Anger + Secret = Resentment

Anger is useful; resentment kills. What’s the difference? Anger serves a purpose. Resentment doesn’t. When I’m dangerously cut off while driving, I get angry as a survival response. If I’m still thinking and complaining about “that asshole drive” days later, then I’m uselessly resentful. The word resentment even comes from the French ressentiment meaning “re-sentimental.” The story gets stuck in a loop and consumes any equanimity of the present moment.

What can you do to break the resentment loop?
It’s a simple equation for me: anger + secret = resentment.  I can’t stop anger (“Stop being angry Jamison!” never works) but I can get honest. Sharing the experience of the anger (and not the victimization) with a trusted friend or mentor often frees me from the bondage of the spiraling story.

But sometimes I’m so entrenched in the victim role that I pull that confident into the story. What then? The ultimate antidote to resentment is looking for, and getting honest about, my responsiblity. That ex-girlfriend may have broken my heart when she left, but I played some role. Taking careful stock of my part, and perhaps even admitting it, removes resentment. It’s not easy but it works. Every time.

What do you do when you’re ravaged by resentment?
What do you do to free yourself from the bondage of story?

4 thoughts on “Anger + Secret = Resentment

  1. What a useful message I’ll share with many. Thx! Friend of your moms and hope to meet you sometime!!

  2. Your opening sentence…”Anger is useful; resentment kills” is so true and so
    useful as a point of reflection.

  3. Story is important, it is how we interpret our world, it is also how we understand one another. I think, that as you said, it is vital that we take the time to listen to the stories of others. When we stay embedded in our own minds we stop experiencing the world anew and instead are more likely to become trapped in loops reinterpreting the same story over and over again. This obsession reaps the resentment, the grudge you spoke of, and the truth is concealed from us. By listening and sharing we grow learning about ourselves and the world through dialectical relation.

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