Ann Lamott, in her novel Crooked Little Heart, says that holding onto resentment is like eating rat poison and waiting for the rat to die.
Resentment is seductive. We assume on some level that it’s going to help us, but it doesn’t. It just causes us pain.
This is something that just about all of us need help with.
1600 years ago, a compiler and commenter of Buddhist texts called Buddhaghosa put together an extraordinary “tool kit” of ways to deal with resentment. I was recently looking at this guidance, which is part of Buddhaghosa’s encyclopedic work on meditation, The Visuddhi Magga, or Path of Purity, and thought it was so fresh, well thought-out, and relevant that it was worth restating some of what he had to say.
Twelve techniques for getting rid of resentment
1. Lovingkindness practice
This one’s pretty obvious — if you’re a meditator at least. You can simply call to mind the person you’re resentful of, and cultivate good will toward them. We have a whole section of this site devoted to teaching the metta bhavana (development of lovingkindness) practice, so I won’t say much about that here, except that it does work! When I first started practicing meditation I had a lot of problems with resentment, and I was often surprised by how quickly my anger and resentment toward someone would just vanish.
2. Reflect that resentment is never justified
Buddhaghosa suggests that we “reflect upon the saw.”
This one needs a bit of unpacking. There’s a “Simile of the Saw” in the early Buddhist scriptures, where the Buddha says that even if bandits brutally sawed a person limb from limb, “he who entertained hate in his heart would not be one that carried out my teaching.” In other words, it doesn’t matter what the provocation is, hatred is never justified. The mind can go “but … but …” as much as it likes, but hatred remains a negative emotion that destroys our happiness, causes suffering for others, and prevents us from experiencing peace.
Pretty much all of us, though, carry around the idea that there’s such a thing as “righteous resentment.” And we assume that hatred is justified. We tell ourselves stories about how bad the other person is, and this seems to make it natural for us to hate them. What we’re not doing is taking responsibility for our ill will. It’s our interpretation of other people’s actions that makes us hate them. We cause our own hate.
Don’t take the parable of the saw literally. Of course (unless you’re an advanced practitioner of superhuman stature) you’d experience hatred toward an aggressor who was torturing you. That wouldn’t mean that you weren’t a Buddhist — but it would mean that in the moment of hatred you would not “be one that carried out teaching.” The point of the parable is simply to undermine the idea of “righteous resentment.”
Incidentally, some Tibetan monks and nuns who have been brutally tortured by Chinese security forces have avoided developing hatred toward their tormentors by means of compassion — reflecting that their torturers are building up bad karma for themselves.
3. Winning the real battle
Hot on the heels of the advice to reflect on the parable of the saw is an admonition to reflect that in developing hatred you’re actually giving a person who hates you what they want. (This is assuming that the other person hates you, which isn’t always the case.)
What does a person who hates you want for you? Bad stuff, that’s what. Buddhaghosa points out that hatred makes you ugly, causes you pain, destroys your good fortune, causes you to lose your wealth (or not to create any, perhaps because you’re distracted), detracts from your reputation, loses you friends, and leads to a bad rebirth. This is all bad stuff.
Someone who really hated you might wish all these things on you, and here you are doing them to yourself! You’re handing your hater victory. You’re doing him or her a favor. And by getting angry at an angry person, Buddhaghosa says, you become worse than them, and “do not win the battle hard to win,” which is of course the battle with yourself, to remain happy and unruffled.
So basically, we reflect here that true victory can’t come from getting angry at an angry person. That’s defeat. Victory comes from remaining calm, loving, and equanimous.
4. “Accentuate the positive”
Buddhaghosa suggests that we think about something positive in the other person, so that you can “remove irritation.”
This works, too. Resentment doesn’t like complexity. When you bear in mind someone’s good points — even things (dammit!) that we admire — it’s harder to keep the resentment going.
5. Develop compassion
But if you can’t think of anything positive about the other person, or if they truly don’t have any positive qualities (although that’s almost impossible) then you should develop compassion toward them. In Buddhaghosa’s world view, a person with no redeeming qualities is bound for the torments of the hell realms, and is therefore worthy of our compassion. I should stress that in Buddhism the hells are not permanent and are not punishments — they are simply places where we are reborn for a while as a result of our actions. Buddhist hells are a kind of “fat farm” where we burn off our bad karma.
6. Notice how you’re causing yourself suffering
As Ann Lamott points out, resentment hurts us. Buddhaghosa offers many reflections along those lines:
If another person has hurt us, why should we then hurt ourselves? In your life you’ve had to give up many things that brought you happiness, so why not walk away from resentment, which makes you miserable? If another person has done something we disapprove of, then why do something (like getting angry) that we would also disapprove of? If someone wants you to get angry, why give them the satisfaction? You may make the other person suffer with your anger. Then again you may not. But you’ll definitely hurt yourself. The thing you got angry about is impermanent and in the past. So why are you angry now?
He’s kind of unrelenting, that Buddhaghosa.
7. Reflect that all beings are the owners of their karma
This is a common reflection in Buddhism: all beings create their own actions (kamma) and inherit the consequences of those actions. The other person may have done things that are unskillful, and those actions will cause them suffering. So what’s the point of you doing exactly the same thing, by acting out of the unskillful state of resentment? It’s like picking up a hot coal to throw at the other person. You may hurt them, but you’re definitely going to hurt yourself.
The other person, if they are angry with you, is causing themselves pain. It’s like, Buddhaghosa says, them throwing a handful of dust into the wind. They may be aiming at you, but it’s their eyes that will end up smarting.
Reflecting in this way we can untangle our respective lives. The other person’s faults, real or imagined, are no longer an occasion for us to exercise our own faults.
8. Reflect on exemplars of patience
Buddhaghosa goes a bit over the top with this one, devoting almost as much time on this method of dispelling resentment as he does on all the others put together. His approach is to remind us of various past lives of the Buddha, or jataka tales, as they’re called. These are mythological stories about the Buddha’s previous lives, as he developed the qualities of compassion and wisdom that led to his awakening.
I’ve found that being in the presence of someone who is very patient causes me to let go of my resentments. I had a good friend in Scotland who I never — not once — heard say an unkind word about anyone. Sometimes I’d be bitching about someone else, and my friend would just come in with some wise and kind word about the other person’s life that would put everything in perspective and leave me feeling a bit petty about having ranted. Even now, just calling that friend to mind helps me evoke a sense of patience.
9. Reflect that all beings have been your dearest friends and relations in a previous life
I’m not big on past lives, or in belief in rebirth generally, but if you do take that kind of thing seriously, then Buddhaghosa’s advice is to remember that because of the beginninglessness of time, every being — including those you get most pissed off with — have been your mother, father, brother, sister, son, and daughter. When that person was your mother, they carried you in their womb, suckled you, wiped away your snot and shit, and generally lavished you with love. And we can reflect, Buddhaghosa says, thus: “So, it is unbecoming for me to harbor hate for him in my mind.”
Being one of a scientific bent, and not putting much stock in reflections that rely on assuming that rebirth is a reality rather than a myth, or perhaps a metaphor, I find myself approaching this advice in a different way. Let’s take rebirth as a metaphor: change is happening all the time, and so we’re each reborn in every moment. Each moment we die and are reborn.
Each momentary contact with the world is part of this process of death and rebirth. In fact, each perception is a kind of birth. It’s the birth of a new experience, and thus of a new “us.” Each contact that we have with another being is part of this process. Each time we see someone, hear someone, touch someone, even think or someone, a new experience arises and a new being is born. So in this way, all beings that we have contact with are our mothers. Each being we have contact with in this moment helps give birth to the being that exists in this moment. And since, in our immensely complex world, the unfolding, never-ending death-and-rebirth of each being is ultimately connected with the never-ending death-and-rebirth of each other being, all beings are our mothers.
10. Reflect on the benefits of lovingkindness
You can reflect on the benefits of lovingkindness, and how you’ll deny yourself those benefits by indulging in resentment. What are the benefits? Well, it’s worth reflecting on that through examining your own experience, but here’s Buddhaghosa’s list, which comes from the scriptures: You’ll sleep in comfort, wake in comfort, and dream no evil dreams. You’ll be dear to human beings and to non-human beings. Deities will guard you. Fire and poison and weapons won’t harm you (although that seems unlikely, to say the least). More plausibly, your mind will be easily concentrated. You’ll be reborn in a pleasant realm (or at the very least the future you that arises will have more a pleasant existence than the being that would have arisen had lovingkindness not been a part of its previous existence).
Some of these are plausible. There is scientific research showing that there are health benefits, and mental health benefits, from practicing lovingkindness meditation. Friendly people generally seem to have a more pleasant experience of the world, with less conflict and more fulfilling experience of others. You’ll deny yourself these benefits if you indulge in resentment. Resentment is the saturated fat of emotions, clogging the arteries of our happiness.
11. Break the other person into tiny pieces
Mentally (not physically!) we can dissolve the object of our resentment into various elements, asking ourselves what exactly we’re angry with. Is it the head hairs, the body hairs, the nails, the teeth, etc? Is it the solid matter making up that person, the liquid, the gas, the energy?
This might seem a little silly. In fact it seemed silly to me, right up to the moment that I tried it. There had been resistance to the idea, because I thought, “Well, of course I’m not angry with any of those things, I’m angry with them — with the person as a whole. But setting that resistance aside, and just reflecting on the bits that make up a person takes you away from the thought of them “as a whole” and you temporarily can’t be angry with them!
As Buddhaghosa says, “When he tries the resolution into elements, his anger finds no foothold, like a mustard seed on the point of a needle.”
12. Give a gift
This one’s delightfully straightforward and earthy. If you give the other person a gift — especially something you value — then you break the dynamic of your resentment. You shake things up within yourself. You have to think of the other person as a human being with needs. You have to think about what they might like. You stop your mind from going around and around in the same old rut of complaining. You have to let go of your damned pride. You have to take a risk. You have to make yourself vulnerable.
And giving to the other person changes the dynamic of the relationship. If there’s mutual resentment, then you may shock the other person into seeing you differently.
Buddhaghosa points out that giving naturally leads to kind speech:
Through giving gifts they do unbend
And condescend to kindly speech.
Of course you may be thinking something along the lines of, “Wait! I hate this person; why on earth would I give them something?”
But that just brings up another question. Do you want to end your resentment?
Well, do you?
November 9, 2011
On Page 552 of the “Big Book” of Alcoholics Anonymous (their basic text), there is a very helpful suggestion on how to rid yourself of resentments towards a person.
You pray for them every day for two weeks.
According to the writer of that Big Book chapter, they had held a deep resentment towards someone. They were seeking a way rid themselves of it when they chanced upon a magazine article. In this article a preacher wrote that if one holds a resentment towards someone or something (like a place, maybe), you pray for them every day for two weeks. You pray for their health, happiness and prosperity.
It doesn’t matter if you mean it or not, if it is “just words;” you do it anyway. You will find that by the end of the two weeks, you will come to mean it. This transformation will end the resentment towards that person.
A resentment, as we have learned, means to “re-feel” something; a negative sentiment is maintained, relived and nurtured over time. There’s a pretty good chance that if you are praying daily for their health, happiness and prosperity, this old, negative “sentiment” will erode and disappear.
I tried it and so far it is working. Being the person I am, I may have to do it again concerning this acutely annoying person. But I can attest to the fact that by the end of the two weeks, I genuinely desired “health, happiness and prosperity” for this person.
The writer didn’t give the words to the prayer, just describing the instructions. My prayer went as follows:
“Dear God in Heaven, if it be your holy will, look with favor upon the health, happiness and prosperity of …N…. . I ask You this in the Name of Jesus, the Lord.” (“N” being the name of the person you are praying for.)
That’s all. Simple and to the point. No complicated formula, nothing but a simple request. Although the target is the person you are praying for, in actuality you are praying for the removal of a resentment. Why not just pray for that? “Dear God in Heaven, if it be your holy will, please remove my resentment towards …N… . I ask You this in the Name of Jesus, the Lord.” You could do that. But I think the “Page 552 Prayer” is harder for us as we are doing something difficult. Someone hurt us and now we want good things for them? Sure, God can remove our resentment if we specifically ask for that; but recall the words at the end of the “Lord’s Prayer,”
“Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive the trespasses against us.”
In praying for the person that hurt us, we are forgiving them. And thus we are forgiven for anything we might have done to them. The emotional tie is broken, the resentment ceases.
Unless we stoke the fires of it again, so vigilance is needed. Let it rest. Easy, if the person is out of our lives and exists in the past. It is certainly harder if they are not, are still annoying and “things happen” to make the resentment flare up again. If that is the case, just pray harder when you are aware of situations arising that involve them; otherwise avoid them, if possible.
Know someone, perhaps yourself, who might like Catholic devotionals for alcoholics? Please take a look at my books! “The Stations of the Cross for Alcoholics” and “The Recovery Rosary: Reflections for Alcoholics and Addicts” (Thank you!!)
About a week ago, I received an email from a reader. She saw my post on overcoming disappointment, and she asked if I could help her. She is suffering in an unbearably unjust situation, and she is angry and resentful at the person causing it.
I can’t share her whole story, but the details are unimportant. Your anger and resentment are as real and honest and justified as hers are. They’re understandable.
And she’s looking for answers, just like you are.
I prayed about this woman and her family, and I prayed for you. I prayed that God would give me the words to help both of you.
My therapist says that anger is always masking a more vulnerable emotion. I think it’s helpful to look at that more vulnerable emotion and to deal with that, but you can come back to that later. For now, let’s just talk about the anger and resentment you’re feeling.
Table of contents
12 Bible Verses & 5 Steps to Overcoming Anger and Resentment
Concrete steps make sense to me. Give me a numbered list, and I’m a happy camper. So I created a numbered list for you.
Following the steps isn’t as easy as 1-2-3. The steps are where the real work lies. I am praying that you are challenged by these steps, and that you find a way to get through them all.
- Control your temper. (Let’s start right away with the hard stuff!)
When people mistreat us and there’s nothing we can do about it, we get angry. It isn’t fair. Parents see it in their young children who are constantly on the lookout to make sure everything is fair.
The gut reaction to get angry in the face of unfairness never really goes away. God’s Word says that we are to control our tempers, even in the face of unfairness.
Sensible people control their temper; they earn respect by overlooking wrongs. -Proverbs 19:11
Earn respect. What if the respect of men isn’t what you’re after?
Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires. -James 1:19-20
The righteousness God desires. Ouch. We may be able to brush off the respect of men, but the righteousness of God doesn’t go away so easily.
Do to others as you would like them to do to you. -Luke 6:31
When we overlook wrongs, we treat others the way we want to be treated. But what if the wrong is something really big? What if we can’t just get over it?
We still have choices. If the wrong is something monumental – abuse, neglect, criminal – then DO SOMETHING. Don’t just get angry, but take action. Enlist the help of someone who can stop it.
The reader who wrote to me has endured her situation for five months. Certainly, she has been slow to anger. But now, she is angry.
2. Don’t let your anger control you. God recognizes that sometimes, we do get angry. Often, we need to get angry to remedy a situation or to spur us on to action.
Don’t sin by letting anger control you. Think about it overnight and remain silent. -Psalm 4:4
He is saying to think about your situation, and see if it merits getting angry.
Are you saying something like, “YES! It does! I have a right to be angry. Is that wrong?”
Being angry isn’t a sin, but being controlled by anger is a sin.
And don’t sin by letting anger control you. Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil. -Ephesians 4:26-27
So you’re angry. Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry. Find a way to work out the anger, pray through the anger, move past the anger before you give the devil an in-road to your psyche.
Need a pick-me-up? Go do something kind for someone. Volunteer your time. Do good, forgetting about the person who’s made you angry for a while.
Stop being angry! Turn from your rage! Do not lose your temper – it only leads to harm. -Psalm 37:8
All scriptures are God-breathed, right? Every word is true. So what of this? Stop being angry?! How do you just stop?
3. You pray. Pray for yourself. Pray for the person who is making you angry. Pray for the situation. Pray that your heart will be softened and you’ll forgive.
People can’t change people. Only God can change people.
Right now, you need to be changed, and the person who’s hurt you needs to be changed. Give yourself permission to just focus on you for now. Ask God to change you and get rid of your anger despite the rotten situation you’re in.
But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth.
Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. -Colossians 3:8, 12-13
You are holy and beloved, my friend. You are, and you deserve better than what this anger and resentment are doing to you.
4. Forgive. I said these steps weren’t going to be easy. Pray that you can forgive the person who’s making you angry. Pray it every day, every hour, every minute if you have to.
Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you. -Ephesians 4:31-32
It’s the Golden Rule again. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Treat the person who’s made you angry with the same tenderhearted kindness that you treat your kids with.
I heard once that holding unforgiveness in your heart is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. Unforgiveness is toxic to your soul. It affects every part of your life, and it manifests in sickness, in tension, and in anger.
Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn others, or it will all come back against you. Forgive others, and you will be forgiven. -Luke 6:37
We are required to forgive as the Father has forgiven us. It is not optional – and it does not come easily.
5. Love. Forgiveness is one thing, but loving is another thing entirely. Loving your enemy – the very person who’s hurt you – is also required by scripture.
Not suggested, required.
The very thought makes me feel sick for you.
You don’t want to act in a loving way towards the person who’s hurt you. Not at all.
That’s where prayer comes in again. Pray that you’ll have compassion and kindness for that person. (And keep praying it until it happens.)
Love your enemies! Do good to them. Lend to them without expecting to be repaid. Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for he is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked. -Luke 6:35
This passage goes on to say that even sinners are kind to those who love them, but it takes something special to be kind to an enemy.
You see, we don’t get to have vengeance. It’s not ours; it’s God’s alone. We are called to love God and love one another, the end.
Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone. Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God.
For the Scriptures say,
“I will take revenge;I will pay them back,”says the Lord.
Instead, If your enemies are hungry, feed them.
If they are thirsty, give them something to drink.In doing this, you will heapburning coals of shame on their heads.
Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good. -Romans 12:17-21
You see, Jesus didn’t just die for you, my righteous friend. He died for the person who’s hurt you, too. He loves both of you the same. It doesn’t seem fair (there’s a parable about that), but it is so.
Jesus died for both of you because you’re both sinners.
Different stories, different sins, same black marks.
For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him. Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. -1 Thessalonians 5:9-11
© 2015 – 2017, Tara Ziegmont. All rights reserved.
негодование, возмущение, чувство обиды существительное ↓
негодование, возмущение, чувство обиды
to bear /to have/ no resentment against smb. —
не чувствовать обиды на кого-л.
to harbour /to cherish/ resentment against smb. —
затаить злобу против кого-л.
up resentment —
не чувствовать обиды на кого-л.
one’s resentment —
подавить (свое) возмущение
a resentment —
затаить злобу; питать злобу
no resentment —
не таить обиды
Воспользуйтесь поиском для того, чтобы найти нужное словосочетание, или посмотрите все.
They felt resentment that nobody paid attention to their request.
Они обиделись, что никто не обратил внимания на их просьбу. ☰
He expressed his resentment of the new policies.
Он выразил недовольство /возмущение/ новой политикой. ☰
He’s filled with resentment at his boss.
Он очень обижен на своего начальника. ☰
a vindictive man will look for occasions for resentment
мстительный человек, будет искать поводы для обиды ☰
His resentment toward her resurfaced.
Его неприязнь к ней проявилась вновь. ☰
Resentment was still bubbling inside her.
Она всё ещё кипела от возмущения. ☰
His resentment took the form of extreme hostility.
Его негодование приняло форму крайней враждебности. ☰
Addressing the resentment toward affirmative action programs, Hacker notes…
Реагируя на возмущение по поводу программ предоставления преимущественных прав, Хакер отметил… ☰
He answered the first question willingly, the second reluctantly, and the third with resentment.
На первый вопрос он ответил охотно, на второй — неохотно, на третий — с возмущением. ☰
He sensed an undercurrent of resentment among the crowd.
Он почувствовал скрытое недовольство среди толпы. ☰
a strong resentment of outsiders who attempted to interfere with their traditional ways of doing things
сильное возмущение посторонних, которые попытались вмешаться в их традиционные способы ведения дел ☰
He felt considerable resentment towards Sheila for making him work late.
Он почувствовал сильную обиду на Шейлу за то, что она заставила его задержаться на работе допоздна. ☰
Примеры, ожидающие перевода
resentment flared at such an unmannered intrusion ☰
His feelings of resentment have festered for years. ☰
She felt a prick of resentment when she saw them together. ☰
Для того чтобы добавить вариант перевода, кликните по иконке ☰, напротив примера.