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How To Do Away With Resentment

By Daniel Bobinski

Did you know that one of the best choices in life – even at work – is gratitude? Being thankful is like a magical elixir that erases tension, and the cool thing is we can choose it. Conversely, one of the more damaging choices we can make is resentment. Simmering with jealousy or bitterness creates barriers that inhibit teamwork and productivity.

When I teach on this, I always start by asking people to identify situations in which they have bitterness or resentment. Yes, that means getting brutally honest with oneself, and yes, it means getting a little vulnerable. To help remove barriers to that, I always offer my own retrospection first. Specifically, I realized I often became envious and resentful when I wanted something but someone else got it instead.

As an example, years ago I used to look through the Craigslist “free” section for something I might be able to use. Often those ads say something like, “It’s in the front yard, we’ll remove this ad once it’s gone.” If I wanted an item, I’d hurry out to my car and zip over to pick it up.

One day I saw that someone was giving away their bicycles. I had a friend who was in the market for bikes, so I got in my car and hurried over to pick them up. I was anxious the entire way, hoping to surprise my friend with this “find.”

As fate would have it, when I got to the address, someone was loading the bikes into his truck.

My envy was palpable. My body was full of angst. “If only I hadn’t hit those red lights!” “If only I’d checked the Craigslist page 10 minutes earlier!”

Later, when contemplating those thoughts and feelings, I realized that my envy was a choice. And, remembering that my behaviors affect my thoughts, and my thoughts affect my feelings, I decided I needed to choose a different behavior. I chose to replace the bitterness with gratefulness, and to reinforce that, I also chose to celebrate.

And so, the next time I left my house to pick up a “free” item, I first chose to be thankful and even celebratory. No matter what the outcome of my trip, I decided to celebrate that someone (maybe me, maybe someone else) got a cool item at no cost.

After being celebratory and grateful no matter the outcome, I can report that instead of angst, those choices put me in a great mood, even if an item was already gone.

Key point to remember: Both resentment and gratefulness are choices.

How does this apply to our work? Resentment, envy or bitterness can occur if you get passed over for a promotion. It can happen if someone else gets that sweet assignment you were hoping for. Whether an injustice is real or perceived, resentment brings angst and division.

And it’s a choice.

But you can choose differently. If you find yourself feeling bitter about something, why not look for ways to have gratitude?

Daniel Bobinski, M.Ed. is a best-selling author and a popular speaker at conferences and retreats. For more than 30 years he’s been working with teams and individuals (1:1 coaching) to help them achieve excellence. He was also teaching Emotional Intelligence since before it was a thing. Reach Daniel through his website, MyWorkplaceExcellence.com, or his office at 208-375-7606.

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