Category Archives: Metacognition

Choose Resilience Over Resentment

Created February 11, 2022

Welcome to this week’s Bill Harvey blog.

One reader of last week’s post thanked me and made a special request: write something about resentment and how to deal with it in oneself.

Last week’s post was about the things we do automatically all the time that do us absolutely no good. Things like hating. Resentment is another one of those things that we do that doesn’t help us and in fact hurts us.

The dictionary definition of resentment that I like the most is “Bitter indignation at having been treated unfairly”. Such as having been passed over for promotion, not having been appropriately recognized for one’s accomplishments, standing by red-faced while a sibling receives inordinate parental praise which would have been more applicable to oneself.

Some philosophers of psychology have asserted that resentment is a type. People who fall into this type tend to start early, and become wounded by their perception that they are not getting the love they deserve from one or both parents. Because this came about by a comparison between the ideal conditions and actual ones, the resentful type tends to become idealistic and perfectionistic, as if subconsciously assuming that this will “right the wrong”.

The actual effect of having an invisible script that we carry with us in life, without even realizing that we have such a script, is that it will tend to cause us to experience the negative outcomes which we expect. If we expect to be treated unfairly, we will tend to bring about that undesired outcome. This happens through micro-momentary unconscious signaling.

In other words, by giving in to the automatic ego-emotional reaction of showing resentment, and/or anticipatory resentment, which is automatic, one does not lead to being treated more fairly.

Which is more important – getting treated more fairly more often – or blowing off steam by expressing resentment – or causing oneself psychological harm by repressing resentment so that it operates under the radar. It would seem far better to repair real world situations. This is why we urge people to not operate on autopilot, but to exert conscious observation of what we are doing to ourselves, automatic or otherwise, and take control of our behaviors, moving the matter out of the subconscious and into the conscious. This involves metacognition and self-metaprogramming.

Here are some actions recommended when one senses resentment within oneself.

First, don’t let others see that you feel resentful. Subconsciously we all tend to see resentment as a characteristic of weakness, someone who is “a loser” at least in the situation. Far better to show confidence, awareness of one’s own value, no concern as to what others think of you – whether you are really that strong today or not. By acting like the you that you are aiming at being, you build that muscle until it becomes fully authentic.

Take care to continue to treat kindly the person who marginalized you, even if you have evidence that they are out to get you. That demonstrates your invulnerability, and you actually can cause behavior changes in others by this turning of the other cheek.

Second, take some time to contemplate how you might have set yourself up for being underestimated. Were there any signals you sent, overt or subtle, that could have contributed to becoming under-appreciated?

These strategies are aimed at shifting the basis for your inner life experience away from automatic defensive reactions, to enlightened self-management. This shift is a profound one which very few people ever even attempt. It is a shift very conducive to greater effectiveness and happiness, which is resilient to offending experiences, and leads to creativity and Flow state.

The neurological structures and functions within a human being are pro-survival and are there as default systems when we are not in a state of enlightened self-interest performing rationally and empirically. Unfortunately, during the information acceleration pandemic which has been going on throughout recorded history, we settle into living our entire lives in these robotical fight-flight states. Only a relative handful of us conquer our own autonomic ego reaction instincts. Those that do stand out for their accomplishments and their sagacity.

We can all be that way. There is a simple method to it. It is to stop assuming anything, reset to scratch, and observe carefully everything that goes on in and around you, suspending judgment. Use my book Mind Magic as it makes it even easier. But all you really need is you, observing everything without judging it, and ignoring your own kneejerk reactions. With practice, you will find that you don’t feel the sting as much as you used to when someone intentionally or unintentionally does something that you resent. It becomes irrelevant. So long as you can keep doing your work, achieving your goals, maintaining the desired lifestyle, you can let such events roll off your confident back.

Until you really feel that confidence, by all means project it externally, but most importantly, figure out why you have that lack of confidence in yourself. Have you been Peter-Principled into a job that is not your expertise? Do you want to learn how to do that role with greater confidence? There will be ways you can get the learning you need. Or would you rather be doing some other kind of work?

It’s possible that someone is gunning for you, actively wanting to get you to leave. It comes down to how much you love everything else about the job, and what you really want.

If the moment comes when you are formally invited to leave, focus on what you want to do next, the departure although involuntary might be a really good thing for you in the long run.

Always remember the good things you have done in that job, and keep doing things you’re proud of. Whether or not they are proud of you, you can still be proud of yourself. They are not the measure of you. You yourself are the most qualified to know how good or imperfect you are. Don’t be thrown off by people who are working off of guesswork.

Best to all,

Bill