In this article, we will outline how to overcome bitterness and resentment. The role of forgiveness will be defined as well as how to jump start the healing from bitterness. Sign up for the free journaling page below to help resolve bitter and resentful feelings.
Are you reading this article because you feel bitter and resentful and want to be freed from those feelings? You are in the right place! Nobody desires to experience unfair treatment or the emotions of anger and disappointment as a result. It’s the unfortunate side effect of living in a broken world. Consequently, the Bible speaks on the topic of bitterness and resentment – warning to get rid of it.
Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:31-32
Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. Hebrews 12:14-15
When we’ve experienced the pain of a hurtful event, it’s easier said than done to simply- “get rid of bitterness” .
Our emotions become tangled up and we react to hurt feelings. While it is challenging to do the work of healing from bitterness, we have the ability to do so. God does not call us to do anything he has not equipped us to do.
Symptoms of Bitterness and Resentment
Strong emotions such as anger, deep sadness and confusion are characteristic of bitterness and resentment. You may experience difficulty moving forward and are constantly dwelling on the past. Do you find yourself talking to others and the conversation drifts back to the event or person who hurt you? It may even seem impossible to pray for the person who hurt you.
Consequences of Bitterness and Resentment
Bitterness and resentment will affect your mental and physical health negatively. Immune systems wear down and anxiety and depression go up.
Once bitterness and resentment have taken root, healing is delayed. Without healing we give up joy and peace to its fullest. We become shackled to the pain of the past.
The Bible says that once bitterness takes root, it causes trouble and defiles many (Hebrews 12:15). Bitterness and resentment is like throwing a rock in a pond; it makes far reaching ripples in the water.
What is forgiveness and why is it important?
Forgiveness is the first step toward healing. Without forgiveness we cannot begin to move forward in wholeness
Forgiveness is a choice we make to release someone from our punishment. This means we are entrusting the offense to God. Choosing to forgive is even commanded of Christians (Ephesians 4:32).
We forgive because we’ve been forgiven of much. The punishment for my sins were taken by Christ through his death on the cross. Therefore, I’m called to offer the same forgiveness…
Forgiveness is never dependent on another person’s actions. Our ability to forgive does not depend on the other guy apologizing or repenting.
Forgiveness is the stumbling block that leads to bitterness and resentment. Forgiveness is the necessary first step toward overcoming bitterness and resentment and beginning the process of healing.
For more information on forgiveness, check out this article- “7 Scriptures on Forgiveness”
Healing From Bitterness and Resentment
Healing from past events takes time. However, time alone doesn’t heal the heart. So often, I find we push the past down and refuse to address it. We stoically forge ahead because we don’t have time for the pain. Unfortunately, whenever a painful event is pushed down, it simmers beneath the surface.
As a result, we tend to be triggered or have strong reactions to current events or situations. Or maybe thoughts just float around in your head about the past, robbing you of current joy and peace.
Processing a hurtful event or season leads to healing. Healing from bitterness and resentment restores joy and peace. If you’re experiencing bitterness and resentment, that may be a red flag that more healing is needed.
So how do we heal from bitterness and resentment?
There are 2 ways to process the painful past. First, talking about the past leads to healing. Second, writing about the past leads to healing.
Tips Overcoming Bitterness and Resentment Through Talk
First, talking about the past with someone you trust is vital. It’s also important that you find somebody who will encourage and offer honest feedback. Be sure to speak from your perspective. Focus on your experience rather than what the person did to offend you. Refrain from making the entire conversation about the offense. Dedicate time to what you learned, how you saw God in that situation or what you’re thankful for. Without any focus on the positive , research indicates you will actually feel worse.
It’s also important to know that when you begin processing painful events, it will feel heavy and uncomfortable at first. Depend on God through prayer to comfort you through the process of overcoming bitterness and resentment. Continue talking about it with your trusted person. Healing from bitterness and resentment doesn’t happen with one discussion. Be patient with the process.
Tips for Overcoming Bitterness and Resentment Through Writing
First, write down the facts from the event that caused you pain. Don’t worry about grammar or punctuation. Simply jot down the memories that stand out the most to you. Next, write down your thoughts and feelings about the event. Take your time on this section of writing.
Third, identify what has resulted from this event. Then write what you wish would have happened. It is helpful to accept the situation for what it is and release or surrender your desires for what it isn’t.
Fourth, spend some time focusing on who or what needs to be forgiven. Be very specific as you identify the offenses that need to be forgiven and the person who offended you.
Finally, spend some time focusing on the positive pieces that you can pull from this situation. God uses painful events in our life to grow us and our faith so that we may experience life to the fullest in Him. As we depend on Him for comfort and healing, our relationship and faith grow deeper.
Wrapping up How to Overcome Bitterness and Resentment
Bitterness and resentment can take root when we have experienced a deep hurt. The first step toward healing is forgiveness. Without forgiveness it is impossible to move toward healing from bitterness. Once you have chosen forgiveness, processing the pain from the past is next. There are 2 ways to process a trauma- through spoken or written processing.
Any additional thoughts or tips for overcoming bitterness and resentment? Leave a comment below!