Many people who struggle with substance use disorder (SUD) also struggle with lingering resentment. This resentment could be directed at themselves or at other people. Carrying resentment can be extremely draining and can take a toll on a person’s mental health. It can keep them stuck in the past, unable to move on or heal.
In recovery, everyone has the opportunity to let go of resentment once and for all. This is a very liberating experience that can allow one to have a great sense of relief. It allows a person to finally stop dwelling on the past and make the most of the future. Letting go of resentment can be a life-changing thing, in the best way.
What Is Resentment Toward Others?
Resentment is caused when something unjust is done to a person and they feel anger as a result. However, rather than simply letting it go or forgiving the other person or situation responsible, the individual carries it for weeks, months, or even years. Over time, it’s allowed to grow inside of them and become a permanent emotion. One might feel resentment toward a family member, friend, or even their higher power. Some people continue to harbor resentment toward someone even after that individual has passed away.
When someone struggles with resentment, they often find themselves constantly thinking about whatever unfair or unjust thing happened to them. They might not only devote a lot of their focus to it but speak about it often in their conversations with others. They may replay certain events over and over in their head, analyzing every last detail.
Some of the most common symptoms associated with resentment are anger, betrayal, bitterness, frustration, and hostility. Some people may even feel the desire to get some sort of revenge or justice for what happened. They may also experience a sense of damaged trust and be unwilling to let others in, even those who have done nothing to hurt them.
Consider someone who has struggled with SUD. In many cases, the disorder stems from harm that has been done by someone, such as abuse or childhood trauma.
What Is Resentment Toward Yourself?
In many cases, the person that someone may hold resentment toward is themselves. They may have done something intentionally or unintentionally that hurt someone they care about and now don’t feel like they can ever make things right. Or they may have made a poor decision that could have cost them something they wanted very badly. It is often easier to forgive others than it is to forgive yourself, so many people will cling to this resentment because they feel like they deserve it.
In the case of someone who has struggled with SUD, they may hold resentment toward themselves over past mistakes made long before they ever sought treatment. Perhaps they said or did something while they were under the influence that they didn’t really mean. Maybe they broke trust or damaged relationships and don’t believe that these things can be restored.
Someone could be already very committed to their recovery journey and have years of sobriety under their belt, but they still feel this way. They could have done everything in their power to make amends toward others and to their community and still don’t think they deserve forgiveness. This can be a heavy load to carry and can take time to work through.
Letting Go of Resentment
The first step in letting go of resentment in recovery is understanding why it is not a fruitful emotion and is not beneficial in any way. An individual can’t turn back time and undo what someone else did to them or even a mistake they made themself. Carrying resentment only weighs one down and steals joy from the present moment.
When it comes to letting go of resentment a person has toward themself, it can help to put things in perspective. They can try to imagine someone they love did or said something hurtful to them while they were under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Their feelings would probably be hurt, right? That is a natural emotion. But if that person apologized, made amends, and proved they were committed to their recovery and making things right, they would probably forgive them and give them a second chance. After all, nobody is perfect. Sometimes we have to give ourselves the same grace we give to others.
It can be trickier when the resentment we are trying to let go of is toward someone who did something really bad to us. Quite possibly, this is someone who never apologized and never tried to make things right. We don’t have to forgive them, but we can decide to no longer allow them to carry space in our heads or steal joy from the present moment.
Many people who struggle with resentment also carry a lot of resentment with them. This resentment could be directed at someone who hurt them or acted toward them in an unjust way. It could also be directed to themselves for past mistakes they may have made due to their substance misuse. Resentment can be carried for months and even years. Moving forward and starting the healing process can help someone stuck in the past. Resentment steals joy from the present moment. Letting go of it can be a major relief and lead to a great sense of relief. If you’re struggling with substance misuse, our team at The Ho Tai Way can help. Call (714) 581-3974 today.