Resentment is a destructive, unproductive emotion. It’s toxic to healing and achievement. It’s self-torture.
Yet, its a common human emotion – especially where addiction or alcoholism is involved. We can be resentful of acquaintances, friends, even loved ones. We can become resentful of people who we felt have wronged us, people who have accomplished more than us, even people who try to help us. We can be resentful of institutions as well.
Resentment can be mixed in with other destructive emotions like envy, hatred, and anger. In fact, resentment is a by-product of these emotions – its what happens if we hang onto these emotions too long. If anything, resentment may be the worst of these emotions – anyone can experience a flash of envy, hatred, or anger and allow themselves to forgive and let go. But when you hold onto these destructive emotions, that’s when resentment takes hold. Resentment can last a lifetime – if we allow it to.
According to the big book, resentment destroys more alcoholics than anything else. While I don’t necessarily agree with everyone taught in AA, this I agree with. Even if resentment doesn’t cause you to pick up a drink, it always causes misery and pain. It always saps our energy and holds us back.
How Do We Overcome Resentment?
The key to overcoming resentment is about learning to truly forgive. A big part of that comes from focusing on our own lives and improving ourselves. Many people use resentment to fill the void left by their own shortcomings. Once we stop worrying about other people and our perceived grievances with them and instead focus on finding ways to make our own lives better, letting go of resentment and finding forgiveness becomes the only natural path.
Its also about self-awareness – some of us are so used to carrying around our anger and petty jealousies that we often don’t even recognize resentment in ourselves. We don’t notice the burden that we’re carrying around everyday. Until you learn to recognize that burden, you’ll resentment will always be holding you back, gnawing away at your insides, keeping you from finding freedom and happiness.
Once you recognize your resentment, take the time to identify its source. Does it arise out of petty jealousy? Did someone offend us, belittle us, neglect us, steal from us, hurt us? There are times in life where we are genuinely wronged for no apparent reason, and there are times where we perceive injustices where both sides are at fault.
Whatever the source of your resentment, understand that there’s no place in your life for it. This can be difficult to do, but you’ll find it becomes much easier when you start focusing on your own personal growth. Instead of stewing over your past, ask yourself what you can do today to make your own life better.
How Mark Cuban Got Swindled Out OF His First $80,000 & Went On To Become A Billionaire
One of my favorite stories about overcoming resentment has nothing to do with recovery at all, but its applicable to everyone. Its a story about how Mark Cuban – now the billionaire owner of the Dallas Mavericks, AXS TV, and Magnolia Pictures – was swindled out of $83,000 of his first $85,000 by his own secretary.
You can find the inspiring story of his success here, but I’ll just excerpt the relevant part of the story below:
“One day, Martin comes back from Republic Bank, where we had our account. He had just gone through the drive through and one of the tellers who he would see every day dropping of our deposits asked him to wait a second. She comes back and shows him a check that had the payee of a vendor, WHITED OUT and Renee Hardy, our secretary’s name typed over it. Turns out that in the course of a single week, our secretary had pulled this same trick on 83k of our 85k in the bank. As Martin delived the news, I obviously was pissed. I was pissed at Renee, I was pissed at the bank, I was pissed at myself for letting it happen. I remember going to the bank with copies of the checks, and the manager of the bank basically laughing me out of his office telling me that I “didn’t have a pot to piss in”. That I could sue him, or whatever I wanted, but I was out the money.
I got back to the office, told Martin what happened at the bank, and then I realized what I had to do about all of this. I had to go back to work. That what was done, was done. That worrying about revenge, getting pissed at the bank, all those “I’m going to get even and kick your ass thoughts” were basically just a waste of energy. No one was going to cover my obligations but me. I had to get my ass back to work, and do so quickly. That’s exactly what I did.”
Whenever I want to dwell on some insult or injustice from the past, I think of Mark Cuban and that $83,000. I think about how painful and infuriating it must have been to put your blood, sweat and tears into building your company and making your first $85,000 over 2 grueling years, then having all of it outright stolen from you – by your own secretary no less. A person you hired, a person you saw everyday, a person you trusted with your company’s money.
I think about how easy it would have been for him to stew on that loss, to let those thoughts of anger and revenge consume him until it spiraled into anxiety and depression. I think about how easy it would have been to feel self-righteous and justified in harboring that anger. I think about how 99.99% of the population would have carried that anger and resentment with them, letting it poison their life for the next year, two years, 5 years, 10 years…
…instead, Mark shook it off, and got back to work. He let go of the thoughts of revenge and the resentment, and focused on working his butt off to improve his life and became a self-made billionaire…
…when I think about that story, I realize what I need to do as well – I need to let my desire for self-improvement replace my anger and resentment. So I let go and move on.