Updated: Apr 15
Let’s talk about resentment. Imagine being hurt by someone you loved and trusted deeply. What would you do? What would you say to them? How would you handle the situation? Now imagine being hurt by someone you barely even know. What would you do? What do you say to them? How would you handle the situation?
Both scenarios, regardless of if the offence comes at the hands of someone you know and trust or they are an acquaintance, can cause resentment. These are just two of the many causes of resentment. Most cases involve an underlying sense of being mistreated or wronged by another person. Experiencing frustration and disappointment is a normal part of life, but when the feelings linger and become too overwhelming, they can contribute to resentment.
The list of potential offences that can cause resentment is long or one can say endless: rapists, murderers, child abuse, unloving parents, siblings and other family members. Infidelity, friends and family that have betrayed your trust, physical and mental abuse. Though this list does not cover all offences, we understand that there are many others.
Resentment can be visible, but sometimes you can harbor resentment and not even realize it’s there. Sometimes it’s buried so deep within that it only emerges when you are face to face with the individual that hurt you. Living with resentment can be harmful to you, to your health, and the longer it lives within you, the more damage you do to yourself.
Here is my own personal story:
After 25 years of marriage, I found myself on the verge of being divorced. All the hurt, anger, and resentment I was feeling was raging in me like a furnace. It gave me the choice to either be bitter or let go of the pain. For a long while, my feelings towards my ex-husband raged, but I had our three children, who were already adults, to think about. Even though I was in pain, I encouraged my children to have a relationship with their father because I knew how valuable it was to have a relationship with one’s father. I would not speak ill of him in front of them but, behind closed doors, I was a mess. How could he hurt me like that and now our children were also suffering? I felt my world spiraling out of control and to get away; I left the country and went to my birthplace of Trinidad & Tobago.
I was alone. I had family in Trinidad, but for the first time, I was truly alone. No children, no grandson, no mom or dad to lean on. I had to make a way for myself. In that one year that I was away from my family, I had to face all the pain, anger, and bitterness that was building up inside of me. I had to rediscover who I was. To look back through my life and address and process all the hurt that had happened, especially during my 25 years of marriage. I realized I was holding on to past hurts that I had buried so deep they had been forgotten.
I had many health issues and a lot of pain throughout my body. I also dealt with stress and anxiety. Once I got to the root of my issues and acknowledged that I had been hurt and owned my mistakes, I could finally start letting forgive, little by little. In that one year, I felt things shifting inside of me. I didn’t have as much pain in my body and my stress and anxiety level were decreasing. I realized that the act of me letting go and forgiving my ex-husband as well as myself was helping me mentally, emotionally, physically as well as spiritually. This wasn’t about receiving an apology or denying the wrongdoings and hurt. This was about me wanting to be at peace and be free. It would be a few more years before I saw my ex-husband face to face, but when I finally saw him, I felt nothing. I wasn’t angry or hurt. All that had happened in our marriage wasn't on my mind. I was free.
Studies have found that the act of forgiveness can reap huge rewards for your health, lowering the risk of heart attack; improving cholesterol levels and sleep; and reducing pain, blood pressure, and levels of anxiety, depression, and stress. And research points to an increase in the forgiveness-health connection as you age.
“There is an enormous physical burden to being hurt and disappointed,” says Karen Swartz, M.D., director of the Mood Disorders Adult Consultation Clinic at The Johns Hopkins Hospital. Chronic anger puts you into a fight-or-flight mode, which results in many changes in heart rate, blood pressure, and immune response. Those changes increase the risk of depression, heart disease,
and diabetes, among other conditions. Forgiveness, however, calms stress levels, leading to improved health.
Is there any resentment that you are holding on to? Is there an individual or situation that, when mentioned, sends you into a dark place? Take a moment to think about it write it down if necessary.
Finding me in my homeland. Trinidad & Tobago.