Resentment and Shame

I am so grateful you are reading this post on resentment and shame. These are not feeling states any of us would ask google “how to feel more resentment and shame?”. Furthermore, they are two feelings that thrive in secrecy. Resentment and shame are connected because we can feel deep shame for feeling resentment which causes us to hide our thoughts and feelings, leading to us augmenting the feeling instead of feeling it and healing from it.

That is to say that reading posts like this or listening to my podcast episodes on the topic are the first step to move through these unhelpful emotions. And yes, while I do encourage us to feel all the feelings and restrain from label feelings as good or bad, in this case I go off script a bit. To clarify, resentment and shame are feeling states I consider to be a problem causing feelings rather than problem solving feelings. In other words, when you feel resentment or shame, it can lead to some unhelpful places – intense anger, blame and martyrdom on one side of the spectrum and burnout, apathy and a numb complacency on the other end,

None of those are feeling states I like my warriors to be in.

Questions to Ponder with Resentment and Shame

First, let’s start with some questions to see where resentment may be showing up in your life. The first step in change is awareness. We need to know where we’re starting from in order to move forward.

Here are some questions to ponder:

  • Do you sometimes feel like you do more in your relationships?
  • How often do you feel unappreciated, as if no one gets how much you really do?
  • Do you ever make critical or judgy comments in your head about your partner?
  • Can you think of a time when you’ve said something like: “do you now how much I do for you” or “after everything I do for you, you do this?”
  • Do you blame others for things that feel hard in your life right now?
  • How often do you think that if only others would do things this way, my life would be easier?
  • Do you feel unappreciated in your relationships or the roles you play, like no one appreciates the full amount of what you do?

What is Resentment?

If you’re like me and most, you probably resonated with some (if not all) of the above questions. Let’s dig in and define what resentment is. I like working with two definitions:

  • Bitter indignation at being treated unfairly.
  • Blaming others for unmet expectations (that usually haven’t been said aloud.)

When I look back at where and when I feel resentment in my life, these definitions rings true to me. Feeling like things aren’t fair and should be different coupled with me not speaking up about what my expectations were, led to a storm of resentment that could get pretty massive. Further, as I said earlier, resentment is not a problem solving emotion but rather a problem causing one. It’s like a dark ooze that comes in an infiltrates relationships in a negative way that can lead to burnout, apathy and a feeling of hopelessness. Listen in to this week’s podcast episode for specific examples of how resentment can show up in your life.

What’s the Connection between Resentment and Shame?

If resentment is stronger when we don’t speak up and ask for our needs to be met, why don’t we speak up? Why do we leave our expectations unsaid?

For me, and like a lot of love your life show listeners, we were raised by well meaning parents who rushed into fix our feelings instead of, what we now know is helpful, letting us feel our feelings. They may have rushed in to fix our feelings so quickly that we got the feeling we were wrong to even have the feelings, which can lead to the feeling of shame. 

For example, I remember complaining about having to babysit my sisters. Instead of my mom or dad saying: “Aww, tell me more. What are you thinking about that Susie?” They probably said something like “Susie, you have it so good, how dare you complain? Look at everything we do for you and you’re complaining about watching your sisters for 30 minutes?”. I actually can’t remember exactly what they said but I sure do remember how I felt: shame! When I spoke up and shared my needs and expectations I was taught that I was wrong for having the thoughts I was having. As a child this leads to us thinking we are bad versus our thoughts are bad. Resulting in shame! I felt bad for thinking the thoughts I was thinking. Further, I felt bad for feeling the way I was feeling. and shame for complaining aloud about it. 

Child Brains lay Adult Neuropathways

When we think something is unfair and don’t speak up, we will feel resentment. We add a layer of feeling bad about thinking what we’re thinking, we feel shame. if, when we spoke up as a kid, we were shamed for our thoughts, we learned very quickly to fall in line. When I spoke up as a kid, it got shifted so fast to shame and how dare you have that thought that I learned to not speak up. I learned that speaking up was dangerous for me. My child brain put two and two together and determined that it was better to not say anything and, just, what, hope people could read my mind and change their behavior?

This certainly showed up for me as a young adult. It could look like me feeling resentment when my roommate played music too loud or didn’t do the dishes. Instead of opening my mouth to say something, I would seethe in silence. Why? Because as kids we were often shut down so fast that’s the relationship pattern we know as adults.

Which is why, no matter your age, it may still be challenging to open your mouth and speak up. I sometimes feel like what I’m asking for is wrong. Further, this is why I’m doing this two part podcast series. I’ve spoken  before about how shame thrives in secrecy. Well so does resentment. When we open our mouths and speak of what it is we’re feeling resentful about, it is like a balm for that resentment. Same with shame. When we open our mouths and speak of what we are feeling upset about, we can feel so much better. 

How to Move Out of Resentment and Shame

Firstly, we get to practice being a kind observer of ourselves and our current circumstance. Choose to have compassion for the situation you’re in instead of shaming yourself for it. Please. We have unmet expectations and we feel shame around speaking up about them because of our conditioning. 

Secondly, begin to reframe how you view resentment. I like to think of resentment as an opportunity for me to make a request. It’s a sign that I have unmet expectations and I can see if I’ve said those expectations aloud. This second step requires you to see how you are also responsible for feeling resentment and is best done with support by a coach (me!) or a group (see links below). I’d love to support you. 

Move through this next week thinking of your resentment as an opportunity for a request. Resentment means request. Where could you open your mouth, bust the secrecy of shame, and request something? What request could you make for the sake of your relationships and your emotional health? Feel free to share in any of the places linked below, the monthly membership, instagram, or in a session with me. You matter to me!

Listen to Full Episode Here

Links Mentioned:

Midlife Warrior Monthly Membership

The Podcast 

Schedule a session with Susie to tackle something specific with Resentment or Shame

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