The word resentment means “a feeling of indignant displeasure or persistent ill will at something regarded as a wrong, insult, or injury.” The word resentment originates from the French word “ressentir”, meaning to re-feel or to feel something over and over again. But, what is the process of defusing resentment?
The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous consistently mentions resentments. It says that for the alcoholic or person suffering from addiction, the business of resentment is infinitely grave. It says “the greatest enemies of us alcoholics are resentment, jealousy, envy, frustration, and fear.” Other passages mention “It is plain that a life which includes deep resentment leads only to futility and unhappiness” as well as “Resentment is the number one offender. It destroys more alcoholics than anything else. From it stem all forms of spiritual disease.” The Big Book also mentions that in order for alcoholics to find recovery and live a life of recovery, that people suffering from addiction, substance use disorder, or alcoholism must be free of resentment. It says that when an alcoholic harbors resentment, the insanity of alcoholism returns and alcoholics drink again. As part of Step 4 of Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, and all other 12 Step programs, part of a searching and fearless inventory is writing down all resentments, “fancied or real”, so that eventually those resentments can be understood and overcome, leading to freedom of the bondage of alcoholism and a life of recovery.
Much of our mental energy is spent having conversations in our heads. Prepping for conversations in the future. Revisiting conversations of the past. Constant thinking things like “I should have said this” or “What would have happened had I said that instead.” We are often regretful at the past or hold resentments towards things that have happened. We are also social planners, planning conversations that often never happen, or never happen in the way we think they will. This type of thinking saps our energy and makes it so we are unable to live in the present moment. We focus on our resentments, our anger, and our regrets. This price pays a heavy toll on our emotional state and our mental health. It exhausts us. It makes it so we cannot enjoy the present. We need to find ways to free ourselves of these burdens. To defusing resentment. To learn how to forgive others if they have wronged us, whether in truth or in our perception of events. We need to be able to find a level of acceptance of our lives and acceptance for the world as it is, and not as we wished it would be. However, this is easier said than done.
Being mindful and practicing mindfulness is a key aspect of dealing with or lessening the impact of defusing resentment. In a way, it is a proactive approach to potential resentments. Practicing mindfulness allows us the ability to stay in the present moment, being mindful when feelings or thoughts of resentment begin to creep in, and handle them as they arrive, in the moment. Mindfulness as a practice allows for us to create greater self-observation and awareness, as well as an ability to recognize how we are feeling or thinking in a particular moment, recognizing those thoughts or feelings, observing them for what they truly are, and then moving on to our awareness in the present moment. As with anything, mindfulness takes practice, but repeated practice turns something that can be difficult into something that becomes habitual and eventually a natural reaction. With regular practice of mindfulness, we will find that we are able to stop harboring resentments and letting them consume us. We will find that over time, our practice has become habitual, and we are no longer a victim to negative thought patterns or overwhelming feelings, but rather are able to identify them, observe them, and move past them into more positive thoughts and actions.
For all people, resentment leads to anger, hate, jealousy, and a bondage of the mind. Learning new tools to be mindful, to stay in the present moment, to create an honest self-observation and awareness of one’s thoughts, and to stay free of resentments and the obsession of how others and the world may have harmed us, will ultimately be the path to defusing resentment and leading to a more happy, free, fulfilling life.
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