I just can’t handle it anymore. I’m overwhelmed by bitterness, I feel let down, and I just don’t get how this isn’t obvious to anyone else.
Does it look like I want to do extra work all the time?
Do I have to be the one to initiate each conversation?
Why am I always staying late to clean up after my co-workers?
If you’re my friend, shouldn’t you know why I felt left out?
Why do I have to remind you three times before you do something?
Since when is my job being in charge of remembering every important date?
Who decided to make me the default solution to “if no one else will do it she/he will?”
You’re just over it.
Feeling overworked and underappreciated is a lethal combination. It doesn’t motivate you to be the best version of yourself. And why would it?
What is Resentment?
There’s a word for this heavy feeling of disappointment, bitterness from unfair treatment, and anger. It’s resentment. Resentment feels so individual and deeply personal, but it can actually be something that comes between you and the people you want to be personal with. Resentment and contempt can walk hand in hand. Contempt can be lethal and destructive for relationships according to Dr. John Gottman, marriage researcher, therapist, and co-founder of The Gottman Institute, which uses research to help people improve their relationships. Though resentment is a common emotion, when it becomes persistent and something that holds you back from forgiving or being able to move forward, it must come to a resolution so you can go on with your life.
If you can relate to any of those questions or feelings above, consider doing two things before we move any further.
- Acknowledge your self-awareness. You bravely admitted that there is something getting in your way of you moving forward or holding back a relationship that you either care about or you can’t avoid.
- Acknowledge you’re capable of moving forward. Since you’re self-aware, you have a heightened understanding of how you relate to yourself and others. You’ve got this and you’re going to reconcile the resentment you may be experiencing in your relationship(s).
In many instances, to be free of resentment means forgiving, according to GoodTherapy, a resource for those searching for therapists, counselors, rehab, residential treatment, and care for mental health issues. “Some individuals find that making peace with something that happened and moving on works better for them. Regardless of how someone chooses to get rid of resentment, it most likely means adjusting one’s frame of mind or emotional responses.”
How to Stop Resentment in a Relationship:
- Identify the root issue, irritation, or problem. Are you mad there are dishes in the sink or are you mad there’s an expectation you’ll do them if they sit long enough? Are you upset your idea in the meeting wasn’t used or tired of feeling unheard? Is it possible you are mad that you’re using gas to drive to your friend’s house again? Or maybe frustrated that you are the one who initiates hanging out each time?
- Be honest with yourself about what makes it difficult to let go. Are there emotions that flood to the surface whenever you try dealing with it? Where do you think they are coming from? Does it remind you of someone you had a bad relationship with?
Acknowledging the answers to the questions above can help you determine the best next steps. Is this something you need to deal with on your own or is there something you need to communicate to the person you are resenting?
How you express these thoughts is critical.
- Communicate your expectations. If a conversation needs to take place, it will most likely be an ongoing conversation. Relationships grow and change over time. Sometimes expectations shift—both spoken and unspoken. It’s the things that go unspoken that can really create resentment and chaos.
- Be realistic with your expectations and don’t expect something from someone else you wouldn’t expect of yourself. Be flexible and willing to meet halfway. When you reach a compromise, your worth is acknowledged, your voice is heard and you practice empathy.
- Don’t underestimate the power of empathy. Perhaps the resentment you’ve been living with came from a misunderstanding or from someone who has a different perspective of what happened or interpretation of a situation. To alleviate the tension between you and the other person, consider talking about it with them. (It may not feel natural, but it may provide the peace you need to move forward.) Now, if you’re in a situation where a conversation with the other person isn’t an option, consider processing what their perspective could be with a trusted friend or family member.
- Invite gratitude into your life. “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,” according to Harvard Health Publishing for Harvard’s medical school.
Without remedy, resentment can consume your thoughts and impact how you may carry yourself. These tips can equip you to face the problems of the past and propel your relationships into a healthier and more fulfilling future. You’ve got this.
***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.***