sharing your ideas in a meeting as if they were their own, or from not having your contributions recognized. Like most negative emotions, resentment is a signal to us that something is wrong. It offers us the opportunity to explore what is out of alignment so we can create something better.

Overall, resentment is the natural response to not feeling valued. It can make you feel unhappy and unfulfilled. Left unattended, it can also destroy your career.

When you notice yourself feeling resentment, the first thing to bring your attention to is the way you are interpreting the events that have occurred. This narrative is based on your assumptions, your biases, and your unresolved past history. It is not necessarily objectively correct. 

You have the complete right to feel how you feel about anything and you have the right to express yourself and your emotions. However, you would also be wise to explore the thoughts behind the feelings ~ these thoughts are built on the worldview you have constructed for yourself. Some will be immature thoughts that you have come to believe are true, but which are actually false.

When you feel resentment, before you start throwing negative vibes around the office and at the people in your life in an effort to distract yourself from what is really going on, ask yourself this question: “What am I believing that makes me feel unhappy or unfulfilled?”

The simple answer is “your thoughts”. The way you think about yourself is the source of your emotions, and the magnet for the experiences that you have. Thoughts are what make a person feel unhappy and unfulfilled. Your mindfulness practice will help you hear clearly what you are thinking!

Often, thoughts which generate suffering are based in the framing of the self as the victim. They come from being shut down and powerless instead of open to your innate power. These thoughts can naturally produce resentment.

Fortunately, the emotion of resentment can be easily transformed. The first step is to get curious. Question yourself and whether your interpretation is the only possible one. Consider other possible options which are not based on victimization. 

Then, make the effort to communicate effectively what you think and how you feel. If your boundaries are being crossed, remember that the person doing so is likely not acting with malicious intent. Assume the best intentions of all concerned, and trust that we are all doing the best we know. Solicit information which can help you learn and grow. 

In order to truly heal the feeling of being unhappy and unfulfilled, you must clear the resentment and make positive choices about what you are thinking. The critical part is acknowledging your part in the problem that you experienced. Forgiving yourself can be the harder pill to swallow. But without forgiveness, you will likely project your experience onto the people around you and stay stuck in the illusion of victimhood. 

The only real problem is the separation from your own true power. Healing this has nothing at all to do with your specific circumstances. Fundamentally, other people do not have the power to disconnect you from yourself. They cannot make you unhappy ~ only you can.

Deeper truth tells us that if you aren’t happy, it isn’t because of anything external to you. It’s only possible to be unhappy when you are internally “not happy”. As a teacher of mine once said, the only thing you can squeeze out of an orange is orange juice.

When you are happy, no one can take that away from you. You might feel temporarily sad about loss or disappointment, but it will not shake your general happiness.

Resentment is calling you to grow into your power in the present moment, and that will continue to be the case until you do ~ regardless of whether you are in your current marriage, job, or relationships. When you see it in yourself, realize that it is a cry for deeper authenticity and communication from the heart.

When you follow that call, challenging though it may be, you allow for the possibility of true healing ~ which is the only way you will ever get anything different than what you’ve had before. For the inner reality dictates the outer reality, not the other way around. Your thoughts become your story. Your story becomes the magnet for more experiences that fit the paradigm. And you, unwittingly perhaps, have made a choice.

You are free to choose whatever makes your heart happy. No matter what has happened in the past or how familiar the old story might be, you have the ability and the power to choose another path. Just change your thoughts about what is true ~ and the rest will follow.

To your success,