Why Resentment Is The Worst Thing In Any Relationship
We live in a world where no one can get inside anyone else's mind… yet. There are impenetrable barriers blocking us from truly understanding anyone on earth besides ourselves. Unfortunately, this can lead to a consistent lack of understanding with one or more people in our lives — and resentment.
Resentment is the process of becoming bitter when you perceive that you've been treated unfairly. The problem is, no one else has to perceive it that way. Resenting is an entirely solitary act that we partake in. While there are plenty of clear cut examples of wrongdoing (like lying or stealing), most relationship issues fall somewhere in the gray area. One person may feel wronged, while the other is simply being themselves. Or one person may feel neglected, while the other feels smothered. In many of these situations, both parties are just doing what comes naturally in judging the other person's actions as offensive. These are nothing but perceptions.
Whether it's directed at a family member, friend, or partner, resentment will slowly erode any relationship, eventually bringing it to a dead halt. There is no way to efficiently work around resentment; the only way to feel better is to work through it. As resentment builds over several misgivings, it solidifies, making it more difficult to return to the original relationship with that person.
So what gives? What do people actually do to repair these situations?
Resentment directly involves expectations. We either expected something from someone and didn't get it, or we didn't expect something negative and we did get it. Unless the other person is denying you respect or decent treatment, it's not good to resent them because you expected different things from them. This simply sets you up for disappointment in all types of relationships. Instead of expecting things silently, actually try to understand and know other people first. This way, you won't be surprised or hurt by their behavior. By knowing someone well and understanding where they come from, you will naturally know what to expect from them.
If you are already in a place of deep resentment towards someone, you have to work your way backwards to a clean slate. If you're not willing to do this, you should separate yourself from that person as they will be a continuous source of stress and unhappiness. Remember that resentment is almost certainly hurting you more than it is hurting the other person, so it is completely detrimental and useless. “Living with resentment is like taking poison and hoping the other guy will get sick.”
So what are a few things you can do to help rid yourself of resentment? The most obvious option is talking to the other person in a non-confrontational manner. While this may seem awkward or even out of the question, a simple conversation can sometimes clear up a seemingly complex issue. If it doesn't, you may need to practice letting go of resentment on your own, as the issue is mostly within your control — not the other person's. It's likely that the other person does not understand exactly how they offended you and how hurt you are, so by avoiding conversation you're preventing them from being able to explain or make amends.
Resentment can become a comfortable habit. We can easily tell ourselves that it's “justified” simply because someone wronged us. However, it's not justified. Everyone on earth has been slighted, some far worse than others. It's not our right to sulk or refuse to move forward, and it doesn't serve us to do so anyway. So the best approach to take is self-training. Train yourself to be aware of resentful thoughts and keep your mind busy with more productive thoughts. While we can't choose what we feel, we can choose our reactions to those feelings and how long we wallow in them.