The Solution for Resentment
Hi Guys, I’m Coach Mimi here with you in the good guy corner.
Today we’re going to talk about resentment because it’s something I’ve been seeing a lot with my clients lately so you’re likely suffering with it too.
Resentment, of course, happens about a lot of different areas of life and I see it most often with jobs and relationships. Especially relationships. And as you know, I’m all about helping you with your relationships.
Resentment in your family relationships is the worst because those are the people who are most important to you, right? The people you love the most. So then when you’re feeling resentful towards them you probably also beat yourself up for that and think you’re terrible and lousy and all that. So let’s fix this with some clarity, all right?
There’s an overlooked formula or…let’s call it a recipe, that creates resentment. It’s a recipe with three ingredients and they are: first, a task to be completed and then a combination of “I don’t want to” and “I have to.”
I haven’t found an exception to this yet so I’m tempted to say that it’s always the case. But you know, there could be an exception so I’ll leave a little bit of space for that.
But seriously, when we’ve got a task before us and we’re believing this combination of “I don’t want to but I have to” then we’ve got a recipe for resentment.
So take a minute here and think about the times you’ve felt resentment. What was it about? What were you telling yourself you didn’t want to do but had to?
Now I want to point out that resentment doesn’t just happen the first time you think “I don’t want to but I have to.” So that’s the next thing to be aware of here. Staying with this recipe theme, we have these three ingredients, a task, an "I don’t want to" and a "have to" and then they “cook” for a while, so to speak. It’s when we’re telling ourself this repeatedly that really creates the resentment.
I hope you’re noticing that this concept is also very similar to the previous episode about competing wants. If you didn’t hear that one, go back and listen to it because these topics go together.
I want to use an example here. John has a neighbor who is an older widow and he’s been mowing her lawn for the last several years. He hasn’t minded this because it’s not a big yard and he just mows it when he does his own. He’s never had any problem doing this, in fact he’s found satisfaction in it and has been happy to help…until recently, when her young adult granddaughter moved in with her. Now he’s resentful that he’s mowing the lawn when the granddaughter is perfectly capable.
He said to me with frustration, “The granddaughter should be doing it. I don’t want to but I have to because she’s not doing it.”
So John is in this place of competing wants. On one hand he doesn’t want to mow the lawn anymore, but on the other hand he does, and we know this because he IS doing it… but he’s only really doing it because he doesn’t want to have the conversation. He’s a conflict avoider. What he really wants is for the granddaughter to do it without him having to say anything.
So what’s really competing here is that on one hand he doesn’t want to mow the lawn and on the other hand he really doesn’t want to bring it up and have the conversation. He wants more to stay silent than he wants to not be mowing the lawn. And staying silent means continuing to do the mowing. See how that works? Meanwhile, the widow and her granddaughter are likely very impressed with what an amazing, generous guy John is, but he’s fuming with resentment about how selfish and entitled this granddaughter is.
Such is the plight of human relationships. We humans are going to find evidence for whatever we’re thinking.
But let’s get back to resentment. Remember resentment comes from that recipe: task plus I don’t want to but I have to. And…turns out it’s just not true that you’re doing something that you don’t want to do and it’s not true that you have to. So look for those hidden reasons you have for doing what you’re doing. Uncover them. Get clear about them.
Now it might be true that these reasons are no longer good enough to continue what you’re doing. Originally John liked his reasons for mowing the neighbor’s lawn but now he’s faced with a different situation. This is an opportunity for him to either own that he does want to mow; that he’d rather mow than discuss it…OR he can step into the discomfort of having the conversation to change things. Both of those options offer him something better than resentment. However, If he chooses to stay in the “I don’t want to but I have to.” then he’s not being truthful to himself and he’ll get to continue feeling the resentment.
So, again, identify the scenarios where you’re feeling resentment and look for the hidden reasons you have for doing those tasks you’re doing. And, look for what discomfort you are getting to avoid by continuing in this pattern. John was getting to avoid an unwanted conversation. What are you getting to avoid?
Here’s a sentence starter to help you. Ask yourself, “I have to do it or else…” When you’re believing "I don’t want to but I have to" you can usually find what you’re avoiding by finishing this sentence. The "or else" reveals what you’re getting to avoid. I have to or else… she’ll be mad. I have to or else… they’ll think badly of me. What is it for your situation?
Alright guys, that’s what I have for you today. Resentment is not a fun emotion. It feels terrible. If you don’t want to feel resentful, the good news is that you’ll feel it a lot less of it with this awareness.
I’m Coach Mimi and I’ll be here next time in the good guy corner.