The Path to Overcoming Bitterness and Resentment

Bitterness and resentment can come from a variety of sources. It can take hold of your life, seeping into areas of your existence that you never thought possible. 

In a way, these emotions can be thought of as an infection. Left unchecked, it will spread and consume your whole life. If you are currently bitter or resentful, chances are you don’t want to be feeling the way you do. You wish things were different, and you could go back to being happy. The truth of the matter is that until you do the work to overcome these feelings, experiencing sustained happiness could be tough. 

Fortunately, there are ways to overcome bitterness and resentment so you can achieve the peace and happiness you deserve. Here are some to get you started. 

Check-in With Your Thoughts When You Experience These Feelings

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Are you able to feel it in your body when resentment or bitterness takes over? Do you feel the clenching of your jaw or the tension in your shoulders? You can use these cues to recognize when these feelings are taking over you once again. 

This is a great time to slow things down and delve into your thoughts. Some experts suggest asking yourself the reason you’re feeling this way. Additionally, it might be worth thinking about past experiences that could be causing these emotions to rise to the surface. Is your feeling right now caused by the same situation. 

Checking in with yourself is a great way to slow down and determine whether your current situation is worth letting these feelings take over. It will also get you to ask whether there is a better way you could be spending your time or focusing your energy.

Stop Telling Your Tale to Others

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While it may feel cathartic to tell others your story, it may be doing more harm than good. Telling people frequently about the issue could only amplify your feelings of bitterness and resentment. 

It is fine to tell a close friend or two what happened. But if you find yourself continuously talking about the situation, you could be just feeding those emotions and causing them to fester. This is much different from talking to a therapist because they are trained to help you find ways to overcome your bitterness and resentment. They can do this by giving you strategies on how to deal with them when they come along.

Challenge Yourself to Think Positively About the People You Resent

When you are resentful and bitter every time you hear someone’s name, it may be difficult for you to have any positive feelings for them. 

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Focusing on this negativity is a sure way of letting your resentment and bitterness control your life. Some experts suggest that a way to overcome your negative feelings toward this person, or persons, is to try and remember some good things about them. This isn’t easy, of course. But when you focus on the good about a person, it reminds you that not everything about them is terrible. Looking at the people who hurt you with positivity can help you to let go of your negative emotions towards them. 

Write a Letter to the Offending Party, But Don’t Send it

When someone hurts us, it is only normal to think about all the things we want to say to them if we had the chance. The problem is often, we don’t have that opportunity, or we don’t have the guts to actually talk to them. 

Some psychologists recommend writing a letter to those who have wronged you, but not sending it. They say it’s a great way to get past some of these pent-up emotions. 

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Writing this letter will allows you to say everything you wanted to say to those that hurt you, without needing to worry about consequences or forgetting anything. 

Imagine the emotions draining out of you as you write them on a piece of paper. Write how the person hurt you and the impact it had on your life. It’s also essential to write your forgiveness so you can truly move on. It doesn’t mean you have to forget. But forgiveness is a choice you can make to not allow these emotions to control you again.

Claim Responsibility for Your Part in the Matter

Did you lend money to a dear friend, against your best judgment, only to have him not pay you back? Are you bitter because your ex cheated on you, even though you were aware of all the red flags and have been warned by your friends? 

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Just because you were wronged, doesn’t mean that you don’t bear some responsibility. In those cases, you chose to ignore signs, and, unfortunately, it didn’t play out in your favor. Taking responsibility for ignoring those harbingers can move you from the victim’s role to someone who made a bad decision. 

Mental health professionals agree that there can be a great advantage to taking —some— responsibility for what you can. It takes you out of the role of a helpless person and puts you in the position of taking back your power.

Moving Past Resentment and Bitterness So You Can Move On

Staying bitter and angry is not a great recipe for a happy life. By holding onto these emotions, you are giving them permission to control you and turn you into a helpless victim. It is not a stretch to say that everyone wants to be happy in life. Sometimes getting to that point requires hard work. 

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All these tips help you start the process of letting go. Psychologist Leon Seltzer say that holding onto bitterness can cause serious long-term effects, like:

  • Anxiety and depression
  • A depleted, or compromised, immune system
  • Harming other important relationships that had nothing to do with the situation that hurt you.
  • Worsen your emotional and mental pain

In the end, you choose whether you want to remain bitter and resentful, or be happy. 

Doing the work to make that happen is up to you. Additionally, you must get to the point of forgiveness. Once you can forgive, you will truly be able to leave behind the bitterness and resentment you have felt.

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