“We look at resentments. We’ve found out they are a distortion of the truth – a way to take a situation, cast the blame on somebody else, and totally escape, so we have nothing to do with it whatsoever!” – Joe McQ, The Steps We Took
This quote from Joe McQ’s book The Steps We Took sums up perfectly what I do with my resentments: I absolve myself completely of all responsibility for a problematic situation, making the issue everyone’s’ fault but mine. Resentment is a tool I use to live in denial: It allows me to create a shield around my fragile persona that ‘protects’ me from the truth about myself. I act like many drug users I see portrayed in films and TV shows, blaming their dads, their bosses, their wives, everyone and every circumstance in their lives for their drug use…all while the viewer can see the drug user is just being weak and selfish. As I reflect on my own life I can see this scenario playing out over and over.
For example, I think of my former boss and how I resented him for the two years I worked for him, and for most of the year after I quit. I think about how I hated that he did not promote me when our company expanded; how he talked down to me; how he patronized me. I now realize what a poor employee I was, how selfish and unwilling I was to really contribute or be a team player. But as McQ’s quote above points out, as long as I was harboring resentments my problems were all my boss’ fault and my behavior was excused because of his behavior.
I hope that if I encountered that same situation today, instead of getting angry and resentful I would instead recognize my own bad behavior, correct it, and move on. I cannot keep holding all these resentments in. I need to accept responsibility for my own actions and let everyone else worry about themselves.
Are you harboring resentments to excuse your bad behavior or treatment of others?