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Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Physiology of Resentment

Primary to resolving the issues that anger us is the identification, assessment of source, and control of, resentment. We all have them simmering away under the surface of our thoughts and emotions; lurking for opportunity to rear an ugly head.

In explaining how resentment works we need to go back to our innermost values first.

Values Systems

We all have a values system, and anything that doesn’t match our values is susceptible for judging, and judgments can lead to resentments if they’re not addressed.

It’s important to know this, because our values and underlying beliefs (not spiritual beliefs) underpin, at the most basic level, our thoughts.

Discontented Thoughts

From our values, in conjunction with how our lives are turning out, are our thoughts. Many levels below even conscious thought, thinking takes place. It often lays dormant; but reinforcing, constantly, the values divide.

We are sometimes only aware of this thinking after the event of our caustic actions — those spilling over into resentment.

Emotion-Producing Action

Thinking leads to the way we feel (and vice versa). But in this way, thoughts are placed through a fresh sieve to determine if the initial judgment was right or not.

Ninety-nine percent of the time we will verify our initial conclusions — because we’re using the same values kit. We’re hardly able to think differently unless externalities — for instance, God’s revelation — break through into our thinking and challenge these values.

So, if we’re to verify what we always thought is still correct, and we muse on this long enough, the emotion will spill over into action... it has to.

The other way of thinking is guilt for knowing the mounting resentment is wrong — that too will eventually anger us.

Using This Physiology to Counter Resentment

Baying in truth is always the golden key to crush resentment. Things are not always as they seem; when truth has a look-in we can be surprised just how deluded we’ve become in regard to our resentments.

To shift our values set — to align them to truth, and therefore God’s portion of view — we incorporate some manual retraining of the mind, in order to think differently.

This is not an easy process, but it’s necessary. We all harbour non-truths that shelter deep in the ‘fleshy’ heart that’s home to thoughts against God.

Affirmations are important, and so too is what we read, and who we spend our time with. The more we reinforce where our thinking needs to change, the better our minds are retrained.

Values sets can be difficult, if not impossible, to move; hence it makes a lot of sense to have a ‘thinking’ contingency. That, at truth, is simply to understand that our view of the world will always be in conflict with others’ views — even to our spouses (explaining why marital ‘bliss’ is not achievable one hundred percent of the time).


Let’s not forget that thinking is the gateway to action, and that the emotions generate such action. What we think a lot of forces its way through our heart, then into action.

Understanding how resentments become known via our actions is important in understanding where they came from — in their dormancy — and why they’re there, and how to address them the best we can; which is done two ways:

1. Retrain the mind to think differently; and, when all else fails,

2. Accept that our personal values will not be shared — they’re unique. Conflict over values is natural in this world and the temptation to harbour resentment — for us and them — is ever-present. Honesty will, however, always shatter resentment.

© 2011 S. J. Wickham.

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