Contrary to popular belief, nobody likes to hold grudges, but we just can’t help it when we do. A lingering feeling of resentment comes from what we see as unfair or bad treatment, and often we can do nothing better but direct this negative or even hostile feeling toward the person or people causing us the distress. Unfortunately, even when justified, it doesn’t do us any good either. When we feel resentful, we center our thoughts on the negatives and punish ourselves more than we do others, including those who we’re holding the grudge against. It is exhausting and emotionally draining. In the end, it’s your own mind and body that suffer the greatest.
Bouquet of emotions
Resentment has a myriad of faces and makes its presence felt when we experience a strong feeling of:
- Anger because we think we are being treated unfairly or taken advantage of.
- Irritation and frustration because someone behaves in a way that is annoying to us, or there’s even a history behind it.
- Guilt or shame because of some public humiliation or constant discrimination that we experienced some time in the past.
- Disappointment or hurt when we haven’t fulfilled our potential and have someone else to blame for it.
We experience different emotions, the above is just a small fraction of it. Resentment is nothing but a process of mulling over painful or upsetting experiences – this is our way to endure anger, hurt, sadness or even guilt.
Psychology behind grudges
Resentment comes deep from within because it’s not the person or what they say that upsets us, but rather our inner criticism or judgement that decides what can and can’t upset us. A strong reaction is usually there because the person in question or what they say strikes a chord with us for one reason or the other. It happens because it might affect the weaknesses, or inhibitions, or doubts we have about ourselves.
At the same time, those who say something that causes your negative feelings, also do so because of their own inner criticism and insecurities.
Constant resentment, or anger for that matter, dwells on when we hold onto someone else’s faults or misconducts for far too long. What we sometimes don’t realize is that we become dependent on the contempt and outrage we experience, and slowly they take control and cause us:
When someone clearly makes you feel resentful, it is important to remember that we are here to learn from our own mistakes and enjoy our individual journeys we all have in life. By breaking the emotional connection, you have a great chance to convert your negative energy into a positive one.
Signs you resent someone (even when you don’t know it yet)
In case you suspect that a certain person brings out the worst in you and you’re not sure why, there are specific psychological signs of resentment to look out for:
1. Avoiding eye contact
You tend to dart your eyes whenever the person in question approaches you. And, as a matter of a fact, you keep avoiding that person in general. By doing so, you might feel like you’re saving your emotional energy.
2. Rambling on how annoying they are (only not to their face)
You’ve been obsessing over a negative feeling or an event leading up to it, and often you’re vocal about it with your friends. If you can’t get over upsetting memories, they are likely to be in the center of your resentment.
3. Not willing to resolve the issues
Often you don’t want to ‘get into this’ with 'that person', you talk in a dry way and act aloof in their presence.
4. Feeling like you’re not being heard
It’s as if you’re stuck in a vicious cycle when your feelings are constantly being neglected. Even though you’ve voiced some concerns, the patterns keep repeating themselves. This, in turn, only fuels your grudge.
5. Complete disregard for their ideas
You brush off any suggestion this person makes, no matter how good and creative it may be. You feel that it’s better to take a different tack and pay heavy price than to admit that this person could be right in the first place.
6. Keeping track of all the negatives
You remember all the situations in which you felt insulted or ignored or affronted starting with the very first time that happened. When you’re silently collecting small grudges, they will inevitably grow into something bigger and more intense.
7. Constant feeling of irritation
The thought of that person triggers infuriation and impatience because you fell victim of unresolved pain which you can’t express and because the suffering you experience seems to you very unjustified.
How you can cure resentment
Ask yourself: ‘Is there anything positive about my resentment?’
This complex emotion is largely viewed as a coping mechanism which gives a better understanding of what we can and cannot tolerate. Grudges can be your chance to look into the feelings you experience towards someone and grasp where these feelings are coming from.
Think of the effects living with resentment has on your health
And what can happen if you don’t release it. This study finds that clinging to hurtful events and painful emotions caused by other people results in high blood pressure and increased heart rate and it:
- Negatively impacts sleep quality;
- Alters blood pressure reactivity;
- Boosts the production of stress hormones;
- Increases the risk of depression;
- Undermines overall health.
Imagine what it will feel like if you let go of your resentment
The same study shows that if you manage to overcome your emotional distress and practice kindness and compassion, this alone would promote your well-being, cardiovascular health and longevity. When we alter our way of thinking we start seeing many things differently. You may have a long healing process ahead of you, but it’s worth it.
Try to zero in on the reasons you resent someone
Resentment doesn’t just happen out of the blue. If you acknowledge your emotions, even the negative ones, you can use their energy for your benefit. So, instead of mulling over the hurt, this time try analyzing the root cause of your anger. Is there a chance your own past experiences or insecurities have contributed to the present situation that you feel resentful about? Or maybe you have a history of tiny grudges with the person who’s giving you a hard time, and it’s far more than just this one case.
Think what you’d need to do to stop resenting someone
Sometimes you need to confront a person to get it off your chest. If you feel that it would help you get over your grudge, you should do it. Try having a constructive conversation with that someone who upsets you. See it as a good chance to learn not to lash out expressing your emotions, but really talk about what bothers you with this person. Keep in mind that if you change your behavior toward them, they may also change the way they act toward you.
Finally, practice relaxation and self-respect
Gradually incorporate breathing techniques and meditation into your life, try to learn acceptance. Because nothing is going to change for the better if you keep holding grudges till the end of days, but mindful approach to the situation might. And also remember that healthy relationship you have with yourself is crucial to your own wellbeing. If you master the art of self-love and self-respect you will be less bothered by things and circumstances.
When you stop holding a grudge against someone it doesn’t mean you surrender to their judgment or agree with their behavior. To let go of resentment means to break free from the extra heavy emotional weight you’ve been carrying around. Once you’re liberated, you’ll be able to use your energy to improve the overall quality of your life.