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You Can Overcome Bitterness and Resentment

Updated on April 22, 2013
  • Mrs Cora Crippen, wife of the notorious Hawley Crippen. He was convicted of drugging, murdering and dismembering her and was hanged in 1910 for her murder. In recent years (2007), new evidence came to light to show that Mrs Crippen in fact took off with all her money when she discovered her errant husband was having an affair with Ethel “Le Neve” Neave. The body which was thought to be Cora’s is reported to be that of a male. So Cora really did get revenge on Hawley from beyond the grave.

  • Lorena Bobbitt, who famously cut off her husband’s penis in 1993 after he sexually assaulted her. He was in a drunken stupor when she took the kitchen knife to him. She then took the penis for a drive and threw it out of the car window. It was found later and reattached I believe!

  • When the mistress of Charles Phillips (one of President Barack Obama’s advisors) was thrown over for his wife, she put up billboards in San Francisco, Times Square in New York and Atlanta Georgia. The three boards showed her and her lover embracing. YaVaughnie Wilkins reputedly spent $250,000 having the boards produced and erected. Phillips had to make a public statement admitting to their affair.

Overcoming Bitterness and Resentment

Bitter-sweet Revenge

Most people have been hurt at some time or another by someone close. These callous words or actions can cause real pain; physical in some cases. Once this pain has gone you could be left with a burning anger and resentment – sometimes referred to as bitterness. You may even have entertained thoughts of revenge. A few classic cases of revenge are listed below:

If we cannot wreak revenge on the perpetrator of our hurt we often direct our anger and hatred towards someone who had no part in causing the hurt. Innocent people get hurt and friendships and relationships suffer and often end because of chronic bitterness.

The sad fact of the matter is that harbouring these feelings of resentment and anger long-term does more harm than good.


What is bitterness?

In short, bitterness is just about the most damaging emotion you could have. You will be overcome by misery, anger, disappointment and resentment and unless you can neutralise it you will become ill. Heart attack, strokes, ulcers, anxiety, depression, headaches and general aches and pains will manifest at some time or another. This is because you are tense and stressed and we all know that stress causes all kinds of physical ills. Bitterness is the outward sign of repressed resentment and frustration of real or imagined hurt caused by a perception of unfairness or injustice.

What are some causes of bitterness?

Life events such as:

Bereavement or loss of some kind

Harsh words or actions

Betrayal by someone considered close

Unfair treatment

Deprivation of our needs

What can happen if we allow bitterness to continue?

  • The feelings can eat away at your heart so that you become emotionally dead.

  • You will probably blame others for your resentment when in actual fact you are the one who is allowing yourself to feel this way. Your will not find inner peace; only mental turmoil and chronic negativity
  • You could act in a foolish or even illegal manner

  • You could hurt other, innocent parties

  • You will ultimately become physically ill

  • Your relationships will suffer as bitterness becomes toxic


How can it be overcome?

Simply by forgiveness.

There is a Chinese proverb that says “Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves”.

Bitterness is anger gone sour and the first step to conquering it is to stop blaming other people and justifying it by telling ourselves we have a right to feel this way because of past events. Acknowledge that you are hurt and try to work out what the original cause for this hurt was. In actuality you have probably forgotten all but the key points of ‘the original sin’. Analyse it; break it down and check whether things still feel as bad as they originally did.

Everyone is different so what might work for you may not work for someone else. The next step is to forgive and this can be the hardest step. It takes time because just as you feel you may be ready to forgive, a memory or feeling may resurface from the past and start the bitterness and resentment flowing strongly again. You may need to take some time out and really face your grief and anger. Take yourself away to somewhere secluded and howl at the moon if it helps.

If you can bring yourself to do so, when you are ready, contact the person who hurt you. Try to meet them face to face if you can but if you can’t bear to do that it doesn’t matter. The main thing is that in your head and your heart you forgive them. You don’t necessarily have to tell them this – maybe they don’t even know that they’ve hurt you. Remember, you are forgiving them for you not for them. A good idea if you aren’t able to speak to them is to write a letter telling them how they hurt you and the pain that you have felt. Really say what you think and then let it go. Tear up and burn the letter.

© Susan Bailey 2013 All Rights Reserved


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