Resentment

Photo by EyeJoy/iStock / Getty Images
Photo by EyeJoy/iStock / Getty Images

Noun: bitter indignation at having been treated unfairly.

When we find ourselves blocked from achieving our goals, anger often arises. If we perceive the interference as a personal affront to our right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness we get mad. That's a natural response to goal frustration. When we walk away, nursing the seeds of anger and revenge, that's resentment. Resentments are challenging to deal with. Not only for the person who is resentful but also for the people around them.

Overall, we cope with resentment well for people not long removed from living in the wilderness with a tendency to respond to resentment with violence. However, we continue to face situations that provoke our more primitive emotions. Sometimes our resentments get the best of us.

You can take the man out of the woods, but it takes effort to take the woods out of the man. Our evolutionary history makes it easy for us to react to situations in ways that harken back to our time spent in the wilderness.

A practice that can help you improve success at controlling your emotions in general and resentment, in particular, is to accept that you are violent. Our society’s violent. It's time to stop denying the reality of who we are. We are violent to ourselves. We are violent to each other, and we are violent to the planet. Have you noticed your self-talk lately? Sure you don't act on every violent impulse or thought you have, but much of what goes on in your head is violent. Have you watched the news recently? It's a steady stream of destruction, shootouts, and wars. The effects of our violence to the planet can be seen in skinny polar bears and seagulls that eat fast food.  

There was a shooting at YouTube last week. From the accounts I read, in the news, the female shooter was pissed. According to CNN Wire, “The woman's grievances against YouTube appeared to focus on censorship and revenue.” She had a resentment, grabbed her pistol, drove to YouTube headquarters, and opened fire on people she didn't even know, wounding three, killing one, and ultimately, killing herself. Her parents, aware of her resentment against YouTube but unaware of her violent intentions, notified the police--to no avail.

According to news reports, she was a vegan. This is relevant because it illustrates how resentment can blind you to your own values. A posting on one of her social media pages stated, “Animal rights are human rights.” She wouldn't eat a chicken wing but she would shoot and kill people over her resentment. Equipped with the original primitive software and capable of buying a gun she was able to make others pay for her unhappiness before taking her own life. We may never know her motivation for shooting others and committing suicide. But resentment was a contributing factor.

In a previous mass shooting, it was assumed initially that the shooter’s motivation was based on gender bias. According to Jane Coaston in her article about the Pulse nightclub shooting, “After a mass shooting, observers, including journalists, often search for a motive, sometimes even before the first victims have been identified. But the Pulse shooting proves that initial narratives about mass shooters’ motivations are often wrong — and those narratives can be far more powerful than the truth.” Human behavior has numerous motivations.

Knowing that our resentments can lead to violence and irretrievable ruptures in our relationships, I'm calling for self-control. I'm calling for anger management and impulse control. I’m calling for mental hygiene. I’m suggesting that we recognize the destructive power we possess in order to reduce gun violence. We all need to take personal responsibility for our thoughts and feelings. A resentment is corrosive. It ruins the vessel. It’s like the old people used to say, “it’s like peeing down your own leg and expecting someone else to feel it.”

Talk to someone when you feel angry. Share your feelings in order to manage them better and keep resentment at bay. Avoid using permanent solutions for temporary problems. Stay calm. Use your gun for duck hunting. But most of all anticipate the fact that you will get angry in the future. Devise a plan to protect yourself and others from any violent tendencies that may surface. Only you can prevent gun violence.