Resent is in the Eye of the Grudge-Holder

We might develop resentments when someone does something we don’t like, or doesn’t do what we want them to do, or has something we don’t think they deserve; something that we think we should have instead. Unresolved resent is very much like poison. It rots us from the inside out. Resent makes people crabby, hostile, bitter, and generally unpleasant to be around. People harboring resentment complain, poke fun, criticize, demean, and belittle other people. While people are hanging on to resent, they think bad things about the target of their resentment. That is, it’s like they took some poison and are waiting for the other person to die.

Resent is toxic. If you hold onto resent, it will make you sick. You’ll have headaches, stomachaches, poor concentration, disturbed sleep, poor appetite or overeating, or you may abuse substances. You’ll irritate the people around you and you won’t end up getting your way anyhow. Now the good news: It is totally within your control to get rid of the resent. This is a concept that really confuses a lot of people. They think that because the problem is something that someone else did, it is totally out of their control. Although it is correct that other people’s behavior is out of your control, your own behavior is within your control and the act of holding on to a resentment is your own behavior. Therefore, you can change it.

Consider when a wife resents that her husband sits on the couch all day, watching TV while she does the laundry. Whose fault is it that she resents him? It is her fault. But isn’t it his fault for not doing the laundry? No. Why should it be? Did he say he was going to do the laundry? Probably not, so it’s not like he broke a promise. Did she ask him to help with the laundry and he flat-out refused to help her? Again, probably not. She probably just thinks he should see her doing the laundry and spontaneously offer to help. When he doesn’t, and she develops this resent, the resent is totally borne out of her expectation that he spontaneously offer to help her with the laundry. Why should he offer? Isn’t she fully capable of doing it herself? He may be thinking that she’s got it covered and there’s no need for him to interfere with the perfectly good job she’s doing with the laundry. He’s not psychic, and therefore doesn’t know that she’s thinking he should be helping. She doesn’t say a word and fumes silently, developing toxic resent that will turn her into a crabby nag that no one wants to help anyhow. It falls on her to resolve her own resent by using good communication skills to work out problems in the household.

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