Dealing With Resentment
Resentment, whether being received or given, seems to be a natural tendency most human beings have towards one another. In fact, it may happen to us on a daily basis without us even being consciously aware of it. When you perceive another individual as having something you don’t, or thinking that this other person is better than you in some way or form, a natural reaction that tends to form is resentment (along with jealousy).
What is resentment? Similar to jealousy, although not quite identical, resentment is the act of trying to chop someone down a few levels in order to even the playing field. For example, when I first made the switch to a vegetarian diet, I was met with a lot of resentment from family members and even friends. Because these people saw the positive effects such a diet was having on my body, instead of feeling happy for me, they brought forth a wall of resentment. They belittled my diet at every chance they got, and then they’d purposely try and nitpick my physique, looking for any flaw that exposed itself.
I also noticed a similar experience years ago when I started picking up the slack with my physical fitness. People that I once considered friends seemed to radiate a competitive vibe around me, as if they were threatened because I wanted to get in shape.
To be perfectly honest, acting that way is something I have a very difficult time relating to. Anytime a family member accomplishes a goal, from losing weight to elevating themselves financially, I feel a great deal of happiness for that person. Resentment is the last thing on my mind, and being competitive with them just seems absurd to me. Their successes rub off on my character, and I especially like it if I knew I played a hand in helping them along the way. If I didn’t harbor this kind of mindset, chances are I wouldn’t be running this site, as helping people succeed is the core value of what I do.
It’s one thing when a complete stranger acts this way to you, as most of the time you can easily shrug it off, but it’s a completely different story when it’s someone who is close to you. It’s almost as if their resentment is putting a strain on your relationship, threatening to break it apart at any moment. On one side, you have your goals and successes, and on the side, you have this other individual pulling you down. If you become TOO successful, this other person may grow to dislike you even more, and you risk losing this person from your life. On the other side of the spectrum, if you hold yourself down to this individual’s level, you won’t be able to successfully grow into the kind of person you want to become.
So what can you do?
I think the answer is probably pretty obvious, but in case it’s not I’ll spell it out for you: don’t ever hold yourself back for another person. It would be one thing if your success was hurting the other person, but if somebody is going to harbor resentment towards you simply because you’ve succeeded more than they have, they aren’t worth having in your life to begin with. True friends and supportive family members should be happy when you’ve crossed a new boundary or accomplished one of your goals, not feel threatened and insecure.
Another problem with resentment is that others may actually try and bring you down to their level in a multitude of ways. In regards to this site for example, I’ve had others openly criticize the idea of starting and running a personal growth and development website; saying how what I was doing wasn’t “true” work and that all this personal development mumbo jumbo was just a waste of time. To be productive, I needed a REAL job. I needed to suffer in the workplace a bit, because that’s how REAL people etched out a living. Instead of being happy at the success my website was receiving, this people were jealous and resentful, wanting me to suffer at the workplace in the same manner they did.
Dealing With Resentment
When it comes to dealing with resentment however, the easiest way in doing so is to just brush it off. Don’t let it get under your skin or bother you, and CERTAINLY don’t let it dictate your course of action. If you change what it is you’re doing because of something a resentful person told you, then you’ve just shifted all your power into their hands. While it may sound difficult to just “brush it off,” once you’ve identified it for what it is, it really becomes pretty easy.
If I know someone is upset or frustrated with me, not for something I’ve done towards them, but for something I have that they don’t, then there’s no point in me getting upset over it. How can I apologize to somebody when I haven’t done anything to them in the first place? Also keep in mind that because most resentment doesn’t step from physical possessions, it may be hard to understand what is the other person is resentful towards in the first place. It could be something stupid, like another male being taller than them, or perceiving another female as being more attractive. It’s usually not that new car you bought or those new shoes you’re wearing, but rather a piece of your unique character.
Of course, if you have something that others don’t, don’t needlessly flaunt it just for the sake of doing so; that makes you no better than the person who’s being resentful. With that in mind, don’t fear you’ve become some big jerk either just because someone else doesn’t approve of your actions or what you have. Generally these types of people are not worth even taking into consideration, as it’s clear they base their decisions around superficiality anyways. You don’t ever need the approval of another person, and you certainly don’t need them being an influencing factor in your personal decisions.
Dealing with resentment is like battling against something that isn’t there, something you can’t see or touch. You only know it’s there when people express it, but aside from that it’s like a force that moves against your control. Don’t try and resist resentment from others, just allow it to pass through you and continue doing what you’re doing; in the end you’ll realize it was never worth fighting anyways.