I listen to books when I drive and today I needed to pull over when I heard Gabor Mate say that we needed to choose between resentment and guilt. “Did I hear that right?” I said to myself.
He went on to say that people are going to do what people do. They do not change unless they want to. So why resent what people do or how people treat you or what people say? The energy we hemorrhage when we practice the great American art of resentment is killing us from the inside out.
I resent what she said. I resent my spouse because he/she always… I resent my boss’ cruelty or absence or – fill in the blank. I resent my friend’s lack of … I resent that there are no orange M & Ms. I resent incense. I resent that Coke has so many flavors. I resent the way Europe is being so hard on refugees. I resent democrats (or republicans). I resent my son leaving dirty socks around for me to clean up. I resent that John tore the jacket cover to my new book and that Susan and Gerry stayed too long at the party.
Mate says that we should choose guilt and not resentment. If I am staying near the source of the resentment or if I can resent something another is doing when I know perfectly well they will do it again and again and again, then I need to feel guilt that I am not either making change or leaving or accepting. Because those are my three options and of the three change is unlikely.
If I were not resentful, how much thought would be released to be creative and make beauty? If I were not resentful, how much more energy could be redirected? If I felt guilt that I was sticking around and enduring – then I might leave and make for happier fields.
Resentment is God-given energy and passion, curdled and putrified by my own absolute insistence that what I say goes and what I say is right. Perhaps world peace would be attainable without resentment. Perhaps marriages would survive without resentment. Perhaps the church would never have split and split and split without resentment. Resentment is about THEM being wrong. Guilt is about me being wrong. Guilt takes less time and energy.