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  • Jennifer Leigh

Resentment: The Whistle-Blower of Unmet Needs


Resentment has been a common theme in sessions lately, and I don’t think it’s a coincidence that this seems to take place at the most manic time of year here in Alaska. The light is back the energy is high, and there is excitement about all the summer plans to come; it’s a veritable frenzy of activity.

Interestingly, I am also hearing my clients complain of feeling drained, exhausted, depleted, and yes, resentful. Whether it’s towards a partner, a family member, a situation, or a political ideology it comes up for all of us at some point.

As I marinate on this concept of resentment, I find it hard to pinpoint the definition without looking it up. I spend a lot of time mentally exploring these collective themes that come up among my disparate clients on my runs, while driving, over my coffee, which gives me time to deepen my understanding of these concepts. I am realizing that as yucky as resentment feels, it’s actually quite the bold advocate, as the message of resentment seems to be “I’m not getting my fair share!”

If we can translate our experience of resentment, we can transform the experience entirely. Instead of turning the emotion towards “the other”, consider this emotion as evidence that our own needs are not being met. The resentment can become a useful whistler-blower rather than a yucky, blamey feeling we carry in ourselves and our relationships. If we become better at identifying and honoring our own needs, and then thinking earnestly about how we can take responsibility for and meet those needs, the feeling becomes much more useful, and immediately deflates. Once the job is done, resentment can stand down.

This taking responsibility for one’s own needs can be a slight or radical shift for people, and often entails new boundaries and self-efficacy that may be quite foreign. I am finding that despite the excitement of the frenzy of the summer, it is also an opportunity to center oneself in order to take full advantage of all the season has to offer.

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