When we think of addictions we often think of substance abuse or gambling problems. However, as a therapist I often see patients who seem to be “addicted” to resentment. They use it as a coping skill, much like alcoholics use alcohol to cope and not address the real issues at hand.
We have all been hurt, and short-term resentment is inevitable, but we need to recognize that we were hurt and choose how we want to address the pain. Many individuals, cultures and religions encourage people to “forgive” those who have hurt us. But sometimes that is not possible, and that is your individual choice to forgive or not to forgive. No matter what you decide it is important to acknowledge and accept the pain and the feelings it has caused. You cannot change the past, but you do control the now and the future.
Over time, resentment can become a way of life. Those addicted to resentment devalue others to protect their fragile sense of self, and in doing so they consistently blame others for their pain, and often want to “punish” those who hurt them. Like an alcoholic, someone with chronic resentment needs to want to change from within, and heal the pain, rather than retaliate. This resentment can often carry into many aspects of an individual’s life, and can become especially debilitating for intimate couples. It is often difficult to admit an addiction to resentment, and both individual and/or couples therapy can be a great way to recognize these feelings and begin the healing process.