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An Antidote for Resentment

Updated: Nov 2, 2023

This blogpost is a report of the results of the experiment I mentioned in my blogpost titled, “You Sneaky Little Bugger.” You don’t necessarily have to read that post in order to get value from this post, but it will make for a richer, more complete experience if you read the other one first.

The answer is gratitude. Gratitude can be an antidote for resentment as well as other unpleasant emotions was the findings of my short but powerful experiment.

Research tells us that gratitude plays a vibrant part in our well-being.

People who regularly practice gratitude are happier and more optimistic. They also are more emotionally intelligent, more forgiving and have higher energy. They’re less likely to be depressed, anxious, or lonely.

Gratitude also helps create stronger, happier, and more connected relationships with others because it helps you maintain perspective, keep resentments at bay, and a bunch of other beneficial things.

With that background taken care of, let’s move to my experience of putting into practice a daily habit of gratitude towards something I was having resentment towards. By no means is this an "end" to continuing to learn the benefits of gratitude. Gratitude is a practice that can enrich our lives in meaningful ways, and I definitely experienced that.

I started off very strong and often came up with more than one thing to be grateful for in the subject I chose. At first it was things my subject DID. Then I thought of things this person actually WAS to me and thought that might be a "better route" to follow, but then decided it didn't really matter whether I focused on what my subject did vs who they were. What mattered was that when I was searching for my one gratitude item each day to record that night, my mind was focused on looking for the good and noticing the negative dropped WAY down low. One thing I teach in my coaching practice is that when we give our minds a job to do, it is very proficient in following orders and that was certainly the case here.

But I also fell victim to complacency. When I sent out my 2-week reminder to those I had invited to join me in this experiment, I was doing pretty well but had missed a day or two. However, I would "make up" the days I missed by going beyond my one per day. However, I really petered off the past 5 days or so and guess what I noticed? Yep, my mind on default fell prey to noticing the negative more easily. Why would I want to admit this to you all? Because that is what our brains do on default mode, and I wanted anyone else that might be feeling "defeated" to know that this is normal and that it's ok to treat yourself like you would a good friend and allow yourself to be human and give yourself some grace.

The analogy of a car came to mind. When we don't give our minds a job or focus, it's like being in neutral. The car will just roll according to the terrain, and we can end up in some precarious situations. Or we just sit there and go nowhere but we're also not "secure" in that stationary position. When we focus and are intentional, it's like being in drive mode. We can get to a particular destination and we have control over where we are going and are much more likely to end up where we want. Our momentum has a purpose and direction. In neutral, our momentum could possibly lead to undesirable results. Staying in gratitude was certainly a “drive mode” decision to be made!

I also noticed when I was looking for ways to be grateful for my "subject matter" in this experiment, I was finding gratitude in other areas of my life. It was almost like my brain was wanting to go the "extra mile" in what I had set it on a mission to do. I think this was a highlight for me.

Did it take effort to do this? Sure did. More effort than running on default for sure. Was it worth the extra effort? For me, a resounding YES! I figure the more effort I put into having gratitude, it will become more natural and automatic rather than a concentrated effort.

One of the responses I received from a member I invited to join the experiment said this: “While I only did this experiment for a short time, it was amazing to me how quickly being grateful for a list of things about a person can change how I feel about them! Gratitude really is powerful! And even after several days of not doing the gratitude list, my feelings for this person have still ‘softened’ because of the time that I did think of reasons I was grateful for them. Thanks for including me in this challenge!”

Another insight from another participant: “I did my gratitude experiment on my syndrome. I realized that there are so many things that Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS) has brought into my life. I realized that this circumstance has stretched me beyond what I ever would have done. I have knowledge that I never would have sought out. There were some surprising and eye-opening thoughts as I pondered on my syndrome and found benefits I may not have realized without focusing gratitude towards it.

I agree with you about the car analogy. I tried to do it regularly and then I would get sidetracked and not do it and I noticed that I went down the rabbit hole of ‘why me’ sometimes or get discouraged when I wasn't in ‘gratitude mode.’

It took effort to come up with things to be grateful for, but when I sat there pondering, I noticed my brain would come up with more than one thing, which surprised me.

I also realized that I do have a lot of resentment towards my circumstance of EDS. That I look at others and resent them for being healthy (hubby too) notice the things they can do that I cannot. Also, resentment towards God for giving me this syndrome. Basically, I am envious of others - that I have been given this and they have not. But when I am in the vibration of gratitude, all of that melts away and I can see the bigger picture of being stretched, of learning, of becoming more the person I’m meant to be.”

I think that is a great note to end on! I invite you to share in the comment things you are grateful for or your insights about the benefits of gratitude in your life.

High Five!


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1 Comment

Oct 13, 2023

Thanks for sharing your thoughts about gratitude! I've been practicing living IN my life by accepting (and feeling grateful for) what IS, instead of resisting what it IS by thinking something is "wrong" or "missing" in my life. By accepting how I've created my life, I feel fuller in it and can still want something that I don't yet have, but it comes from a place of wanting to "add" something to the fullness instead of wanting to "fill an empty space".

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