What is resentment and how is it felt? Why is it something shameful in our society that is not customary to present and what is difficult to talk about? How to learn to be offended less and is it possible?
Resentment is not a single sensation, but a complex of feelings. Usually it includes anger, woundedness and self-pity and often an individual set of other emotions: impotence, sadness, depression, shame.
Resentment in our society is considered to be something shameful. Perhaps because it is a recognition of weakness: it arises where it was not possible to protect oneself inside the situation. Resentment is a feeling after the fact.
In fact, this is a completely normal reaction. Noticing your grievances and being able to handle them is an important skill. The worst thing you can do with an insult is to try to suppress it and pretend for yourself or yourself that nothing happened.
Unfortunately, this is exactly what, in essence, offer advice in the spirit of “forget and let go” or “just change your point of view on this situation.” If it were simple, resentment would not have arisen.
Such a strategy is ineffective. Resentment never appears from scratch – it arises where we are hurt, bogged down by words, deeds or the attitude of another person.
Indeed, it is not at all a fact that a person was guilty or deliberately wanted to harm us. But since he wounded us voluntarily or involuntarily, all the reactions associated with this are triggered: anger, sadness, desire to reject or attribute blame to himself, reduced self-esteem and shame.
It is impossible to suppress them, and if you do not pay attention to them, there is a risk that they will turn into destructive reactions directed at yourself or another. What to do with insults?
Learn to notice grievances
A decline in mood after talking with someone, sudden bouts of self-control, shame or anger are often a sign that we are emotionally injured, but we don’t recognize it or even didn’t notice it in the moment.
Sometimes fantasies – aggressive, vengeful – or scenes where someone offends you begin to play in your head. These may be memories or entirely fictional paintings.
Even if it seems to you that fantasies are in no way connected with reality, but at the same time they are colored by vivid emotions, ask yourself: Have you recently experienced similar feelings in reality? To whom? In what situation?
Understand what exactly caused the discomfort in the situation, words or deed
Helps to write out the whole situation and your feelings in it. For example: “Yesterday, in the company of friends, I began to talk about a new job, which I am very proud of. But they killed me with some nonsense and did not listen, and no one afterwards suggested that I return to this topic.
I felt that my achievements were not interesting or important to anyone, which means that I myself am not important and uninteresting for my friends. It was very disappointing.”
Or: “I was very hurt when my mother told me all evening about the successes of my older sister. At that moment, I just hated both of them! Why at least once in my life you can’t hear about my affairs or praise me?”
Or: “The mood turned out after talking with a friend. I remembered for a long time what was the matter and at what moment I was upset. It seems that this happened after she said in an arrogant tone: “You know, before you understand the investment tools, you need to clean up your finances and give all the loans.”
Remember: confessing feelings, even the most, from your point of view, unsightly, alone with yourself, you do not harm anyone! Only actions can do much harm.
Decide how to deal with resentment
The main thing with a sense of resentment is not to endure. This does not mean disrupting anger, immediately writing angry messages to the offended or making hasty conclusions (“Probably we should not talk anymore”).
This means that you know that you can protect yourself. Somehow, at least in hindsight. At least with the help of temporarily distancing oneself and pondering the situation.
The hardest part of resentment is the experience of helplessness: someone wounded us, but this has already happened and we seem to be unable to do anything about it. In fact, you can do quite a lot.
When someone’s words, act or tone towards you touched you, it’s a good idea to try to say (or write) about it at your next meeting. This is often difficult, because there is a feeling that talking about resentment after a while is stupid.
But without this step, it’s hard to start saying that you are hurt right at the moment when it happened (and for many people it’s even hard to realize that it happened).
The calm story that some words or actions of the interlocutor were uncomfortable for you is an important part of building a good, safe relationship. Because there are no safe relations without the ability to regulate them: to approach, move away, to inform that something is nice and something is not.
It is very good to work with this topic on therapy, especially when it comes to old grievances inflicted long ago in the past. The feelings associated with them can remain with a person for decades, and then it is important to express them somehow – talking to a psychologist, writing a letter to the offender and so on.
Analyze when it’s hard for you to protect yourself
Another question is why there is resentment. Not in the sense of why you are “such a touchy person that this is happening to you.”
Resentment arises at the moment when we could not protect ourselves immediately, directly in contact with another person. Of course, it is not possible to defend oneself in all situations – even if the boss says something sharp, there is not always freedom to object to him.
But if the scenario of “delayed insult” is repeated over and over again, then most likely this is a separate issue in a person’s life – and you need to learn how to protect yourself inside the situation.
There are several scenarios that, when they are regularly repeated, reduce or even block our ability to protect ourselves at such moments:
Fear of offending the offender
To drag an emotional blanket over yourself – alas, a fairly common technique. If, in response to even the calm “It was unpleasant for me now,” the interlocutor’s eyes flood with tears, this is a child’s reaction, and it’s strange to see it in an adult.
There is some confusion: I would like to talk about what hurt me, but instead I have to reassure the one who hurt me. And there is already no freedom to return to the previous topic, because there are fears that such a reaction will happen again.
In theory, a mature person should calmly perceive the information that some of his words or actions hurt you. He will either adjust his behavior or say that he is not ready to do this – and then you will have to decide whether you are ready to continue to communicate on such terms.
Offended in response to the expressed insult is an infantile reaction of someone who is not ready to admit that he is in some way imperfect or is perceived as such.
This experience is especially difficult for the child when the elders react in a similar way. Even adults in such a situation get lost: it’s hard not to feel guilty when you upset a person to tears and a trembling voice.
Children are not able to comprehend the whole situation and understand that it’s mom, dad or grandmother behave immature. Then the child feels that in principle it is impossible to be offended: if I am offended, I am bad, angry, moody and upset loved ones.
It will be difficult for an adult with such experience to immediately report his dissatisfaction: there is a vague feeling that it is better to remain silent, otherwise you will find yourself guilty, and the emotional load only increases.
This is a difficult and actually manipulative situation. The interlocutor seems to take away your right to be dissatisfied with something, while remaining a “good person” – although in fact he offended or hurt you and does not even want to listen to it.
An attempt to get out of it may be a calm but persistent continuation of the conversation: “I didn’t want to hurt you, but it’s important for me to still say that your words (actions) were unpleasant for me, and I want you to take this into account in the future”.
Fear of retaliatory aggression
This happens if a person did not have a healthy experience of expressing aggression in childhood: any dissatisfaction with the child was severely punished, for shouting or disobedience were beaten, and the like.
Accordingly, a person does not have a scenario in which you can safely report your discontent or vulnerability so as not to get an aggressive reaction.
The same sad experience can be gained at a later age. An example of an implicitly aggressive reaction to a grudge is when the interlocutor says, “I was uncomfortable with what you said,” begins to argue that the grudge is a “toxic feeling” (essentially, saying that you supposedly have no right to be offended), “The problem is in your view of this” and so on.
Or, in the worst case, it starts to quarrel noisily – with a voice increase and other manifestations of aggression. In any case, the message is the same as in the previous example: if you are vulnerable (you express discontent, discomfort and the like) – then you will find yourself to blame.
Fear of rejection
In general, this is also in the two previous examples: by an aggressive or manipulative reaction, the interlocutor rejects our feelings, not allowing them to be freely expressed.
An extreme variant of such a reaction is to completely reject a person in response to a message about an offense: to close oneself, stop talking, and even interrupt contacts.
Rejection is one of the most painful experiences in contact with others. Even if a person does not interrupt communication completely, it becomes very difficult to communicate: by his actions, he reports that he will not accept any dissatisfaction with him.
But when insults accumulate inside, this also distances people greatly. This is a stalemate situation, and if after talking about it a person does not change the strategy of behavior, sooner or later this will lead to the termination of relations.
All these three scenarios have the same outcome: anger, discontent, vulnerability and other difficult feelings accumulate inside a person.
But it’s scary to express them, because it’s scary to run into retaliatory anger, passive aggression or rejection. This leads to the fact that insults accumulate, and the person does not know how to express them.
If something like this happened in your childhood, then in adulthood it is important to learn to gradually defend yourself.
At the initial stages, distance works well with someone who offends you regularly, and safely clarifies relationships “at a distance”: by letters, messages, or putting off the conversation until you calm down.
Let “You know, last week you said something that hurt me” sounds strange. But this is the first step in order not to be afraid to learn how to immediately communicate your feelings.
In the case when something similar happens in your relationship with other people now, it’s important to insist that your feelings have a right to exist: no one has the right to make you endure discomfort, unpleasant jokes or anything that you don’t like .
It is important to first recognize this for yourself, and then, based on this thought, try to build a dialogue with those in whose society you regularly feel them.