Resentment: Meaning & Signs


Resentment is a pretty standard emotion that is commonly defined as anger and indignation brought on by unfair treatment.

Those who experience resentment might also feel annoyed, ashamed, and have a desire for revenge. An individual may develop resentment as a result of a minor or serious injustice, possibly containing the same bitterness and rage over a minor matter as they would over a more significant one.

Resentment is not a symptom of any specific mental illness; rather, it may be the outcome of incorrectly expressing emotions following a traumatic event. They may result from actual, fictitious, or misinterpreted injustices. A careless remark made by a friend or criticism from a boss has the potential to cause outrage and resentment. In addition, it can be broad and directed at large groups of people, frequently with disastrous results; for instance, racism and religious persecution frequently spring from ingrained resentment.

Resentful people may feel they have been personally wronged. They may be too hurt or embarrassed to express their feelings, allowing their resentment to fester and manifest as anger.

Signs of Resentment 

There are numerous ways that resentment can manifest. You might be harbouring resentment if you exhibit certain behaviors

  • Continuous or persistent feelings of strong emotion, such as anger, when reflecting on a particular exchange or encounter
  • Inability to stop thinking about the situation that brought on the negative feelings
  • A sense of regret
  • Fear of or aversion to conflict
  • Relationship tension
  • Feeling unimportant, inadequate, or inferior

It can be a long-lasting feeling, or it can be a brief one that disappears when someone learns they misunderstood an event or receives an apology from the offender.

Resentment and Mental Health 

Most people will eventually feel generalized anger or annoyance over unfair treatment because resentment is a common emotion. But when a person is unable to forgive, issues can develop—persistent resentment may be the result of a serious issue. For example, after years of abuse from a father, a person may grow unable to feel any wrong, which is understandable. However, if a person starts to believe that they are the victims of every bad situation, they may develop a confused sense of reality and find it impossible to identify any benefits.

Resentment in Relationships 

In intimate relationships, especially those that last a long time, resentment frequently grows. The following factors typically cause relationship tension:

Making a score. One partner may start to feel resentful of the other if they feel that they are doing all the heavy lifting in the relationship, such as doing the dishes, taking care of the kids, being the main breadwinner, or initiating emotional connection and intimacy, to name a few examples.

Asymmetry in the power equation. if one partner in a relationship feels controlled in a regular way, feels their lifestyle is over, or they feel ignored, then they develop anger.

medical or health problems. When one partner in a relationship receives a diagnosis of a long-term mental or physical illness, it’s possible that the partner will start to assume the additional role of caregiver. Being a caregiver for a partner can make some people resentful over time, especially if their own needs are not being met.

angry words. The more time a couple spends together, the more likely it is that one of them will say something that the other feels is hurtful to them. Couples who don’t express their hurt feelings to one another may be more likely to develop resentment.

If let grows, it has the ability to damage relationships. Even if the issue seems trivial or insignificant, talking about what’s bothering you with your partner can help you feel less resentful of them and may even strengthen your relationship.

In couples counseling, partners who are unable to let go of resentment can learn how to express their feelings.

Getting Rid of Resentment

Letting go of resentment frequently entails forgiving. Some people discover that letting go of the past and moving on works better for them. Regardless of the method chosen, getting rid of resentment almost always requires changing one’s outlook or emotional reactions.

Resentment can be released by:

Think about why letting go is challenging. What emotions arise when you consider letting go of your grudge? A long-held resentment can cause a sense of losing one’s identity when letting go.

Self-care is a good idea. The feelings connected to resentments, such as anger or regret, can occasionally give those who harbor them for extended periods of time a sense of comfort or familiarity. These people might be able to see that while using this coping mechanism may temporarily improve their mood, it will eventually wear them out if they don’t practice self-compassion.

Investigate empathy. Trying to understand the other person’s point of view can help lessen resentment when the person or action that sparked it was the result of a miscommunication or when the person who caused harm did not realize what they had done.

If this emotion is not identified on time, it is impossible to manage who is responsible for it. In these situations, speaking with a therapist can assist people in exploring the problem that gave rise to the resentment, what is making it hard to let go of, and coping mechanisms that help people reduce their resentment.

Therapy for Resentment 

Therapy may be helpful for those who have trouble forgiving others for any wrong, no matter how small. People who want to understand the reasons behind their anger toward a particular person or situation might want to revisit the incident, either on their own or with the help of a therapist. Because the cause of a person’s resentment can change, no single method of treatment is employed to heal these feelings.

It is treatable with the use of treatment options for personal realization. People who have egos usually see reality with accuracy, show empathy and compassion for others, and simply accept both themselves and other people.

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