Your Resentment Carries an Important Message

Businessman standing on a boat and observing the horizon

Resentment is a symptom that somewhere, somehow I have compromised myself. – Dushka Zapata

I woke up bleary-eyed after yet another bad night’s sleep. It was summertime and life was anything but lazy lately.

I felt overwhelmed and had been for awhile. My practice had been thriving all year. I was happy to have plenty of work, but it meant I was working a lot with very little downtime. I was serving on another board and it was getting political and exhausting – yet I was also making progress on the projects I was spearheading. We had a steady stream of guests and while I love to entertain, I also find that I stress myself with worry that they are having a good time.

The day before my husband and I were sitting around at a music festival and I had taken the opportunity of some downtime to plan the neighborhood barbecue I volunteered to run this year – because I really wanted to get to know more of our neighbors.

Was I complaining? Not really. All of these things are good things and I would rather have all of them happening than not. I was just in a phase where everything was happening at once and I just wanted to get a good night’s sleep.

I wandered into the kitchen to make myself some tea, as grumbling resentments were going through my head. They were directed toward my husband who seemed to have slept fine. He has the amazing ability to snore through just about anything and sleep in late in the morning after a later night. He had a great time at the music festival and didn’t feel a need to write up any lists about our impending barbecue. In fact, it was entirely my idea to host the barbecue and he had warned me that I was taking on too much. I ignored him.

He didn’t worry like I did when we had guests. When the board he served on got political he got frustrated but was usually able to shift his focus as soon as the meeting was over. No matter what was happening with his business, he didn’t seem to shift his schedule on the weekends, faithfully attending every tennis game scheduled.

I’m a Type A personality and he’s a Type B, so it’s no wonder we wound up together. Each of us needs to learn to be a little less like ourselves and a little more like the other when the balance of work and play is involved. I’ve been living independently since before I graduated from high school and completed both college and law school at night while working full-time. Working constantly to stay afloat was the survival mechanism that paid off well back then and I am now thankfully able to have fun as a result. Sometimes, even thirty years later, I forget that.

So, on the morning after a sleepless night, I felt resentful.

I listened to my resentments very carefully. I realized that they were saying that I just wanted everything to… STOP. I realized the resentments were coming from the part of myself – the one who didn’t get to have any fun – grumbling at the grown-up version of myself who just would Not. Sit. Still. The resentments were acting like a little kid tugging on her mother’s sleeve to just… slow down… and listen… and pay attention to ME.

I felt overburdened and had failed to make space for myself or carve out time to just do nothing – even when presented with the opportunity. Funny, once I realized that, I didn’t feel grumbly toward my husband anymore. It really didn’t have anything to do with him at all.

Now I know that if I feel resentful toward those who take time out for themselves, it is a signal that I need to do the same. I need to prioritize fun, take a day off, stop planning things and stop worrying about everyone else. The resentful grumblings in your head about someone else can be a signal that you have compromised yourself. Instead of blaming others, consider the message your resentment may be carrying. There is something in you that is calling out for your attention. You!


  1. Good candid article.

    I see resentment as unresolved anger that keeps coming back to you (resending!) consciously or consciously. As a rule-of-thumb, anger is the result of an ability to choose or be chosen, so resentment would be a continuation of the patterns that prevent us from making wise choices, or behaving in a way that people like to be around you.

    And if resentment continues for many years it can turn into bitterness that starts to colour everything you do or think.


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