How to Stop Resentment

Use these tips to keep it from taking over.
By Mitchell Qualls
April 12, 2020

Resentment is a sneaky little emotion. It can come out of nowhere. It’s often spurred by a nagging feeling that someone has mistreated you. If you don’t deal with it, resentment can harm your relationships and your emotional and mental well-being. So is there anything you can do to stop resentment? 

First off, what is resentment?

Resentment is a hostile emotion that results from suffering an actual or perceived wrong, or feeling like someone has been mistreated. It may be you or someone else who got the raw deal. The causes of resentment vary. And being resentful can show up in any relationship. 

Anger is a natural emotion. It’s ok to get angry, but what you do with your anger matters. If you don’t handle anger well, feelings of resentment can evolve into contempt and other unhealthy emotions. You probably don’t want that.

Resenting someone can consume you, and that kind of thing impacts your mental and emotional well-being. Being resented and uncertain of why someone feels that way toward you can affect your health, too. You probably don’t want that, either.

If you can relate to any of the feelings above, consider doing two things before going further.

Acknowledge your self-awareness. Bravely admitting that something is getting in your way of moving forward or holding back a relationship you care about is a huge first step. 

Acknowledge that you’re capable of moving forward. Being self-aware allows you to have a heightened understanding of how you relate to yourself and others. You’ve got this, and you can deal with any resentment you may be experiencing in your relationship(s).

Ready to tackle resentment in your relationships? Let’s do this!


Address issues as they arise.

Resentment starts with anger. So let’s start there. What caused you to get angry at someone? Is it a disagreement or something they said? Whatever the issue, it’s best to address it as it comes up. Allowing problems to remain unresolved leads to resentment. When you have a disagreement with someone you care about, seek a resolution out of love for that person. 

Communicate your expectations.

Resentment can form if you have difficulty expressing your true feelings or concerns. Be sure to clearly share how you feel and what you expect. Even if it’s unfair to hold someone accountable for your unspoken expectations, it’s somehow easy to get angry with them. Pretty sure I’m not the only one who has experienced this.

Be realistic with your expectations.

Sometimes we expect something from someone else that we wouldn’t expect of ourselves. We may not even realize it. That’s one reason flexibility and being willing to meet halfway is important. When you reach a compromise, your worth is acknowledged, your voice is heard, and you practice empathy. Both of you can feel understood. 

Ask yourself: Did I clearly and fairly communicate whatever expectation this person did not meet?

A good rule of thumb is to look in the mirror before confronting someone else. This has been the biggest lesson I’ve learned as a leader, a husband and a dad. I have to ask myself if I’ve clearly communicated my expectations before I think about holding someone accountable for what they did or didn’t do. 

Focus on the good if you want to stop resentment.

Disagreements will happen in any relationship. Why? Because we’re all imperfect people. It doesn’t matter whether you don’t see eye to eye with a friend, co-worker, family member, or someone you’re romantically involved with. You can choose to address the issues and then focus on the good. Dwelling on the times someone has let you down is not helpful to you or the relationship. 

Invite gratitude into your life.

Being thankful can make you happier! But don’t just take my word for it. 

The experts at Harvard Health Publishing also have something to say about it: 

“In positive psychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.” 

Each day, you can incorporate gratitude in your life by focusing on what you’re thankful for or keeping a journal.

If left unchecked, resentment can consume your thoughts and impact your relationships… and your well-being. You don’t have to let it take over. You’ve got this.

Other blogs:

5 Benefits of Being Thankful – First Things First

The Difference Between Realistic and Unrealistic Expectations in Marriage

Working Through Resentment With Your Spouse – First Things First


8 Strategies to Work Through Anger and Resentment

Ways to Deal with Resentment in a Relationship

Miceli, M., & Castelfranchi, C. (2019). Anger and Its Cousins. Emotion Review, 11(1), 13–26.

Giving thanks can make you happier – Harvard Health

***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear that someone is monitoring your computer or device, call the hotline 24/7 at: 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***

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