Feeling a little resentful or angry at someone?
Annoyed with a friend? Fed up with a co-worker? What about your honey bunny? Want to scream when he enters the room? Then you have probably set yourself up for some resentment. How?
The Unconcious Deal
I have found that when resentment rears its head, most people have been setting themselves up for it. How? People tend to create lots of unconscious “deals” about the people around them. These “deals” are expectations of what they think they are owed in exchange for certain things.
Most of the time, you may not even know you’ve made unconscious deals until you are angry or resentful.
Take Charlotte. She loves her boyfriend, Mark. He’s a great guy and loves going to baseball games. Charlotte goes with him and has a great attitude at the games. Charlotte talks to Mark’s friends, knocks back beers and never says a word about how she’d love to have a romantic dinner date somewhere instead of always going to games. Charlotte keeps their apartment tidy, endlessly picking up his dirty underwear, and cooking dinner almost every night. Charlotte thinks that this has earned her a gold star in the girlfriend department. Somewhere in her brain, she thinks this secures her role as best girlfriend forever. She thinks that the more she capitulates to Mark’s needs, the more he will appreciate her and feel obligated to stay with her. Then Mark decides to move on with another girl by summer’s end.
Uh oh. Charlotte goes berserk! Beside herself with anger, she can’t sleep. She easily falls to tears. She’s obsessed with the unfairness of this! She thought that if she was so great to her boyfriend, he would appreciate her and stay committed to her. Uh oh. Charlotte set herself up.
Whenever you bend over backward for someone — while putting your own needs, wants and desires aside — you will eventually become resentful.
Mark knew nothing about this “deal.” In fact, he would have appreciated knowing what she wanted and what she was feeling. Maybe he would have enjoyed a quiet night out.
- Or, “My husband had the nerve to not plan an anniversary date after all the trouble I went to for his freakin’ birthday party last year?!”
- Or, ” I have been clipping my neighbor’s hedges for years now, and he can’t even take in my papers when I am out of town?!
There are lots of unconscious deals here that both parties haven’t agreed to. Ask yourself:
- Is there something you are doing for someone else that you are starting to feel resentful about?
- What could you be expecting from them in return?
Being upfront with someone about your limits before you get annoyed is respectful for both parties.
Cherilynn Veland is a therapist living in Chicago.
She also blogs about home, work, life and love
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