Rother House Medical Centre
Alcester Road
Stratford upon Avon
Warwickshire
CV37 6PP

Heath Lodge Clinic
1357 Warwick Road
Knowle
Solihull
West Midlands
B93 9LW

Mobile: 07836 261661

Email: chris@addiction-therapy.co.uk

Chris Sharpe is also an associate of Twin Rivers Rehab in South Africa

Twin Rivers in South Africa

 

The Fatigue of Resentment: A Blog by Chris Sharpe

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The Fatigue of ResentmentFatigue of Resentment

In her book Wishful Drinking, the actress Carrie Fisher used the saying, “Resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.” Apparently this was a quote she heard in an AA meeting.

What I think is meant by this often used quotation is that in resenting someone who is most likely unaware of your feelings, you are actually only harming yourself.


What makes it harder is that we mentally repeat the scene or conversation in question, over and over again. Of course, there can be no positive outcome to our resentment other than taking responsibility for the self. What we fail to realise is how much strain we inflict on ourselves when we have resentments. A significant amount of mental and emotional energy is needed to keep the looping flow of hostility and aggression that a strong resentment requires. In short its hard work.

Within addiction, active or recovering, there can be something perversely rewarding about taking the moral high ground or seeing yourself as always being in the right. Holding on to resentment justifies our behaviour or provides an emotional high by offering the false belief that we are in control. Even more importantly resentments become injurious to our recovery by stopping us from taking effective responsible action.

They say that the only way to break the vicious cycle of resentment is to forgive the person who wronged you and let it go. I remember once seeing a lady on television news whose only son had been killed in a violent racist attack. When asked about those who had attacked her son, she simply said, “I forgive them.” I don’t know about you but I’m not sure that I have the emotional strength to be that generous. In extreme cases I find it hard to believe that forgiving someone cancels out the consequences of their actions. But this does not mean I have to hold on to the resentment. Instead I need to ask myself if I want to be right or happy, with a resentment. It can’t be both.

Alternatively, we could always try to develop empathy and compassion for others by beginning to change or adjust our way of thinking. It is virtually impossible to know why a person acted the way that they did, so why do we try? To find empathy and compassion we may need to embrace our own vulnerability, because empathy means to feel or understand the pain of others. Compassion takes it one step further by attempting to feel what the other person is feeling, identifying with it, accepting it, and taking some kind of merciful action. Or we could look for self-compassion, which is not as selfish as you might initially believe. Self-compassion is about being honest with ourselves and about our feelings. It means attempting to find alternative ways of healing our own pain; the pain that we feel. By attempting this seemingly difficult task, which by the way, is far easier than nursing that resentment, we quickly find that we can release our grip on the anger and bitterness we feel for another.

Then of course, like anything else; practice makes perfect.

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