Emotion Commotion: Resentment

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Written by Kimberly Elmore

For weeks I felt various emotions: hurt, sad, disappointment, anger, and resentment. I recently came to realize that I needed to forgive that person for their decision, as hard as it was going to be. Why?

This section is all about emotions. Kimberly Elmore, an Identity Staff Writer has dedicated her time to educate and discuss a particular emotion in each issue. It’s a great way for women to open up and become more aware of our emotions, feelings, and human behavior. All of these emotions help us understand how to Accept. Appreciate. Achieve.TM and to Feel Beautiful Everyday!TM

ResentmentAccording to dictionary.com, resentment is:   the feeling of displeasure or indignation at some act, remark, person, etc., regarded as causing injury or insult. Recently, I had a life-long friend make a decision that was incredibly hurtful to me.   For weeks I felt various emotions: hurt, sad, disappointment, anger, and resentment. I recently came to realize that I needed to forgive that person for their decision, as hard as it was going to be. Why? I needed to forgive not for the other person’s sake, but for my own sake so that I would be emotionally free from the negativity I was surrounding myself in about the other person and their decision.

Of course, this is easier said than done. Most people hold grudges, but some for longer periods of time than others. One emotion behind the grudge is resentment. Most of us are likely to feel resentful when: others try to tell us what to do, how to feel, or how to think, others act superior to us, others act in hypocritical ways, others don’t meet our needs, or we feel falsely judged, labeled, or invalidated.

When we feel resentment, it’s about our ego and our need to self protect. And the person who has “wronged” you made their decision to say or do something that was hurtful to you not because they wanted to hurt you but because of their ego and their need to self protect. When people are in pain, unhappy, or miserable sometimes they can’t help but try to spread that energy onto others, and when people say or do things that are hurtful to you it’s not personal–it’s actually a reflection of the other person’s internal state of mind.

Confusing? Yes. It took me many sleepless nights, many conversations with trusted friends (to vent and get advice), and many Google searches to fully understand the emotions I was feeling about what had happened and how I should react to what had happened. After all, we cannot control what others say or do, we can only control our reaction to what others say or do.

So, I chose not to confront this person on their hurtful decision. I didn’t want to engage and create more negativity. Instead I chose to understand that although on the surface it appeared this decision was a personal “attack,” as I dug deeper I learned it was more about the other person’s perceptions and their own prejudices, assumptions, and sadness. Plus, what other people think about you doesn’t have to become your truth–and life is too short to dwell on the past or others’ opinions of us.

The next step was forgiveness (as I mentioned above), which is a gradual process. If forgiveness isn’t attempted, the only person harmed will be one’s self.   As Buddy Hackett said, “Don’t carry a grudge. While you’re carrying the grudge, the other guy’s out dancing.”

Although I have shared an example from my own life, I think the approach of understanding and forgiveness can be applied to anyone who feels resentment towards someone else. When you choose understanding and forgiveness imagine what that will say about your personal internal state of mind. You may come to understanding the other person differently (perhaps you would want to confront the person you felt wronged by), but regardless of how you get to understanding and forgiveness all that matters is that you get there.

“When you hold resentment toward another, you are bound to that person or condition by an emotional link that is stronger than steel. Forgiveness is the only way to dissolve that link and get free.” Catherine Ponder 


About the author

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Kimberly Elmore

Identity writer Kimberly Elmore is currently employed by Delta Dental of New Jersey in the corporate communications department as the community relations coordinator. She serves as one of our top and longest contributors.

Kimberly has been a huge part of Identity's success since the beginning of 2006. During Kimberly's college years she served as the arts & entertainment editor of her college newspaper and interned in the public relations department at the March of Dimes.