How would a person who has the skills to deal with strong emotions (a resiliency builder) approach resentment? Here is one suggested way to approach it:
1. Notice it. Pay attention to your bitter indignation!
2. Get curious about it. Although we may often FEEL as if we have been treated unfairly, it does not make it necessarily true. People who learn how to wrestle with their feelings in a healthy manner do not assume that a feeling is a fact. Curiosity teaches us to acknowledge that “feelings” are the body giving us a summarized experience of how we are reacting to an event. Our “emotions” are the brain’s attempt to predict how we feel based on past experience. If we have a history of unfair treatment, our brain is more likely to “feel” bitter indignation. Sometimes that is experience talking and it is telling us the truth - so pay attention. But it can also be true that we are merely projecting past experiences inaccurately into a current situation. Are you REALLY being treated unfairly? Is there more information that would lead to a different conclusion?
3. If our curiosity guides us away from this belief that our experience is unfair, then we can thank resentment for showing up but we do not need to keep ruminating on the feeling. We can trash talk it; give it more information; find other emotions that are more appropriate to the current situation and give them the attention they deserve.
4. What if the situation is unfair? We do not need to brood! We can whip out our conflict resolution skills; we can speak into the situation and seek change; we can choose to stop participating in the unfair practice; we have options people!!
Although this is just the shortest of suggestions, the bottom line is this: resentment can be a great wake up call but it is not a super reliable decision-maker. Today, notice if your mind and body might be pre-wired to jump to resentment. Or, perhaps you have been ignoring your feeling of resentment in order to avoid conflict. Tomorrow I will give you a personal example of how I almost got carried away by a resentment that ended up being totally unnecessary.