How to Feel Less Resentment, Peaceful, and Happier 

Exploring ways to let go of resentful feelings and finally feel calm, grounded, and a lot more at peace.

Day-to-day we can feel resentment—that uneasy feeling of bitterness, anger, or irritation—when we feel things are unfair, mistreated, or when expectations are unmet. This is an all too common emotional response experienced across various personal, professional, and social situations.

It is so common that most just resort to brushing their feelings off. I for one, have done that a whole lot my whole life without realizing it until just a few years ago. It’s taken me some time to actively be mindful of my emotions more so I’m not glossing over them or saying, “It’s okay” when it’s really not okay. It’s a work in progress especially if you’ve spent most of your life with this bad habit, but that doesn’t matter. Learning to be more emotionally honest with ourselves is the key to feeling less resentment. Resentment can grow so deep that it can eventually override your happiness and dreams and destroy relationships. 

Would it make sense to throw away all that we’ve worked so hard for, the relationships we cherish, all because we’re not acknowledging and accepting the layers of resentment that may be within ourselves?

Here are several factors that contribute to why we feel resentful on a day-to-day basis, it’s worth reviewing if you’re not sure you’ve been experiencing any resentment. 

Unfulfilled Expectations

When our expectations are not met, whether in relationships, work, or personal goals, we can feel a sense of resentment. This could be due to undelivered promises, unmet standards, or unfulfilled agreements, leading to disappointment and frustration.

For example: 

Your partner often cancels plans or fails to follow through on promises, leaving you feeling neglected or unimportant. (Perhaps you’re understanding about it, but it doesn’t make it okay).

Your teammate doesn’t put in the same effort as you during group projects, resulting in added stress and resentment (especially if your group project gets recognition and your teammate gets credit for it anyway).

Perceived Injustice

When we feel treated unfairly or witness unfair treatment towards others, resentment can arise. This could be related to unequal distribution of rewards, favoritism, or perceived discrimination, triggering an emotional response rooted in a sense of injustice.

For example:

Your family constantly compares you to others, highlighting your perceived shortcomings and undermining your self-esteem. You feel discriminated against in your own home, and there’s nothing you can do to change their mind about you.

Your expected promotion was given to another colleague who just joined the company but happens to be your boss’ college buddy.

Power Imbalance

Resentment can emerge when there is a power imbalance, such as in hierarchical relationships or oppressive systems. People in positions of power may abuse their authority or exploit others, leading to feelings of resentment among those who perceive themselves as victims.

For example: Your boss takes credit for your ideas or accomplishments in meetings or presentations.

Lack of Recognition

If our efforts or contributions are not acknowledged or appreciated, we may feel undervalued and resentful. This can occur in various settings, including work, family, or friendships, where individuals desire recognition for their hard work, skills, or sacrifices.

For example:

Your colleague regularly delegated their work to you without acknowledging your efforts or offering assistance.

Your sibling frequently borrows money from you without repaying it or showing gratitude.

Comparison and Envy

When we compare ourselves to others and feel inferior or disadvantaged, it can trigger resentment. Envy, a related emotion, can fuel feelings of resentment when we desire what others possess but cannot achieve or obtain.

For example:

Your very pretty childhood friend, born into a rich family, always gets everybody’s attention, although you’re smarter and more of an achiever than she is. You resent her for being admired by everybody without giving much effort.  

Accumulated Resentment

Day-to-day resentment can also result from the accumulation of past grievances or unresolved conflicts. When resentment builds up over time, a minor incident or trigger can intensify these feelings, leading to an outburst or prolonged dissatisfaction.

For example:

Your roommate consistently uses personal items without asking or taking proper care of them until one day you finally really need the item and it’s nowhere to be found.

Your neighbor plays loud music late at night, disrupting your sleep and disregarding your requests to keep the noise level down.

Poor Communication

Lack of effective communication can contribute to misunderstandings, unaddressed grievances, and unresolved conflicts, leading to resentment. Inadequate expression of feelings, withholding emotions, or failure to listen and understand can contribute to ongoing resentment.

For example:

Your friend consistently overlooks your feelings despite telling them how you feel and prioritizes their own needs and wants in your relationship.

Better practices to avoid feelings of resentment

It is important to recognize and address day-to-day resentment, as it can have negative consequences on our mental and emotional well-being. Communicating our concerns, setting realistic expectations, practicing empathy, fostering an environment of fairness, and engaging in self-reflection can help lessen and manage feelings of resentment.

  1. Ask meaningful questions to gain clarity on what the source of resentment is.

When you start to feel resentful, take some time to understand what is causing the feeling of resentment. Is it a particular person, situation, or past experience? 

Specifically, ask yourself these questions:

  • What specific actions or behaviors triggered my feelings of resentment?
  • Were my expectations clear, realistic, and communicated effectively?
  • Have I communicated my feelings and concerns to the person involved?
  • What do I need or want in this situation to feel more at ease?
  • Am I holding onto past grievances, or is this a recurring issue?
  • Are there underlying issues or patterns in my own behavior contributing to my resentment?
  • What role does my perspective play in interpreting the situation?
  • Is there a need for forgiveness or letting go of the past?

Recognizing the source provides clarity and helps in finding effective ways to address it. Asking yourself meaningful questions can be a valuable tool for gaining clarity on feelings of resentment.

  1. Practice forgiveness

Forgiveness does not excuse or justify someone’s behavior, but it helps in letting go of negative emotions. Understand that resentment only harms your emotional well-being, so forgive others and yourself for any mistakes or hurts.

Try to understand the perspective and motivations of others, even if you disagree with their actions. Developing empathy helps in reducing resentment and fosters forgiveness and understanding.

  1. Communicate openly

Honest and open communication is crucial in preventing resentment from building up. Share your thoughts, feelings, and expectations with others in a calm and assertive manner, thus promoting understanding and finding solutions together.

  1. Set boundaries

Establishing personal boundaries is important to protect yourself from being taken advantage of or hurt. Clearly define your limits and communicate them assertively, without feeling guilty for prioritizing your well-being. 

Admit to yourself and to anyone concerned when you will not be able to do what others expect of you to do. You can’t suffer in silence and just take anything others throw at you. To me, practicing boundaries has been the most effective way to prevent resentment.

  1. Practice self-care

Prioritize self-care activities that help maintain emotional balance and reduce stress. Engage in activities you enjoy, such as exercise, hobbies, meditation, or spending time with loved ones. Taking care of your own needs helps prevent feelings of resentment.

  1. Focus on gratitude

Gratitude shifts your focus toward the positive aspects of life and helps you appreciate what you have instead of dwelling on negative experiences. Cultivate a daily gratitude practice, listing things you are grateful for and remembering them during challenging times.

  1. Accept what you cannot change

Acceptance is key to overcoming resentment. Acknowledge that you cannot change the past or other people’s actions, but you can change your response and mindset. Letting go of unrealistic expectations and accepting things as they are can help ease feelings of resentment.

  1. Seek support

Discussing your feelings with someone who understands and empathizes, like a trusted friend, family, or even a healer and or therapist, to unload or provide valuable perspective can help you navigate through resentment. Releasing the layers of resentment stuck in your body is possible too via emotional healing work by literally moving those energetic layers out (see more under “services”).

At the end of the day, feelings of resentment will never change other people no matter how much you feel it. All it can do is hurt you. Better redirect your energy towards yourself. Connect with yourself. Realize the sense of the experiences you want to have based on the circumstances of your present life and based on what you feel is right for you.

You can always set new goals, learn new skills, or engage in activities that expand your horizons. Cultivate that positive mindset and reduce the space for resentment to grow.