Anger and Resentment - What's the Difference?
Anger is normal; resentment is a killer
Often you'll hear 12 Steppers make a
statement like 'don't get angry, you'll slip.' If there's someone around
with some time they may point out that resentment, not anger is the real
threat to continuous abstaining.
The differences between the two are
Anger and Resentment are Different
Anger is defined as 'a strong feeling of
displeasure and, usually, of antagonism.' Resentment, on the other hand,
is 'persistent ill will...'
Do you see the difference? Anger is that
sudden emotion that overcomes us when something goes wrong, or we think
something has gone wrong. You know, someone cuts us off in traffic and
we're immediately angry. Or someone is rude to us and our reaction
Anger turns into resentment when we
allow the anger to become persistent. If, when we're cut off in traffic,
we allow our anger to grow so we take some sort of destructive action,
like chasing the offending driver, we're into resentment. If, when someone
is rude, we let that anger simmer so we're having fantasies of revenge,
we're dealing with resentment.
Anger is our (mostly) automatic response
to a situation; we usually can't control the fact of our anger, but we can
control how we behave when anger strikes. Resentment is really a choice -
we've decided, on some level, or allowed ourselves to stay angry.
The Big Book of Alcoholics
Anonymous says "Resentment is the 'number one' offender" (p. 64)
with good reason.
These are exactly the sorts of
feelings that build excuses for slips.
A more reasonable, effective and
spiritual response is to accept at least some responsibility for what's
happened - even if it's only accepting responsibility for letting anger
build to resentment.
As soon as we accept
responsibility, we're acting from our own power. As the resentment
disappears, we either find the issue wasn't really important after all, or
we can begin to take rational, self-supporting steps to remedy the
Love, peace and