“Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.” -Nelson Mandela
Time and time again, when we are hurt by others, we become plagued with resentment. We internalize our pain and mask it as an inner anger towards the other party. We subconsciously wish pain and harm on that person. However, what we do not realize is this does absolutely nothing more than hurt us further. Like Nelson Mandela explains, it is like drinking poison and hoping it will kill your enemy, or the one who has created the harm in the first place. The problem is that the poison will completely destroy your mind and body over time if you let it.
Resentment is defined as a feeling of anger or displeasure about someone or something unfair. Allowing yourself to feel this emotion obsessively is very damaging to your physical and mental health. Specifically, it can hurt you in the following ways:
Psychological Damage: Resentment and other negative emotions like contempt, anger and bitterness damage our normal psychological makeup. Dwelling on such feelings causes human beings to seek out future causes of those feelings that do not even exist by destroying our mindset. More specifically, resentment will cause you to see everything through spectacles of negativity. This will significantly inhibit your ability to see fruitful opportunities that are coming your way. Further, it causes us to begin viewing ourselves in a negative light which causes a snowball effect in the rest of our lives.
Physical Damage: Dr. Carsten Wrosch, of Concordia Univeristy in Montreal, explains that resentment and bitterness interfere with our body’s hormonal systems. This causes a majorly damaging effect through our entire body, much like extreme stress. Dr. Wrosch also has noted that these negative emotions interfere with our immune system as well causing us to be susceptible to illness and disease. The negativity can even cause heart problems, according to Dr. Charles Raison of the University of Arizona Health Sciences.
Social Problems: Plain and simple, resentment will eventually destroy your personality which will affect your friendships and relationships with family members. It will turn you into a person that nobody wants to spend any time with or interact with and leave you feeling even more empty and alone.
The damage is real, folks. If you have been dealing with these issues, just take a step back and evaluate how it has affected your life so far. Wouldn’t you like to put an end to it once and for all? Fortunately, there are various ways we can limit, and even eliminate, such destructive emotions. Here are a few helpful ways to eliminate resentment:
Vent to a Friend: If you have a trustworthy, non-judgmental close friend or family member, talk to them about the situation. They need to be close so they keep the information to themselves. And they must be non-judgmental so they don’t judge you or the other party in the future. There is nothing worse than fighting with a spouse or loved one, confiding in a friend about it, and then making up with that loved one only to have the friend project their own resentment on them in the future.
Get logical: We have a tendency to pollute our mind with feelings and emotions when we are hurt and dealing with resentment. Usually, the feelings are exaggerated and portions of the cause are fabricated. Stay away from what you’re feeling and ask yourself what am I thinking? Be logical about it. You are already dealing with real pain, don’t create more for yourself in the process.
Forgive and Forget: I get it. This is much easier said than done. But just like the stoic philosophers taught there are no good or bad things, there are only your reactions to them. I am a firm believer in this. You have the power to react how you want. No one can take that away from you. I am not telling you to let people walk all over you, but sometimes you need to be strong and show humility at the same time to capture a desired result or feeling in your life.
Eliminate the Cause: Many times, the bitterness that we hang onto is believed to be protecting us from future similar harm. This, however, is ridiculously inaccurate reasoning. It simply causes more problems. If you are unable to forgive and forget, then get rid of the cause. If it is a friend that has wronged you, end the relationship. If it is your spouse, then reevaluate the marriage, but by all means, DO NOT hang onto the resentment. It will hurt you worse than it hurts them, every time.
Look, there are various other ways to deal with this bitter pill and eliminate resentment completely, including focusing on gratitude and positive thoughts regarding the person who has harmed you. However, I know how difficult that can be in real life. It is nice to think about and in a perfect world, that could be very effective. And it sounds so great and positive too. But let’s face it, life is not always rainbows and butterflies. When you’re in these positions and dealing with the stress of everyday life, heading down the path of positivity can seem nearly impossible and downright stupid. But do whatever works for you. Your mind will thank you, and so will your body.