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How to Overcome Resentment in Addiction Recovery


domestic violenceResentment can be a very risky emotion for anybody trying to break free of an addiction. There is plenty of unfairness in the world, and you may have been treated badly, but in order to build a strong sobriety it is vital that you are able to let go of resentment. If you are unwilling to do this then it is akin to the person that drinks poison just to hurt their enemies; in other words, you are the main one who suffers due to this inner anger. Below we have listed a few ideas on how you can let go of resentment in recovery.

Understand How You Are Being Hurt By This Resentment

Resentment often means allowing others to live ‘rent-free’ in your head. You may be full of memories of how this person has hurt you in the past, which can leave you feeling angry and bitter. Meanwhile, the person who you feel resentful against is completely unaffected by your feelings. This means that the only person who is suffering here is you. This other person may have done something to hurt you in the past, but you are the one causing your own pain right now. You do not have to necessarily forgive this person (although that can really help with healing), but you do have to let go of the resentment if you hope to find inner peace.

Consider Your Need for Forgiveness

It is likely that you did many things you now regret while caught up in addiction. You probably hurt many people and did things that would be considered unethical. Do you want to be forgiven for these past mistakes? If you are unwilling to let go of your own resentments, why should anyone else be willing to let go of his or hers? If you feel deserving of a second chance in life, does it not seem only fair to offer the same to others? The reality is that all humans are fallible, often doing things that are unwise and sometimes hurtful; it is also true that people can change and, in most cases, are deserving of a second chance.

Treat Resentment as an Element of Addiction

Resentment is closely tied in with addictive thinking so it is common for individuals to use their resentments as a justification for substance abuse. If you continue to fall into the trap of resentment in recovery, you will continue to put your recovery in jeopardy. It is therefore important that you consider overcoming this problem as a necessary part of the process of breaking free from addiction. Letting go of resentments is a great idea for all humans, but for those recovering from an addiction, it is vital.

Learn Loving Kindness Meditation

A very effective practice for letting go of resentment is loving kindness (metta) meditation. Buddhists originally developed this technique, but people all around the world now practice it; there are also scientific studies that demonstrate that it is effective at increasing a sense of well-being. Metta meditation involves developing compassion first for yourself and then for others, including your enemies. If you practice this technique regularly, it allows you to see that all humans are doing their best, even when that best is pretty terrible.

Speak to a Therapist

Some forms of resentment are so deep that it can be difficult to deal with them without some type of professional help. This can particularly be the case if you have been the victim of some type of physical, sexual, or emotional abuse. A therapist can help you dig down to the causes of the resentment, allowing you to take control. In these cases, your feelings of resentment are perfectly understandable, but you still need to let go of them. You never have to forgive the person who has harmed you, but you must stop them from continuing to harm you in the form of your resentment.

Discuss Your Resentments with Others

Talking about these bad feelings can be very helpful as it allows you to put things into perspective. If you belong to a fellowship group, you are likely to find many others who have struggled with this type of negative thinking as well. The worst thing you can do with your resentment is to just allow it to fester.

Recognise that You Cannot Control the Behaviour of Others

If you feel resentful because others are not behaving the way you want them to, you may have to just let this go – unless these individuals are directly harming you. It is easy to develop resentments over the way others think or the things they believe, but this is usually going to be things that are beyond your control. You do not get to decide on how others think, no more than they get to decide on how you think.

Avoid Falling Into the Trap of Stinking Thinking

Resentment can often occur as part of a larger pattern of negative thinking that happens with people in recovery. Stinking thinking can also include other feelings like anger, pessimism, cynicism, and delight in the misfortune of others. This pattern of thinking can suck all the joy out of recovery, easily leading to relapse.

Use the Twelve Steps to Break Free of Resentment

If you are a member of a 12-step group (for example, Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous), you can use this programme to help you break free of addiction. One of the main purposes of the steps is to allow individuals to break free of the tyranny of the past. As part of the process you get to look at your resentments closely alongside your own bad behaviour; this is done in the form of a personal inventory. If you follow the 12 steps carefully, you can reach a stage where you are able to ask forgiveness for your own wrongdoings and offer forgiveness to those who have harmed you.

Look at the Big Picture

It is common for those in recovery to hold resentments over minor issues – although it might not feel minor at the time. It can be a great help to occasionally take a step back and look at the bigger picture. Is that thing you are feeling resentful about really that important? If you have this ability to look at resentments objectively, you should be able to easily dismiss many of them.

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