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5 Ways to Spot Resentment

Step four of the 12 Steps is do an honest personal inventory. One of the most important parts of this inventory is to identify resentments. The Big Book of AA says, “Resentment is the ‘number one’ offender. It destroys more alcoholics than anything else. From it stem all forms of spiritual disease, for we have been not only mentally and physically ill, we have been spiritually sick. When the spiritual malady is overcome, we straighten out mentally and physically.” Identifying and letting go of your resentments is one of the most important things you can do, but you sometimes resentment is hard to identify.

What makes you angry?

Make a list of people, companies, and institutions you are angry at. Next to each name, write down why, specifically, you are angry at that person. Maybe he cost you money or opportunity. Now, write next to that the reasons why that loss of money or opportunity makes you angry. Sometimes anger is justified. Anger can spur you to take action when something is wrong. How do you know when anger is actually resentment?

Resentment is a kind of anger.

Maybe you feel someone slighted you intentionally and it hurt your ego, or maybe you needed the money and its loss puts your family’s security at risk. There is usually some kind of fear behind the resentment. Try to identify it.


  • Do you feel frustrated or helpless? If the anger was the productive kind, you would have done something about it. You would have gotten your money back or confronted whoever slighted you. One feature of resentment is that you feel like you can’t really do anything about it so you instead you ruminate on it.
  • Do you blame the offender for your problems? If you haven’t been able to correct the perceived injustice and you haven’t been able to forget it about it, you have probably been feeding your anger. Whenever some new problem arises, you might think, “I wouldn’t be in this mess if Becky hadn’t told my boss about my DUI” or whatever.
  • Has your anger lasted a while? A feature of normal anger is that it is temporary. Someone attacks us, we become angry, and we defend ourselves. If the anger doesn’t go away pretty soon, it’s probably a resentment. To keep anger alive, you have to hold onto it and feed it. You have to constantly remind yourself that Becky is no good. It takes effort and concentration to make anger permanent. It becomes corrosive and only hurts yourself.
  • Is it really someone else’s fault? You may resent Becky for telling your boss about your DUI, but when you get down to it, your DUI wasn’t Becky’s fault. Blaming Becky is just a way to avoid taking responsibility for your own problem. This is a common pattern among addicts because it allows them to deny the problem.

    Even in cases where you didn’t actually cause the problem yourself, your anger might result from self-centered thinking. This is like the classic traffic scenario: If you cut someone off, it was an honest mistake and you are usually much more careful, but if someone cuts you off, he’s a jerk. Seeing the whole world in terms of how other people’s actions affect us is an excellent way to build up a load of resentments and make ourselves miserable.


If you are ready to leave active addiction behind, Gardens Wellness Center can help. We can help you detox and figure out what program of treatment is right for you. Call us today at 844-828-1050 or email us at to learn more.