For six years, I walked hand-in-hand, step-by-step with another. For two of those years, I was happy (mostly). For two of those years, I was confused. And for two of those years, I was resentful.
The relationship started out as any other: curious, hesitant, excited, and nervous. But we finally opened our doors and welcomed each other in (even if it did take a few tries for me to step foot inside and not run away petrified).
After that, it was a complete and utter whirlwind. We loved, we laughed, we fought, we cried; we made wonderful memories and also said hurtful things we didn’t mean; we broke up and we made-up; we straddled the line of a healthy and unhealthy relationship; and eventually, we broke up for good. For the better. After two years of wondering, ‘Is this love?’ And thinking, ‘This can’t be love,’ I grew angry. I didn’t have the strength or the courage to actually end the soul-sucking relationship, so I became resentful—another soul-sucker to dance with. But after two years of juggling the two, I finally ended it all. I confronted my resentment and subsequently found what I needed to defeat the ultimate soul-sucker that was my relationship.
What Is Resentment?
I wasn’t happy in my relationship for a long time. Sure, part of that had to do with my boyfriend, but the majority of it had to do with me and my fear of leaving the comfort of familiarity for the unfamiliar. Instead of taking that faithful leap, I let all of the negativity build up and I directed it at him: I lashed out at him for no good reason; I criticized him and his quirks (which I used to love); and I blamed him for things that just weren’t his fault. This was my infamous dance with the soul-sucker called resentment.
Resentment is similar to anger—it’s the equivalent of having ill will toward someone or something that causes or represents pain. In my case, this someone was my boyfriend. I didn’t want to be with him anymore, but instead of leaving him I resented him. Every time I looked at him I saw my failure to be happy—which ultimately wasn’t his fault, but unfortunately for him that’s where my negative feelings took root. I held that resentment for a long time before I saw it for what it was and realized I needed to make a change. This is normal for people who feel ill will towards something, but it’s also normal to dispose of resentment much quicker—weeks or days even. And the sooner the better, as those who foster the resentment suffer the most.
Effectively Confronting Feelings of Resentment
I failed to confront my feelings of resentment in a healthy and helpful way. Instead, I let it build and eventually control much of my life. But when I did acknowledge, address, and defeat it, the most beautiful life grew from it. So, I’m here to teach you how to effectively confront your own feelings of resentment; I’m here to help you learn from my mistakes. When you feel ill will towards someone or something forming, follow these steps accordingly to confront it:
- Allow yourself to feel and understand where the resentment is coming from. My resentment stemmed from unhappiness in my relationship, but I didn’t let myself realize that for a long time. You shouldn’t push these feelings to the side. Instead, allow yourself to feel them and identify where exactly they’re coming from so you can tackle the underlying problem.
- Realize that you may be part of the problem. It’s easy to resent someone or something and say that it’s all their fault. But the truth is, we often play a big role in the development of our own resentment. For example, my feelings of resentment emerged after months of knowing I didn’t want to be with my boyfriend anymore. So, my role was fostering an environment for those negative feelings to grow.
- Express the resentment—but in a productive manner. My despising and blaming my boyfriend was expressing my resentment… but in an unfair, harmful way. Instead, you should simply discuss your feelings openly and honestly. Have a chat with yourself about them, put ‘em down in your journal, or even talk to a trustworthy friend about the situation.
- Let yourself take a breather. Don’t feel pressured to solve your feelings of resentment within seconds of discovering them. It’s okay to take a breather, gather your thoughts, and tackle the problem after. Self-calming techniques such as mindfulness or meditation may be the perfect outlet here.
- Take on the challenge of being kind to the one you resent. Trust me when I say being unkind to the person you resent is not the answer. It might be easy, but it’s not effective. Instead, it’s harmful to both you and the target of your negative feelings. So, do your best to treat them with kindness. Remember, your ill will towards someone isn’t always warranted—it might all come back to you, just like it did me.