There are people that tend to always stand out in the cold, gazing through the window at everyone nestled up to a warm fire enjoying each others company. They know the people inside are happy and having a good time and they hate every one of them for it because they desperately want to be inside too. They complain about how they never get invited inside, even though the door is not locked and they could enter anytime they pleased. And when you invite them inside, they will fight with you for inviting them, but they still expect you to stand there and listen to why it sucks that they are not inside. Then they will hate you for eventually going inside too.
This observation was shared with me by a close friend recently and it was one I had never considered.
These people are resentful people. They resent everything and everyone for whatever imagined or real slight occurred and they never forget or forgive even minor mishaps from childhood. They would rather hold onto the unhappiness of that moment so they can throw it in your face later, than let it go and work on moving forward. It fills them up in a way that I do not understand.
When resentment takes control of any relationship, things that you always took for granted will start to disappear. Trust, clarity, communication and basic human decency will be replaced with rage, despair and resentment.
People resent other people for several different reasons. Perhaps they feel the other person is liked more, or gets more attention than they do. Jealousy of another person’s life being better than your own is another reason. Low self esteem and withholding anger over time can fertilize a resentment almost to the point of completely changing a person’s behavior and outlook on life. Like a festering sore, resentment can make you sick, physically and in your own heart, if you don’t take steps to rid yourself of the infection.
Overcoming resentment is a lot harder than you’d think. When something is left to stew for decades it will take more than just an afternoon of talking to make it get any better. Most people don’t have the stamina or the inclination to even give it a try, so they hang onto their resentment and the bitterness for their whole lives.
“Forgiveness is the fragrance the violet sheds
on the heel that has crushed it.“
~ Mark Twain
I have been told that to forgive the person that resents you is the best course of action, but I tend to agree more with my close friend’s observation. Forgiving someone, especially if you know they’ll never change, takes a whole lot of energy with no promise of success. She and I both agree that sometimes it’s better to just walk away rather than forgive every asshole you encounter in life.
Spend your time on the people that make you happy, not on the people that wish you were dead.
Being the object of someone’s resentment is not a safe or pleasant place to be. Most therapists will tell you to steer clear of this person, especially when your discomfort and unhappiness seem to make the resentful person dance a little jig.
If you’re unaware of the resentment there are clues that will warn you that something is amiss.
If your friend constantly tries to put you “in your place” by manipulating other people’s perspective of you, then you should consider that there is some resentment there.
If your friend takes delight in other people’s disapproval of something you’ve done, well, there might be some resentment there.
If you are constantly asked to apologize for incidents long passed that you have apologized for over and over again, then there might be some resentment there.
When your friend refuses to acknowledge your major life events and offers lame excuses for not being present and supportive, then there might be some resentment there.
That old saying about keeping friends close and keeping enemies even closer holds some truth when you’re dealing with someone that resents you. Often the person doing the resenting isn’t even aware that they are acting out. All they know is that in their heart, they secretly despise you, even though on the outside they would never let you know that. Remaining close to you might give them some comfort or some cache and it also gives them firsthand knowledge every time you fall from grace.
So what do you do when you find yourself standing outside of that cozy room where all your friends are, listening to someone that you know resents you?
How do you deal with someone’s resentment?
When someone I’ve suspected of harboring these kinds of feelings for me finally blows their top and lets me see how they really feel, I tend to just let them get it all out of their system. Yes, it hurts and the temptation to counterattack is tempting, but you have to remind yourself why this is happening and just stay silent. The person screaming at you and telling you what a horrible person they think you are is merely showing you a vivid picture of how they actually feel on the inside.
The most important thing you need to remember is that even though they have attacked you, they do not have control of your reactions, just as you have no control over theirs. The fact that they resent you is their right, just as it is your right to choose not to participate. You can try to understand why they feel this way, but there are no guarantees that this process will ever enlighten you or make your relationship with this person any better.
My best advice is to just let the person go. You can do this quietly and with love in your heart.
I can talk about this because I have felt that awful monster, resentment. I have blown my top and said things I wished I could take back. From that experience I learned that rather than be jealous of another friend’s accomplishments or happiness that perhaps achieving this for myself could be a better use of my time and energy.
I also stopped allowing resentment to build and fester. Whenever I have a problem now I speak up and work through any issues or expectations I have of someone else. I give them the respect they deserve in letting them work with me to come to a resolution that suits both of us, rather than always being selfish with meeting my own needs.
I have been on the receiving end of a friend’s resentment. Hearing how much they hated me, or hearing that they engaged in gossip, or harmful resentment behavior with someone else regarding me, has never felt “good”. In almost all of those instances I have quietly walked away from the person. It’s drama I don’t need or desire in my life anymore. I can’t fix them and I am not going to sit idly still while they continue with their self destruction while abusing me.
Resentment is one of the worst forms of self abuse. It will eat you alive.
Resentment is a beast to deal with on your own. I would suggest that if this is something you’re experiencing to seek counseling in order to deal with the issues you’re having with yourself. Blaming and hating other people because you are unhappy will never fix the problem. Especially when the problem is how you feel about yourself and it lies within your own heart.
Every relationship in your life is a two way street. If it ever becomes a one way street, the only destination you will ever reach is a dead end. Learn how to forgive yourself before you run out of highway because loving yourself is the best way to start loving someone else.