How resentment fuels anger
One of the touchstones of anger management classes is identifying, and learning to release, what is causing the problem. For many people, resentment is an enormous contributor to their anger issues. If someone crosses you in any way, you may hold a grudge against them for their wrongdoing. The longer you hold on to those bitter feelings, and the more intense they become, the angrier you will feel toward that person. As psychologist Dr. Steven Stosny writes in his article on Psychology Today, resentment stems from a fragile ego: The more fragile the ego, the more resentful you’ll feel and act.
Additionally, Dr. Stosny explains, because ego-defense supersedes learning or truth, resentment distorts your way of thinking – either through oversimplification, confirmation bias or an inability to grasp other perspectives. In a sense, resentment becomes a selfish and self-indulgent thought process, because it shuts you off to considering how the other party is thinking or feeling. Resentment entails putting others down in order to protect yourself or make yourself feel better, which is harmful in normal circumstances but can become extremely damaging in close relationships with friends, family or partners.
As resentful tendencies fuel your anger, these characteristics only push people away, can cause your most intimate relationships to suffer and may end up amounting to emotional or psychological abuse. It’s a self-fulfilling cycle: Resentment creates anger, which can weaken relationships and trust while shaping your attitudes so that you become more prone to resentment. This, in turn, leads to further resentful and angry feelings. The situation is far from hopeless though. By addressing and working to improve your own self-esteem, you can reduce your tendency to act on resentment and ultimately break out of the cycle.