Resentment alters and shortens more lives than any other emotion, drug, or chemical.  Some might say anger.  As destructive as anger may be it can only last for a certain amount of time.  Resentment, on the other hand, can live on for many years’ even decades. 

From where does resentment arise?

What is the root of animus?  To some, the cause of irritation is that someone provoked them to feel resentment.  In their eyes, they may have had a wrong done to them.  Or an organization may have done something wrong to them, such as the government or a banking institution.  I see these as more a symptom of resentment.  The cause of discontent is a result of the paradox of control.

The Paradox of Control

An interesting paradox in life is that we have a basic human need to have a locus of control while in reality, we have control over little.  Think about it what do you have control over.  Almost nothing.  Most of what is going on around us and within is unconscious.  There have been numerous studies that illustrate this.  Then, when we become aware what can be done?  The only thing that we truly have control over is you, and I can choose how we react to the things we have no control over.  An excellent book that I recommend to everyone is Viktor Frankl’s “Man’s Search For Meaning.”  An autobiographical book about Dr. Frankl’s experiences in three Nazi concentration camps.  The lesson Dr. Frankl learned is that given the direst situation imaginable where death was always just a moment away; he came to understand that he could choose how he would react to that situation.  It became the basis of his Logotherapy school of psychology. 

Let Go or Be Dragged

When you accept that you have control over your choices, you can begin to let go of the poison.  Resentment is a self-inflicted poison.  The majority of the time when you're harboring these resentments the only person who knows about it is you.  All the other seven billion people on the planet have no clue about your issue and quite honestly don’t care.  They have their resentments to poison them.  So, if they don’t care then why should you?

I would suspect that more illness both mental and physical has been caused by the poison of resentment than any other human issue.  It has ruined more than one life and will continue to do so.  But, remember you always have a choice.  It is not easy, and it takes some training.  We spend so much of our lives running on autopilot that our past programming runs the show.

 I personally just had a difficult time with resentment.  It took me a couple of days to work through it and let it go.  If your struggling and feel you can’t let go remember this quote from Marcus Aurelius which I found helpful in the recent battle with compulsive thoughts of resentment.  “Tell yourself, when you feel upset and fed up, that human life is transient and only lasts a moment; it won’t be long before we’ll all have been laid to rest.”  


Until Next Week, 

Rich Decker - Mindful Accord