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Are You Hung Up on Resentments

Are you someone who views the world as a hostile place and is full of resentments? If so, you might be setting yourself up for unnecessary internal distress. And you know where that might lead you—to making a beeline for the cookie jar!

I recently came across the phrase “married to resentment” and it reminded me of many disregulated eaters who cling to their resentments. They remember every unkind word ever said to them (but not so many of the kind ones), every untoward act, every unintended insult, and accumulate grievances as if they’re legal tender. If you’re such a person, in your childhood you likely had parents who modeled bitterness and/or suffered unfairly yourself. If your parents were major complainers who squirreled away grievances, it might be difficult for you to imagine being any other way. If you were a victim, it may be hard to stop seeing yourself in that light. Now, you recall every bad thing that ever happened to you and those you love, and keep adding to the list.

Here are examples of what I’m talking about. Decades ago, I had a client who’d suffered through a terrible divorce—his wife had cheated on him with several of his friends, then tried to take him for every penny he was worth. He hated her and spent much of his time ruminating about how he could take revenge on her, even half a decade after their marriage had ended. Every time he fell under the spell of resentment, he had a whopper of a binge, then resented that “she had driven him to it.” He was certainly not living in the present in which he had a pretty good life—and a lovely girlfriend who adored him.

I had another client who held tight to her resentment about her unhappy upbringing. Her parents were fairly wealthy, but neglected her and her siblings both materially and emotionally. They hoarded their possessions, but gave their children thrift store gifts at holidays and birthdays. The one thing that was in abundant supply to the children was food. My client grew up overvaluing food and resenting how her parents had set her up for disregulated eating. In her 50s, she still blamed them for her food problems.

How does being “married to resentment” serve you? How does it hinder emotional health and “normal” eating? Holding resentments keeps you living in the past where they occurred and inhibits joy and pleasure in the present. Think about how much better your life would be if you could stop nurturing your grievances and viewing the world as a threatening place which is sure to cause you further misery. Next time you’re resentful or bitter, make a conscious effort to say goodbye to these feelings and feel content.

Feeling Anxious versus Feeling Fine
How Mood Affects Eating

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