Grief as Resentment

One of the definitions of grief I have come to appreciate is that we can experience a sense of loss with shifts (changes) in culture and how we perceive the world to work and our place in it.  With changes, real or imagined, we can feel a genuine sense of loss.

"Grief is conflicting feelings caused by a change (real or imagined)

or an end in a familiar pattern of behaviour or experience."

These changes can be unsettling and disorienting, and this is a kind of grief.  Experts tell us that grief is cumulative.  That is to say that if we don't deal with these feelings of loss, they will combine with others' experiences of loss.

These unaddressed feelings of loss, combined with others, can sometimes change into resentment(s).  Resentment is the perception of wrongdoing / unfair advantage through actions, words, or political or religious ideas of others. Real or imagined, this tainted perception diminishes our capacity to love and experience love, polluting our inner life.  If unchecked, it produces bitterness and cynicism that suffocates our ability to hope. Resentment can spill out into many areas of our lives, most often with outbursts of anger, mistrust, fear of or scapegoating others, and susceptibility to conspiracy theories.

In this state, our capacity for reasoned thought goes out the window.  We can find ourselves lost in the fog of resentment in such a way that we lose perspective. In this place, we aren't so much looking for what is true, rather that which confirms our fears about a situation and seems to legitimize our feelings of resentment. It is here we need to be aware of our social media (and internet searches). These sites serve us content curated just for us - based on our past usage history shows we are interested in and spend time on. Have you ever noticed that most articles, content and friend suggestions on your feeds seem to agree with how you see the world? The algorithms will serve us a steady diet of the kinds of materials that fortify our particular worldview, connecting us with others with similar perspectives, even if the material being circulated is false. This serves as a kind of confirmation bias that only confirms and stokes our feelings of resentment.

Guarding Against Resentment

1) Keep short accounts - by practicing daily spiritual practices, like the Examen or contemplative prayer, we can have an easier time discerning the existential sense of loss that often is overlooked. These practices are helpful to keep us better grounded in our bodies and provide a sense of peace that can help us approach life in a more balanced way.  This can help us recognize resentments in our lives and take steps to address these.  These practices can also encounter the divine in a more trans-rational way, anchoring us and adjusting our perspective.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Phil. 4:8


2) Accept what you are feeling - Loss doesn't make you weak. It just means you are human.  Watch for the ways you may be compensating for grief with other behaviours that serve only to distract you. These may be wonderful great things UNTIL they are used as a means to avoid dealing with your resentment.  These provide an emotional bypass.  These include things like chronic busyness, shopping, alcohol/drugs, gambling, sex, exercise and religion - to name a few.

What is Spiritual ByPass?

3) Beware of the mob - Healthy groups can be fantastic places for healing and working through strong emotions in healthy ways.  Conversely, there are also groups of folks with similar wounds, but instead of helping you deal with them, they seek to affirm your indignation, fan the flames of resentment and provide a scapegoat to blame.  This group will offer pseudo outlets to your anxiety in ways that only serve to stoke your resentment instead of helping you get free.

This is where Social Media and certain "news" outlets come into play. A balance from a wide array of sources will help you better evaluate issues, check your perception, and reduce instances of resentment.

What is Grief?

4) Be Brave. Take action to deal with your stuff - If we want to be free and walk with greater peace, we need to be honest about our stuff and take steps to deal with our sense of loss.  Look for resources that help you engage your sense of resentment and cultivate healthy acceptance and forgiveness and practice these.  Look for a variety of resources that can help you better understand the changes around you and within and help you with healthy ways forward in life.


Featured Image by Miroslavik from Pixabay

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