Resentment: Part I–What Is It

Resentment is a common emotion that most of us have experienced on this journey of life.  There are many triggers that cause resentment to surface in our lives.  A job we had where we got fired or layed-off for no apparent reason.  A love relationship where we were totally committed and our significant other decided to call it quits and we didn’t know why.  Being unfairly untreated by a friend or co-worker and never had the opportunity to make it right.  Feeling like our parents gave preferential treatment to our siblings and when we raised our concerns, they were never listened to or dealt with.

So what is resentment?  The dictionary describes resentment as a bitter indignation at having been treated unfairly.  It’s a mixture of disappointment, anger and fear. (Wikipedia)  A bitter indignation at having been treated unfairly.  For a season or longer. There are two critical elements in the building up of resentment.  The first involves a person or persons who are acting against us in some way.  The second element involves a response on our part to an action, attitude, or statement that is acted out.  Resentment often builds over time when the unfair treatment continues to manifest itself with no solution in sight.  Resentment doesn’t come after the first unfair act.  Anger is usually the emotion that surfaces.  It happens when the action is repeated over and over or the perpetrator doesn’t take responsibility for their actions which causes us to begin to ruminate on the unfair act.

A bible character who comes to mind that dealt with resentment was a man by the name of Joseph.  He was the second youngest of 12 brothers, with 4 different mothers and a father of all of them, Jacob.  Joseph was the favored one of the 12 primarily because he was the first-born of Jacob’s favorite wife, Rachel.  Resentment began to occur in Joseph when his brothers had had enough of his entitlement and sold him to slave traders who took him down to Egypt.  His resentment began to percolate in Egypt as he thought about what they had done.  He was 17 and forced from his home.  He couldn’t interact with his father whom he loved.  He didn’t have the luxury of the niceties that his father allowed him to experience.  He was a slave.  He was accused of raping his master’s wife and thrown in prison.  He had no control of the circumstances that continued to spiral down and out of control.  The story begins in Genesis 37 and continues for several chapters.

On this journey there will be situations that are unfair.  There will be people who treat us with disrespect and judge us harshly.  Anger is a common emotion that emerges from these interactions.  It’s when anger is not processed correctly that allows resentment to begin to grow.

Next Part:  Feeling of helplessness


About James Gorton

I am happily married to Nadine, a person I've known for 20+ years. She and her late husband owned Airpark Auto Service where I took my car for years. Four years after my wife died we began dating and the rest is history. We have a blended family of 6 children between us and love visiting them across this country. We recently had our third grandchild between us. We love to hike, bike and ski. I am a psychologist and do relational life coaching for marriages and families primarily. I love what I do and never get tired of seeing marriages and families move to more healthy places in their lives. Five years ago my oldest daughter Deborah encouraged me to begin writing my thought into a blog I call my Jlog (Jim's log). I have become more and more passionate in connecting everyday experiences to spiritual truths. I hope that as you read my Jlog, you will gain insight into your personal life and experience true growth in your personal and relational life.
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2 Responses to Resentment: Part I–What Is It

  1. tamelao says:

    Thank you for this post. It is very timely for me. How can I resolve resentment when it comes to burn out with serving in church? I’ve been struggling for the past 3 mos.

    Thank you. Tamy

    On Mon, Jan 21, 2019, 7:33 AM relationallychallenged James Gorton posted: “Resentment is a common emotion that most of us have > experienced on this journey of life. There are many triggers that cause > resentment to surface in our lives. A job we had where we got fired or > layed-off for no apparent reason. A love relationship whe” >

    • James Gorton says:

      Thank you for your response to my jlog. This is a 5 part jlog with Part 5 being the focus on resolving resentment. I would love to chat with you regarding your issue as I was in the ministry for several years before I went into private practice in counseling. I do hope these jlogs help you in your present situation and am available if you need further input. James G

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