As addicts and alcoholics, you all understand you have no room for un-resolved anger in your recovery program. On the other side of anger is resentment or a feeling that some injustice has been done to you. Something or someone is irritating you or it is “just not fair.” Don’t you wish you could just control your resentments by controlling your anger? Not so easy, right?
On many levels resentment separates you from others and from yourself. There is no loving compassion or forgiveness when you are resentful. Ask yourself, “What am I resentful or angry about?” “Am I angry because my spouse is still dealing with pain from the consequences of my behavior?” “Am I resentful because my boss expects too much out of me when I just got out of rehab?” These questions and others similar all have to do with a belief system that if people, places, and things, “would just go my way” all would be well. In other words, it is everyone and everything that is causing you to be angry and resentful. You go through life feeling other people and circumstances are responsible for your happiness. Well, what if your spouse forgave you like you wanted or your boss lightened up your load out of understanding your new recovery? Would you then be happier? Would you then feel permanently resolved of all anger and resentment?
Probably not. Why? Because before long someone or something else will come along to irritate you again so you can again build up a resentment? That is how it goes for alcoholics and addicts. As soon as one thing goes your way, you feel temporarily content, but just around the corner is that next thing to cause you discontentment. If you want short term happiness, go ahead and let outside people and circumstances make you happy? That may be okay for a while, but if you want true happiness, it is time to look within and to understand your thought patterns. People and places no longer need to change in order for you to be happy. Instead cultivate an attitude of joy, interest, contentment, creativity, and growth. Once you learn these positive emotions, anger and resentment take a back seat.
How to do you cultivate these positive emotions?
1. Notice your positive emotions throughout the day. Write them down and label them, “Gratitude”, “Serenity,” “Confidence.”
2. Notice what your thoughts were when you were experiencing these positive emotions.
3. Notice what is happening in your body when these positive emotions surface? Do you feel expansive? Are your shoulders lifted?
The more you notice these positive emotions, the more often you will begin feeling them. As you begin to feel more positive, negative emotions may erupt, but they will not take up as much energy as they once did.
Sherry Gaba, LCSW is a Psychotherapist and Life Coach in Agoura Hills. She specializes in addictions, trauma, depression, anxiety, divorce, single parenting, and helping her clients find their purpose. She is the Psychotherapist on Celebrity Rehab 2 and 3 and her book “The Law of Sobriety” will be out in September 2010. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, www.sgabatherapy.com.