I thought I would start this post out with a brief game of ‘name the opposite.’ This first one will be quite simple, just to get into the swing of it.
So, if I ask, what is the opposite of SUN people easily respond … Yes, MOON. Some are not so definite, but nonetheless, we have pretty clear cut ideas of what our opinions are – so if I ask what is the opposite of EARTH some may say HEAVEN but others may say SKY, and those more scientific thinking may even say SPACE. None are right or wrong, just different responses.
Now what if the word we are seeking an opposite for is an emotion? A simple one would be HAPPY and SAD, but I believe emotions are more personal, complex and subjective than objects so it is usually a bit more difficult to come up with one opposite emotion for another.
The emotion I’m looking at today is RESENTMENT. I am not going to suggest that there is only one opposite emotion for RESENTMENT, rather, I am going to use what I feel the opposite is for me.
First I feel I have to have a well-defined handle on what RESENTMENT means and represents to me and why I believe this to be the case. So here goes:
I have heard it said that when I am RESENTFUL, it is like drinking poison and expecting someone else to die.
This speaks volumes because it first implies that RESENTMENT is a killer. It then implies that it doesn’t kill the person it is directed toward, but rather, the person who harbors the feeling. This makes it quite unique. I can’t think of anything else that fits this description.
Okay, so now, back to the game of opposites. I believe the opposite of this killer emotion is FORGIVENESS.
• Both RESENTMENT and FORGIVENESS are emotions INTENTIONAL EMOTIONS of EMOTIONS OF CHOICE. – Some feelings, like anger or fear are more impulsive or knee-jerk type of emotions. But we choose to RESENT or FORGIVE people.
• RESENTMENT is a feeling we hold on to for dear life and refuse to let go of. FORGIVENESS cannot exist unless we let something else go.
• If RESENTMENT is a poison, then FORGIVENESS is the antidote.
• RESENTMENT feeds on a lack of trust in anything positive, FORGIVENESS cannot exist without faith.
I believe RESENTMENT stems from intense anger and outrage – but that the anger and outrage are only the surface emotions. I believe that there is also a feeling of powerlessness and that this powerlessness is the special ingredient in RESENTMENT.
Feeling truly powerless is one of the most awful feelings to experience. And may people feel that they regain a sense of power by intense anger. This, however, is a misconception. Anger does not equal power. But it does temporarily sooth the intense feelings of powerlessness.
So, for many, holding onto that anger becomes a type of survival skill, keeping them ‘safe’ from having to acknowledge the truth regarding being powerless, unable to change the outcome.
And, by holding onto the anger, we give birth to RESENTMENT.
RESENTMENT is toxic – slowly, it eats away at what is good and beautiful like acid burning through one layer at a time, until there is nothing left.
RESENTMENT is intoxicating – yielding a false sense of power to combat feelings of powerlessness – but it is artificial and fleeting.
Have the courage to face your true feelings head on – the unknown is much more frightening than things we can see.
Give yourself permission to feel all your feelings – even the ones that we don’t like such as fear and powerlessness…they will pass and you will have spared yourself the torment that comes with RESENTMENT.
I’m a licensed clinical social worker and have worked extensively as a counselor with children, adolescents, couples and families. I combine professional experience in the mental health field along with my love of writing to provide insight into real-life experiences and relationships. I hope my down-to-earth approach to living a happier, more meaningful life is easy to understand and just as easy to start implementing right away for positive results!