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You Sneaky Little Bugger

Updated: Oct 10, 2023

If someone asked me what my “go-to” negative emotions are, I’d admit to frustration and annoyance. Yeah, not proud of that, but everyone has emotions that fit in their comfort zone – both ones that serve them and ones that we’d rather not divulge.

While in a state of frustration, I was reading the book, “Atlas of the Heart” by Brené Brown, and she was explaining the emotion of resentment. As I read along, I was in total awe at the timing of this read. I was in a state of resentment and was clueless about it. Sometimes when we have our “comfort zone” feelings, we miss other feelings that either like to be pals with those comfort feelings, or they are underlying feelings, hiding beneath the familiar feelings.

It's hard to hide frustration and annoyance. People usually see or feel their presence. But resentment often hides behind less “shameful” emotions (unless we’re in perpetual resentment and it spews out like venom). Its poison is much more lethal than the obvious emotions. Resentment is one sneaky little bugger! I can bring myself to admit out loud my weakness for frustration or annoyance, but resentment?! No one wants to be guilty of that “crime.” So once we recognize it, we layer shame onto the nasty emotion sandwich. How can I hide this – from others as well as myself?!

Resentment falls into the envy family. I loved the examples Brené Brown used in what resentment looks like:

“I’m not mad because you’re resting. I’m mad because I’m so bone tired and I want to rest. But, unlike you, I’m going to pretend that I don’t need to.”

“I’m not furious that you’re ok with something that’s really good and imperfect. I’m furious because I want to be okay with something that’s really good and imperfect.”

“Your lack of work is not making me resentful, my lack of rest is making me resentful.”

I wrote a blog post about how the truth can set us free and reading these examples fit wonderfully into that category.

If you’re as intrigued as I was about this knowledge, here is the definition Brené Brown gives in the book I’ve been citing:

“Resentment is the feeling of frustration, judgment, anger, ‘better than,’ and/or hidden envy related to perceived unfairness or injustice. It’s an emotion that we often experience when we fail to set boundaries or ask for what we need, or when expectations let us down because they were based on things we can’t control, like what other people think, what they feel, or how they’re going to react.”

Because my prior perception of resentment was much more dramatic and demonic than it often appears, I had no awareness of how it had crept into my world. I mistakenly pictured a resentful person as one who was almost constantly openly bitter about someone or something, and that was not me!

As I recognized, and then contemplated resentment, I wondered what the antidote to it might be. Gratitude was what I had settled on. So, I decided to conduct my own experiment. Along with doing this myself, I asked some close family and friends to pick something that was fairly constant in their lives that can be a source of resentment or had recently been a source of resentment – a spouse, child, friend, parent, coworker, job, school. Anything that was a fairly constant part of their lives, and for a month, think of just ONE thing about that person, object or place they were grateful for and report back.

Because of the length of my “report” on the fun experiment on gratitude, stay tuned next week for “An Antidote for Resentment” blogpost!

High Five!

And hey, if you're enjoying these reads, please share so more people can benefit!


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