Resentment is like taking poison—and waiting for the other person to die.
Sounds absurd, but anyone who’s honest will recognize not only the absurdity of that stance, but the fact that we nonetheless indulge in it all too often.
Then there’s resentment’s close cousin envy. “Envy is the ulcer of the soul,” said Socrates. The parallel metaphors of ulcers and poison are not accidental. They are internally corrosive issues masquerading as external.
I want to highlight two other writers whom I find do a wonderful job of exploring the darker regions of the soul. One is Phil McGee; the other is Peter Vajda. Both have commented on this blog from time to time.
Here is a taste, in alternating call-and-response format:
In the throes of envy, we become mired in a sense of lack and deficiency. And, like an ulcer, envy eats away at you, consciously and subconsciously. It seems to be the energy that is running your life – a life of frustration – feeling like you’re being decimated from the inside out. Peter Vajda
He was the oldest of the group and the ring leader and most of the people in the room seemed to respect and care about him. He was, therefore, the target of my jealousy and dislike. Phil McGee
The honest reality with envy is that it’s never – repeat never – about the other person. Envy can be a blind spot. As Pogo said, “We have met the enemy and he is us.” Few folks realize they are their own worst enemy when it comes to envy.
He had, I came to realize, a sharp wit and great sense of humor and he enjoyed life, a feeling rare in me until I began to question why I disliked so many people instead of wondering what was wrong with me. Somewhere inside I knew I was cheating myself and that I was afraid of getting close enough to feel the rejection that was sure to come.
While focusing outward on what others have, the envious one is also dwelling on “what’s wrong with me.” In this place of self-loathing and self-pity, when we feel “less than”, we tend to focus on what we don’t have. Lack attracts lack. Caught in a downward spiral of envy, you move backwards, sowing seeds of doubt and limiting your potential.
Les…helped me to see that I was wrong about people. They really don’t exist for the sole purpose of making my life miserable. Actually when I seek their friendship and counsel and am open to them it seems they will do anything to help me see the light of love rather than the blind darkness of fear and resentment.
You can decide to not be envious or jealous. It is a choice.
Indeed it is. And choosing to be free of envy and resentment makes you able to trust, as well as trustworthy.
Thanks,Phil and Peter.