Resentment is a negative emotion that comes out of an experience of being wronged. Whether the perceived wrong is truly coming from being hurt by another person, or simply something you imagine, resentment can gnaw at you, making relapse more likely or the recovery process less enjoyable.
Thus, it is very important to understand your feelings of resentment, and find ways to manage them so you don't feel overtaken by negativity.
Resentment is a common human emotion, and one that can easily come up in recovery
Almost every day, people face inconveniences or things about the world that seem imperfect or unjust. Resentment creeps in when you move from merely feeling upset about a less then ideal situation, and blame someone else for causing it or benefiting unfairly.
The early stages of the recovery process can be a time when you feel a lot of intense emotions, and resentment is very common. You may feel resentful your friends and family do not appreciate the hard work and growth of your recovery, and continue to treat you as a mistrustful addict.
You may become resentful at the people helping you with your recovery, viewing their actions or rules as unfair or controlling. You may become resentful when other people seem to be having more success or an easier time in their recovery then you.
How resentment can harm the recovery process
Resentment can often be a very powerful trigger for relapse, because it can easily become an overpowering, negative emotion that you become willing to do anything to drown out. One of the main problems with resentment is that it focused all your attention on other people.
When your mind is consumed with thoughts of anger and resentment, your attention is focused on the actions of others, or how horrible someone else's behavior towards you was. Recovery is about learning how to stop blaming other people for your behavior, and instead focusing on controlling the only thing you can truly control – yourself.
Resentment blinds you from really being able to see your actions, both how you can sometimes hurt others, and how you are able to take charge and manage your behavior, rather then feel enslaved to the actions of others.
Furthermore, holding onto resentments just makes life unpleasant. It doesn't actually hurt the people you feeling resentful towards, but it does hold you down, as if you were carrying a heavy weight in your heart everywhere you went.
Learning how to be able to let go of these negative feelings for real, without just turning to addiction as a way to muffle your pain is a vitally important part of the recovery process.
Dealing with resentment
One good way to deal with resentment is learn how to overwhelm it with positive emotions. When you feel a spirit of resentment creeping up, refocus your thoughts by instead finding things to be grateful for, or ways to enjoy life in spite of the perceived unfair situation. Dwelling on the positive can be a great way to reduce your negative emotions.
It can be good to bring your resentments out into the open, dealing with them directly, rather then trying to repress them and letting them fester. Meditative self-inventories, journaling, and honest talking about your feelings in a supportive group can all help bring resentful feelings out into the open, where they can be both acknowledged and challenged.
It can also be really helpful to revisit situations about which you feel resentful, and think about them more carefully and critically. It's possible you might have had a role in something about which you were blaming someone else.
Growing in this level of self-awareness and control over your own emotions is a very important step in letting go of the resentments that keep you from recovery.