How to Deal with Feelings of Resentment

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Feelings of resentment arise when painful emotions are experienced but not adequately or effectively expressed. Perhaps a friend said something hurtful to you, or your boss criticized your work. Your feelings are hurt, but you are not comfortable talking about the pain. The wound festers and resentment builds. Expressing painful feelings is not easy to do, but burying these feelings will keep you stuck and unable to move beyond resentment. There are steps you can take to get past resentment and reach a place of understanding and forgiveness.

Express Feelings

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To get beyond the overwhelming and nebulous feeling of resentment, ask yourself, "What else am I feeling? What did I feel before I felt resentment? Was it hurt or anger?" To begin to release the resentment that is keeping you stuck, dig beneath the surface to determine what lies beneath. Talk the situation over with an understanding friend or a therapist or by writing in a journal. Journaling is a safe way to get to your deeper feelings and thoughts.

Get Some Exercise

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Strong feelings are difficult to manage. Exercise is an effective tool for releasing the adrenaline associated with intense emotions, particularly right after an upsetting event. Go for a brisk walk or any other form of aerobic exercise that you enjoy and that elevates your heartbeat. When your emotions are under better control, the rational side of your brain will be able to work more effectively to help you move beyond resentment.

Seek Understanding

Once you have given voice to your emotions and the adrenalin has dissipated, you are more easily able to move toward understanding, both of yourself and of those involved. Again, writing in a journal and/or talking is helpful. As you do so, it will become clearer to you why the other person acted as he or she did and why you responded the way you did.

Take Action

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Hanging on to feelings of resentment is often a convenient way to avoid action. Dr. Paula Bloom, a practicing psychologist and frequent CNN contributor, describes it this way in an article on "Resentment and anger are not only toxic, but often intoxicating. Anger can sometimes act as an antidote to feeling powerless: You can feel really powerful when you are indignant. But, like many drugs, the feeling is artificial and fleeting."

Perhaps you need to set clearer boundaries with the person involved, or let the person know how you feel about something he or she is doing or has done. Perhaps you have expectations of the person that you have not acknowledged to yourself. Taking positive action to improve yourself and your relationships will help end resentful feelings.

Express Gratitude

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Feeling resentful can become a pattern of behavior -- and not a comfortable or effective one. To avoid this trap in the future, try keeping a gratitude journal. Place an empty journal for this purpose next to your bed. Each morning when you awake, or in the evening before you go to sleep, write down three things for which you are grateful. That's all there is to it. Once in a while it's fun to go back and read what you have written. What you read may surprise you!