Victory Over Bitterness

In my counseling experience, I have seen many people get stuck in situations of anger and resentment. I came across this article by Leon F Seltzer Ph.D. and the following is a summary. You may find the original article at Psychology Today:

Don’t Let Your Anger “Mature” Into Bitterness, by Leon F Seltzer Ph.D.

Bitterness is unforgiveness fermented.”  (Gregory Popcak)

The Cause of Bitterness

All bitterness starts out as a hurt. Your emotional pain may well be related to being victimized. Someone has wronged you and caused you grieve. Anger and resentment readily came along. When left to fermentation, anger eventually becomes the corrosive ulcer that is bitterness. Stephen Diamond, Ph.D. defines bitterness as “a chronic and pervasive state of smoldering resentment,” and deservedly regards it as “one of the most destructive and toxic of human emotions.”

The Cost of Bitterness

  • Prolong your mental and emotional pain

  • Lead to long-lasting anxiety and/or depression

  • Precipitate vengeful acts

  • Prevent you from experiencing the potential joys of living fully in the present

  • Create, or further deepen, an attitude of distrust and cynicism

  • Interfere with your cultivating healthy, satisfying relationships

  • Compromise or weaken your higher ideals

  • Rob you of vital energy

  • Undermine your physical health by taxing (or “overloading”) your immune system

Bitterness puts the focus on the person who wronged you. Yet you don’t have any control over the other person. You do have power over yourself. By redirecting your focus inwards is precisely how you go about empowering yourself, to reprieve the entrapment of bitterness.

The Cure of Bitterness

James J. Messina has developed a five-step plan:

(1) Identify the source of your bitterness and what this person did to evoke your resentful feelings;

(2) Develop a new way of looking at your past, present, and future—including how resentment has negatively affected your life and how letting go of it can improve your future;

(3) Write a letter to this person, describing [their] offenses toward you, then forgive and let go of them (but don’t send the letter);

(4) Visualize your better future having neutralized the negative impact of resentment; and

(5) If bitter, resentful feelings remain, return to Step 1 and begin again

Conclusion with quotes:


Daily Prompt: Bitter

Debbie at Forgiving Friday

Daily Prompt: Reprieve


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