HOW YOU CAN DEAL WITH RESENTMENT
The “Big Book” of Alcoholics Anonymous talks about the effects resentment has on alcoholics, but it could just as easily be talking about anyone simmering with anger. It teaches:
The greatest enemies of us alcoholics are resentment, jealousy, envy, frustration, and fear.
Resentment is the number one offender. It disturbs more alcoholics than anything else. From it stem all forms of spiritual disease, for we have been not only mentally and physically ill, we have been spiritually sick. . . . In dealing with resentments, we set them on paper. We listed people, institutions, or principles with whom we were angry. We asked ourselves why we were angry. In most cases it was found that our self-esteem, our pocketbooks, our ambitions, our personal relationships (including sex) were hurt or threatened. So we were sore. We were “burned up.”
On our grudge list we set opposite each name our injuries. Was it our self-esteem, our security, our ambitions, our personal, or sex relations, which had been interfered with? … this business of resentment is infinitely grave. We found that it is fatal. For when harboring such feelings, we shut ourselves off from the sunlight of the Spirit. The insanity of alcohol returns, and we drink again. And with us, to drink is to die.
If we were to live, we had to be free of anger. The grouch and the brainstorm were poison. They may be the dubious luxury of normal men, but for alcoholics they are poison.
We turned back to the list, for it had the key to the future. We were prepared to look at it from an entirely different angle. We began to see that the world and its people really dominated us. In that state, the wrong-doing of others, fancied or real, had power to actually kill. How could we escape? We saw that these resentments must be mastered, but how? We could not wish them away any more than alcohol.
This was our course: We realized that the people who wronged us were perhaps spiritually sick. Though we did not like their symptoms, and the way they disturbed us, they, like ourselves, were sick too. We asked God to help us show them the same tolerance, pity, and patience that we would cheerfully grant a sick friend. When a person offended we said to ourselves, “this is a sick man. how can i be helpful to him? god save me from being angry. thy will be done.”
We avoid retaliation or argument. We wouldn’t treat sick people that way. If we do, we destroy our chance of being helpful. We cannot be helpful to all, but at least God will show us how to take a kindly and tolerant of each and every one.
Referring to our list again. Putting out of our minds the wrongs others had done, we resolutely looked for our own mistakes. Where had we been selfish, dishonest, self-seeking, and frightened? Though a situation had not been entirely our fault, we tried to disregard the other person involved entirely. Where were we to blame? The inventory was ours, not the other man’s. When we saw our faults we listed them. We placed them before us in black and white. We admitted our wrongs honestly and were willing to set these matters straight.”
-Gratefully taken from Alcoholic’s Anonymous; The Big Book, 4th edition, pages 165, 64, 66, 67