Resentment is corrosive to relationships, self-confidence, and sabotages your recovery. Everyone experiences bitterness at some point in their life. However, dwelling on resentment has the potential to derail your happiness by introducing doubt, shame, anger, or other negative emotions into your life. You have the chance to start a new chapter with rehabilitation and recovery. That progress will stall if you get burdened down by feeling resentment aimed towards yourself or others.
Many people in recovery from substance use disorders (SUDs) feel anger, hurt, or frustration towards people, places, or organizations due to the way they felt unsupported during a time when they needed someone to care for them and give support. You may have found yourself feeling that way in any or all of the following areas of your life.
- At the workplace and among co-workers or supervisors
- At home or within an intimate relationship
- Among extended family and friends
- Individuals or organizations within the community
- Within spiritual circles like church groups or religious leadership
- You may feel resentment aimed at yourself and your behaviors or thoughts
How Resentment Can Be Harmful to Recovery
Bitter feelings about your substance use, how others have treated you, and past circumstances can cloud your current recovery. Anger or guilt often accompany resentment and may mask shame about your past actions. Your emotions are all valid and completely normal. Plenty of research studies have concluded that resentment, shame, guilt, or anger are natural emotions to feel after experiencing highly stressful or traumatic events. You can use them as motivating factors as you learn new ways to change your life for the better.
Reframe Your Thought Patterns
How you think often directs how you feel. When you want to stop feeling a certain way, it is essential to start thinking more healthily. Sometimes this can be hard to achieve, and you might benefit from the thought and behavioral exercises available in standard therapy.
Anger and Irritability Management (AIM) therapy is an excellent method for increasing your capacity for emotional regulation and clarity. If you often find yourself reacting with anger, this therapy can redirect those corrosive emotions into something more constructive. AIM teaches goal-directed behavior and coping skills for overcoming stressful situations. You can learn more about AIM and find free online resources on the United States Department of Veterans Affairs site.
Three Actions You Can Take to Decrease Resentment
You can learn to regulate your emotions by changing how you think about and interact with the world. A few lifestyle changes you can make include showing kindness to yourself and others. Below are three actions you can take to decrease feelings of resentment, bitterness, and anger.
- Forgive Yourself and Others: the act of forgiveness can be cathartic and cause a paradigm shift. Forgiving yourself can bring a sense of relief and peace. Symbolism can be helpful when you forgive people that are either no longer around or outside your ability to contact. You can write a letter of forgiveness even if you have nowhere to send it. You can also write one to your past self.
- Take Part in Acts of Service: acts of service are about providing support and care for someone other than yourself. A selfless act can increase your self-esteem and confidence while decreasing negative feelings towards yourself and others. Volunteering is a common way of serving others, and there is research that indicates volunteering does improve mood, increase self-confidence, and decrease resentment.
- Practice Mindfulness and Being in the Moment: meditation, mindfulness, and relaxation techniques that bring your focus into the moment are great ways to improve your mood and purge negative feelings. You can do these things while going about your daily tasks, but it is also useful to set aside ten to fifteen minutes each day to meditate or try mindfulness exercises.
A standard method for decompressing and being mindful during stressful situations is using breathing exercises to physically relax your body. There are dozens of quality apps available that have easy-to-follow breathing exercises you can use. An easy-to-remember breathing technique is called “4-4-4,” where you inhale for a four-count, hold your breath for a four-count, and then exhale for a four-count.
Therapy and Other Resources
Life skill development education is available at most rehabilitation facilities and community centers. You can use these to learn healthy ways of coping with negative emotions. If you are prone to angry outbursts or become overwhelmed by your feelings, anger management therapy may be helpful. During treatment for substance abuse, you will have access to one-on-one and group therapy. You can find local options by checking your state or county site for recovery classes, groups, and other valuable resources.
Overcoming emotional roadblocks is a part of every recovery journey. Everyone experiences unwanted negativity sometimes, and it is how you respond to it that matters. You may feel resentment, anger, or irritation at yourself and the people around you, but there are things you can do to overcome them. Everlast Recovery Centers can provide one-on-one and group therapy sessions where you learn how to cope with your sobriety while learning to regulate your emotional and behavioral reactions to certain situations. You are not alone. Our dedicated and compassionate staff are here to give you tools for succeeding at long-term sobriety. You may feel like resentment is holding you back and keeping you from reaching your true potential, but there is always hope. We have the resources necessary to give you peace of mind and teach you how to work through negative emotions. Reach out to Everlast Recovery Centers by calling us at (866) 338-6925.