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Resentment: The Smoldering Fire

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I have moments when feeling resentful seems almost as automatic as breathing.

As I write this I am dealing with two resentment-charged situations. The first is that although I've called my heating oil company five times I have yet to receive the oil I am now rather desperate to receive. I resent the time I've spent making phone calls.

The second is a notice I received from my town clerk informing me that I allegedly did not pay a property tax in 1997-98. As all of my tax payments are part of my mortgage payment I I know that I'm not the one who didn't pay. I also know that I will have to spend significant quantities of time straightening out someone else's mistake. I really resent this.

Resentment versus Anger

Anger gets expressed directly. Someone who habitually vents anger, for example, will, upon receiving the tenth email in a row from a company which who would like them to know how they can make a million dollars in five minutes might shoot back a message which scorches cyberspace. A angry person, after listening to an egomaniac monopolize a meeting for too long might tell that person to sit down because everyone is falling asleep.

Resentment is far less direct. If expressed, it is usually in the form of sarcasm, i.e., in my fantasized communication to the town clerk, "I pay your salary, but it seems that I'm doing all the work."

More often, though, it won't be expressed at all to the offending party, but to someone else.

Sometimes it is never spoken at all.

If anger is explosive resentment is implosive. It doesn't get released from the body/mind; instead it stays within, where it can cause varying degrees of harm.

I have read medical studies which link resentment to a range of diseases, including cancer. It is possibly the least healthy of emotions. Why, then, would we choose it?

It's Not My Fault

I don't believe that it's a conscious choice. Resentment is born in the heart of a child who has learned the danger of actively expressing anger against parents who are both larger and stronger. A parent's love feels like a requirement for survival and the weight of parental disapproval--and sometimes punishment--feels life-threatening.

A child soon learns that not only her anger is punishable, but also her mistakes, and those acts which are categorized as "her fault." One strategy children develop to prevent the withdrawal of love and inflicting of punishment is to say, "It's not my fault" when accused of some wrongdoing.

Any statement, when repeated, either out loud, or silently, has a hypnotic effect. The person repeating it will come to believe that it's true. This is the power of affirmations, and for a child, "It's not my fault" becomes a convincing affirmation.

By the time we reach adulthood we are convinced of two things: that people who express their anger aren't very nice, and that it, whatever it is, isn't our fault--but because we are nice people and thoughtful and considerate we aren't going to make a big deal out of it. We aren't going to make a scene because we could blow our image of niceness and maybe get into trouble. We will just be victims and martyrs, which further reinforces our beliefs that we are nice people.

A Pause for Reality Check

For some people resentment is a habitual state; for others it is a partial condition, one area of life which resists growth.

Some people do well in the areas of prosperity and creativity, and have trouble finding a life partner. They say," All the good men/women are taken," or "I won't lower my standards" or "No one knows the meaning of commitment any more." Although they pretend that they don't, they resent happy couples and prefer not to be around them.

Whatever the situation there is always a reason, having nothing to do with oneself, for the inability to achieve a desired goal, and the more justifications which are accumulated the more distant that goal seems.

The Shadow Side of Resentment

Resentment is so murky that it's difficult to imagine anything darker--but it exists, and it's called guilt. In some dusty corner of our minds we remember that sometimes when we said it wasn't our fault we did in fact do the thing of which we were accused. Maybe we did it this time, too.

If I had ordered oil before I actually needed it I wouldn't be approaching the point of desperation. I wouldn't be bothering a busy company, and I wouldn't be punished by possibly running out of oil.

Maybe I was careless, and missed an earlier notice about this 1997-98 tax. Maybe I'm not organized enough to be a property holder. Maybe they'll take my house away from me as punishment.

Given a choice, I'd rather be resentful than guilty. However, there is another choice.

Beyond Right and Wrong

What we are full of when we are being resentful is blame. What we don't have is responsibility.

Responsibility is an unpopular word because it has inaccurately been equated with fault, and thus indirectly with guilt. The difference is that in taking responsibility you take back that part of yourself which you have abandoned to fate, the cruelty of others, the inscrutable and unpredictable ways of the universe, or in some cases, past lives over which you have no control.

When we gather these scattered bits of self together we reintegrate our energy field we restore to ourselves a sense of power to effect change. If I acknowledge that I might have called the oil company sooner I am also acknowledging that the next time I will call sooner. If I entertain the possibility that I can speak powerfully to both the town clerk and the mortage company without making them wrong I will elicit their own sense of responsibility and get this situation handled much more easily.

It can be a healing recognition to realize that even in the simple statement, "I can" there can be a feeling of empowerment which begins to dissolve the veil. When we are truly committed to owning our acts and our lives we can take heart in the realization that the ability to be responsible is one of the greatest human gifts. To be responsible is to have the ability to change one's life, to realize one's dreams.

Accentuate the Positive

Sugilite is the most powerful stone for helping to release resentment. For more information see the article at

Green calcite helps one to see a situation from a more objective level of reality. It also helps to cool the buried anger which smolders as resentment.

Clear quartz is valuable for becoming in touch with who you really are on the soul level, and helps us to detach from the entanglements of ego.

Overall, chakra balancing is very good for moving stuck energy, and resentment is very stuck energy. See for more information about this.

Willow is the traditional Bach Flower Remedy for resentment. With the Willow Flower Remedy one can feel a new flowering of consciousness. Just as the graceful willow tree provides a source of golden color during the drab days of winter, so in the darkness of a victim's soul the Willow Flower Remedy sheds light.

Pine, another Bach Flower Remedy, is the most powerful remedy for the guilt which often lies beneath resentment.

The Bach Flower Remedies Articles Index will lead you to articles about these two remedies.

A heart which is fully open will not harbor resentment. For this reason I strongly recommend the Wild Earth Animal Essence, Wild Horse, as a gentle heart opener.

Sometimes what underlies resentment is sorrow. For this condition Yerba Santa (FES) is excellent.

Beyond the Rainbow
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