Recently a friend and I were talking over dinner, and she made a comment about my life choices. While I understood what she said wasn’t intended to hurt me…her words stung.
I brushed it off in the moment, but the next day, I found myself feeling resentful towards her. I knew I had a choice – I could talk to her about it, or I could keep it to myself, and hope the feelings went away.
You’ve probably been there, right? Resentment is when we have ongoing upset feelings, usually anger or annoyance, towards another person or people because of a real, misunderstood or imagined injustice.
Resentment might arise, for instance, after a criticism from a co-worker. Or when we feel someone is not pulling their weight in a relationship or treating us the way we’d like to be treated.
Sometimes when we’re experiencing resentment, we feel victimised, but we may feel too angry, ashamed or afraid of conflict to discuss how we feel. So, what often happens instead, is we say nothing, but underneath we hold a grudge and the anger festers.
Brené Brown has been a real source of inspiration in my life. Of all the things I have learnt from her, the one quote that has probably had the most profound influence in my life is “Choose discomfort over resentment”.
What does it mean to choose discomfort over resentment?
To me it means that whenever we are presented with a difficult situation with someone, when we’re feeling angry, disappointed, or irritated with them, we should choose to face those feelings. Engaging in a clear, kind, honest conversation about it and asking for change if that’s needed or appropriate.
This is often hard. We want to avoid it because we know the conversation could potentially cause conflict or be uncomfortable, but the reality is that not doing this will lead to bigger resentment and hostility down the line.
So really the way I see it, choosing discomfort over resentment is an act of love and kindness because it shows we care about the relationship enough to iron out any issues so we don’t hold resentments or harbour ill will.
Choosing discomfort over resentment means setting boundaries, avoiding pleasing people and being honest and authentic about what is going on for you.
It applies in all kinds of situations, for instance it might mean
- Telling a family member that something they said made you uncomfortable
- Letting your partner know that it bothers you when they leave their clothes on the floor
- Telling your boss that their requests to work overtime are unreasonable or unworkable for you
- Asking your partner for what you truly enjoy when you’re making love
- Being willing to speak up when you feel your boundaries have been crossed or you feel misunderstood or mistreated
And these conversations can be carried out in a really caring, clear and compassionate way.
In my case, I decided to choose discomfort over resentment and spoke to my friend the very next day to let her know how I was feeling. It took a bit of courage and the conversation was a little uncomfortable, but we actually ended up closer because of it.
My invitation for you, if you care to, is to do a little check in with yourself to see if you’re holding onto resentments towards others. And if it feels right to you, try choosing discomfort over resentment as an act of love. As Brené Brown says
“Compassionate people ask for what they need. They say no when they need to, and when they say yes, they mean it. They’re compassionate because their boundaries keep them out of resentment.”
I wish you the best with this practice and as always thank you for your practice and your presence here in this community.
Big love, Melli