Friday, April 12, 2024
HomeEditorialsA Psychological Insight To Heal Resentment

A Psychological Insight To Heal Resentment

psychology -- how to get rid of resentment
How privately unmasking ourselves can be therapeutic.

New insight brings new feeling. (Lewis Smedes) Oxford Languages defines resentment as “bitter indignation at having been treated unfairly.” In other words, resentment is motivated by a sense of injustice. The fact that the world is full of injustice is a point that does not need belabored. But the goal here is to reduce human suffering. Practicing empathy by seeking to understand the offender’s perspective and background is a first recommendation. There is always a reason why people do what they do and are the way they are. Empathy does not excuse bad behavior, but it can make it easier for offended parties to process their grievances.    

However, there is also an inward-looking approach that turns resentment on its head. It happens when we take inventory, not of the times people wronged us, but of the times people—most often due to ignorance—did not hold us accountable for our mistakes. Put differently, the times that we “got away with it” and people treated us better than we deserved. Secret sins, if you will, simply do not get the attention they deserve.

If your thoughts were laid bare here tonight, every one of them, you would all run out of here in shame.

Paul Washer

In this category fall lust envy, greed, gossip, fear, anger, and so on. The extent of these is unknowable by others because they take up primary residence in the mind. And people project the best versions of themselves in public. In truth, even the best of friends would be in for a lot of surprises if they had unlimited access to each other’s thought life. No one armed with knowledge of another’s secret sins could ever look at them the same again.

In Matthew 18, Jesus told a parable of a man who was forgiven a great debt by a king to whom he owed money. The man then went out and ruthlessly prosecuted delinquent debtors who owed him a much smaller sum. The king summoned the man and chided him for his hypocrisy. The king is supposed to represent God. God sees our secret sins and chooses to look the other way. Yet we so often hold on even to the slightest offenses from others.

Sometimes we don’t get the good that we think we deserve, whereas other times we are spared the bad that we know we deserve. It follows that both injustice and grace are woven into the fabric of society. This insight gives us something today to pit against whatever resentment we might be tempted to feel.  

For more on the topic, see 7 Reasons Why I Should Forgive Others Today.

An intellectually curious millennial passionate about seeing people make healthy, informed choices about the moral direction of their lives. When I’m not reading or writing, I enjoy hiking, web-making, learning foreign languages, and watching live sports. Alumnus of Georgetown University (B.S.) and The Ohio State University (M.A.).

Leave a Reply

Editor's Picks