Do you struggle with resentment?
Do you sometimes feel like you are the one doing all the giving and sacrificing, while others around you aren’t doing their fair share? If the answer is “yes”, then you are not alone.
I learned this concept many years ago when I developed a tool to help myself with this dilemma. I call it the “Fredrickson Line of Resentment.” I came up with a way to give the right amount, without becoming resentful later about what I gave.
Imagine a line like the one below:
With each situation, there is a place on this line where I feel fine about giving to others, but if I give too much, I end up being resentful.
It is really important to check in with yourself about where you are on this line, and to only give what you can give freely.
Here is an example:
Let’s say you like to help people who are going through a hard time. Imagine your church asks you to help provide food to a mom who just had a new baby. Specifically, you are asked to provide two meals to a family of four.
You know you want to help, but have a lot going on in your own life right now. You decide you would be happy to provide one meal for this family. You know that if you go against your intuition and say yes to two meals, you will then become resentful.
If you cave into pressure, you will tell yourself things like “They are making me, I had to, they want too much of me, I couldn’t say no.” The truth is that if you agree to bring two meals and then feel resentful, it is because you went against your instincts and made your gift of love turn into a burden. No one made you do it, you did it to yourself by not setting healthy boundaries.
I know that is a harsh way to say this, but it is true.
This simple concept is part of having a compassionate relationship with yourself. It means including yourself in the equation, and giving freely without resentment. Realize that your line of “giving without resentment” may change by situation, as well as by the stage of life you are in. This is normal.
Start by noticing times you feel resentful
This is not about being hard on yourself. It is meant to help you learn to give to others in a balanced way. Give yourself permission to notice times you feel resentful so that you can learn, without pressure to make any changes.
Gently ask yourself:
- What could I have given without feeling resentful?
- Did I have a choice to say “no”, or not give as much (be honest with yourself here)?
- What were the reasons I said “yes”?
- Did any of them have to do with me being afraid someone would be mad at me or not approve of me?
- What could I do or say next time to only give what I can give freely?
- Is there a deeper issue I need to look at and work through (maybe lack of boundaries, wanting to please, or codependency)?
Here’s a compassionate way you can talk to yourself
“I honestly did not know I had a choice to pay attention to my own intuition and desires regarding how much to give to another person. I thought being a good Christian meant saying yes to anyone in need. I tend to either not give at all because I am running on empty, or give way too much and end up feeling resentful. I want to develop a balanced way of checking in with myself when opportunities to give come up. I know I often give too much to my boss, kids, church and friends and then end up neglecting myself and other people in my life, whom I love. I am going to start paying attention to my own line of resentment and try to stay on the healthy left side of that line.”
I’d love to hear from you. What made sense or stood out to you? Do you struggle with giving too much and ending up resentful? When is it the hardest to be balanced in the way you give to others? After reading this, are there adjustments you want to make in how you live your life?
Please share this post with anyone you feel could benefit, or on social media. We’re in this together…