Are you feeling pissed off a lot lately? Do you go straight from neutral to irate in an instant, snapping at loved ones or anyone who looks at you wrong? Is there a constant tightness in your chest or throat? If so, you’re not alone. According to my informal poll of pretty much everyone alive right now (and by that I mean me, my friends, family, and clients), simmering rage is the dominant emotion.
Why are we angry all of the time? In large part because so much has been taken from us over the past 20 months, and we’re feeling resentful. To gain some insight into what’s happening to us, we have to understand the relationship between resentment and anger.
The Cambridge Dictionary defines resentment as “a feeling of anger because you have been forced to accept something that you do not like.”
You know you’re having a short fuse when things that didn’t use to bother you now make you feel the fury of a thousand blazing suns. Someone leaving the cupboard door in the kitchen open or putting the vegetable peeler back in the wrong drawer, or a friend wants to make plans with you. Fuck them. You don’t want to see them. Who do they think they are asking you to give ONE MORE THING.
Resentment’s best friend is negativity. You become an energy vampire but you’re oblivious to this fact. And no one wants to get killed, so they don’t tell you. Assholes. You’re suspicious of the people around you. Your boss who gave you a compliment in front of everyone on Zoom, the Amazon package that arrived a day early, the fact that this scone takes.so.good. What’s up with that?!
You find a way to displace blame. You are the victim here! And everyone needs to know how so and so wronged you. Gossip is like Pop Rocks for your brain.
Hey, did you hear about the (*insert latest catastrophe*)?
Yes Netflix, I want to continue watching.
And, I’ll take another glass of Pinot. It goes well with this game I’m playing on my phone - while scrolling Instagram.
[Ding dong] Oh good! My new panini press is here!
Doomscrolling, binging TV, mindless shopping, abusing alcohol and drugs are all sure signs you are in the resentment zone. That you are numbing yourself.
We numb to distract ourselves from uncomfortable feelings. We tell ourselves we’re using these activities “to relax”, but we’re actually disconnecting ourselves from uncomfortable feelings and emotions. And these activities typically cause an increase in dopamine, the neurotransmitter associated with feelings of pleasure and reward.
Because why not? There’s so much out of your control, you try to find it anywhere you can. You’re grabbing control over your time. Hello revenge night-time procrastination.
You’re trying to control your environment. Can’t you keep the TV down?! I’m rage cleaning here!
And you try to control the people around you wherever you can. You’re irritated when people do it their way and not yours. Just chop the bell pepper THIS way. In fact, give me the damn knife.
Negativity and cynicism are always present in late-stage burnout. We burn out because we are dealing with chronic unmanageable stress, and we are resentful of the people and systems causing the stress. Bad bosses, coworkers who don’t pull their share of the load, mandatory overtime, and unequal treatment all lead to resentful feelings (and burnout).
If you want to stop feeling this way, the first step is to identify the areas in your life that are causing you the most resentment. When are you feeling the most rage? Who are the people you are trying to control the most? Where are you when you grind your teeth? Jot those down in your resentment journal. Yes, you read that correctly. I’m telling you to keep a resentment journal.
If you’re resentful you’re always the one who does more of the housework, write it down. If you’re pissed at your colleague because they were late again, time to vent it to the journal.
In my next blog article, I’ll tell you more about what you can do to feel less resentful.
Christine O’Neill, MMSc is a burnout recovery expert and executive leadership coach helping high achieving professionals with burnout recovery and growth. Don’t want to miss helpful articles like this one? You can have them delivered to your inbox by signing up here.