Navigating Resentment: Reclaiming Your Joy

Resentful mom during the holidays

As we move past the festive chaos of the holidays, it's not uncommon to find ourselves neck deep in the mire of resentment. Whether it's directed at our spouse, family members, or even ourselves, resentment can cast a heavy shadow over the joyous memories we've created. Today, let's look at this uncomfortable emotion, understand its grip, and outline a course toward reclaiming our peace and joy.

The Weight of Resentment:

The days post-holidays often bring a unique mix of emotions, and for many of us, resentment can be a silent companion. Perhaps it's resentment toward a spouse who didn't lend a hand with the holiday preparations, extended family expectations and criticism, or even frustration at the kids for not acknowledging the enormous efforts put into making their holidays magical. As the weight of resentment settles in, it's important to recognize that these feelings, though valid, don't serve us well.

Understanding the Roots:

Resentment often stems from unmet expectations, unspoken desires, and a sense of unfairness. This emotion that can leave us feeling isolated and misunderstood. The first step in managing resentment is acknowledging its presence and understanding its roots. What expectations were unmet? What desires went unspoken? By shining a light on these aspects, we begin to unravel the layers of resentment and gain clarity.

Pull apart the facts from the story:

Oftentimes drama comes from the story we tell ourselves about what someone else said or did.  Pinpoint the facts of the story.  What EXACTLY was said or not said, done or not done.  Then be honest with the story you are telling yourself about those facts.  You may find that the story you are believing is not completely true.  And the more you tell it the worse you feel.

Acceptance and Letting Go:

While it's natural to want other people to change their behavior, the truth is, we have little to no control over how others act. The cure to resentment lies in acceptance.  Now before you get mad remember that acceptance DOES NOT mean condoning hurtful behavior; it means recognizing that we can't change the past and we can’t change what other people said or did. By acknowledging this truth, we free ourselves from the chains of resentment. It's not about excusing others' behavior but choosing not to let it control how we think or feel.

Actionable Steps to Reclaim Joy:

  1. Identify Your Triggers: Reflect on specific situations or behaviors that trigger resentment. Is it a lack of help from your spouse, family dynamics, or unmet expectations? Pinpointing these triggers is the first step toward taking control.
  2. Communicate Openly: Create a space for open communication. Share your feelings with your spouse or family members, expressing your needs and expectations. Often, others may not be aware of the impact of their actions, and open dialogue can foster understanding.
  3. Set Realistic Expectations: Assess your expectations. Are they realistic? Adjusting expectations to align with reality can reduce the likelihood of feeling let down.
  4. Focus on What You Can Control: Redirect your energy toward things you can control. Instead of dwelling on others' behavior, concentrate on your thoughts, feelings and actions. Take charge of creating a positive atmosphere for yourself.
  5. Practice Self-Compassion: It's easy to harbor resentment toward ourselves for not doing "enough." Embrace self-compassion. Recognize that you did your best, and it's okay not to be perfect. Treat yourself with the same kindness you extend to others.
  6. Seek Support: Share your feelings. Connecting with others who understand can provide validation and guidance on navigating these emotions, and help you realize that you are not alone.
  7. Celebrate Small Wins: Acknowledge the small victories. Celebrate moments of joy and accomplishment, no matter how minor. Shifting your focus to the positive aspects of your life fosters gratitude.


Remember, we are all human and resentment is bound to creep in from time to time, but it doesn't have to be a permanent companion. By understanding its roots, practicing acceptance, and taking actionable steps, we can navigate through this emotion and reclaim the joy that is rightfully ours. You are not alone on this journey, and as you move forward, remember that every step you take toward self-awareness and self-compassion is a step toward a brighter, more joyful future.

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