ANXIETY AND RESENTMENT
“You can’t always control what goes on outside. But you can always control what goes on inside.” —Wayne Dyer.
Remember the first time you had to present something in front of the entire class, or when you had to give a pitch for your business idea. Did you feel nervous before an interview or felt knots form in your stomach thinking about the examination? At some point in life, everyone experiences these emotions. The constant feelings of worry and nervousness are experienced at different levels by everyone. Some may start trembling or feel dizzy when approaching the stage to give a speech, whereas some people may experience a rapid heart rate when awaiting examination results. To understand this emotion and how this may persist, we further discuss its impact on our lives and what can be done to reduce such feelings for mental well-being.
WHAT ARE ANXIETY AND RESENTMENT?
It is impossible to escape stressors in life, and these can cause considerable change in daily functioning. Anxiety is a natural stress response; it is the apprehension of what might or what will happen in a specific situation. Most of us have experienced some anxiety in our lives, such as when writing an examination, one may feel too nervous, but the brain tricks you into thinking you are underprepared even though you studied well. Anxiety is experienced by everyone from different walks of life and on different degrees. It becomes a problem when this persistent and excessive worrying interferes with a person’s performance or becomes a hindrance in daily life. Biologically, when the body releases extreme adrenaline in the bloodstream, it causes a person to feel anxious.
“Anxiety’s like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but it doesn’t get you very far.” —Jodi Picoult
American psychological association dictionary of psychology defines anxiety as an emotion characterized by worry and physiological tension in which an individual anticipates imminent hardship or threat. Anxiety is a future-oriented response mainly focused on the diffusion of the perceived threat. The physiological symptoms generally include tense muscles, breathing fast and a pounding heart.
On the other hand, the Oxford American Dictionary defines resentment as the indignation or anger about having been maltreated. It is a consequence of insufficient expression of emotions after a bitter experience. Resentment is corrosive because it involves persistent thoughts and reliving the unfair experience, which is usually met with humiliation and feelings of shame. This usually results in immense negative emotions which may occur at any time without conscious efforts (Resentment, 2019). Resentment can turn into tremendous hatred and vengeful nature, which can cause significant destruction in life. A resentful individual may sometimes need therapy or help of others to alter their way of thinking and feelings to maintain a good quality of life. It is destructive because it builds over time.
HOW RESENTMENT FUELS ANXIETY?
Resentment is like a blazing fire, just as the tiniest ember can cause the fire to continue, resentment can persist if not extinguished fully. As resentment continues, we give up the control and disempower ourselves of rational thinking. Resentment becomes a problem when an individual is unable to forget or absolve these persistent thoughts. Usually, when this problem grows, the individual begins to feel like a victim in adverse situations and find it difficult to form a positive outlook.
Consider this example; you were asked to give a presentation in the class. On the day of the presentation, you were well prepared, and the presentation was going well, but then someone pointed out a mistake and disagreed with your information. You were unable to counter this problem with relevant facts, and thus you felt humiliated in front of the whole class. After this incident, you began to dread the scenario and any other activity involving presentation makes you resent it. This resentment builds up every time because now every assignment that consists of this form of criteria, you mind responses with fear. This fear of the situation then turns into excessive stress and then into anxiety. Hence this built-up resentment becomes the cause of fuelling anxiety.
Moreover, instead of tackling resentment and anxiety to improve mental health, individuals often get stuck in this loop and begin to resent their anxiety. Anxiety needs to be dealt with the use of various strategies and by training your brain to deal with persistent thoughts. Ignoring resentment and not dealing with anxiety in the right way causes a person to begin resenting their anxiety hence adding to the depletion of mental well-being.
IMPACT OF RESENTING ANXIETY ON DAILY LIFE
“As smoking is to the lungs, so is resentment to the soul; even one puff is bad for you.”
― Elizabeth Gilbert
Resisting anxiety has never led to productive consequences; it instead adds on to the problem. When we resent anxiety, we are causing more misery to our suffering. Resenting anxiety creates a negative headspace and disrupts different activities in life. It steals the individual away from the present moment and makes them worry about the future or the past, which cannot be changed. It causes one to lose time and circle around the loop of resentment and anxiety.
A mind is a tricky place, as soon as it senses something wrong in the body or mind, it creates a story around it and makes the individual ponder on it regularly. When something goes wrong in life, it directs all the focus on that negative aspect which causes anxiety to grow even more. This attention to the negative aspect causes the emotions to be fuelled, creating a fire of anxiety, causing life to be more difficult. Resenting anxiety causes one to feel depleted as the mind is in a constant battle with an invisible enemy.
The individual grows into the victim mentality because they question ‘why me?’ instead of asking ‘what to do about it’. This whole approach of resenting anxiety may cause a person to experience immense stress, have a negative outlook, not perform optimally in life, and it may be difficult to form clear thoughts.
PLUMMETING RESENTMENT ANXIETY
Let us now discuss the steps and direction to take for finding the solution to reducing this problem.
The first step when dealing with resenting anxiety is to acknowledge and accept your anxiety. This allows a person to find peace with the challenges faced. Acceptance is a step towards understanding anxiety and coming up with further steps to deal with it effectively. The present moment is the only place where an individual can make good choices and heal. When we accept and understand anxiety, one can pause and reflect on what their needs are and how should change be brought about so that there is control over the situation.
The second step is compassion; it is an essential factor to include in the healing process. It would be best if you allowed compassion to enter your life and believe that you deserve it. Self-love and compassion can be big influencers in reducing anxiety if practised with commitment.
Various studies have found meditative techniques as a useful tool in controlling and reducing anxiety (Chen et al., 2012). Natural stress relief meditation, which is a 15-minute practice, has also proved to be an effective strategy in reducing anxiety and stress (Coppola & Spector, 2009). Some other ways to reduce anxiety is using music therapy, going for a walk, distracting yourself and using breathing exercises to calm the nerves.
It is important to remember, that one must not be too hard on themselves and take steady steps to overcome anxiety as well as understand that resentment will only add on to the problem.
To conclude, resenting anxiety has only been the fuel to the fire. It causes a person to be more anxious and not understanding and dealing with anxiety can cause disruptions in daily functioning. One should remember to take control of themselves and learn various strategies to make supportive changes in life. When the problem cannot be resolved, help and support from someone must be taken to find the correct way.
APA Dictionary of Psychology. (n.d.). American Psychological Association. https://dictionary.apa.org/anxiety
Chen, K. W., Berger, C. C., Manheimer, E., Forde, D., Magidson, J., Dachman, L., & Lejuez, C. W. (2012). Meditative therapies for reducing anxiety: A systematic review and meta‐analysis of randomized controlled trials. Depression and anxiety, 29(7), 545-562.
Coppola, F., & Spector, D. (2009). Natural stress relief meditation as a tool for reducing anxiety and increasing self-actualization. Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal, 37(3), 307-311.
Resentment. (2019, March 5). GoodTherapy.Org Therapy Blog. https://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/psychpedia/resentment
Schwartz, A. L. (n.d.). Understanding Resentment – Depression Resources, Education About Depression and Unipolar Depression. Mentalhelp.Net. https://www.mentalhelp.net/blogs/understanding-resentment/
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