This is Part 5 in a series on Recovery.
On Recovery, Part 1
Long-term, maturity, or recovery is more about mastering your thoughts and emotions than merely getting sober: stopping specific maladaptive behaviors.
Your level of expectations determines your level of resentment.
The higher your expectation for something to happen or for someone to be or do something for you, the more likely you will experience pain, disappointment, and anger.
Expectations = What you think 'should' happen. Selfish desire. What you think you want in the future to experience happiness.
Anger = an emotional state, with a broad range of feelings, from irritation to frustration to rage. Anger is often experienced when a perceived line is crossed: a perceived threat or an injustice. Anger is not a 'bad' emotion. Reacting out of anger, not out of your values, is bad.
Resentment = stored anger based on a belief that you have been wronged. The more significant the relationship, the deeper the potential injury and the deeper the possible resentment. The more disappointment you feel and the more you think you've been wronged, the more you will be tempted to sow resentment.
Internally, the more you sow resentment, the more you will reap disconnection with yourself and God, leading to distorted thinking, darkness, and despair.
Externally the more you sow resentment, the more conflict, chaos, and criticism you will give and experience.
The more resentment, the more you will think things like: "Why does this [enter disappointment] always happen to me?"
The more resentment, the more you will say things like: "You always [enter disappointment]."
Resentment will lead to addictive or coping behaviors. Resentment is one of the 5 Strongholds. Because resentment is so disturbing and devastating, it's a primary trigger for choosing a behavior that will consistently change your mood:
- scrolling distracting and isolating behaviors,
- social media,
- looking at pornography,
- seeking the attention of another that leads to an affair,
- abusing alcohol.
It's all connected. And it grows over time.
The more you feed the resentment monster, the bigger the beast becomes.
For example, how happy do you expect your partner to make you? It's one thing to hope they add joy to your life. Who would choose marriage if they believed it would make their life miserable? But, the more you need and expect your partner to make you happy, the more you are set up for disappointment, resentment, and only seeing how they fail to meet your expectations.
Downstream of resentment, you can identify it, name it, and surrender it to the Lord. Develop a daily reflection practice of identifying and surrendering resentment to God.
Upstream, practice hope, gratitude, vulnerability, and love as the antidotes to resentment. Develop a daily reflection practice of praying with hope and praying for those who have hurt you. Today, let's look at hope.
Hope isn't an expectation. Hope is a resilient attitude of positive orientation to the future, regardless of what outcome occurs.
Hope finds gratitude with whatever you have currently.
Hope lets go of expectations or needing anything or anyone to make you happy.
Hope dares to dream and believes that good can come but doesn't attach your worth or happiness to outcomes.
Hope leads to gratitude and seeing opportunities to serve and to create value wherever you are, whatever you are doing, come what may.
Gratitude and finding opportunities during difficulties lead to resilience.
What expectations did you have that led to your current resentments?
What can you dare hope for?
Sometimes, the thing that prevents you from overcoming resentment is actually naming and grieving the pain and loss that you have experienced underneath the resentment. What trusted person can you tell about your unspoken pain? What resentment do you need to name and surrender to God?
"Self-absorption in all its forms kills empathy, let alone compassion. When we focus on ourselves, our world contracts as our problems and preoccupations loom large. But when we focus on others, our world expands. Our own problems drift to the periphery of the mind and so seem smaller, and we increase our capacity for connection - or compassionate action."
Daniel Goleman, Social Intelligence
"Anyone can become angry —that is easy. But to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose, and in the right way —this is not easy."
Aristotle, The Nicomachean Ethics
Use the questions above as journaling prompts this week. Externalize your thoughts and get off the hamster wheel of death that is resentment. As the saying goes, resentment is like drinking poison and hoping the other person will die. Knowing this is true isn't enough. It is time to give it up.