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.
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.
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.