| Holding on to resentment is like tightly grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else. |
Roots of Resentment
Resentment is one of the largest obstacles to addiction recovery. Resentment keeps individuals locked in a ‘one down’, ‘less than’ and devalued state.
Resentment is a persistent feeling of not being treated fairly. Resentment can be generated by not getting the respect that we believe is due. Resentment can also appear when we feel that we are not receiving appropriate appreciation, affection, help, apology, consideration, praise, or reward.
The substance, C-reactive protein (CRP), has garnered considerable attention for its role in both promoting and predicting cardiovascular disease and stroke in initially healthy people.
Resentment Creates Its Own Addiction Cycle
In a state of feeling ‘less than’ or not good enough, it is extremely difficult to appreciate or connect positively with others. Resentment almost always involves fantasies of anger or retribution. Retribution fantasies stimulate small doses of adrenaline and cortisol, which give a temporary increase in energy and confidence.
The more often revenge fantasies with anger are repeated, the greater the adrenaline boost. The adrenaline boost does cause some to feel better, but only temporarily.
Some individuals become ‘anger addicts‘. Ronald and Patricia Potter-Efrons, in Letting Go of Anger, describe the ‘anger rush’ caused by anger adrenaline. An anger rush activates the body and mind and causes a temporary feeling of strength. Unlike true inner strength, an anger rush lasts only a brief time.
Anger rushes also create an emotional/physical cycle – an addiction – to resentment and anger as the ‘go-to’ tools in the emotional toolbox.
Breaking Free of Resentment
Resentment rarely resolves on its own. In addiction treatment, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is essential to learn how to break the anger/resentment cycle. Psychoeducation provides those in recovery with training to respond to trigger situations with problem-solving strategies for maintaining sobriety.
With mindfulness practice, most individuals begin to experience more inner peace and good feelings about themselves. In most, this ultimately generates feelings of gratitude for kindness received; and forgiveness for slights (real or imagined).
Dissolving resentment requires re-thinking and re-tooling habitual reactions to daily situations. Disarming resentment requires a ‘change of mind’. Addicts have to make the change from feeling small and ‘victimized’ by the world – to feeling secure and spacious; extending empathy to oneself and others.
“Each person is like an actor who wants to run the whole show; is forever trying to arrange the lights, the ballet, the scenery and the rest of the players in his own way. If his arrangements would only stay put, if only people would do as he wished, the show would be great.
Everybody, including himself, would be pleased. Life would be wonderful. In trying to make these arrangements our actor may sometimes be quite virtuous. He may be kind, considerate, patient, generous; even modest and self-sacrificing.
[However]…he begins to think life doesn’t treat him right. He decides to exert himself more. He becomes, on the next occasion, still more demanding or gracious, as the case may be. Still the play does not suit him.
Admitting he may be somewhat at fault, he is sure that other people are more to blame. He becomes angry, indignant, self-pitying.”
Being in the NOW = Personal Inner Strength. We often fantasize about “what’s next?” Or, we project our thoughts on a destination, or future outcome of a situation – constantly anticipating the future while oblivious to the present.
Anxiety and the future are inexorably linked. It is a troubled mindset that obsesses on “what-if?” worst-case scenarios that usually do not materialize in actual experience. The slang term for this condition is “future tripping.”
By bringing the mind back to the present moment and being aware of this very moment at the level of body, mind and soul, we gain a sense of being “okay” at that point in time and space. And to the degree that we can accept the current situation for what it is – rather than an expectation of what it could be or should be – serenity is attained through that degree of acceptance.
Spirituality – not to be confused with religion
The spiritual aspect of addiction recovery is often overlooked, yet it is perhaps the most important element of a successful recovery from alcoholism.
Spirituality is not to be confused with religion. Religious people, even clergy, are not immune from substance abuse and addiction.
Spirituality involves developing an awareness of something greater than one’s self. For addicts, this awareness is non-existent. Addicts only feel comfortable when intoxicated. There is no chemical substitute for spiritual awareness.
We use a multi-disciplinary addiction treatment approach implemented by licensed professionals. The Arrowhead Lodge Recovery Staff includes a Physician-Addictionologist, Addiction Psychiatrist, Doctor of Clinical Psychology, Registered Nurse, several Licensed Therapists, and an addiction Nutritionist.