Resentment, characterised by feelings of bitterness and anger, often appears when individuals feel they have been treated unfairly or when their expectations aren’t met.

The term “resent” is derived from Latin, combining the prefix “re-,” meaning “again,” with “sentire,” which translates to “to feel.” It suggests experiencing an insult repeatedly, often for years or even decades. This word for emotion is heavily laden with negative implications.

Advisories commonly recommend against harboring resentment, suggesting instead that individuals should move forward, finding humor in oneself. Holding onto anger, seeking revenge or maintaining grudges, as well as attributing one’s problems to external factors, are discouraged. The emphasis is on self-reflection rather than viewing oneself as a victim, as long-term anger towards those who have caused harm is seen as counterproductive.

Resentment and its related concept ressentiment, suggest feelings of chronic anger and are often associated with weakness, immaturity and a lack of character. These terms are typically applied to describe feelings of less powerful individuals towards those perceived as more powerful, indicating anger that has built up over time due to a lack of direct expression.

This emotion is particularly significant in the context of addiction and recovery, as emphasised by Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) in their Big Book. Alcoholism is seen as a symptom of deeper issues, including spiritual ailments with resentment being a major factor in the deterioration of individuals struggling with addiction.

AA’s Big Book says that resentment can lead to spiritual disease and is a substantial obstacle in the recovery from alcoholism. It suggests that living with deep resentment results in unhappiness and futility, obstructing spiritual growth and potentially triggering relapse into alcoholism. Resentment is metaphorically described as self-poisoning, where the individual holding the resentment is most harmed.

Unresolved Resentment

Feeling unresolved or without closure can make it challenging to progress. It’s a common desire to seek closure or an acknowledgment from those who’ve caused us distress, as this can sometimes be enough to alleviate resentment. The task of directly addressing the issue can seem daunting, leading many to choose the discomfort of resentment over the effort needed to confront and potentially resolve the situation. Without open dialogue, there’s a risk of remaining stuck and bitter.

Even if there’s no interest in continuing a relationship, finding a way to internally resolve these feelings is crucial for personal peace.

Letting go of resentment might feel like a defeat, as if it means letting someone off without consequences. However, releasing these feelings isn’t about winning or losing; it’s about freeing oneself to move on.

Clinging to resentment can falsely appear to offer a sense of control or protection against further pain. Yet, growth and peace often come from embracing vulnerability and releasing the need for control.

Similarly, resentment can act as a defensive barrier, protecting against future disappointment or hurt. It’s important to explore the deeper reasons behind clinging to negative feelings to overcome them and open the path to healing and future happiness.

In recovery programs like AA and Narcotics Anonymous (NA), addressing and resolving resentments is a important part of the healing process. The Twelve Steps emphasise making amends, forgiveness and releasing resentments as integral to recovery.

Understanding and managing resentments is essential in addiction treatment, as they can significantly impede progress. Self-reflection and awareness are key in identifying the roots of resentment and its impact on life and recovery efforts. By confronting and working through these feelings, individuals can advance towards lasting sobriety and a healthier, more fulfilling life.

Discover Resentment: A Comprehensive Addiction Guide

Resentment can be defined as a feeling of anger & bitterness after a perceived slight or offence. Get help from qualified counsellors.

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