All too often our so-called strength comes from fear; not love; instead of having a strong back, many of us have a defended front shielding a weak spine. In other words, we walk around brittle and defensive, trying to conceal our lack of confidence. If we strengthen our backs, metaphorically speaking, and develop a spine that’s flexible but sturdy, then we can risk having a front that’s soft and open...How can we give and accept care with strong-back, soft-front compassion, moving past fear into a place of genuine tenderness? I believe it comes about when we can be truly transparent, seeing the world clearly - and letting the world see into us.
~ Roshi Joan Halifax, as quoted by Brene’ Brown in Braving the Wilderness, p. 147.
Resentment is a convenient emotion for me when I am feeling freaked out, insecure, neurotic and emotional - conditions I experience with an unfortunate degree of regularity. Resentment feels powerful and righteous but most of the time it is a thinly veiled disguise vainly employed to mask my own fear.
Telling myself to be strong and brave and courageous is unhelpful and often leads to an added layer of awkward bravado that is about as authentic looking as breast implants. After a long time practicing nonjudgmental observation with a LOT of support from others, I no longer accept my resentful feelings on face value. Today, I more often end up concluding that they are distortions of my more accurate emotion - FEAR.
Fear in the form of resentment is a representation of defensive shielding of a weak spine. My spine is weak when I am depending on others to tell me how to appropriately think, feel and do. Interdependence is a good thing and a valuable way to relate to our tribe. But I am ultimately responsible for myself. Only I can decide what I think, feel and do with my daily life choices. (This is a strong back; it’s having a spine; it’s knowing and taking responsibility for my core values.)
Resentment pops up for me when I fear that life is unfair. When I believe that love and provision are scarce and someone else is going to take what is mine, I am terrified but often feel resentful. How about you? Is your resentment a cover for fear?
Tomorrow, I will make a few suggestions about how we can encourage one another in this work of becoming both strong and vulnerable people