What on earth would I mean by the gift of resentment? What are the signals that your boundaries are being tested, crossed or outright ignored? What feelings or emotions might you notice when this is occurring? How might you consistently and accurately judge when you need to clarify, remind, or set a firmer boundary?
What Is Resentment?
Resentment is that feeling or emotion when a value you hold about justice or fairness has been nicked. Something someone has done or said, or not done or said, such as not meeting an obligation, or ignoring unspoken agreements, is causing a problem for you.
In The Assertiveness Guide for Women (Hanks 2016) the author asserts that one emotion consistently sheds light on this, and that is resentment. When you receive the gift of resentment, notice that it runs on a spectrum from mildly irritated to rage. This gift is a clear emotional indicator that means you need to take action. It calls for assertiveness skills.
The Purpose Of Emotions
Do you know what the purpose is of our emotions? To get us to take action. That is the primary reason that when we stuff our emotions away, they find a way to seep out, whether through passive aggressive responses like sarcasm or the nuclear option of blowing our stacks.
That is why practicing saying no and learning to speak your mind clearly is so important to having healthy relationships. Increasing your assertiveness skills will help you with all of your relationships. Women in particular often pad their no’s with apologies, which weakens their positions. I’m not saying to be rude, but you don’t have to apologize for having an opinion or asserting a need prior to stating it. It is a very real (and unfortunate gender bias) cultural phenomenon for women in the workplace to manage how they are perceived.
Teach How To Repair The Miss-Steps
Of course having clear boundaries is a two way street. When being assertive, you also have to respect other’s needs, desires and preferences. It takes a lot of courage to own up to the times when we miss-step and must admit to our own wrongdoings. Doing so, BTW, is a great behavior to model for our children. It’s the best way to teach them making mistakes is okay, as well as learning how to repair them in a healthy manner.
Ways To Say No
I like the list of ways Hanks gives us to say no (Hanks p.163), and wanted to share them here:
- “That’s just not going to work for me.”
- “I can’t give you an answer right now, will you check back with me?”
- “I want to but I’m unable to.”
- “I’m not able to commit to the right now.”
- “I really appreciate you asking me, but I can’t do it.”
- “I understand you really need my help, but I’m just not able to say yes to that.”
- “I’m going to say no for now, but I’ll let you know if something changes.”
- “I’m honored you would ask me, but my answer is no.”
- “No, I can’t do that, but here is what I can do…”
- “I just don’t have that to give right now.”
Another useful formula Hanks gives us in her book is a simple way to respond to the gift of resentment without coming across as angry, bossy, or condescending. this formula makes it easier to be accurate with your feelings and desires while holding open space for the other person’s. it takes a little practice, but every time you do it, you can feel it’s healing power. Here it is:
I feel ___________ when you_______________ because I think _______________.
A positive example would be (perhaps to your partner):
“I feel loved & cared for when you plan & prepare dinner because it I think you get that I needed that extra time to prepare for my big work project.”
Or a negative example:
“I feel neglected when you stay on your phone texting while we’re watching a movie together because I think you don’t value our time together.”
Try this over the next week. See if you can use this sentence formula to better assert your desires and needs. When you get good at this, the outcome is that it deepens your relationships. If this is not the case, it can be a good indicator of needing to let some of the more toxic ones go.
So have courage, and start today. If you need help with this, contact me. Assertiveness is a skill that can be learned, and I can help you with it.