Resentment Is A Girl’s Best Friend

Those of you who tend to lead from the ‘grace’ side of the power spectrum, listen up.   One of your strengths is probably that you are very accommodating – a real team player.  I’ll bet you pitch in whenever needed.  I’ll bet you say ‘yes’ when everyone else says ‘no.’  And underneath your helpful and positive exterior, I’ll bet you’re just a little bit, well, pissed. More accurately, I’ll bet that you’re harboring some resentment.

Resentment is an erosive emotion and a disempowering stance from which to lead. It predominantly affects ‘grace-sters’, because they are more likely to bury their anger than to express it.   Whereas anger is a mobilizing energy, resentment will weigh you down like a pile of wet wool blankets.  Most women who experience resentment tend to disown it, because it’s not…nice.   Yet the minute you disown your resentment, it owns you.  It limits your choices, cuts off your angles, and distances you from your power.

But if you can acknowledge your resentment, it can become a potent ally, signaling that something’s off and needs your attention.  It’s telling you that a line has been crossed and that you were either asleep or complicit at the time.  Just like your best friend would do, it’s telling you that it’s time to set things right.

Try this. The next time you feel resentful, try these four steps:

  1. Own your resentment.  It may not be pretty, but it’s got your best interests at heart.  So say thank you and pay attention.
  2. Identify the line that’s been crossed.  What value, principle or boundary of yours has been transgressed?  What/when was the specific transgression?
  3. Take a stand, so you can push the situation ‘back behind the line.’  Renegotiate an agreement that doesn’t feel right.  Express your concern about something you may have stayed silent about.  This will probably feel uncomfortable.  Good – that means you’re on the right track.  Feel free to start small.
  4. Risk bitchiness. You may fear seeming selfish or demanding when you speak your mind.  But the chances are that others will just feel relieved that you’ve taken a clear position.
3 replies
  1. Kirsty Spence
    Kirsty Spence says:

    Very valuable blog article…breaking resentment down (transgression, resignation, etc.) helps me know what’s actually “goin’ on” when I’m resentful. Such knowledge is empowering…enough to take that stand and risk that bitchiness. I’ve had the whole thing as “not nice”…both being resentful itself and taking a stand/ the agentic power that goes with that. Thanks for giving me a “map” of resentment!

    Reply
  2. Becky Ripley
    Becky Ripley says:

    Thanks for coaching us through a very real issue for many accommodating types. You’re so right. It’s much better to constructively own and express your anger than to let it fester and potentially explode in out-of-proportion vehemence–perhaps blindsiding an innocent bystander!

    Reply

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  1. […] gotten quite a bit of feedback from my previous blog, “Resentment is a Girl’s Best Friend.”  I’ve discovered that this is an issue that plagues a lot of women, whether or not we’re in […]

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