Some days Wendy felt like a compost heap, heated by a core that never got hot enough to ignite, but which never went out completely. New fuel always accumulated: having to wait for someone at the electric company to pick up the phone, the unfair way she got treated when she tried to return something at the store, the people who saw she was waiting for a parking spot and zipped in ahead of her to steal it.
It was an unjust world, but she wasn't about to be one of the people who screamed and marched and protested about it, who wrote letters to the editor and called up talk show hosts. None of that seemed to change anything. Besides, the people who did that were almost as annoying as the issues that angered them. They really lowered themselves, in Wendy's opinion. She kept to the high moral ground instead of scrabbling in the valleys of combat. This gave her the satisfaction of knowing that she was right and that everyone else was wrong.
However, she didn't like the churning feeling she sometimes got in her body, the sourness of resentment that flowed through her veins, the feeling of unhappiness that felt like anger gone rotten. And what was the point of being right when things always seemed to go wrong for her? It was an unjust world out there...
Resentment Versus Anger
Anger gets expressed directly. Someone who habitually vents anger, for example, might, upon receiving the tenth email in a row from a company who would like them to know how they can make a million dollars in five minutes, might shoot back a message which scorches cyberspace. An angry person, after listening to an egomaniac monopolize a meeting for too long, might tell that person to sit down because everyone is falling asleep.
Resentment is far less direct. If expressed, it is usually in the form of sarcasm, i.e. in my fantasized communication to the town clerk: "I pay your salary, but it seems that I'm doing all the work." More often, though, it won't be expressed at all to the offending party, but to someone else. Sometimes it is never spoken at all.
If anger is explosive, resentment is implosive. It doesn't get released from the body/mind; instead it stays within, where it can cause varying degrees of harm. I have read medical studies which link resentment to a range of diseases. It is possibly the least healthy of emotions. Why, then, would we choose it?
"It's Not My Fault!"
I don't believe it's a conscious choice. Resentment is born in the heart of a child who has learned the danger of actively expressing anger against parents who are both larger and stronger. The weight of parental disapproval and punishment feels life-threatening.
A child soon learns that not only her anger is punishable, but also her mistakes and those acts which are categorized as "her fault." One strategy children develop to prevent the withdrawal of love and inflicting of punishment is to say: "It's not my fault" when accused of some wrongdoing. Any statement, when repeate, either out loud or silently, has a hypnotic effect. The person repeating it will come to believe that it's true. Eventually, "It's not my fault" becomes a fact.
By the time we reach adulthood, we are convinced of two things: that people who express their anger aren't very nice, and that IT, whatever it is, isn't our fault. However, because we are nice people and thoughtful and considerate, we aren't going to make a big deal out of it. We aren't going to make a scene because we could blow our image of niceness and maybe get into trouble. We will just be victims and martyrs, which further reinforces our beliefs that we are nice people.
Willow: Beyond Right and Wrong
To change the patterns first take Willow. With the Willow Flower Remedy, one can feel a new flowering of consciousness. Just as the graceful willow tree provides a source of golden color during the drab days of winter, so in the darkness of a victim's soul the Willow Flower Remedy sheds light.
This light helps us to see that resentment doesn't help us be in control of our lives; instead, it avoids responsibility. Responsibility is an unpopular word because it has inaccurately been equated with fault, and thus indirectly with guilt. In taking responsibility, though, you take back that part of yourself that you've abandoned to fate, the cruelty of others, and the inscrutable and unpredictable ways of the universe. When we gather these scattered bits of self together, we restore to ourselves a sense of power to effect change. If I entertain the possibility that I can speak powerfully to those I am resenting, without making them wrong, I will elicit their own sense of responsibility and get the situation handled much more easily.
It can be a healing recognition to realize that even in the simple statement: "I can," there can be a feeling of empowerment which begins to dissolve the veil. In the positive Willow state, we are truly committed to owning our acts and our lives. We can take heart in the realization that the ability to be responsible is one of the greatest human gifts. To be responsible is to have the ability to change one's life, to realize one's dreams.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Connie Barrett does flower essence counseling for people and pets, including by email. For more about Connie's work and links to her previous articles in Vibration, visit her Frequent Contributor's Page.
ART CREDITS: Clip art from Clipart.com and Photos.com.