resentment : to feel bitter, indignant, aggrieved, or offended
Eckhart Tolle, A NEW EARTH – AWAKENING TO YOUR LIFE’S PURPOSE
Dealing with the delicate, easily offended part of the human being labeled as the ego can be difficult. It is that internal mechanism which screams me, me, me or mine, mine, mine, and I, I, I. It is that voice which asks indignantly, “How could you do that to me?” Resentments lead to grudges, grudges lead to grievances, and grievances on a national level lead to wars. Grievances manifest in tribalism and nationalism. The world’s most notorious despots have relied on grievances against imagined ‘enemies of the people’ to establish autocratic rule and subsequent persecution or genocide.
Pheeeew! Are you saying, Larry, that my petty disagreement and resulting resentment with my neighbor over his insult regarding my yard’s landscaping efforts (or lack thereof) can lead to World War 3? Probably not. But, our lives will be blessed with serenity and comfort if we learn how to deal with the ego’s need to feel demeaned or belittled, hurt or unappreciated.
First, I need to realize that my neighbor’s comment about the weeds in my yard were most likely not meant to hurt – it was merely his observation about something which for reasons beyond my control were important to his ego. Does my yard detract from his flawless, picture-perfect landscape? Does my yard infer that I am a lazy homeowner? Does the view of my front yard from his recliner looking out the bay window of his house somehow deprive him of his serenity? Does he see the beautiful wildflowers in my yard as unsightly weeds?
I don’t know and probably never will know the reasons for his assault on my personal integrity. Yeah, this situation has now blossomed into a full-fledged grudge. I want revenge. How can I get even? What evil can I employ to retaliate? Maybe I’ll throw my cat’s poop over the fence into his perfect petunia bed. Yeah, that would really piss him off. Wow! My me, me, me and his me, me, me are now poised for conflict. Ego. All because of offended egos.
So, do we ban ego from our being? Can’t, it’s innate to humans. But perhaps, we can keep it in check. The next time I encounter a difference of opinion with my neighbor, maybe I ought to look beyond his words and actions with an understanding that he is also a work in progress, a man filled with insecurities and fears just like me. Maybe he has endured hardships that are unknown to me. Maybe he has medical conditions that are of concern to him. Maybe, maybe, maybe. Bottom line is that he and I are one in this spiritual experience called life on earth. Together we can resolve problems and resentments. But, in opposition we can only encourage World War 3.
In the book ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS, Bill W. writes:
Resentment is the number one offender. It destroys more alcoholics than anything else. From it stem all forms of spiritual disease, for we have not only been mentally and physically ill, we have been spiritually sick. When the spiritual malady is overcome, we straighten out mentally and physically.
Also in ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS on page 552, from a member’s story:
“If you have a resentment you want to be free of, if you pray for the person or the thing you resent, you will be free. If you will ask in prayer everything you want for yourself to be given to them, you will be free. Ask for their health, their prosperity, their happiness, and you will be free.”
I want to be free. I’m ready to pray about my resentments. How about you?