Search This Blog

Friday, May 6, 2011

Resentment: Digging One's Own Grave One 'Old Idea' at a Time

Resentment  (or 're-sentiment') is to experience all over again the feelings of anger  - towards someone, something, or some situation  - that we once felt in the past each time that we think such "old ideas" anew.  It is, we read in the 'Big Book' of Alcoholics Anonymous, the "number one" offender, and that "(i)t destroys more alcoholics than anything else," and that "(f)rom it stem all forms of spiritual disease."
"It is plain that a life which includes deep resentment leads only to futility and unhappiness. To the precise extent that we permit these, do we squander the hours that might have been worth while. But with the alcoholic, whose hope is the maintenance and growth of a spiritual experience, this business of resentment is infinitely grave. We found that it is fatal. for when harboring such feelings we shut ourselves off from the sunlight of the Spirit. The insanity of alcohol returns and we drink again. And with us, to drink is to die.

If we were to live, we had to be free of anger. The grouch and the brainstorm were not for us. They may be the dubious luxury of normal men, but for alcoholics, these things are poison.
[Alcoholics Anonymous, page 66.]
At the beginning of the "How It Works" chapter of the 'Big Book,' we read that "many of us tried to hold onto our old ideas and the result was nil until we let go absolutely." We cannot afford, it seems, to entertain (or hold onto) the old ideas about people, things or circumstances that still anger us. That may well be the "dubious luxury" of so-called normal people, but nothing will change for the alcoholic addict in recovery unless he or she at least tries to get rid of such old ideas. That is what Steps 4 through Step 9 are specifically designed to do.

It has been said that anger is a corrosive acid that eats away the container that holds it from the inside out. In Steps Four through Step Nine, we list discuss, forgive and make restitution in order to get rid of, or at least neutralize, those corrosive old ideas that continue to crop up as a large part of the painful inner dialogue that is our ordinary 'self' consciousness or 'ego'.

In describing the type of vital spiritual experience that can enable alcoholics to attain and maintain sobriety, Carl Jung noted that "ideas, emotions and attitudes" that are the "guiding forces" of the alcoholic addict are "cast aside." The thoughts of past, future or imagined wrongs that a person, place or circumstance brings to mind are old 'ideas'. The resentments (or 're-sentiments')  are old 'emotions'. And, our vengeful and obsessive thought patterns that are shot through with righteous (or supposedly righteous) indignation are old ''attitudes. We must be free of all these if we are to lead a spiritually awakened life.

"If a man goes out seeking revenge," the Daoists said, "he had better dig two graves." For us, to mentally turn the thoughts of what and who has offended us over and over again in the mind is to seek revenge, if only mentally. If we continue to do so instead of forgiving and making whatever restitution might be necessary to get rid of such old ideas emotions and attitudes, we are obsessively digging and perfecting that second grave.

Thus, revenge, even the imagined mental revenge that we mental 'blowhards' are prone to obsess over, is therefore not a dish best served cold, but a dish not served (or even prepared) at all. Resentments can and have killed many an alcoholic addict.

No comments:

Post a Comment