Justifiable Resentment Dangers

An addict's nightmare

The Danger of Justifiable Resentments

Moon Lake sunset in the Mississippi Delta. Photo by Chilly Billy of The Delta Bohemian

Justifiable resentment may be one of the most dangerous non-tangibles we can possess; though tangible when nurtured.

Psychology Today defines resentment as negative feelings, basically ill will, toward someone or something that emanates from the past. Resentment is the re-experiencing of past injustices — real or perceived — and the old feelings of anger connected to them.

In Recovery we think of resentments in the following manner: “Holding onto a resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.” They don’t; we do!

In Paul’s letter to the Church at Ephesus he admonished, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.”

Regardless of one’s higher power or value system, it would be rare to find a humane ideology or theology that does not recognize the efficacy of letting go of the negative encumbrances of the past, no longer real, in favor of being kind and gracious and forgiving toward others. Even when egregious behavior has occurred, the holder of the grudge is the most direct target of the insidious ugly emanating from it. One may get “even,” and justice may be served, but justice and revenge are often a bitter dish leaving server and diner unfulfilled and broken.

The Alcoholics Anonymous Big Book recognizes the toxicity of resentment to our very soul in the following statement: “Resentment is the number one offender. It destroys more alcoholics than anything else.”

Resentment hinders recovery from addiction or any life issues and resentment unchecked can be fatal—drama intended because it’s real. When I replay a wrong over and over, the magnitude of the wrong increases in intensity and internal toxicity. The longer I stew on it the angrier or more wounded I become, and any sentient entity wounded and full of anger is dangerous, for prey and predator both.

Resentment is powerless to change the object of our resentment, cannot solve conflict and it allows the folks resented to “live in our head rent-free.” This shouldn’t be!

The writer of Hebrews wrote, “See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” Included in the many is the bitter-root nurturer.

And, I ain’ preachin’ to nobody but my ownself! Chilly, I daily-have-to-chop-my-own-bitter-roots Billy

We encourage comments and sharing!


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Comments

  1. An observation about grudges(unforgiveness). Grudges, accompanied by withholding love or forgiveness, are rarely noticed by the offending party. He or she has moved on and forgotten it. If they ARE aware of your feelings, they may not care you are withholding your love or kindness, and it may even give them a sense of satisfaction that you are still being negatively influenced by them.
    True forgiveness is the greatest means of communicating to the the one who caused harm that you also have moved on, you are still quite willing to love them as before, and the net result of the offense has been you are now wiser and possess greater insight should you encounter a similar event in the future.

  2. What a great article, Billy. Thoughtful and thought provoking. Resentment is the death knell of any relationship.

  3. John Cunningham says:

    Well said Billy. Very easy to become consumed by a grudge. Happened to me once when I left a job with a perception of having been unfairly treated. I was unable to take on fresh experiences until I purged my mind of negative feelings and began to think ‘What the heck. Its life. Get these people out of your mind, Move on!’

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