Don’t Let Resentment Keep You from Recovery
When you’re in recovery from addiction, one of the biggest threats is getting caught up in negative emotions. Resentment is among the most powerful of these debilitating states of mind. For many recovering addicts, resentments can trigger the urge to use and are a major threat to addiction recovery.
What is resentment?
Resentment is defined as a feeling of persistent ill will or bitterness toward things or people. Resentment is an all-consuming and negative emotion that is a response to real or imagined harms. Those who have resentments dwell on the feelings of hurt and anger and the intensity of the emotions are very frequently out of proportion to the actual events.
Resentment can be incredibly dangerous territory, especially for recovering alcoholics and addicts. There is a tendency for resentments to get stronger if you don’t let them go. As these emotions grow stronger and get more negative, they can lead those in recovery to take a drink or a drug impulsively.
So what triggers resentment?
Just about anything can trigger these negative emotions. Maybe you don’t get the new job you were sure you were going to get. Perhaps your roommate leaves dirty dishes lying around and you have to clean up after her. Resentment can also be triggered by things that have never happened at all. Someone in line at the coffee shop wasn’t looking at you but you think they were eyeing you critically. You think your professor is giving you a hard time but he or she is actually having problems in their personal life. You think a friend is acting superior to you - but are they really?
Resentments may originate entirely in your own mind more frequently than you realize.
Relating to others when sober can be a challenge.
There are going to be times when other are actually treating you unjustly. You may be treated as though you’re a good-for-nothing drunk by your family or friends no matter how hard you try to get well and you can’t help but resent being treated as though you’ll never change. You may have a boss who abuses his power or you may be in an unhappy marriage.
For a recovering alcoholic or addict, relationships can be particularly challenging. It’s difficult to avoid reacting to demands from your friends and family or any kind of negativity or hostility from other people and this can be especially difficult while you’re attempting to learn who you are as a sober person.
In your early sobriety, emotions are particularly volatile and often unpredictable. You may get upset completely without warning. If you get stuck in that negativity, your efforts to lead a productive and sober life can be derailed very quickly.
Moving past resentments
Addiction isn’t just a drinking and drugging problem. Addiction is also a thinking problem. Learning to live sober requires you to learn new ways of thinking and new ways of reacting. You have to learn to let go of negativity. There is a lot in life that you can’t control, including the behavior of other people. When you dwell on those resentful feelings, you’re wasting energy that you could be spending on better things.
For a lot of people in recovery, the question isn’t if out-of-control resentments will trigger a relapse; it’s when. In order to stay sober, you must release negative feelings and focus on positive thoughts and positive emotions. Think of it like changing the station in your own mind.
Learn to calm your emotions by practicing healthy habits that could include yoga and meditation. Exercise can also help you channel negativity into something positive. Attend support groups and share your feelings with others who have been where you are. Writing down your negative emotions in a private journal can also be therapeutic.
These resentful feelings can be overwhelming and overpowering but you can learn to calm your turbulent emotions. Your sobriety depends on it.