Resentments (6)

Resentment is an unhealthy emotion. While many people believe resentment is simply a lack of forgiveness, it's a much more complicated emotion.  The reasons people hold on to resentments vary based on the reason for the resentment.

And because everyone experiences hurtful situations, resentment is more common than people realize. However, scientists believe that you can choose forgiveness over resentment and improve your mental and emotional health.

  1. Disregard and Disrespect

In a series of essays and studies published by Routledge Press, researchers found that people expect to be treated with some degree of goodwill and kindness by others. When someone doesn't treat you this way, resentment against them begins to form.  The perception of being treated with outright disrespect also breaks this social contract of kindness.  When the situation isn't resolved, resentment grows, and some people may continue to feel the resentment indefinitely.

People perceive disregard and disrespect differently, depending on their level of self-esteem and their belief in where they are in social status.  Psychologists have found that people with low self-esteem are generally more resentful of others.

People who believe they are in a lower social class will often resent those they feel are above them but may accept being treated with disregard and disrespect as inescapable because of their status. However, repeatedly being treated poorly only adds to feelings of resentment.

  1. Acceptance

Ancient humans evolved their emotional understanding of acceptance based on the benefits of belonging to a group, especially safety and support. In a study published in Psychology Bulletin, researchers found that the need for acceptance evolved as a fundamental aspect of human nature.  When a person doesn't feel accepted by a group, they may resent being excluded.  This resentment is based on the fear of losing the benefits of a group membership.

In modern society, social and networking groups provide advantages in business, for a person's career, and to raise someone's social status.  When a group does not accept a person they believe they deserve to belong to, they may resent that group and similar groups that they think might exclude them.8783321258?profile=RESIZE_400x

Holding on to resentment of these groups keeps them from needing to examine their skills, abilities, and whether they truly deserve to be accepted. Instead, they protect their low-self-esteem by placing the blame on others.

  1. Trauma

Severe trauma, such as physical, emotional, or mental trauma or abandonment, often leads to resentment of the person or type of person who committed the traumatic act. According to psychologists, until a person resolves the trauma they have been through, bitterness may help them protect their ego, self-esteem, and emotions. However, these benefits are short-lived, and unless a person processes their trauma, resentment will become an unhealthy mental and emotional outlook on life.

  1. Injustice

Injustice is another trigger where resentment offers short-term benefits. When a person perceives an injustice, bitterness may give them the courage to stand up for themselves and others.  An initial feeling of irritation can cause someone to be assertive in their behavior and demand a level of respect from others.  But when a person can't resolve a conflict to their satisfaction through assertiveness, continued resentment may make them aggressive in their behavior.

According to researchers at Psychology Today, the feeling of courage and satisfaction a person feels when they are assertive can also cause someone to hold on to resentments.  If a person doesn't have other ways to build their self-esteem, feeling resentful and then remembering their response may become their way of boosting their courage.  Over time, resentment spreads until a person feels the need to resent almost everything to feel control and satisfaction.

  1. Groups

According to a Stanford University study, people have more control over their emotions than they know but often release that control to a group. If everyone around you is resentful of someone or something, you may start to feel resentment, too, even if you haven't been personally harmed.  Additional research is needed to determine if this "group think" is based on the general need for respect and acceptance.

People hold on to resentments because sometimes, the initial feeling of resentment helps them cope. They may also feel disrespected or rejected.  If the situation isn't resolved, resentment can grow into a long-term outlook and feeling. 

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The resentment you feel when someone hurts you physically, mentally, or emotionally can cause lasting damage and reduce your quality of life. According to psychologists and life coaches, holding on to resentments can make you:8771183862?profile=RESIZE_400x

  • Deeply Disappointed
  • Less Trusting
  • Blame Others

When you feel that you’ve been mistreated, the disappointment you feel can extend not only to the person who hurt you but, over time, to other people and aspects of your life.  Resentment can also make you less trusting of others and blame other people for your circumstances.  Resentment is unhealthy, and letting it go is crucial to your peace of mind. 

How can you let go of resentments?  When you’ve been hurt, it may be hard to heal and move past the pain.  Here are five strategies to let resentments go, based on research and studies by scientists.

  1. Dig Deeper

Based on clinical work highlighted in Psychology Today, the first strategy to let resentments go is to dig deeper into why you feel resentment. Resentment is a combination of anger and hate.  Those emotions also have an underlying cause, either fear and hurt. 

Ask yourself why you feel resentment.  What was the situation that made you feel this way?  When you think about it, the actions that started your resentment probably hurt you emotionally, mentally, or physically.  What did those actions take from you?  That’s fear.  Feeling like you lost respect, status, or safety are all fear-based responses.

The next step is to consider the intention of the person who hurt you.  Were their actions overtly trying to hurt you?  Or did they unknowingly do something that triggered your feelings of fear and anger?  Attempts to hurt you are abuse and should not be tolerated.  But what you perceived as an indifferent, cold, or unhelpful action from someone may not be what they intended. 

When you consider the reason someone acted a certain way towards you, you may be able to let go of resentments associated with minor annoyances. Talking with the other person and expressing how you feel, using “I” statements instead of blaming, and working towards a positive solution can help you let go of resentments.

  1. Express Anger in Healthy Ways

Your feelings of resentment about a person or a situation may be entirely justified but holding onto resentments isn’t healthy. Anger is a natural human emotion.  Refusing to express or deal with your anger is not healthy either.  Instead, find ways to express your anger that allow you to release it.  According to research published in The Journal of Medicine and Life, holding onto anger and resentment has multiple health risks, including heart disease, diabetes, and eating disorders.  Here are some healthy ways to release anger instead:

  • Keep a Journal
  • Exercise
  • Talk with a Trusted Friend
  • Paint, draw, or Forms of Art
  1. Self-Care

Resentment comes from being hurt. That means you will need to take care of yourself to heal.  There are many self-care techniques available to help you decrease stress, lessen psychological pain, and release anger.  These techniques may also help you grow stronger so you can better manage future situations that might make you feel resentment.

  • Meditation
  • Yoga
  • Deep Breathing
  • Getting Enough Rest
  • Spend Time in Nature
  • Laugh
  • Treat Yourself
  1. Forgiveness Therapy

Forgiveness therapy is a process designed to help you let go of resentments. By working with a trained therapist, you can learn how to examine why you feel resentments, how to let go of them, and how to protect yourself in the future.  Forgiveness therapy is a specific type of therapy for people who have experienced trauma, pain, and hurt, leading to resentments.

  1. Other Professional Therapy

The American Psychological Association offers other forms of therapy through psychiatrists, psychologists, and counselors. Resentment is not the only unhealthy behavior associated with pain and suffering.  Professional therapists can help you let go of resentments and deal with other issues affecting your quality of life.  Examples of therapies available include:

  • Anger Management
  • Alcohol and Drug Addiction
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
  1. Spiritual Exercises

Practicing your Spiritual beliefs is a very powerful way of letting go of resentments. Find a spiritual advisor and follow their direction. Let them walk you through the feelings and resolve the grievances. In no way does using a spiritual approach negate the first five strategies—just the opposite. On your spiritual journey to peace of mind, you will use the first five strategies at various points in your healing from your resentment.

There are ways to let go of resentments.  Resentment will impact your life in negative ways left untreated. 

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The emotion of resentment is essentially a ball of our most negative feelings. According to Web. M.D. people feeling resentment experience feelings of anger, frustration, hostility, bitterness, hard feelings, and uneasiness. It does not feel good to be resentful. It can even affect your health and wellbeing adversely.8771152661?profile=RESIZE_400x

A quote by Deepak Chopra beautifully wraps up resentment for what it is "What we don't recognize is that holding onto resentment is like holding onto your breath. You'll soon start to suffocate."

So, how do you deal with this toxic emotion? The answer is simple when you consider that it consists of negativity; it's even scientific - the solution is to combat it with positivity.

Forgiveness Is Key

According to the Mayo Clinic, if we are unable to practice forgiveness, we will likely be the ones who suffer the most. One of the main components of feeling resentful is wanting to exact revenge for the harm done by someone else.

To remedy this, we need to take a firm stance against those kinds of thoughts we need to make ourselves forgive. Replacing those feelings of anger and frustration with forgiveness and releasing a need to retaliate sets us free. (

There are many benefits to forgiving someone for what they have done to us, and these include:

  • Healthier relationships
  • Stronger mental health
  • A decrease in stress
  • Healthier heart
  • A boost to physical immunity
  • Increased self-belief

Some may feel like forgiving is letting the person who wronged them off the hook, but this is an incorrect assessment. We need to understand that when we cannot control the things we want to, we must choose to manage what we can.

The truth is we may never get the apology we deserve or the recognition for our hurt feelings, but we can control how we choose to react. When we choose forgiveness, we take back our power, and, in the process, we gain back our self-respect. 

The Power of Empathy

The loving emotion of empathy is essential in letting go of our resentment, as strange as that may sound. According to psychologist Judith Orloff M.D., empathy is when we reach out our hearts to others and place ourselves in their shoes. The wise Dalai Lama once called empathy the most precious of human qualities. (

We should consider how the people who have wronged us feel and try to understand why they did what they did. If we only consider how we feel, we never truly understand the "why" of a situation. It is important to use empathy to understand if someone is lashing out because of their pain. The hurt visited upon you may never have been intentional. This resentment may be due to a misunderstanding that has grown out of control.

The important aspect is that empathy helps us more fully understand a situation and may help in learning to forgive. Even if using empathy does not find a valid excuse for the harm someone has inflicted, it can at least give you closure in understanding that it wasn't your fault. We must learn to have enough love to be empaths and forgive not only others but also ourselves.

Final Thought

Love is the polar opposite of hate, and hate is one of the root causes of resentment. We, therefore, need to use love and compassion to combat our feelings of resentment if for no other reason than to make our own lives better.

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Resentment is a lingering feeling that comes from perceived unfair or poor treatment. When we meditate on the perceived mistreatment and direct our negative and often hostile feelings toward the person or event we deem responsible for causing the perceived mistreatment, this is resentment in action.8768017453?profile=RESIZE_400x

Whether we are justified in our feelings or not, harboring resentment can be genuinely debilitating in our lives. This article will outline how resentments can be debilitating in our physical, mental, and emotional lives. 

Physical Impacts 

Resentment will take a toll on our physical health in a bad way. When we feel negative emotions, it causes the body to go into a stressed state known as the flight or fight response. When this occurs, adrenaline levels rise, heart rate increases, and blood is redirected from organs to limbs (in preparation for fighting or flighting). 

When the body remains in this heightened state for a prolonged period, it can lead to physical distress. Stress hormones are released, and this can cause health issues such as gastrointestinal problems, headaches/migraines, chronic pain conditions, heart problems, blood pressure issues, and several others. 

Emotional Impacts 

We will also be impacted emotionally when we harbor resentment and the accompanying negative emotions that coincide with it, such as anger, anxiety, stress, and frustration. Choosing to hold onto negative emotions prevents you from experiencing the fullness of positive emotions such as love, gratitude, and kindness because too many stress hormones are filling the body. 

Additionally, trouble enjoying people, events, and things and challenges trusting other people are commonly experienced. One might also find that there is trouble managing and stabilizing mood and that they are more emotionally reactive and unable to communicate clearly or openly with others. 

Mental Health Impacts  

Mental health is another area that can see significant adverse impacts. When we hold onto resentment, we often meditate on the perceived injustice constantly, which is detrimental. The continual focus on the negative event and person can make it hard to concentrate and remember things. 

One might also find themselves struggling to process feelings and events and have difficulty problem-solving, identifying a problem, or understanding the true complexity of a problem. This can lead to clouded judgment and trouble making decisions. Additionally, mental health conditions can increase when resentment is present. Anxiety, depression, and other disorders like phobias and PTSD can present themselves or, if already present, increase significantly to the point that it interferes drastically in one’s daily life.

Social Impacts 

Each of the previously listed categories of negative impacts that can present itself in response to holding onto resentment can lead to detriments in one’s ability to engage in healthy social relationships.

If physical health conditions, mental health, or emotional struggles limit a person, it will inhibit their ability to connect with others in a meaningful way. This means there will be difficulty engaging with others, challenges connecting with others, problems trusting others, and struggles empathizing with others. This limits connections and stunts social growth

All of this points to the fact that resentments do not serve anyone who holds onto them. Instead, they only bring about a host of challenges that can drastically limit your life and ability to make forward progress. 

Thus, making every effort to release resentment is vital to experiencing mental and emotional freedom from the situation or person one has bitterness for and experiencing freedom and joy in one’s life.

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It is impossible to go through life while interacting with others without occasionally developing resentment feelings. This is because we will all encounter someone who wrongs us in some way or another. It is a negative emotional reaction to being mistreated, usually by someone else but also occasionally by circumstances.8753779099?profile=RESIZE_400x

According to WebMD, there are a number of signs that we are feeling resentment which include:

  • Recurring negative feelings
  • Inability to stop thinking about an event
  • Feelings of regret or remorse
  • Fear or avoidance
  • A tense relationship
  • Feeling invisible and inadequate
  • Inability to let go of anger

Even though resentment is impossible to avoid altogether, it should be recognized and dealt with to move on to a happier, healthier life.

Mental Effects of Resentment

Deep resentment can have serious emotional effects on a person, often leaving them struggling to live their life efficiently. Harboring resentment towards someone essentially means you are constantly angry at them, which can mean a complicated relationship if you regularly interact with them. Even if you never have to see that person again, holding onto that resentment can ruin your relationships with others.

Many people who have been in abusive relationships or have had a partner that has cheated on them may well have good reason to resent that person. It's not wrong to be angry and upset but holding onto the resentment for their actions means that there is still a part of that person with you.

When you allow resentment to linger in your life, you constantly remember that person and the hurt. The trauma caused by that person makes you suspicious of others' motives and stops you from leading a happy life.

According to the Mayo Clinic, there are many benefits to forgiving someone who has wronged you. Forgiving someone does not mean you allow someone who hurt you back into your life but merely that you choose to let go of what happened and move on.

The benefits to your emotional health of releasing resentment and forgiving include:

  • Healthier future relationships
  • Improved mental health
  • Less anxiety, stress, and hostility
  • Fewer symptoms of depression
  • Improved self-esteem 

The Physical Effects of Resentment

It may seem strange, but resentment can also have a physical effect on our health and wellbeing. Mental health specialist Louise B. Miller Ph.D., says that anger creates energy surges in the body, releasing chemicals such as adrenaline. The release of adrenaline, in particular, causes an increase in heart rate, blood flow, and tension in the muscles. It is a physical response that essentially readies us to either fight or flight.

Now anger along with fear can be healthy emotions for self-preservation, but constant anger such as can occur with deep resentment can be very dangerous. Over time the pressure on the heart caused by constant anger can cause damage, and blood pressure can also become elevated. This can lead to headaches, a decreased immune system, and cardiovascular issues.

It seems very odd that emotion can do physical damage, but resentment is one of the most unhealthy mindsets. Whereas anger can be fleeting, when fueled by resentment, it becomes self-sustaining and rears its ugly head for no logical reason. 

Final Thoughts

Resentment does nothing positive for a person's mental or physical health. It impacts both adversely. This means that you are allowing this source of anger to destroy every part of your life by resenting someone. When you let go of the resentment, you let go of the power that person has over you.


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Learning to let go of your resentments and moving on is one of the hardest lessons you have to learn as a human being. But once you do, you’ll go on to live a happier, healthier, and all-around better life. 8753654881?profile=RESIZE_400x

If you find yourself struggling to let go of your resentments, it’s probably for several reasons. And until you stop engaging in these behaviors, it is unlikely you will be able to forgive the people you resent and learn to move on. 

  1. You Focus On The Negative Instead Of The Positive 

Resentment is often born out of a negative situation, such as a betrayal or perceived unfairness. One of the reasons you may be stuck on that resentment is because you can only see the negative part of the event you experienced in that situation.

To remedy this, take a deep breath and start to reason with yourself. Chances are there are positive results which came out of this negative situation. If you need to, write these positive aspects down. Then every time a reminder of the negative pops up in your head, start thinking about the positives instead.

  1. You’re Bottling Up Your Emotions

It’s a well-known fact that you can’t even begin to deal with your emotions until you recognize them first. So, if you’re still bottling up your resentment about a situation, find someone to confide in, whether this is a friend, family member, or therapist. 

Once you’ve discussed how you feel, you will have effectively faced these negative emotions, and you will be able to begin working through them. There are also other ways to relieve these negative emotions you may be feeling. If talking isn’t enough, consider putting your negative energy into a safe hobby such as running or a form of art. 

You’ll find that keeping yourself busy will help keep your mind from feelings of resentment and help you work through the emotions simultaneously.

  1. You’re Stuck In The Past 

Whatever resentment you are harboring, it’s based on a past event. And the reason you keep feeling that resentment is because you keep remembering the event in question. Instead of dwelling on the past, you need to start looking forward.

Every time your mind wants to remind you of the memory which leads to resentment, don’t let it. Think of positive thoughts instead. You’ll be surprised how much resentment shrinks when you make the conscious effort not to dwell on it all the time. 

  1. You’re Not Practicing Empathy 

You are human, and all humans make mistakes. And chances are, the resentment you are feeling is based on an error made by another human. If you find yourself unable to forgive someone and instead resent them, take a moment to put yourself in their shoes. If you were them, wouldn’t you want forgiveness? 

Once you can see a situation from someone else’s eyes, you’ll likely feel different about it, and maybe you’ll finally be able to begin the process of forgiveness. 

The road to letting go of resentment is genuinely not an easy one. There are several roadblocks that may hold you back, even if you don’t notice them at first. To start forgiving the people you resent, it’s time to recognize those roadblocks and begin actively working towards conquering them. Only once you forgive those that hurt you will you indeed be able to move on and live a happier and more fulfilling life.

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