Bitterness: What’s it’s Cause, Cost, And Cure?
“Bitterness is unforgiveness fermented.” -Gregory Popcak
All bitterness starts out as hurt. And your emotional pain may well relate to viewing whoever or whatever provoked this hurt as having malicious intent: As committing a grave injustice toward you; as gratuitously wronging you and causing grief. Anger-and resentment-what we’re all likely to experience whenever we conclude that another has seriously abused us. Left to fester, that righteous anger eventually becomes the corrosive ulcer that is bitterness.
Stephen Diamond PhD defines bitterness as “a chronic and pervasive state of smoldering resentment,’ and regards it as “one of the most destructive and toxic of human emotions.”
If we repeatedly ruminate over how we’ve been victimized, “nursing wrongs may eventually come to define some essential part of who we are. Take hold of our very personality. We will end up being victims not so much of anyone else but of ourselves.
This is what happened to be after leaving my parents house as a young adult. My mother had hurt me so much I turned into a victim of my past. I was bitter and everyone I came into contact with was going to hurt as much as did. But, the problem was I became a victim of myself.
It was the inevitable result of becoming obsessed with blaming someone else for my misery rather that refusing to permit external hindrances or setbacks from blocking me from pursuing my goals. It is all to easy to hamper ourselves by falling into the trap of righteously obsessing about our injuries or outrage. Doing so affords us the gratification of feeling that we’re better than, or morally superior to, the sources of our wrongs.
The Cost Of Bitterness
The benefits of retreating into acrimonious victim hood defaulting to bitterness invariably carries a high price tag.
- Prolong your mental and emotional pain and may even exacerbate it.
- Lead to long lasting anxiety and or depression.
- Precipitate vengeful acts that put you at further risk of being hurt or victimized and possibly engulf you in a never-ending, self-defeating cycle of getting even.
- Prevent you from experiencing the potential joys of living fully in the present-vs- dwelling self-righteously on the past wrongs inflicted on you.
- Create or deepen an attitude of distrust and cynicism qualities that contribute to hostility and paranoid thinking, as well as overall sense of pessimism. Such a bleak perspective prompts other to turn away from you.
- Interfere with your cultivating healthy satisfying relationships, and lead you to doubt , or disparage your connections to others.
- Comprise or weaken your higher ideals, and adversely impact your personal search for purpose and meaning in life.
- Rob you from recognizing your own role or responsibility, in possibly having been vindictively harmed by another.
- By keeping you in a paradoxical state of “vengeful bondage,” erode your self of wellbeing.
I lived this way for over 30 years. It is not a pretty sight for you or anyone around you. Every day I look back on this time in my life and what a waste I was. 30 years of my life ruined by bitterness.
The question is: Do you really want to see yourself as a victim, with all the implications of helplessness embedded in the defeated label? Consider that if you obsessively ruminate on the righteousness of your anger, your wrath will only become further inflamed. It exists to mask your underlying emotional distress by prompting you to focus not on the personal injury you’ve suffered but on the one who so wronged you. Besides you do t really have any control over the other person.
Finally, your personal power is pretty much limited to yourself. Even in the face of the gravest injustice, redirecting your focus inward is precisely how you go about empowering yourself.
The Cure For Bitterness
Virtually every writer who has weighed in on the subject of bitterness has discussed its ultimate remedy: Forgiveness. Forgiveness alone enables us to let go of grievances, grudges, rancor, and resentment. It’s the single mode potent antidote for the venomous desire for retributive justice poisoning your system. If this impulse hasn’t afflicted you mentally and emotionally. Learning to forgive your “violated’ facilities your recovering from a wound that, while it may have originated from outside ourselves, has been kept alive from the venom you’ve synthesized within us.
If anger intimates an almost irresistible impulse toward revenge, then forgiveness is mostly about renouncing such vindictiveness. It can hardly be overemphasized that when you decide you’re doing not so much for them but for yourself. It’s our welfare that’s primarily at state here. As already suggested, the longer you hold onto your anger, the more you’ll sink into the destructive quagmire of ever-cycling feelings of hatred and resentment. The more, over time, your anger will mature into bitterness.
This is what it took me over 30 years to learn. I lived it and suffered it. If I could help one person not go through this horrible cycle of life. It would be worth me going through what it did, to save them from what I endured.