David Lader - Warrior's Dance Video

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Monday, October 7, 2013

Resentments and Cheetos

A friend recently told me his wife was behaving like a child.  When I asked him how he felt about the whole thing, he said he wasn't angry with her - just a little resentful.  He seemed to be in a pretty bad way, so I asked him how he was doing in general.  He explained how he'd stayed up too late the night before watching brainless television.  While struggling to stay awake through a very bad hair replacement infomercial at two in the morning, he inhaled a liter of Coke, snarfed down two pints of Ben & Jerry's Chunky Monkey, and, for his coup de grâce, he devoured an entire family-size bag of Cheetos Crunchy XXtra Flamin' Hot Cheese Flavored Snacks.

Neither of us wondered much if his little episode had anything to do with his splitting headache, upset tummy, nasty mood, or the giant bags under his eyes -  it was all too obvious.










So I sez to 'em, I sez - "Dude...Why abuse yourself like that?"  Actually, it was a rhetorical question that I asked as if I didn't already know the answer, or as if I, myself, hadn't engaged in a similar fashion a thousand times before...

He hung his head a bit, apparently in shame and pain, and said he'd been pretty upset with his wife after all, and that he was, in fact, pretty angry.  I think it can be fairly uncomfortable for people to admit to themselves, and particularly others, when they're angry.  Perhaps the idea of expressing anger, even in a healthy and appropriate manner, is often frightening.  Maybe people are afraid to be perceived as "out of control" - maybe this is a form of unhealthy image management.  Telling someone else that we're angry can be a way for us to put ourselves in an emotionally vulnerable position.  As it turns out, however, taking that sort of risk with the right person at the right time is "just what the doctor ordered..."


Another friend told me yesterday that he was finally beginning to see that "life is a team sport."  When we isolate ourselves by insisting on avoiding genuine emotional intimacy, we put ourselves in harms way for sure. I think we need each other like oxygen.

Getting back to my Cheetos buddy, he was resentful, and resentment is a form of anger...

When we don't express our appropriate anger in an assertive and dignified manner (and life is certainly full of things to be angry about), we hang on to it, obsess about it, build it up in our heads, make up things that are usually untrue about it, and get pretty self-righteous in the process.  There's always some grandiosity and drama in this childish recipe as well... When we hold on to our anger, as such, it turns into a resentment - resentments are not only a form of anger, they are a more insidious and dysfunctional form of anger...

...And here's a little bonus piece - whenever we hold on to anger in the form of a resentment, there's always a piece of the original mess that belongs to us - we certainly played some role in the breakdown that led us to be angry and, subsequently, to hold on to our anger in such a destructive and lasting way... Looking at our part, regardless of what the other guy does, is big boy and big girl stuff - it's where we get to practice growing up - it's painful, and it's where "the rubber meets the road..."


So, here's a little game we can all play to raise our consciousness with regard to when we may be unnecessarily holding on to resentments:

First, two important definitions...

1. Pleasure-Seeking - anything we can possibly do to "light up" our brains so as to "drown out" or numb the normal and unavoidable emotional pain associated with being alive...











2. Self-Care or Nurturing One's Self - anything we can do to honor, respect, and contribute to our physical and spiritual wellness...






The game is simple.  All we have to do to win is notice when our choices are more about pleasure-seeking or self-care.  Next, we can determine who's "steering our ship" at the moment - ourselves at age six, or ourselves as adults... Whenever we find ourselves neglecting our basic health and wellness, we can usually trace our underlying motivation back to some sort of underlying resentment, and this often leads us to entitlement.  Why are we so entitled?   We "deserve" some pleasure because it's just too uncomfortable for us to take responsibility for our part in whatever relationship breakdown resulted in our being angry in the first place... Even my four and seven year olds are often more mature than this... They're already learning that it doesn't matter who started it!  They're figuring out that taking responsibility for their own part is of far greater value than being "right."

It's so convenient for us when we're "right," because now we are justified to go out pleasure-seeking.  One great way to "light up" that pleasure center is to pound our fists and rant.  Raging about how "right" we are is an awesome rush!  ...Such a comforting way to falsely empower ourselves...those neurotransmitters really get in the habit of flowing when we get all worked up...it can become quite a habit - one that can only be interrupted with some genuine self-care.  In fact, one of the best forms of self-care is serving others.  Nothing interrupts our obsession with numbing our own pain better than being present for someone else - this can really break the trance!

So what was my friend really doing at two o'clock in the morning?  He deserved some comfort because his six year old self unconsciously decided, in his self-righteous grandiosity, that it would be just too painful to look at his own part in the event that resulted in his wife's undesirable behavior.

Think about the last time you were busy being "right" while privately roiling in your deep resentment toward another... Remember how you couldn't get to an apple and some carrots fast enough?  Remember how committed you were in that moment to getting to bed at a decent hour?  You must remember wanting very much to call on friend in need because you knew your support would mean so much to them.  I know!  I bet you couldn't wait to spend time writing out your daily gratitude list just before some quiet meditation...

You don't remember all that?  Hmmmm...



David Lader
Tucson - October 6, 2013