Do you ever feel resentful towards your family?
For anyone that grew up in a dysfunctional home, where you never felt cared for or supported, it makes total sense that resentment would become part of your emotional landscape.
That’s why I was intrigued when a faithful GUC reader wrote in. She’s struggling because she feels like no one in her family gives a damn about her, especially her dad.
After years of constant criticism and neglect, she’s had it and can’t help but feel resentful and angry.
She admitted to me that she doesn’t want to feel this way but when the feelings creep up there’s no denying them.
This concern about resentment is not only one that I hear often but one that I too have difficulty with.
If you feel lots of resentment towards your family – today’s post has your name on it. Not only will we cover why it’s perfectly okay to feel resentful but we’ll also be looking at 4 simple ways to sort through the feeling. What we’re discussing can actually help with any emotion you’re wrestling with.
After you’ve had a chance to read, I’d love to hear from you.
Tell me when you feel resentful and what you do about it. Do you ever feel guilty for feeling resentful towards your family? If so, how do you deal with it?
Leave a comment below and let me know your answers.
Remember, your voice, experiences and insights are vital to this community. And what you have to share is not only unique but it may be exactly what someone else needs to read. And that someone could be you.
Thank you a thousand times for joining this community. You’re helping to build something very special and it wouldn’t be possible without you.
Until Next Tuesday.
#1 First Thing To Do Is Shift Your View
You’ve likely heard it before that feelings are temporary. Which is absolutely true. But what most people don’t talk about is how those feelings always return.
For example, depression is a huge hurdle for me. And learning how to sit with those feelings and trust that they will pass when I’m having an episode has helped tremendously.
But what’s truly boosted my ability to live with depression is accepting that the difficult feelings will return.
And If I can handle them right now, then chances are that I’ll be able to handle them later, too.
By shifting my view this way, I no longer focus on getting rid of depression or beat myself up when the feeling returns. Instead I accept that it’s here and trust that I know what to do.
The same goes with resentment. Also an uncomfortable all consuming feeling that can make you want to crawl out of your skin.
Sure, you may not want to feel resentful but if you can shift your view, accept what you’re feeling and trust that you will feel it again, your emotional load will become much lighter.
To prove my point, I have a little challenge for you. Whip out your calendar and for the next two weeks or even a month keep track of the number of days you feel a certain feeling.
For example, if you want to track anger, then make a mark with a highlighter on the days you experience angry. You can insert any emotional state you want here.
The point is that you’re seeing for yourself how cyclical emotions are. You can even take it one step further and make notes about what was going on around you or in your head when you felt angry, depressed or even resentful.
Once you witness the ebb and flow of your emotional world, you’ll be better able to accept whatever pops up for you. And if there are certain people or situations that trigger you emotionally, you can even start to anticipate those moments and be better prepared to deal.
#2 Stop Running From Your Mind’s Monsters
Lately I’ve been devouring books by Pema Chodron. She’s an author and Buddhist teacher with a tell it like it is approach that I absolutely adore.
In her book, When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice For Difficult Times, Pema offers up a unique approach for dealing with strong feelings like resentment.
In a nutshell, she recommends that we not only pause and sit with the discomfort but she also recommends getting curious about whatever we’re feeling. Here’s how she breaks it down,
When I was about ten, my best friend started having nightmares: she’d be running through a huge dark building pursued by hideous monsters. She’d get to a door, struggle to open it, and no sooner had she closed it behind her that she’d hear it opened by the rapidly approaching monsters.
One day we were sitting in her kitchen talking about her nightmares. When I asked her what the demons looked like, she said she didn’t know because she was always running away.
After I asked her that question, she began to wonder about the monsters. She wondered if any of them looked like witches and if any of them had knives. So on the next occurrence of the nightmare, just as the demons began to pursue her, she stopped running and turned around. It took tremendous courage and her heart was pounding, but she put her back against the wall and looked at them.
They all stopped right in front of her and began jumping up and down, but none of them came closer. There were five in all, each looking something like an animal. One of them was a gray bear, but instead of claws, it had long red fingernails. One had four eyes. Another had a wound on its neck.
Once she looked closely, they looked less like monsters…and they slowly began to fade.
Our personal demons come in many guises. We experience them as shame, as jealousy, as abandonment, as rage and resentment. They are anything that makes us so uncomfortable that we continually run away.
So you see, we all have little monsters running around in our minds but the trick is to stop running from them and get curious.
For example, since reading Pema’s book, I’ve been trying to sit with and get curious about jealousy.
When I feel it, which has been quite a bit lately, instead of shaming it away or running from it, I stop and face it. I start asking myself questions such as, What triggered this feeling? Why am I comparing myself to this person? Why does this feeling keep showing up for me? What does this jealously feel like in my body?
It may seem a bit weird and believe me it’s not easy to do but by pausing and getting curious about the feeling, I start to understand it and avoid getting caught up in the flood of thoughts and reactions that usually show up with it.
You can do the same with resentment. Instead of judging yourself for feeling it or getting overwhelmed by the discomfort it causes, just sit with it and ask away.
#3 Think Of Yourself Like A Baby With An Algebra Book
Would you get mad at a baby if you gave her an algebra book and she couldn’t complete the exercises?
No! Of course not, right?
Look, here’s the deal. If you grew up in a dysfunctional home, you probably didn’t learn how to deal with emotions. And if you grew up with alcoholic parents, you probably learned that it was safer to just stuff your feelings away rather than feel them and deal with them.
Bottom line is, like a baby trying to solve algebra problems, you may not yet have the skills to maintain your emotional health. And guess what? It makes total sense. If no one ever showed you how to deal with resentment, how would you know what to do with it when it shows up? How would you know how to work through it? How would you know how to get over it?
Just like jealousy, anger, rage, joy and even pleasure – resentment is a perfectly human thing to feel.
You may not have the skills to deal with it but luckily, if you’re still breathing, that means it’s not too late to get them.
#4 Yes, It’s Okay To Feel Resentment Towards Your Family
I know this isn’t what we’re used to hearing when it comes to negative feelings towards family but I personally don’t believe that just because someone’s family that certain feelings are off limits.
From my experience, I’ve learned that if I avoid or dismiss feelings, such as resentment, the longer it takes for me to work through them.
Instead of moving forward, the process gets delayed and emotionally it becomes hell to grow.
So, whether you feel resentment towards your family in general or your mother specifically, just feel it. Feel every bit of it. Don’t deny it or run away from it. And don’t let anyone else tell you that you’re wrong for feeling it. That’s BULL SH*T!
Yes it’s uncomfortable and no, it’s not easy to ride out the discomfort that shows up when we feel a strong emotion like resentment, but avoiding it will only make it harder to deal with later on.
I believe that you have every right to resent, you’re human after all. And if you’ve been abused, criticized or neglected by people that were supposed to love and protect you, wouldn’t it make sense that you’d feel resentful?
Once you give yourself permission to feel that resentment though, the feeling loses its power. You’ll come to terms with what you feel much faster and avoid possibly harboring the feeling.
Your job is to own the resentment and figure out the best way to work through it so that you can move on.
If you’re ready to start working on your emotional game, here are 3 books to check out. Each one is sitting on my book shelf so I recommend them all.
When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice For Difficult Times – Pema Chodron
Emotional Alchemy: How The Mind Can Heal The Heart – Tara Bennett-Goleman
Emotional Freedom: Liberate Yourself From Negative Emotions And Transform Your Life – Judith Orloff, M.D.